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December 2019 Volume 9 Issue 4

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The Team...

CONTENTS December 2019 Volume 9 Issue 4

John Baulch

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

30 Brand Profile: 44 Cats

34 Special Feature: ICTI Ethical Toy Program

Mark Austin

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

Anita Baulch

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

News

Opinion

Features

05 From the Publisher

24 NPD column

30 Brand Profile: 44 Cats

06 News

27 Talking Shop

16 Industry Moves

40 Viewpoint

34 Special Feature: ICTI Ethical Toy Program

18 Marketing World

66 Allegedly

42 Nuremburg Toy Fair Preview 64 Q&A: Toy Fair

20 Licensing World 32 Fresh

Contributors David Ripley | Ruth Clement | Nat Southworth | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Johnathan Chambers | The NPD Group

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

64 Q&A: Toy Fair

42 Nuremburg Toy Fair Preview

Lisa Currie

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

toyworld toy world The business magazine with a passion for toys

Mark Crowford

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

Alakat Published by

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

toyworldmag

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Toy World Magazine

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


A

s I write this column, Christmas is less than one month away. Traditionally, at this stage of the year, excitement builds across the trade as sales surge, while conversation focuses around whether it’s going to be a ‘good’ or ‘great’ Christmas, or whether the weather is conducive to inducing a ‘Christmassy’ feel amongst the population at large. Oh that we were just able to focus on such straightforward matters this year. Instead, we have to contend with a general election right in the middle of the peak trading season. It has certainly given the festive runin a very different feel this time round, adding an extra layer of uncertainty into an already tentative market.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

We are literally in uncharted waters; we have no idea what impact this will have on the consumer mind-set and their willingness to throw caution to the wind. In previous challenging years, the toy trade has always fallen back on the adage that “Consumers have kept things tight all year, but they’ll relax the purse strings at Christmas.” We can only hope that this philosophy holds true this year, and that the warm and fuzzy, feel-good, tug-at-theheartstrings Christmas ads will resonate more than ever this year – the population at large will certainly be in need of some festive cheer come late December. The big story of the past month was the news that Mothercare will be implementing the phased closure of all of its 79 UK stores. So where did it all go wrong? Well, if you believe the ‘experts’ – and by experts, I mean anyone with access to a keyboard, a LinkedIn account and the time to pontificate at length whenever a retailer gets into trouble (and trust me, there are a lot of those people about…) – it was a lack of “retail theatre”. As it always is with these keyboard warriors, who have probably never worked a day at retail in their lives. In their eyes, a bit of retail theatre (although they never specify exactly what this mythical retail theatre actually entails) is the solution to literally every retailer’s challenges. Sorry, but I’m not buying that. As anyone who reads Toy World and the Friday Blog will know, I am a huge advocate of the concept of retail theatre….providing it is wedded to solid commercial principles and underlying retail discipline. Many of today’s UK retail success stories – B&M, Home Bargains, Aldi, Lidl, Primark etc – have proved conclusively that there is more than one way to proverbially skin the retail cat. Of course, an attractive retail environment is important but in the end, it’s a shop, not a circus. The basics will always apply: is the range architecture right; are the retail pricing and margin requirements right for the consumer and sustainable for the retailer; are stock levels correct; is the store size and layout compatible with the modern retail environment; are the staff engaged, knowledgeable and helpful? When our first daughter was born 25 years ago, we bought pretty much everything from Mothercare – not because we were in any way entertained by the iconic singing tree in the store, but because their

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customer service was exceptional. Our regular columnist Ruth Clement offers more insight into Mothercare’s sad demise in this month’s Viewpoint section: it will certainly be interesting to see who benefits once the stores have finally disappeared. Mind you, if you think the UK has had a turbulent year, it is nothing compared to what has been happening over in Hong Kong. If you had asked me a few weeks ago whether there was a question mark over the January trip for the UK toy community, I would have said not. At that stage, while the protests were certainly lively, they differed from other examples of social unrest. In particular, they were neither random nor indiscriminate; hotels were reportedly giving out information sheets with details of the areas that would be affected that day, so visitors could plan to steer clear. Even those who found themselves in the midst of the protests reported that they didn’t personally feel threatened; they could comfortably walk through the crowd unmolested. International visitors were never the target of the protestors’ ire. Sadly, events have taken a darker turn over the past few weeks and it seems that some global retailers have reacted to this shift. One major UK grocery account is apparently not allowed to stay in Hong Kong for insurance reasons, while at the time of going to press, a selection US retailers have apparently suggested that they have cancelled their trips. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise: I always believed that it would be the big corporate American operations who would be the first to pull out if the situation escalated. The litigation culture which is so prevalent in the US means that if anything unfortunate happens to one of their staff while they’re out there, they could potentially sue the company for squillions. The question now is whether the trickle becomes a torrent; does the domino effect kick in and cause other international visitors to follow the US’s lead. I do think it is worth remembering that Hong Kong is a truly international gathering and while there are some mightily powerful US visitors, it is by no means a ‘one territory’ party. Of course, the scenes from the Polytechnic University – literally a stone’s throw (or a Molotov cocktail throw) from the showrooms in TST – make uncomfortable viewing. The big hope is that the apex of the violence has passed and that things will have calmed down by the time the toy community arrives in January - the last thing that Hong Kong needs right now is a repeat of the SARS-era mass boycott by international travellers. All that remains for me is to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas from all of the Toy World team, and a prosperous 2020. In just under a month’s time, we will be entering a new decade – let us hope that it starts on a far more positive note than the last decade has ended. ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ is a sentiment that I am sure we can all get behind right now.


News

Mothercare office workers go unpaid as administration leads to ‘phased closures’ of 79 UK stores The retailer was forced to call in administrators after a UK retail operation loss of £36.3m last year. Mothercare said it was "not capable of being sufficiently profitable” and that it had failed to find a buyer. Joint administrator Zelf Hussain said: "It's with real regret that we have to implement a phased closure of all UK stores. Our focus will be to help employees and keep the stores trading for as long as possible.” According to a post on the Toy Detectives website, UK employees were due to be paid on 8th November. However, those that were advised of redundancy that week did not receive their pay. In a meeting, administrators PwC told head office staff that their contracts had been terminated the day before and they would not be paid on the Friday. The administrators suggested those affected should apply to the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS) and make a claim from the National Insurance fund for unpaid wages and notice. However, they then claimed they will set aside money for when, as they anticipate, RPS rejects requests. This leaves staff not knowing when they will receive the money to which they are entitled. Store staff are facing redundancy, however, those that will remain employed for the closing down sales have been paid. The Daily Mail reported that Mothercare’s bosses had received bonuses of over £560,000 collectively, just months before the company’s collapse. This development stands in marked contrast to an overwhelmingly sympathetic response from the toy and nursery industries: fellow retailers including The Entertainer and Halfords have encouraged store staff to apply for vacant roles.

Brand-new Marbel team opens new office With the move comes a brand-new team for Marbel, which includes customer service, marketing and finance staff, who are ready to begin assisting customers and growing the business. The company officially opened its new offices in a prime central location on Monday the 4th of November. Managing director David Allan said, “We are delighted to be in our new premises; we are now located central to UK operations, in a modern office with a fantastic, purpose-built showroom to show our customers the full range of toys we offer.” Marbel Ltd can now be found at: Unit 10, Kibworth Business Park, Kibworth, Harcourt, Leicestershire, LE8 0EX. The company’s new telephone number is 0116 478 5230. Marbel exclusively supplies the UK market with brands such as Nebulous Stars, Nanoblock, Kathe Kruse and more, including the succesful Hape brand which offers a vast range of interactive and entertaining educational wooden toys.

MARKETING & DISTRIBUTING BRANDS

11 Deer Park Road, Northampton, NN3 6QD, UK • tel. 01604 678780 • email. sales@dkl.co.uk • www.dkltoys.co.uk

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News Tickets available now for the UK Toy Industry Awards 2020 Tickets are now available for the Toy Industry Awards 2019 - the gala event will follow the opening day of Toy Fair 2020, on Tuesday 21st January, starting at 6.00pm. The event is one of the key dates in the industry calendar, and one which provides an excellent networking opportunity for industry colleagues to celebrate the first day of Toy Fair and be the first to discover the winners of the Toy Retailer and Supplier of the Year Awards. Guests will be able to enjoy a drinks reception and light food in Olympia’s Pizza Express which will then be followed by a seated awards ceremony in the adjoining Apex Room, one of Olympia's special rooms for such events. The presentation of the Toy Industry Awards will take place here from 7.15pm. The venue’s close proximity will allow guests to move easily from the exhibition to the awards event. The evening’s formal proceedings are planned to finish no later than 8.30pm Tickets to the event are priced at £30 +VAT. Please contact Tracey Butcher Tracey@btha.co.uk to request a booking form. Due to venue capacity, there are a limited number of tickets available to the event, therefore guests planning to attend are advised to book tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Smyths Toys enjoys healthy profits in both European and Irish divisions As reported by The Irish Times, sales at the retailer’s Irish division rose last year to almost €226m, while the new European division generated almost €14m in profits. Last year, Smyths bought ninety-three stores in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, which generated sales of at least €340m and generated profits before tax of €13.6m, according to accounts filed in Dublin. The new European operations added 2,500 staff to the Smyths group and brought with it a €45.5m deferred tax liability, as well as a €26.6m pension liability related to the German and Austrian operations. Separate accounts filed by Smyths Toys Unlimited detail the performance of its Irish stores, which generated profits of almost €5m on its €226m sales. The division employs around 624 people. Sales at the Irish division rose by more than 6% last year to €226m. Taken together with the €673m in sales for 2018 recently reported by Smyths UK, the combined figures confirm that the overall group exceeded €1b annual sales barrier with the company’s European expansion. Smyths expansion in the central European market has included the rebranding of former Toys R Us stores. In June, a new Smyths superstore opened in Munich, and existing outlets are expanding. The group is also building a new 50,000 sq m distribution facility in northern Germany.

Redlands Distribution expands for 2020 2019 has been a positive year for Redlands Distribution, and the company promises that there is plenty more to come for 2020. The launch of the FAO Schwarz branded offering within the Selfridges and Arnotts department stores has delivered stand out in-store theatre and headlineworthy media coverage, with consumers embracing the experience to drive sales beyond the company’s expectations. STEM and science products are a key focus for Redlands; the product line, which includes the Discovery Toy and Discovery #Mindblown ranges, continues to see growing support at retail. Redlands is also now active within the RC category, with the Sharper Image brand now available in the UK for the first time. Jeremy Robinson, UK sales & business development manager for Redlands, commented: “Having recently joined the Redlands team, it’s been amazing to see the support the ranges are receiving, and the impact the FAO Schwarz launches have had. The feedback in terms of competitive retail pricing and great value for money across the offering is a constant theme, and it’s this that’s helping us make progress in the market. We still have so much more to offer to our UK partners, and I am looking forward to presenting the new developments, as well as our retail exclusive opportunities, to customers during the upcoming show season.” “I also look forward to meeting with both existing and prospective clients in Hong Kong at our outstanding showroom in Kowloon Bay during the January trip,” he added. Jeremy can be contacted on 07772 482 255 or jeremy.robinson@ redlandsdistribution.com for further details and showroom appointments. ThreeSixty Group Ltd. Headquarter - Hong Kong

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News Frozen II boosts Jakks Pacific Q3 2019 results Jakks has reported financial results for the third quarter, ended September 30th, 2019. Net sales for the third quarter were $280.1m, up 18% compared to the same period last year. Sales in the 2019 third quarter were said to be boosted by strong initial sales of Disney Frozen II products. Gross margin was 28.9%, up from 27.2% in Q3 of last year, while net income was reported as $16.4m, compared to $15.7m in 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $44.1m, an increase of 64% over the third quarter of 2018. Jakks chairman and CEO Stephen Berman commented: “We are pleased to report solid results across several financial metrics in the third quarter, as strong sales of Disney Frozen II, Disguise and Nintendo more than offset the declines of some older products. Our net sales grew 18% in the quarter, the strongest quarterly growth in YOY sales we have seen in nearly five years, led by online sales of our products, which were up 32% compared to last year. More importantly, we were able to improve gross margins and tightly managed expenses, resulting in a 64% year-over-year increase in Adjusted EBITDA.” The company stated in the report that its goal for 2019 is to grow sales by approximately 5% on a YOY basis with improved levels of Adjusted EBITDA, compared to 2018. Jakks also announced that chief financial officer Brent T. Novak will step down in December 2019, and that the company is currently conducting a search for its next CFO.

Rachel Lowe jointly awarded Game of the Year 2018 Rachel Lowe has been recognised for the role she played in the 2018 success of the Jumanji board game. This is in conjunction with the award given in January to Spin Master at the Toy Industry Awards. It was revealed after the ceremony that Rachel Lowe had jointly distributed the product in the UK during the year and was therefore entitled to be a joint recipient of the award. Rachel's Game of the Year Award was presented at this year's DreamToys event on Wednesday 13th November at St Mary's Church in Marylebone, London, by TRA chairman Alan Simpson. Rachel Lowe said: “I am absolutely delighted to have received the Game of the Year award for the Jumanji Board Game. It recognises the hard work and effort I put into getting it to the number one ranking on Amazon when I launched it two years ago and also the hard work of my distributor, Heathside Trading, which achieved volume sales throughout the duration of my contract with Sony.” Alan Simpson, Chairman of the TRA added: “We are sorry that Rachel’s role in the success of Jumanji did not come to light until after the toy industry awards but we are pleased to be able to retrospectively present this well-deserved Game of the Year Award.”

HTI group reports a strong platform for significant growth In the company's latest financial report, HTI Group has said it is in a strong position to significantly grow both turnover and profitability. The company was established in 1952, when it was founded as David Halsall, and now has a presence across 66 countries and a product portfolio including brands such as Peppa Pig, JCB and Baby Born. For the year to 31st December 2018, JR Hutt Holdings reported a turnover of £62.9m compared to £63.1m the prior period. UK income is at £37.3m, with global sales amounting to £10.7m. European revenues rose from £10.4m to £14.8m. Accounting for exchange rate movements, total sales were up by £482,000. Pre-tax profits also increased from £1.17m to £1.48m, while EBITDA rose from £1.7m to £2.33m. HTI said it had continued to make progress against its medium-term strategic plan, noting that improvements had been achieved despite a challenging and uncertain retail environment, particularly within the UK. A spokesperson for HTI said: "The business continues to invest in its own innovative, tooled products with our current pipeline of investments significantly above historical levels, demonstrating our commitment to developing exceptional goods at the right price points for our customers. We have developed a strong, scalable operational platform that will support the business to deliver a number of new growth opportunities both domestically and within our international markets."

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News Exclusive - Asha Bhalsod launches Etopia Consultancy

Details of 2020 Independent Toy & Gift Show announced The Independent Toy & Gift Show is renowned for being a trade show with a difference, with the independent retailer at its focus, showcasing bespoke offers, merchandising solutions and new ranges. Next year’s show will take place on Tuesday 21st - Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at Cranmore Park, near Birmingham, with parking and lunch included with every free entrance ticket. The consumer trend of natural made and reusable toys has made recent headlines and has prompted the show's theme of Wooden Toys next year. There will be numerous dynamic displays encompassing the traditional toy category, offering inspiration for 2020 ranging. Ravensburger is taking over the Diamond Suite café with the Brio brand. Bookings for the 2020 Independent Toy & Gift Show opened at the start of November and over 80% of stands are already reserved by leading players in the toy industry. Exhibitors set to attend include Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, MGA, Playmobil and Spin Master among others. Exhibitor bookings are open to plaY-room Cenpac suppliers only. To exhibit, contact the plaY-room team. Register as a visit or at www. independenttoyandgift.co.uk.

Asha Bhalsod has 10 years eCommerce account management experience, including four years at Amazon and a further six years managing the Amazon/eCommerce businesses at Tomy UK and Melissa & Doug in Western Europe. "In these uncertain times for retail, eCommerce goes from strength to strength, with Amazon leading the way in European markets," said Asha, "Many businesses identify the opportunity, but feel they are ill equipped to deal with the complexities working with Amazon brings. From difficult operational models, to the world of self-service, Amazon management has its own set of challenges – and opportunities. Even once mastered by businesses, there is the ongoing question of how to continue growing your brand on Amazon." Asha added: "With the experience I’ve gained in the last 10 years, I decided to launch my own eCommerce consultancy. Etopia Consultancy was born to help brands create their eCommerce Strategy, and most importantly grow their Amazon business into Europe. Working with me is easy; As an ex-Amazonian, I speak Amazon and can simplify it. I also bring the invaluable experience of having worked for brands where Amazon has been a key retail partner. I can help unlock the potential and set your business on the path to ongoing success." Etopia provides a range of services, from help with starting account audits ranging through account management, creating and generating demand to improving conversion and using Amazon’s advertising platform to deliver the best results. For more information, contact Asha on asha@etopiaconsultancy.co.uk.

New toyshop opens in Leigh Leigh Toys welcomed its first customers as the store opened its doors for the first time on Tuesday, 22nd October. The shop is located in the town’s Spinning Gate Shopping Centre. Opening in time for the festive trading season, the store has a wide selection of toys and offers personalised, knowledgeable customer service, as well as a savings club where shoppers can pay for their items in weekly instalments. A spokesman for the store said: “Leigh Toys is delighted to join Spinning Gate Shopping Centre. We are looking forward to welcoming shoppers to enjoy and purchase our wide range of toys.” Spinning Gate Shopping Centre manager Karen Cox said: "We are absolutely delighted to welcome Leigh Toys to the centre. The opening of this brand-new store provides our shoppers with a great affordable offer in children's toys.”

FAO Schwarz unveiled at Selfridges FAO Schwarz has opened a 20,000 square foot toy department in Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street, and Toy World joined a selection of personally invited guests from the toy and media worlds at the opening event on 22nd October. Having seen the store in all its glory, the execution certainly doesn’t disappoint. The overall feel is that it offers “a real toy store experience” with the added wow factor you would expect from retailers of the calibre of FAO Schwarz and Selfridges. The department features a broad range of toys: a mixture of classic and emerging toy brands are well represented, while a selection of character licences also featured in dedicated bays. These brands and properties blend seamlessly with FAO own-branded lines to create a compelling offering. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Selfridge’s affluent customer base, products generally seem to be on offer at full retail price, and talking to some suppliers present, FAO’s margin requirements don’t appear to be especially onerous. As you would expect from an FAO store, in-store theatre is at the heart of the experience. On any given day there will be 29 different hands-on activations for kids to try, and consumer feedback has already been excellent, according to Hannah, who is heading up the department with her colleague James. The sense of theatre is enhanced by FAO team members, who engage enthusiastically with visitors. Comparing the new FAO store to other toy departments in the West End and Knightsbridge area, the general consensus is that it was good to see the space delivering “a real toy experience,” and with early sales said to be very encouraging, everyone involved seems confident that FAO Schwarz can establish itself a major destination store. FAO has also opened a branch in Dublin at Arnotts.

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Introduc ing the N ew Miniat u re Collect ible Ra nge!

COMING SOON! © 2019 Just Play LLC.

www.flairplc.co.uk


News newsanalysis

In good faith

R

BTHA Briefing Rebecca Deeming

Toy World spoke to Farzana Rahman, founder of the Desi Doll Company, which makes entertaining and educational toys and games for Muslim children.

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

You founded Desi Doll 10 years ago – how has the market for Islamic toys and other kids’ products evolved during that time? When I founded the business there wasn’t really anyone creating fun Islamic educational toys, which is the main reason I felt compelled to start the Desi Doll Company. Ten years later, we’re pleased to have inspired others to enter this market - but The Desi Doll Company remains the clear leader. It’s recognised as the largest independent manufacturer and supplier of Islamic toys worldwide. Our range of over 30 toys includes talking plush, talking wooden puzzles, talking books and much more, catering for ages 0-12 years.

Your latest launch, My Little Muslim Friends, aims to ‘promote respect and understanding amongst Muslim children and their peer groups’. Why do you feel this important? We live in a multi-cultural society, especially here within the UK, and we can clearly see the benefits these dolls will offer, helping to build friendships and increase knowledge from the youngest of ages. We hope My Little Muslim Friends offer diversity, challenge negative stereotypes about Muslims, encourage children to form friendships irrespective of beliefs and - above all else - show that all children just like to have fun.

When might be the best time for retailers to trial Desi Doll products instore? Our toys sell well year-round as they make great gifts. However, we see sales peak during Ramadan/Eid, when parents are seeking fun and beneficial toys for their children. Ramadan, which falls in April 2020, is always a great time to trial our toys in-store. Retailers should be aware that the Muslim consumer market is getting stronger; UK Muslims alone are spending over £20m each year, and this is an all-year demand.

What plans are in place for 2020, in terms of new launches and marketing? 2019 was a busy year for us as we launched new products and entered new markets, and 2020 is shaping up to be no different. We’ll soon be launching new sound books to the range as well as some other very clever (and top secret) ideas for our ever-growing consumer base to appreciate. Marketing continues to be our focus, as we spread the word through social media and global campaigns.

How important is the Muslim consumer base to UK toy retailers? I think that the Muslim consumer base will continue to be increasingly important to toy retailers in this country. In the UK alone there are 3.5m Muslims, and surveys show that their faith affects what they purchase. Smart, forward thinking UK toy retailers will be focusing their strategies and purchasing calendars to take advantage of this powerful and growing consumer base. We are taking orders now for Ramadan 2020, so if you’d like to try Islamic Toys in your store, now is the time to talk to us. Please email farzana@desidollcompany. com for our catalogue and price list.

I

am pleased to say that 2019 has been another successful year for the BTHA and our members. We hosted the Toy Compliance Masterclass at BAFTA, ran another incredible Big Challenge which is expected to raise over £90,000 for the Toy Trust, launched our Don’t Toy with Children’s Safety campaign tackling the issues of counterfeit toys sold on online market places and won the BEIS Sector Representation of the Year award at the TAF Best Practice Awards 2019. Unfortunately, last month we did have to cancel our annual Parliamentary event due to the general election. The event, set to focus on the works of the Don’t Toy with Children’s Safety campaign, has now been postponed until spring 2020. Further details and invites will be sent out in the New Year. We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated toys for the original event; these will be held for the new event in the spring. If you have any queries about the event, please contact Tiffany@ btha.co.uk. We held two free BTHA Training Hub webinars last month: ‘How to make the most of your BTHA membership’ and ‘Working with influencers and the law around them’. We partnered with our Toy Fair PR agency, Bastion, Sheridans lawyers and the Competition and Markets Authority to provide members and Toy Fair exhibitors with the opportunity to discuss legal considerations and best practice when working with influencers. We hold free training events for members all year round and advertise them in our weekly newsletters which are exclusive to members. If you are a BTHA member and don’t currently receive our newsletters, please email me at Rebecca@btha.co.uk. This Christmas, our Toy Trust Christmas Card initiative has kindly been supported by 37 companies in the industry, raising £11,200 for the Toy Trust. The initiative helps to raise money for disadvantaged children at a time of year we all associate with joy and toys and also helps the environment by reducing waste, so a massive thank you to all who have taken part. Please see the double page spread on pages 38 and 39. Now we’re in December, our attention turns to Toy Fair 2020 next month. As ever, we are looking forward to welcoming you all back through the doors of Olympia for three jam-packed days of toys, networking and more toys. We have announced that, for the fifth year running, we have partnered with KidsOut to run the Trolley Dash donations drive. The Trolley Dash collected more than 4,000 kindly donated toys for 2019 and we can’t wait to see the results for 2020. This year, the show will have its first ever Influencer Day. This will take place on the second day of the show, Wednesday 22nd, and is dedicated to influencers and bloggers, allowing for even more media coverage. Next year, our consumer campaign, Make Time 2 Play turns 10; that’s 10 years of promoting the benefits of play and placing toys within that messaging where possible. We will be sponsoring events and launching new partnerships across social media throughout 2020 to celebrate. Please follow @MakeTime2Play on Facebook and @MakeTimeToPlay on Instagram for all the latest updates. On behalf of everyone at the BTHA, we hope you all have a great Christmas, and I look forward to seeing you all in January at Olympia.

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Industry Moves Vic Bertrand of Mega Brands takes charge at Toys R Us Canada Vic has worked with Toys R Us Canada as a board member and advisor over the past 18 months. His appointment as president and CEO has been made following the recent departure of Melanie Teed-Murch as president, a position she held for three years. Over his nearly 30-year career at Mega Brands, Vic managed all aspects of global consumer products, worked closely with leading international retailers and built the Mega Bloks brand worldwide. Fairfax Financial Holdings, the current parent company of Toys R Us Canada, invested in Mega Brands in 2008, six years after the company went public, and held an interest until Mega Brands was sold in 2014. Vic said: “In 1986, when my father made his first journey into international sales from Canada, it was Charles Lazarus (the founder of Toys R Us Inc.) who noticed his tiny display in a crowded showroom and gave my father his first international order. It’s an absolute honour to join the Toys R Us Canada team and to partner once again with Fairfax for this exciting new chapter. While the company currently enjoys a strong leadership position in the Canadian marketplace, I believe we can be so much more to kids and Canadian families.”

Art + Science International welcomes Verity Groom As new international sales and marketing manager, Verity will be responsible for increasing international sales opportunities and managing partnerships, as well as raising brand awareness for a number of key Art + Science brands including Bling2o, Breakdown Plastic, Sindy and Action Man. Verity brings with her over 10 years marketing experience, having worked at Flair Leisure Products on its Girls, Pre-school and Creative Play brands. Prior to this, she worked at Aurora World in the marketing and product development team. Next year will see the arrival of significant new lines across the company’s portfolio including the relaunch of Sindy, the new Action Man collection and new innovative designs for swim accessory brand Bling2o. Verity said: “I’m really looking forward to the variety of projects that I am going to be working on at Art + Science International and I am excited to be focused on the growth and development of some great brands. My new role will see me building retail distribution across the UK, managing existing relationships with appointed distributors and securing new partners in new markets. I will also be working on exciting and innovative marketing campaigns and am especially looking forward to attending key international trade events.”

Sambro announces appointment of Kevin Langstaff as sales director Kevin started his role as Sales Director UK/Eire on the 2nd December. Having worked within the stationery, greetings, party and toys industry over the last 20 years for several global brand leaders, including Amscan International, FEVA (now Spin Master Toys) and most recently Pyramid International, Kevin brings a wealth of experience to Sambro. Kevin said: “It's an exciting time to join Sambro, as the new leadership team looks to drive the business into the next phase of growth. The timing fits the next stage of my career journey perfectly. I'm very much looking forward to working with the business, our licensing and production partners, and our customers in the coming months.” Tony Hicks, Sambro International CEO, added: “I am really pleased to welcome Kevin to Sambro.  His experience across the industry, and specifically our customer base, means he can hit the ground running to have an immediate impact as we continue to implement our value driven strategy.”

Jeremy Robinson takes on Redlands Distribution and Eolo Toys Jeremy Robinson brings a wealth of toy industry experience, with previous roles including UK sales manager for Tomy and UK country manager for Schleich. As new sales and business development manager, Jeremy will focus on developing the UK and Ireland markets across all sales channels for the entire Redlands Distribution product portfolio. Redlands has worked in partnership with the ThreeSixty Group in bringing the FAO Schwarz brand to the UK, with "shop in shop" agreements with Selfridges and Arnotts. It has also launched the Discovery/Discovery #Mindblown STEM ranges with a number of high-profile retailers. Jeremy commented: " I am delighted to be part of the team and am also tremendously excited to see the support and interest we are experiencing for the Discovery/Discovery #Mindblown Science and STEM ranges. Our offer has also been expanded to include the Sharper Image R/C, Robotic and Drone range, which is seeing high levels of interest in a short space of time.”  To further build on its existing UK business, and focus on penetration into new categories, Eolo Toys has also welcomed Jeremy to the role of UK Sales & Business Development. Jeremy commented "This is a hugely exciting time to be joining the Eolo team. The growing product offer, across both existing and new categories, gives customers a huge amount of opportunity to offer a fantastic range from a single and proven supplier. The new developments into the Feature Plush market in particular are already proving a great success.” Alex Prieto at Eolo Toys added “Eolo has been known mainly for kites and outdoor toys, but we are growing into other categories thanks to our in-house design and development team. Jez will help Eolo bring experience and fun to the UK & Ireland toy space” Jeremy can be contacted on 07772 482255.

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Marketing World Wicked Uncle unveils London tube advertising campaign The latest Christmas advertising campaign from Wicked Uncle was launched on the tube across London on Monday 18th November. The new campaign is the online retailer’s biggest ever and aims to give commuters a daily message to not forget Christmas presents for children, as we dive deeper into the festive period. This year the adverts feature three of Wicked Uncle's best-selling products – Quizzie (Mookie), the Smart Ball (Golden Bear) and Glow Art (Marvin’s Magic), with Stinky Pig (University Games) joining them for the enormous 48 sheet version. The additional 48 sheet posters for suburban stations, four sheets on every wall commuters walk past and over 600 x 16 sheet posters across the tracks with a further 100 x 48 sheets, all launched on the 1st December, plus some escalator panels. Wicked Uncle also has a test campaign running on the Glasgow Metro, before it takes over that next year.

Rizmo reports successful launch and further investment plans This September saw the global launch of Rizmo, the first-ever “evolving toy” that listens, learns, remembers and actually grows both in play value and physical form. Before its launch, Rizmo was previewed by popular YouTube influencers and industry experts. It went on to win Best Toy in the Variety toy category at the Tokyo Christmas Toy Trade Show and was selected as one of the Top 12 DreamToys by the Toy Retailers Association in the UK. In the run up to Christmas, Tomy will continue to support the campaign through TV, radio, PR and digital channels. The launch featured a television campaign, which started in September and will continue to December. There will also be a 12-week cinema campaign featuring advertising slots during screenings of Disney’s newly released Frozen II. Tomy has also invested in digital advertising with YouTube True Views, with advertisement slots continuing throughout December. This is supported with investment in advertising on over 150 child-friendly networking sites such as Animal Jam and ecommerce platforms projecting 18,000 clicks. David Harms, brand manager, said: “Given the level and breadth of marketing activity and support from our retailers, we expect Rizmo to be on the wish list for many children this Christmas”.

Brio debuts Q4 TV advertising campaign Ravensburger has begun rolling out its biggest ever marketing programme for the Brio brand. The centrepiece to the multi-faceted campaign is the first TV advertising activity celebrating Brio World. The heavyweight broadcast campaign began at the start of November and will run throughout the countdown to Christmas. Two spots have been developed, with one showcasing the Brio World Railway Starter Set and the second putting the spotlight on the brand’s interactive offering, Smart Tech. Both aim to capture kids’ imaginations with an impressively shot combination of real world and CGI animated elements, seamlessly interwoven. Katy Fletcher, Ravensburger head of marketing, said: “Brio’s TV creative is the perfect reflection of the Brio brand values and quality. The ads put viewers right inside the Brio World, taking them on an incredible journey through spectacular landscapes – so realistic you can practically feel the breeze as the Brio trains speeds along.” “We believe the superb creative TV advertising will unlock yet more potential for the brand. We’ll be maximising opportunities to see, combining TV and video on demand as well as online such as YouTube.” The roll out of the new Brio creative will complement other elements of the marketing campaign which takes in consumer events, store activations, print partnerships, online and public relations. All will continue throughout the final quarter.

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L.O.L. Surprise! hosts gig and after-party for new Winter Disco range L.O.L. Surprise! treated thousands of Christmas shoppers to a surprise gig from girl band Four of Diamonds in Covent Garden on 17th November, followed by an after party for competition winners and VIPs to celebrate the launch of the Winter Disco toy range. Members of the public and invited guests had the opportunity to watch the performance from Four of Diamonds, with a fully branded L.O.L. stage. Shoppers also enjoyed L.O.L. glitter makeovers and taking selfies with the giant O.M.G. wardrobe for a chance to win an L.O.L. Surprise! Amazing Surprise from the new range. The after party hosted celebrities and influencers, who attended with their families. 30 Smyths Toys Superstores competition winners were also welcomed to the performance and after party, where they had access to meet and greets with the band, the live unboxing of the Amazing Surprise by influencer Coco CousinBrown, makeovers and an interactive photo booth. The new Winter Disco range includes the L.O.L. Surprise! Amazing Surprise with 70+ surprises to discover, L.O.L. Surprise! Glitter Globe dolls, Fluffy Pets, Lils dolls, and the L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. dolls, featuring a Collector doll. Each collectible combines L.O.L. Surprise’s iconic layers of unboxing, packaging that transforms into winter-themed play sets, and stylish accessories. Debra Tiffany, marketing manager, said: "As well as continued marketing support throughout the year, Q4 is of course a crucial time for us. We continue to invest in our own Brainstorm Toys portfolio as well as supporting our distribution lines. Aqua Dragons and Addict-a-Ball are brilliant Christmas lines and are included in this year’s schedule."

Opinion

Christmas ads come but once a year, but it's getting later.

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

This month, Jonathan examines how Christmas advertising is increasingly being scheduled later in the year and the effect that this has on consumer behaviour.

T

he clocks go back, the dark, cold evenings draw in, and Christmas advertising adorns our TV screens. Or at least, this used to be how the story goes. Instead in 2019, we find a retail scene treading far more cautiously, waiting to react to consumer moods, rather than attempting to stimulate it. This is nothing new of course. Retailers and large consumer brands have been deploying Christmas campaigns later and later each year, to match consumer behaviours. With improved online shopping experiences, plus increased ease of delivery, savvy consumers are well practised in waiting until Black Friday to see if there is a chance the items on their, and their children’s, wish lists fall into the sales. The delay has also led to a growing emphasis placed on Halloween, as stores chase an additional spike in the calendar which has long been enjoyed by their US counterparts. As an example, Asda this year deployed 528 Housekeepers with Children TVRs using specific Halloween copy, a 6% increase on 2018’s campaign. With most UK retailers experiencing a YoY

decline in sales, it is unlikely that total ad spend will increase. This then leaves much less in reserve for Christmas, and it is not only the weight of activity which suffers. Let’s take John Lewis as a case study. Long heralded as the monarch of the Christmas advert, the company has been waiting later and later each year to begin its campaigns. 2015’s iconic ‘Man on The Moon’ creative began teasing as early as W/C 26th October. The 2019 campaign was rumoured to be launching on Friday 15th November at the time of writing; a full three weeks later than the same campaign five years ago. And what of Christmas toy advertising? Smyths, arguably the John Lewis equivalent in our market, with Oscar and his ‘If I Were A Toy’ melody, has been a regular feature on kids’ and parent’s screens since 2016. However, when Oscar first appeared on our screens in 2016, he did so as early as the 24th September. In 2019, Smyths revealed its latest ad online on during week commencing 4th November. Smyths is not alone following this trend in the toy market. The Entertainer has waited until the launch of Junior Bake Off during the same week to launch its tactical sponsorship messaging.

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This trend has been inspired by a multitude of factors, not least consumer behaviour. The improvement in online shopping experiences coupled with faster delivery turnarounds has encouraged later purchasing, so is it any wonder that retailers have delayed campaign deployment to match consumer sentiment? However, the continuation of this trend promotes a dangerous cycle of reduced footfall and a shortened sales window. It also forgets the potentially transformative power of advertising (when done well) to reinvigorate the market and bring Christmas forward in the eyes of many. So, roll on Christmas, and next year when someone wants to play a Christmas song on the 1st November! We should actively encourage them to do so, and maybe suggest it's Kevin the Carrot's version of Let Me Entertain You, or Oscar's If I Were A Toy...


Licensing World Boat Rocker Studios signs master toy deal with Golden Bear for Love Monster Boat Rocker Studios has signed a master toy deal with Golden Bear for its forthcoming children’s series Love Monster. The partnership will see Golden Bear produce licensed Love Monster products for the UK, Ireland and Australia across a wide range of categories including plush, plastic, role play, electronic learning aids, bath and wooden toys. This 2D animated 54 x 7 pre-school series features a little monster with a huge heart and is based on the bestselling pre-school books by Rachel Bright. Kate Schlomann, executive vice president of Brand Management and Content Marketing, Boat Rocker Studios, said: “We are thrilled to be teaming up with Golden Bear, which has an outstanding reputation for producing high quality toys in the pre-school space. We can’t wait to bring Love Monster and his cute furry friends from Fluffytown to life for children to cuddle & play with at home.” With a collaboration between BBC Children’s In-House Productions, Boat Rocker Studios and Chinese production company, UYoung, Love Monster is set to launch on CBeebies in the UK in January 2020. The warm and witty adventures follow hero, Love Monster, as he navigates the challenges of being the only monster in Fluffytown.

Lego unveils new Lego Technic Top Gear set

Jazwares to distribute FGTeeV toy line in the UK The FGTeeV toy line from Bonkers Toys is based on the popular YouTube channel, which has over 18m subscribers and 17b views to date. At the heart of the FGTeeV brand, the FV Family’s energy and enthusiasm is truly contagious. Video games and original characters come to life as Duddy and the kids perform silly skits and entertain viewers with custom music videos. Toy sales have enjoyed a strong start in the USA, and Jazwares will be distributing the line in the UK, with product out now at selected toy specialists and available to mass market in January 2020. Jonny Taylor, Jazwares UK managing director, says: “We are thrilled to be working with Bonkers on FGTeeV. The product line is irreverent and compelling, and based on the brand's strength we are confident it will be a huge hit with its dedicated fan base.” The FGTeeV family includes Duddy, the kids, and the whole cast of animated characters featured on their channels. FUNnel Boy, Derpy Bacon, Meggz, Postal Jenkins, and many others have been brought to life with the new range of collectibles, squishies and posable figures available in 2” to 6" scale. The hero item is the FGTeeV Giant TeeV, packed full of figures, collectibles and exclusive accessories.

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The Lego Group has revealed the first Lego Technic Top Gear set, in partnership with BBC Studios. The new Lego Technic app-controlled Top Gear Rally Car is an authentic looking GT Rally car for ages nine years and above and will be available globally on the 26th December 2019. Lego Technic designers joined forces with the BBC Top Gear team to co-design the body of the car and accompanying stickers, to create an ultra-realistic and fast looking racer that fans can enjoy building at home. The model is remote controlled via the Lego Technic Control+ app and contains functions such as steering, multi-touch control and gyro control, as well as different challenges and achievements to deliver a thrilling, immersive play experience. The rally car comes complete with one large motor, one XL motor and one Bluetooth-controlled smart hub. Niels Henrik Horsted, marketing director for Lego Technic, commented: “We are really excited to finally reveal the App-Controlled Lego Technic Top Gear Rally Car. The car offers a challenging build for ages nine plus who are into authentic play and intrigued about how things work. The Control+ app gives an extensive play experience with several different play modes and exciting challenges.”


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Licensing World Universal and the Lego Group unveil new line for Trolls World Tour

Little Tikes announces Little Baby Bum toy line launch date

Universal Brand Development and The Lego Group have unveiled an all-new line of construction sets inspired by the characters, scenes and musical genres from DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming feature film, Trolls World Tour. Trolls premiered in cinemas back in 2016 and has grown to become one of the largest global entertainment brands. The highly anticipated sequel, Trolls World Tour, will premiere in cinemas globally in spring 2020. The new film features Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake playing muchloved original characters, Poppy and Branch. The new Lego collection will hit retail shelves in January 2020 and will give fans the opportunity to build and recreate some of their favourite moments from the film. New construction sets include Poppy's Pod, Techno Reef Dance Party and Volcano Rock City Concert.

Following the announcement earlier this year that Little Tikes has been named as the master toy licensee for Little Baby Bum, the brand can now reveal that its range of plush characters and role-play toys will hit shelves in the UK in January 2020. The exclusive toy line will feature Twinkle the Star, Buster the Bus and a Sing-Along Piano to name a few, all developed to engage and educate children through music and play. Since its launch in 2011, Little Baby Bum has won global recognition, racking up over 23b views and over 21m subscribers on YouTube, for its modern twist on classic nursery rhymes and educational videos featuring cute and engaging characters. Now, this partnership will be bringing the stars of the YouTube series to life with a selection of soft and musical toys for babies and toddlers. Little Tikes has already launched the Little Baby Bum range in the US with great success and is confident the UK launch will be just as popular. Andrew Turner, acting head of marketing UK for Little Tikes, said: “We’re so excited to be bringing the magic of Little Baby Bum to the UK. It made perfect sense to collaborate with a brand that shares so many of our values in terms of encouraging educational and imaginative development through play. The initial launch will see eight products hit the shelves, and we’re sure they’ll be a complete sell out." The Little Baby Bum launch is being supported by a robust PR, social and media strategy.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield plush toys revealed The Pokémon Company International has announced a unique tie-in featuring plush toys of characters featured in the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield games. For the first time , fans were able to buy plush toys of the games’ new first partner Pokémon on the day the games launched for Nintendo Switch - 15th November. Plush versions of the new Pokémon - Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble – can be found at selected retailers in the UK, France and Germany. The 8" (20 cm) plush is exclusive to Smyths Toys Superstores, promoted on special freestanding display units for the video games and plush. The toys were also available with temporary exclusivity at Auchan hypermarkets in France and Müller stores in Germany. Manufactured by master toy partner Wicked Cool Toys, the plush is distributed in the UK by Character Options, in France by Bandai and in Germany by Boti. In addition to the plush, the release of the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Galar Collection coincides with the video games’ release. Featuring three never-beforeseen foil promo cards of the adorable new first partner Pokémon, plus one of three glossy pins, it marks an ideal way for fans to kick off their collection for this new region.

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NPD Insight Twas the quarter before Christmas… As 2019 draws to a close, Moneeba looks at current success stories in the toy trade and tries to gauge just how much current market trends will see an uptick, as the lion’s share of the year’s trading figures reveal themselves in the last few weeks of December.

A

t the time of writing this article, we are already 45 weeks into the year, and we’ve seen the UK toy market continue to face challenges. With just seven weeks to go until 2019 is over, the current market shows a negative trend of -8% in value and -13% in volume. However, we still have the most important time of the year to come. Historically, Q4 accounts for roughly 50% of the total toy sales for the year, so we have a big chunk of the market value yet to happen. In fact, in 2018, Q4 accounted for over £1b in terms of total market value, with December alone generating just under a quarter of annual toy sales. Each week in December was worth the same as any full month from January to September. Before we delve into understanding Q4 in a bit more depth, it is useful to look at the bigger picture. With the launch of so many new products in the market, it can be a tough battle for shelf space, especially with some non-pureplay retailers reducing their physical meterage for toys in an increasingly competitive retail environment. In Q4 last year, the average number of items stocked in grocers remained flat, whereas specialist & mixed retailers increased the average number of items stocked by 11% compared to the previous quarter. Along with range challenges at retail, consumer behaviour can change during the Christmas shopping period. In Q4 2018, nearly half the toy spend was on promotional items, which demonstrates the significance of promotions in the run up to Christmas, with events such as Black Friday and half term price

reductions contributing to increased spend at this time. In addition, the rise of web-based purchasing traditionally increases by +6pts in Q4, with nearly 40% of consumer spend on toys accounted for by online purchases. Consumers are purchasing more toys on promotion - and more toys online - in the most valuable trading period of the year. What is it that consumers are actually buying in this period? In Q4 2018, the Games and Puzzles supercategory almost doubled its share versus Q3 and was the fourth largest supercategory in the last quarter. YTD including week 45, this supercategory is one of only two in growth, up +4%, and we expect it to continue to grow in Q4. With Asmodee’s Dobble showing double digit growth and Hasbro’s Monopoly – both classic and licensed versions such as Fortnite - also growing, this is a key supercategory in driving value in Q4. Another supercategory to look out for is Dolls. In Q4 2018, the Dolls supercategory was worth 16% of value sales for the period and was the second biggest supercategory in the market. One of the key players is Barbie, which has been performing exceptionally well YTD 2019, up +34% and worth over £22m. Another key property in this supercategory will be the highly anticipated Frozen II. Already featured in Smyths, Amazon and Dream Toys Christmas lists, the Frozen Dolls are expected to boost sales in Dolls for Q4. L.O.L Surprise! O.M.G. Dolls are currently the No.9 item in the total market YTD, having only launched a month ago and are also expected to continue strong sales in the Christmas period.

Moneeba Baloch

Account Manager, UK Toys, Euro Toys For Q4, there is a great line up of licensing entertainment to come. In 2015, Star Wars was the number one licence, generating £79m in toy sales for the full year. With the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker later this year, we can expect to see a boost in toy sales in Q4. YTD including Week 45, the licence has generated just under £18m and we expect this to increase in the run up to the movie release. 2015 was a particularly successful year for Disney as the second biggest licence after Star Wars was Frozen. Historic data reveals that the licence reached its peak when toy sales generated £77m. YTD including Week 45, the licence has generated just under £5m and the success should continue into 2020. It isn’t just cinema releases we have to look forward to, with the DVD release of Toy Story 4 and Avengers Endgame, we expect more than £1 out of £10 to be spent on film-related toys. Not to mention the continued growth of the Harry Potter licence, which is up by +82% YTD, even without a movie release in 2019. It is hoped that these licences will combine to give a real push in toy sales before the year ends and improve the YTD trend we currently have.

Item Progression Item description

Rank Sept 2019

Rank Oct 2019

Harry Potter Advent Calendar

#18

#5

With Christmas around the corner, it is no surprise that advent calendars grew by triple digits for the month of Oct-19 and account for over 1% of the total market value. One of the biggest contributors was the Harry Potter Advent calendar by The Lego Group which climbed 13 places from its No.18 rank to No.5. In the month of October alone, the item had a value of £662k, averaging at a £20.91 retail price. In fact, the item did so well, it was the second biggest item for the Harry Potter licence as a whole and accounted for 14% of total Harry Potter licence sales.

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

Top UK Manufacturer Performance

Top 11 – 30 manufacturers are the best performers in the UK Market YTD, remaining flat with many growing strongly 46%

-9.2%

Top 10

17%

0.3%

Top 11 - 30

Manufacturers outside of the top 10

The top 10 manufacturers account for just under half (46%) of all spend on toys. However, manufacturers outside the top ten are performing better. The top 11-30 manufacturers are £750 £500 £250 £0 actually relatively flat, +0.3% YTD while the rest of the market Value Sales (£M) Yr/Yr % Change is down. Funko is the fastest growing manufacturer across the total market, up +92% and now ranking No.12 in the UK, Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service Projected | UK | YTD Wk 45 2019 with strong licence performances from Fortnite, Harry Potter, The NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential 1 Avengers and Toy Story. Another company that has seen huge increase this year is Moose Toys (formerly Worlds Apart) now a top 25 manufacturer in the UK potentially making it into the top 20 before the end of the year, with both Fortnite and Kindi Kids helping its share almost double so far this year. Zuru also continues to grow, up +19% with majority of their growth coming from Robo Alive, Rainbocorns and 5 Surprise. Simba is another fastest growing manufacturer, up +22%, with Playground Items showing double digit growth and accounting for 12% of the business. Dolls are also doing well for Simba as well as Vehicles. While L.O.L. Surprise! continues to dominate the Playset Dolls segment, Sylvanian Families has been steadily growing in 2019, helping drive Epoch to +15% growth. Collectibles are also helping drive growth, from both Basic Fun and Magic Box (SuperZings). Ravensburger is growing YTD, up +9%, mainly due to the success of Gravitrax. These manufacturers and others have enjoyed a very strong year in one of the most challenging years for UK Toy market. 37%

Top 30+

-10.0%

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Talking Shop

Jingle bell stock Rachael Simpson-Jones and Lisa Currie managed to grab some time with busy retailers to find out how they are faring in the all-important festive trading period, what products are in demand this Christmas and what plans they have for 2020.

Jenny Erwin - Arnotts, Dublin

Arnotts has been synonymous with Dublin since 1843. We pride ourselves on being a family department store with over 250,000 square feet of retail space. We offer a unique shopping experience to customers, stocking over 700 international brands and 100 craft brands, with a team of over 1,000 members who are passionate in their roles in the business. In 2015, Arnotts was acquired by the Weston family, thus becoming the newest member of Selfridges Group. 2019 has been all about bringing the iconic FAO Schwarz brand to Arnotts. As a team, we worked on all aspects of design, customer experience, product and team building, ready for the opening event on the 30th October. We held auditions in a local theatre to find our FAO Schwarz team members; this has resulted in energetic, enthusiastic performances from the team every day. The team is key to the success of the department; we need them to bring retail theatre to life. The opening of FAO Schwarz made the Dublin

location the fourth flagship store in the world, following on from the openings in New York, Beijing and London. The opening was a great success, with amazing performances and thousands of people coming through the doors of Arnotts to visit the department on its first day of trading. FAO Schwarz is now the entire toy offering at Arnotts. The FAO Schwarz tag line is “Return to Wonder”, and our new space has successfully evoked an emotional reaction in our customers; there is a surprise and delight element to everyone’s visit, offering adults a chance to feel like a child again. Moreover, FAO Schwarz has brought exclusive and unique interactive experiences to the store, whether you want to design your own remote-control car at the Build Your Own Race Car station, or meet our nurse and bring home a new baby doll from the bespoke Baby Doll Adoption Centre. We will continue to add in new unique experiences over the next few years. Customer reaction has been amazing to date, and we are very excited about the department’s addition to the store this Christmas. Our current best-selling lines are the plush FAO bears, motorised train sets, wooden building blocks and the dance piano mat. Discovery and Sharper Image products have also been selling well. At Arnotts, we are big supporters of STEM learning and it is fantastic to be able to work with a brand like Discovery and offer amazing products like Build Your Own Solar Engine, Science Rocket kits and the 4D Anatomy Dinosaur, which is one of our best-selling items. Discovery is developing apps to accompany these toys which is an exciting prospect for us. The Remote Control cars from Sharper Image have also been a huge success with the Tumbler and the Jumping Car being best-sellers from the range. We also work with key brands like Lego, Mattel, Hasbro, Playmobil, Schleich, Ravensburger and Brio. We have had a great reaction across all of the brands this year, with demand for Lego being incredibly high, alongside all the new Frozen II products from various suppliers. We have created dedicated areas of the store for both product ranges as a result. Sales of Barbie, Peppa Pig and Ravensburger jigsaws have also been strong, with the latter two brands selling especially well online. For Christmas best-sellers, I think the FAO Schwarz own-brand products will be popular because they are only available in Arnotts and include traditional, evergreen favourites like train sets and Jack in the Box. The iconic Soldier Bears

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and Bear in the Bag from the FAO plush range are also bound to be strong sellers for the festive period. In our dedicated Schleich area, we have a fantastic interactive 3D table where kids can walk a dinosaur through the jungle. This is great fun for our customers and is having a positive effect on Schleich sales. Board Games are also very popular, and always pick up considerably as Christmas approaches. It is great that we are able to support fellow Irish businesses, since the Hasbro games are made in Waterford. The run up to Christmas is always a busy time, with lots planned. The whole ethos of FAO Schwarz is constant entertainment and interaction, so every day we have the Toy Soldiers in the department as well as staff and customers dancing on the giant piano, carrying out experiments in the Discovery area and much more. The arrival of Santa Claus to Arnotts on Sunday 17th November was followed by a whole host of entertainment for children and adults to enjoy across the entire store throughout the festive season. The Arnotts Postal Parade is back by high demand, and takes place every Saturday and Sunday in December, as well as December 23rd and Christmas Eve, on the hour every hour from 12-3pm. The parade involves a brass band, Santa’s elves and toy soldiers marching throughout the store to collect kids’ letters to Santa from our post boxes. Every weekend in December, visitors to Arnotts will also be treated to instore performances from children’s choirs and dance troupes, as well as a special storytelling session with Ryan Tubridy. Customers can also take part in workshops, from making personalised baubles to creating modelling clay ornaments. Christmas is a very busy and exciting time for us. Next year, we plan to attend Spielwarenmesse, London Toy Fair and the New York Toy Fair. With FAO Schwarz, we have the opportunity to keep the toy department alive and interactive throughout the entire year. We will be working with all our brands to ensure we have a full marketing calendar which will provide exciting events, unique experiences and workshops all year round. Recently we had a 1:1 full size McLaren Lego car in the store, which got a fantastic reaction from both small and big kids. We plan to develop the Discovery and Sharper Image product offering and will continue to work closely with the teams in New York and London to make sure we keep the department relevant; exciting and stimulating for all of our customers, young and old.


Talking Shop Paul Wohl - Argosy Toys, Southend

Argosy Toys is very well established, having opened in 1947. As a result, we’ve had lots of repeat customers coming to see us over the last seven decades – many of whom came to the shop as kids themselves and now bring their grandchildren and great grandchildren. We appeal to the modern, younger consumer by being very active on our social media accounts and providing excellent customer service. We make sure we are knowledgeable about our product ranges so that our customers feel confident in what they are buying. Ultimately, we work the way a good oldfashioned toy shop should. We never perform high pressure selling, and that has always worked for us. Business has been going well, but we will most likely be down on last year, not only because the market has been slow in general but also because there hasn’t been a big enough craze this year. Last year’s big crazes, L.O.L. Surprise! and Squishies, have both experienced a decline this year and there hasn’t been anything else to replace those sales as of yet. However, L.O.L. Surprise! continues to be a best-seller, along with Lego. New product ranges for Disney’s Frozen II have been popular and selling very well, even before the film is released. Any Disney licence has the ability to generate sales, but the new Frozen products hit the ground running as soon as we got them in stock. We sold out of the Frozen II Lego

sets within the first week of its release back in October. The Anna and Elsa dolls from Hasbro have been a huge success, as well as the bigger toddler dolls from Jakks Pacific. Unfortunately, there are starting to be stock shortages on a lot Frozen II products already. I have made more orders for Christmas, but will have to wait and see what comes through the door. In terms of Christmas best-sellers, I can’t see there being one must-have item taking the spotlight. People are not crazy about spending lots of money on the latest big toy this year; I think consumers are seeking better value for money at the moment, but this means that sales should be steady across the board. In the run up to Christmas, we will be hosting a Harry Potter Lego day. Lego supplies us with component bricks for kids to build their own Patronus in store and take home for free. We are also holding a Nerf event where kids can come in and try out a Nerf gun. December is without a doubt our busiest time of year and fitting in activities like this can be tricky, but it’s worth it, so we always find the time. I think price cutting is the biggest challenge that we are all going to face between now and next year. 2019 has been a slow year, so retailers are fighting for market share even more than in previous years. Some of our customers will inevitably find products cheaper elsewhere with online portals being the biggest go-to

for price comparisons. Then it’s down to availability. Though still a best-seller, even Lego has been a bit up and down due to pricing. We find larger stores can offer Lego sets with 10%, 20% or even 30% off, which we, as an independent toy shop, simply can’t match. Many are under the impression that smaller shops will only sell a limited selection of products and so they opt to buy bigger toys and gadgets online. Independents have realised this and adapted what they spend their budget on, to some extent. That’s how we stay afloat in an ever-changing climate: we evolve, adapt and survive. My family has run Argosy Toys since 1987. My parents bought the shop the same year Toys R Us opened in the UK. The previous owners predicted they would have a difficult time, but we are the ones still standing. Though we face some challenges, there will always be a percentage of customers that value our expert knowledge and customer service, which is what independents like us can always provide. We are a part of a community that supports each other. We do our best to help local charities, especially in the run up to Christmas. We support the children’s ward at Southend Hospital and the Southend-on-Sea domestic abuse crisis centre. Some of our customers fundraise for them too. A young girl came into our shop recently with £4000 to spend on toys for children at the hospital, and we offered discounts to make sure her money went a lot further. We also run our own toy drive where customers can buy an extra toy to donate, and we deliver those donations to the hospital in time for Christmas. Suppliers often help us by donating boxes of toys for the organisations we support. It’s incredible to see so many people doing their bit to help. We are a small business in the grand scheme of things, but we do as much as we can. We are always very busy until the kids go back to school in the new year. Then we have three quieter weeks in January where we can tidy up and get ready for Toy Fair. We will be attending London Toy Fair in January and Spring Fair in February 2020. We haven’t made any more plans as of yet - for now we are focused on the busy Christmas shopping period. As well as ensuring we help others, my top priority is enjoying my work. If I can make some money too, it’s a bonus, but it’s the enjoyment that counts.

Ian Melville - Bright Star Toys, Linlithgow, West Lothian Bright Star Toys is a family-run, independent toy shop located on Linlithgow high street. We’ve only been open since the beginning of October, so we’re very much still in the shiny and new stage. Business has been great so far; this venture is proving to be really exciting. We had a soft opening to begin with. The footfall here in Linlithgow is very healthy; it’s a lovely, vibrant town with a flourishing retail sector, and the locals have welcomed us with open arms. We’re still waiting for our shop signage to arrive; Linlithgow is a conservation area, so we’ve had to go through all the planning permission and paperwork required for our permanent shop frontage, and there’s been a bit of a delay in getting it approved and installed. We’re aiming to tie in our official opening event with the proper signage arriving. In early November we ran a Pokémon Card Swap Shop, which let collectors

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swap their doubles either with us here at the store or with other swappers. It was really busy, which shows word about us is travelling around Linlithgow nicely. As it was so successful, we’re going to run Swap Shops on a regular basis. The feedback we received from customers on the day and on social media was amazing, so coming up with other event days is one of our priorities moving forward. We’re looking at holding a Hama Beads Make and Take Event, and are trying to get a character visit or two organised as well. We’ve also been running colouring competitions, which have been very popular, and a Ty Beanie Boo Competition too. Our core aim is to offer high-quality toys and games with a focus on brands you can’t necessarily get at major retailers. We’re currently working with Moose, Tomy, Schleich, Galt, Ty, Basic Fun and more. Linlithgow already has a B&M and an Argos, so we


indie viewpoint want to ensure we’re offering a point of difference to these stores with our toy selection. Best-selling lines so far include Squishmallows from Hexbug, distributed by Innovation First. They’re just lovely; I took a stand of 48 for the opening of Bright Star and after just a couple of weeks we’d sold out. All the kids make a beeline for them. There’s nowhere else in town offering Pokémon, so this is selling very well for us too – we’ve found that there’s a big Pokémon fanbase here. We stock Big Potato Games which have been going great guns; I knew the company from previous roles in the toy industry so was confident that the range would be a strong addition to the offering here. Hama Beads from DKL Beysal and games from Orchard Toys have also been well received. Christmas this year is a wide-open playing field, compared to other years in which you could point straight at one or two key lines, knowing they were going to be the best-sellers. This year feels very different, and it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. We opened the store having already placed most of our Christmas orders, so we’re well prepared for the festive rush. It’ll be interesting to see if we get asked for anything that we don’t currently stock, and we’re keeping a close eye on local trends. Several customers asked us for Brio early on, so we’ve brought this in alongside our existing range of Ravensburger games and puzzles. Feedback from customers in the run-up to Christmas suggests that arts & crafts items will be among the most popular gifts purchased this year. Parents like the fact that these products allow kids to create something they can keep or give away as a gift to a friend or relative. We’ll be taking part in as many local Christmas events as possible as the big day approaches. At the end of November we were involved in local events including the Linlithgow Advent Fayre, which included a late-night shopping evening, as well as a Christmas Window display Competition and the Christmas lights switch on. Beyond Christmas, I’m already looking forward to toy fair season. London Toy Fair in January is a great show; I’ve been several times in the past, albeit not as a toy shop owner. I also hope to make it to Spring Fair in February, which would be the first time for me. And of course, Toymaster in May is unmissable. It’s always been my opinion that smaller retailers have an advantage over bigger chains, as they offer a more personal experience, which is exactly what people are looking for. Our customers love the fact they can come in and see the toys, actually touch and feel them and get to grips with how they work and what they do before having to part with any money. It’s so different to shopping from a screen. Linlithgow is looking for retailers like us; in a town the size of this one, about 19,000 people, independents are more than capable of catering to the market, arguably more so than those located in bigger towns and cities which have other challenges to face. Another aspect of Linlithgow which makes it attractive from a business point of view is that it’s quite a historic town, so it draws in a lot of tourists. For the next few months our main aim will be getting our name out to the local community, and becoming involved in local events and community projects. Although Christmas is very much the focus at the moment, we have to look beyond that to building our brand and boosting community excitement in what we are doing.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Yule like this…

T

he last couple of months have been a mixed bag for us. We traded well throughout October, which was one of our best months of the year. Big deliveries of the new L.O.L! product certainly helped drive some volume, and the poor weather drove people inside shopping. But November has been tougher, although we had planned for it. With both half term and Black Friday falling a week later, right now it does feel like we are tracking a week behind last year in sales. However, we hope that things will pick up when Black Friday arrives at the end of the month. We participate in Black Friday, as our customers expect it. We are running deals for 10 days, and these are across a wide range of brands for all ages. Whatever you think of Black Friday, it drives customers into stores; they don’t necessarily buy the Black Friday lines, but often end up with more full price lines. Once the Black Friday period is over, it is the final countdown to Christmas. The final push seems to come later every year. With the election thrown in less than two weeks before Christmas, this year there is an added unknown factor in the mix. The late arrival of Frozen II and Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker films should boost sales of these licences and increase sales overall at the back end of the year though. This year has been an eventful one, with the most challenging market conditions we have seen since we started trading. The B word has certainly had an impact on customer footfall and sentiment, and has fed down to what people spend in our stores. However, we always like to put it in perspective. Last year was a very good year, with the Squishy craze, L.O.L!, a long summer and Harry Potter Lego; we were delighted with how trading went. This year, L.O.L! has continued to sell well, at a similar rate to last year, but there has been a lack of anything new really making a big impact in the market. Looking at our other bestsellers for the year, we have seen a huge increase in Pokémon; the trading cards in particular. The film has really helped, and with the launch of a new videogame, it looks set to continue into next year. In new lines, the standouts have been Baby Born Surprise from Zapf and Goo Jit Zu from Character. Both have hit a good price point and have encouraged repeat purchases. Boppi the Llama from Zuru has been a late winner, along with Robo Dinosaurs that continue to sell well. With the tougher trading conditions, we have found that customers are looking for promotions more than ever. We have now set up dedicated sale sections prominently at the front of our layout, and they are often the busiest section. This has improved the value perception of our stores and, with new lines arriving regularly, customers keep coming back to see what new offers we have. As we now have several stores, we can take in healthy volume on a strong clearance line, and there is usually lots on offer. Here’s to what has been an eventful 2019. Hopefully it will end with good Christmas trade for everyone, and we look forward to seeing what 2020 brings.

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Brand Profile

44 Cats

Groovy cats Rainbow’s 44 Cats began airing earlier this year, and has been met with rave reviews. Master toy licensee Siso Toys UK has high hopes for its toy range, which launches in Q1. Toy World editor Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Mayur Pattni, marketing manager at Siso, to find out more. How has 44 Cats been performing since it started airing? It’s currently among the top shows across all of Nickelodeon’s platforms, including Nick Jr. and Nick Jr. Too, and has got off to a phenomenal start in each broadcast territory, with incredibly strong ratings in the UK. The recent audience split is 60% boys and 40% girls, making it a gender-neutral proposition with widespread appeal. The show went free-to-air on Pop in September and early reads are very encouraging. Pop has invested heavily in marketing support for 44 Cats, having partnered with the company behind the animation, Rainbow, to take the characters on a London tour following BLE 2019. It is also driving awareness of the show with competitions and online presence. Season 1, which comprises 52 episodes, will also be landing on Netflix this month, while the 44 Cats YouTube channel adds another layer of content. This means the show has four distinct touchpoints - free-to-air, paid TV, YouTube and Netflix- setting it apart from a lot of pre-school properties, which often only have one or two by the time toys start hitting the market. To have all four in place before the Siso line rolls-out is a huge positive in our eyes.

What does the property offer from a toy perspective? There are a lot of dogs in the pre-school aisle, but there aren’t many cats. Everyone likes a cat; YouTube is overflowing with amusing videos of what they get up to. Our product line will appeal to feline fans, showing off the cute characteristics of the 44 Cats bandmates. The show is also multi-faceted; the core themes of community, friendship and problem solving come through in the form of the Buffycats, the band the cats play in, which adds a musical element on top. Additionally, each cat has a superpower which helps them. Lampo, the hero character, has whiskers that

glow if he is setting out to solve a problem in the correct way. Meatball, the funny one, has a tummy that rumbles when trouble is near, like a Spideysense. Pilou has eyes that glow, which she uses to distract villains, and Milady’s fur changes colour when someone is telling a lie. This gives our product range real depth and plenty of scope to expand.

be expanded for autumn/winter 2020, bringing in larger play sets based on recognisable locations from the show, such as the garage the cats hold their band practice in. We’ll also look to introduce musical toys to the range; microphones with sound and music, along with pianos and guitars, will let kids role-play being in a band themselves.

Talk me through your launch range, what can fans look forward to?

How is Siso supporting the range in the marketplace?

First up, and within the collectibles category, we have a range of mini figures hidden inside bright orange dustbins; each figure will retail for £3.99. There are 12 feline figures to find and collect within the first wave. We then have an assortment of eight basic figures priced at £7.99, covering each of the Buffycat band mates and their signature accessories; Lampo and Milady come with guitars, Pilou has a drum set and Meatball comes with his piano. Then you have Cosmo, a space fan who comes with a rocket, Lola, who comes with her makeup bag, Gas in his bathtub, and Boss, who’s a bit of a bully. He comes with the robotic dog he uses to torment the Buffycats. Three play sets are available based upon either Lampo, Pilou or Milady. Each is themed upon that particular cat’s personality, and comes with an exclusive mini-figure and a dish of spaghetti and meatballs, the Buffycats’ favourite meal. The twin pack colour-change cats reflect the super-powers mentioned earlier and are really fun. There is also a plush line. The basic plush is 5” tall (12.7cm), while the 8” (20cm) plush have musical features; press the cat’s belly, and it sings the theme song from the show. The four core characters are available. We’re keeping the launch range tight, with an efficient SKU count which will introduce the line at retail and meet the built-up appetite for product. It’ll

This is a high-profile launch for Siso. The company was formed in May 2018 and we spent the rest of that year setting ourselves up, which carried through to January this year. This means that 2020 will be out first full year of trading. 44 Cats is therefore our first major brand launch, and it’s very much a priority for us in terms of first half plans. We’re engaging in heavyweight TV and YouTube VOD, and we’re partnering with Rainbow on PR such as retail activations and bespoke campaigns. We’ll also be working with retail partners to support their online activities and catalogues. From launch, this support will help build and carry through momentum for the second autumn/winter launch in 2020.

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Where can the range be seen? It will be available to view in Hong Kong, but the major unveiling will be at London Toy Fair in January. 44 Cats will benefit from a large dedicated area on our stand. The characters will also be appearing in the parade on Press Day, and will be doing the rounds on the show floor. 44 Cats is a hugely exciting property with all the qualities needed to become a leading pre-school licence. Rainbow is providing massive support in building out the brand while we develop and market the toy range. It’s very much a collaborative effort, and I’m excited to see how the line is received at launch.


“In Nuremberg I get the needed momentum for the year ahead. The enormous offer gives inspiration for my product range and shows me where the market is going.� Cynthia Compton 4 Kids Books & Toys

w e n o t n i A le ap s a e d i s s e n i bu s The Spirit of Play trends and new products

www.spielwarenmesse.de/uk market overview

know-how

experience

product range


fresh FRESH THIS MONTH:

Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In December we have new releases from: Canal Toys, Panini & Innov8 Creative Academy.

Premier League Football 2020 Sticker Collection

So Sand DIY

Canal Toys 01904 379 123 www.canaltoys.fr/en

Panini 01604 877 888 | www.paninigroup.com

Panini is gearing up for the launch of its first ever Premier League Football 2020 Sticker Collection. The collection is due to hit shelves on 12th December with a heavyweight marketing campaign behind it. Football 2020 will feature the top footballing talent from one of the most competitive and spectacular football leagues in the world. Collectors will be able to get their hands on the league's top names and rising stars in a collection which boasts 636 stickers and plenty to look out for. The album this year is double the size, with double the stickers and double the number of stats and facts.

So Sand DIY is a new addition to the bestselling So DIY range from Canal Toys. This new Arts & Crafts brand, designed for the over six age group, offers children the chance to make their own magic Satisfying Sand from scratch.

Product SKUs include starter packs, packets, multipacks and tins. Football 2020 will be backed by a multi-faceted marketing campaign including heavy investment in both mainstream TV, VOD and digital activations, including influencer activity. There will be a nationwide sampling campaign across schools throughout the UK, grassroots clubs and the Premier League clubs. There will also be cover-mounting on key children's and football publications as well as a national newspaper campaign. Panini’s Football 2020 Premier League Sticker collection offers a significant incremental RSV opportunity for retailers, and is viewed by the company as a must-stock collection. For more information, or to receive a complementary POS pack, please contact Rebecca Smith rsmith@panini.co.uk.

The Reindeer Feeders

Innov8 Creative Academy (353) 831 053 017 | www.thereindeerfeeder.com Innov8 Creative Academy believes it’s time for a new Christmas tradition, so The Reindeer Feeders are coming to homes for 2019. These magical creatures, which hail from the North Pole, are called Shrumann’s (Shrunken Humans) and they have a very important role at Christmas; they let Santa know that everyone is asleep before he enters a home. Once this task is complete, the Shrumann can then pop up to the roof to feed Santa’s reindeer while he delivers the presents. By carrying out this essential and helpful role, Santa is able to do his job with added speed; after all, he needs all the help he can get. Inside every box is a storybook which introduces kids to Erik, a young Shrumann struggling to understand the importance of Reindeer Feeders to Christmas. By the close of the story, Erik realises what the true meaning of being a Reindeer Feeder is and finds his happily ever after. Each box includes: a luxurious Reindeer Feeder plush, a feeder’s licence to personalise, a hessian sack which can be used for storing carrots for the reindeer, a reusable Santa window alert, and a copy of the The Reindeer Feeder Storybook. The response to the product has been overwhelmingly positive so far, and was placed No.1 on the Top 10 Gifts this Christmas list by the UK children’s media company Immediate Media Company in 2019. Additionally, the company is in early discussions around a Reindeer Feeder feature film. To find out more, please contact Gavin Lawler, founder of Innov8 Creative Academy: Gavin@innov8academy.com.

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Each product in the So Sand DIY range comes with everything kids need in the kit to make their magic sand, including a unique So Sand storage pot, brightly coloured sand and the magic formula as well as surprise, collectible cutting tools and pattern makers. AMSR (audio-meridian-sensory-response) is a popular YouTube trend among children in which listeners find entertainment and satisfaction in white noise such as sand rustling. The in-house team at Canal Toys has created So Sand DIY to help retailers capitalise on demand for toys in this sphere as well as the filling the market gap for a DIY magic sand product. This trend allows children to be creative and enjoy satisfying sounds, shapes and movements through the magic sand they’ve created. So Sand DIY, with its unique design, lets children have fun producing satisfying rustling and scratching noises as they finely cut and press the sand into shapes using the guides and tools provided. Launching in January 2020, the range includes: Mini Satisfying Sand, Satisfying Sand Kit, Satisfying Sand Case, Satisfying Sand Station and Satisfying Sand Ball Case, with competitive price points ranging from £2.99 to £24.99. In addition to the industry-wide launch, a full-scale PR and marketing campaign will include both digital and TV media.


h Inspire Home to the finest, most magical children’s toys and gadgets – Let the games begin!

springfair.com


Special Feature

ICTI Ethical Toy Program

Maintaining global standards

ICTI Ethical Toy Program is the world’s leading ethical manufacturing programme for the global toy, play and entertainment industry. It works with vendors, retailers and manufacturers, supporting them to ensure labour standards in their supply chain, thereby improving supply chain reliability and protecting their company reputation. Carmel Giblin, CEO and president of the Ethical Toy Program, spoke to Toy World’s Rachael Simpson-Jones about the latest Global Trends Report, and what the future holds for toy manufacturing. What is the purpose of the Global Trends Report? The report gathers all the information collected from the thousands of audits and factory assessments we do. Its purpose is to help our members better understand the opportunities and challenges that the toy industry faces. The programme works with 1,200 factories covering 12 countries, and as we move into 2020 the number of factories will increase along with the number of countries where we operate. The data we share in this report also gives the Ethical Toy Program valuable insights into how it we should respond and further evolve to serve industry needs in future.

Can you tell us about your audits this year, including the most common audit violations and reasons for termination? This year we’ve conducted over 2,000, mostly in mainland China but also in India, Indonesia and Vietnam. We have hundreds of audit points on our

checklist, including working hours, wages, safety and zero tolerance issues like child labour, which enables us to assess a factory’s compliance with our standards, which are agreed upon by the toy industry. Our standard evolves and develops as conditions improve and as new risks emerge, so the data we collect allows us to focus on the right areas. We also look at worker profiles; gender splits – for example, how many women are employed and how many of them are in management roles compared to men – as well as age and ethnicity profiles. Our work seeks prevent the most egregious issues such as child and slave labour. It’s difficult to identify issues like forced labour and people trafficking, which are often criminal in nature. That’s why we are in the factory, talking to workers directly. Sometimes the victims don’t realise they are victims, believing it’s perfectly acceptable to pay an ‘agent’ a large fee to find them a job. This money must be paid back from their wages, and so indentured servitude begins. In other industries you see workers paying back these

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fees for years before starting to make any money for themselves. These people are totally vulnerable to exploitation; they have a debt they believe they owe and are morally obligated to pay, for fear that if they don’t their families may be targeted by gangs. Our checks cover things like whether workers have their passports with them, if they had to pay fees to secure their job, if they’re paying for their accommodation, and, if so, are the fees being charged excessive. We also require workers to receive their wages directly. This prevents the agent taking a cut before paying the worker. The Ethical Toy Program Worker Helpline runs alongside our auditing process, and has received around 18,000 calls since it was launched. This year we’ve received around 1,500 calls. The helpline lets us cluster issues into groups and allows us to act quickly if we’re getting a lot of calls about a specific issue at a specific factory. Additionally, if we’re getting a lot of calls from workers about issues unrelated to compliance, it gives an idea of how we can have a


more positive impact for workers. Our latest report focuses on the certified factories that we work with, covering around 600,000 workers, and from it we’ve identified several key points: • The majority of production level workers in a factory are female – around 58% in China, as high as 83% in Vietnam. Recognising the importance of women in the toy production industry allows us to have a greater positive impact on that sector of the workforce, through women empowerment and support with childcare. • Factories are getting smaller - the average factory is 4% smaller in China and 10% smaller in Vietnam this year. This is due to market consolidation amidst challenging trading conditions and higher levels of automation. In China, attracting and retaining workers is a challenge, so wages are increasing. They’re also creeping up in Vietnam, as the region becomes a larger sourcing location. Businesses are therefore considering how they can reduce the number of workers required. They may also look to outsource processes, which is where added risks start to appear. Subcontracting is a good thing if it’s overseen well, but when the end buyer doesn’t know that their supplier is using a subcontractor it becomes a major supply chain risk. • Average working hours are 64.3 hours per week - this hasn’t changed much over the last couple of years. Hours differ between countries, due to laws and culture; in China, hours worked average 64.9 a week, whereas in Indonesia it’s 44.9 hours. Chinese migrant workers are away from home, so the hours tend to be longer, but in places like Vietnam and Indonesia, workers are working where they live and have responsibilities outside of the factory. Hours vary slightly between peak season and off-season, but not dramatically; around two hours a week. The Ethical Toy Program sets standards for factory assessment. If a factory isn’t meeting the standards, and shows no interest in attempting to, then we will terminate it by removing its factory certification. This year we have terminated 153 factories [correct at time of interview], which is approximately 10% of our certified base. While this might seem like quite a significant number, it’s average for us. Factories who are struggling to meet the standards but have committed to a set of remedial actions are placed on probation for a fixed period; usually around 12 months, but it varies depending on the issue. This gives us the ability to work with and support the factory, with a view to them meeting those standards within an acceptable timeframe. One of the biggest challenges is making sure that what you’re shown during the audit process is genuine. In mainland China, some factories will spend a lot of money generating false records that show working hours or the wages paid to be meeting the industry standard. We’re one of the best programmes at identifying false records; we look as multiple sources of data to ensure correlation. If the factory is transparent with us we will work with them to address the issue. Terminating a factory is a last option for us, and is only done when there is no other choice. In China, the most frequent issues which would

result in a termination are environmental health concerns and workplace safety, particularly involving emergency responses. On the flipside, lack of worker availability means we see very few problems with paying wages, bar the occasional issue with correct overtime payment. Proper payment is the norm, as there’s a vested interest in retaining workers and

Chinese challenges centre upon the availability of workers, but the response to this has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. In a programme like ours, workers are now treated as an asset rather than a commodity. I’ve been working with Chinese factories for 20 years, and over the last five years I’m pleased to say that factories have become really engaged with finding ways to create better environments for their workers. Workers are also much more aware of their rights; they won’t tolerate bad working environments, and are actively looking for things that will impact their life positively – childcare and education, for example - rather than just basic standards like a safe working environment. While poor worker availability has driven standards, it comes with associated risks. Seasonality in the toy industry means factories may downsize their workforce by 40-60% outside of peak production, but by the following March they will be looking for a huge number of workers, leading to intense competition for jobs. This can lead to forced internships, where universities are paid by factories to place students in employment that has nothing to do with their course, but is essential in order to be able to graduate. This is clearly forced labour. Awareness is crucial; most factories don’t ask the right questions, so we offer tips on avoiding these pitfalls. As we saw with the recent lorry tragedy in the UK, people can be desperate to move in order to find work. Being able to choose work freely, and be in a non-exploitative environment, is a basic human right. The toy industry is certainly not one of the biggest polluters out there, but scrutiny of toy factories and their impact on the environment is increasing, particularly in China. The Chinese EPA is aggressive in its actions and will shut down polluters immediately, so we’re seeing much more interest in regulatory compliance. There’s also a lot of interest in supply chain diversification to combat the threat of trade tariffs and currency fluctuations. The trade war between China and the USA, although it may ultimately be resolved, has made a lot of people realise that this is a vulnerable industry. Approximately 90% of the world’s toys are made in China.

What kind of feedback have you received from the factories themselves regarding the Ethical Toy Program?

fierce competition between factories. In Vietnam, however, wages are an issue; specifically, wages don’t meet legal requirements and compensation for workplace injuries isn’t paid properly. And in Indonesia, the third largest country we deal with, worker representation and the robustness of labour contracts are the main issues.

How have the issues identified by the Ethical Toy Program changed in recent years?

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Over recent years, we’ve repositioned the programme so there’s less policing and enforcement, and much more positive engagement and support offered which builds mutual trust and respect. We want the factories we work with to understand that the Ethical Toy Program is here to support and help them. It’s in the best interests of workers if factories continue to operate, and we want to help them do that in a way that ensures workers are both respected and safe. We held a seminar at the China Toy Expo in Shanghai this year, in which factory and brand members shared their experiences of the programme, and it was really positive. We spend a lot of time with factories on root-cause analysis, understanding where non-compliance


Special Feature stems from. One of the biggest challenges is working hours; how to meet the demands of clients within the standards that we set. We set an upper limit on working hours that we believe is safe and healthy, but, even with our limits, factories may struggle to comply – and if they turn work down then they’ll go out of business, which is no good for anyone. In November, together with the Hong Kong Productivity Council, we hosted management teams from 100 factories for training on production planning. If management is better at production planning, then there won’t be so many crazy demands on hours. On the face of it, while this is outside our remit it will ultimately improve worker welfare. This is a perfect example of the ways in which we’ve changed our programme, using data from across the 15 years we’ve been operating to resolve issues, rather than just recognising their existence. A couple of years ago we started our Family Friendly Spaces programme, which has expanded from just a couple of factories to 30 factories and 1,200 children in 2019. Our data provides empirical evidence that trust levels between workers and management have increased, and worker retention has increased significantly too, meaning reworks have decreased thanks to a stable and experienced workforce. All of this improves the bottom line, and factories tell us that these programmes make a tangible difference to their business.

Does the information you’ve compiled affect regulatory requirements and legislation? We don’t lobby for increased or new regulation and legislation - that is not our role. Instead, the Ethical Toy Program helps members meet their regulatory and due diligence requirements. When

ICTI Ethical Toy Program

new regulation comes out, whether on major issues like trafficking or smaller ones such as the minimum wage, it’s reflected in our checklists. This provides a very cost effective way for our members to meet their legal obligations, and it means small companies can have the same confidence as the likes of Mattel or Disney that their supply chain is being correctly assessed. It also offers a way for companies to improve their public perception. Where working hours are concerned, we have a higher tolerance than the set working hours in China. The reality is that no factory in any industry in China is working those set hours; they all work more. If you set a requirement for the set hours, you will simply be presented with falsified records. We must be realistic in our expectations, and give factories the opportunity to be honest with us.

How can companies working with certified factories stay abreast of changing or new regulations? The easiest way is to subscribe to our newsletter. We also offer blogs and webinars on specific topics, which are listed on our website. I also suggest that people involved in the toy trade become members of their national toy association. Our focus is peoplecentric regulations, so for things like chemical regulations, the toy associations tend to be better equipped to provide insights and support.

Is the Ethical Toy Program able to make any predictions about the next few years, based on the insights and data gathered during 2018/19 – can you foresee any new challenges or opportunities ahead? We’ll see continued production cost increases in

China and other countries. To mitigate this, factory sizes will decrease through automation, where possible, or supply chain diversification. While China will remain a significant manufacturing country, particularly for sophisticated types of production, you could well see the most labour-intensive processes move to India and Indonesia, where labour availability is greater and the costs lower. We’ll see increased regulation on environmental, social and governance issues, and there will be increased demand for public disclosure and transparency. Over the last couple of years, the toy industry has been impacted by various events, and this will continue; high street retailers are still struggling. Only recently did we hear about Mothercare closing. The loss of such high street retailers can have a significant impact on innovation. We don’t have the same number of retailers around who, in the past, would take a gamble on products or on smaller or less well-known companies. As a result, the big companies are becoming bigger, and the playing field is a lot less level. From our side of things, the Ethical Toy Program will continue to move away from an audit only focused approach. Over the past 15 years we’ve worked with hundreds of companies and thousands of factories, and millions have been spent on compliance to drive standards, but now we need to build on those foundations to focus more on impact rather than just data collection. The toy industry is innovative and resilient, and has an exciting future, but it needs to adapt and evolve to meet changing consumer expectations and operating environments. We are here to help our members to succeed. To become a member, email the Ethical Toy Program at join@ethicaltoyprogram.org or find out more at www.ethicaltoyprogram.org.

Data from the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association’s latest Annual Industry Report shows: • I n 2018, total export value of toys (total broad category) from China was US$45b, an increase of 2.24%. Despite talk of moving out of China, this region is still an important manufacturing location for the toy industry • The USA is the largest single market for China exports; traditional toys were 29% of exports to USA in 2018, but other important markets include the UK & Europe • In 2018, ~22% of traditional toys exports came to the UK & Europe • The top two destinations for traditional toy exports from China in 2018 were USA (US$7b) and UK ($13b) •G  uangdong, a province in Southern China where the ICTI Ethical Toy Program is very strong and has a high penetration of toy factories, accounted for 55% of total toy exports from China in 2018. Exports from this province grew by 5% in 2018

Toy World 36


All of these companies will not be sending out Christmas cards this year. Instead, they have generously supported the Toy Trust by donating their Christmas Card budget to the Industry’s charity. In 2020 The Toy Trust will again be inviting the Industry to get involved with a number of exciting new events as well as the annual fundraising activities. Details and dates will be publicised in the New Year and updated on the BTHA website

www.btha.co.uk/toytrust


Viewpoint Why did Mothercare UK fail?

Ruth Clement Ruth is director of insight at Consumer Fluent, a UK based company with global reach, its own panel of family shoppers, industry experts and access to kids for qualitative and quantitative research in 15 markets worldwide: www.consumerfluent.com

M

any commentators would have us believe that the demise of Mothercare UK is down to its failure to shift its operations and investment onto e-commerce. Whilst internet competition was partly responsible for Mothercare UK’s misfortunes, few retailers will succeed if they manage their customer proposition in silos. Store channel neglect 60% of UK pre-natal mums are still keen to shop in physical stores for nursery goods. The shift towards internet shopping for pre-natal parents has slowed down in recent years, after an initial surge by the segment which pioneered home delivered online shopping. This is confirmed by the thousands of pre-natal and new parents I’ve interviewed in person or who have answered our surveys and been trended over the last 15 years. New and pre-natal parents are “category novices”. They thoroughly explore categories before they can confidently shop them and spend time and effort in the lead up to birth, working out a set of priorities, including how they will fit in with homes and lifestyles. What makes this process easier and more pleasurable is when expectant mums can touch, feel, and even smell nursery goods before purchase, and the only place they can do that is in a store.  Goods on display in nursery stores evoke an almost primal response, symbolic of the burgeoning excitement and anticipation when starting a new family. Take that away, and the category is sterile. Mothercare UK stores played a central role in this process, a fact which is evidenced in its own sales figures. Like for like sales (for the remaining 79 stores) held up remarkably well, down just -3.2%, which could be considered a good result in comparison to many other retailers in these challenging times. Even before the closure of 55 stores, Mothercare UK converted more visitors to sales (60% conversion across the entire bricks and mortar estate) than any other physical store or catalogue retailer in nursery, despite the deterioration already evident in staffing levels and consequentially long queues at the

checkout. However, whilst the focus of many retailers is in driving traffic to their websites, it often comes at the cost of driving traffic through their doors. What happened to all those shoppers who lived in the catchment areas of the 55 stores which closed? Did they all migrate online to Mothercare.com? The figures suggest it’s highly unlikely. Mothercare UK’s total online sales have declined since those closures, by -12%, and that decline has been largely attributed to the loss of the ordering terminals (online iPads) located within those 55 stores. In other words, that process of shopping in store, examining the product, deciding what to buy, but ordering on a terminal, would have been worth the best part of 12% of the total online business, generated via the 40% of their store base which was closed and a core part of their store conversion.  Omnichannel equity Once upon a time Mothercare.com had a tone and feel which replicated all that was best about the brand for pre-natal parents. It showcased itself as a trustworthy source of advice, tapped into our emotions and was an easy reference point when making complex purchase decisions. However, in its current form, the user experience lacks the right taxonomy, from the moment shoppers try to navigate categories to the order in which product thumbnails are placed and product pages are designed. Our research shows that Marketplace has diluted trust in Amazon amongst new parents, but like Amazon, Mothercare.com looks commoditised and has lost its charm and clarity.  Price competitiveness Once parents do migrate to shop online, Mothercare has always been instantly vulnerable and exposed to competition on price. In 2017, mums judged Mothercare and Babies R Us to be the weakest performers on low prices and discounts. Once on maternity leave, mums make it a primary mission to save money, having to budget on lower incomes throughout their leave period. Mothercare’s reliance on exclusives may have been designed to protect margins against competition on price comparison sites, but it also reinforced the shopper

Toy World 40

perception that Mothercare was more expensive. In addition, Mothercare persisted with substantial range commitments in categories (e.g. clothing) where it simply could not compete on price against the multiple grocers. Customer lifetime value operational e-commerce As parents return to work, service and convenience take on a whole new meaning. Parents will not tolerate a time-wasting trip to a store where there’s no stock. Parents won’t complete purchases if they can’t book delivery slots within a reasonable time frame. Mothercare. com is simply not set up to meet either of those shopper needs. It does not provide store stock availability. Every delivery, whether a packet of baby wipes or a piece of equipment, is planned to a 5-7 working days delivery window and at any time of the day. Over time, these weaknesses would erode the strength of any brand, not least Mothercare UK. By 2016, we were already seeing real decline in the most fundamental of measures - brand awareness - amongst the next generation of pre-natal mums. Although the conversion rate from visit to purchase in store looked resilient, what has been less certain is the saliency and relevance of Mothercare as a brand overall, handicapped inevitably by its somewhat old fashioned and alienating name. The UK is an advanced e-tail economy and has led the field in online shopping since the early noughties. Mothercare’s international franchise partners should prepare for the impact that wholesale migration to online shopping will ultimately have on their business model, but they can also learn from Mothercare UK’s other failings, fundamental to its retail proposition, and advance a more cohesive omnichannel approach to managing the brand. Here’s how: by knowing their shopper, and focusing on the following: • Be competitive on price, build a strong value perception • Drive traffic through the doors, not just to web pages • Optimise customer lifetime value through changing needs for convenience over price


F

or those of you who aren’t familiar with The Sound of Music, the song referenced as the title of this piece is a key part of the storyline; essentially, the song is of sufficient length to allow the family to escape. I’ve thought long and hard about how many of us would probably like to escape from 2019 and the many challenges it has presented. 2019 was the year we were due to leave the EU. It is apt that I mention long goodbyes because we were supposed to leave on 29th March, then we were going to leave on 31st October, yet we are still here. But it’s ok, an election will fix this… This situation has played havoc with planning, causing everyone to feel uncertain and uncomfortable and the exchange rate has become a barometer for this. Without the usual certainty in our business life, we have all been forced to question everything, and there have been the inevitable winners and losers. A number of retailers are reporting continued record profitability, but I don’t see the same headlines coming from the supplier base. As we march headlong into the final days before Christmas, everyone is awaiting the Christmas kick. Black Friday is now viewed as the saviour before Christmas, but nobody seems to be able to agree what Black Friday is any more. It started as a oneday sale driving a 24-hour buying frenzy. Then it was extended to

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Cyber Monday, making it a four-day, specially bought for promotion, tied to Thanksgiving. Today in the UK, it has morphed into a six-week sale event, without having the same price reduction and cut through. I’ve seen retailers with over 100 Black Friday toy deals, some offering a discount of only 5%. The original positioning of this promotional activity to suppliers was a large volume production run, to create a promotion that consumers “would cross town for”; an in- store only deal. Sadly, the frenzy got a little out of hand in one or two stores, with customers fighting over heavily discounted TVs, but the principle was always a targeted event, staffed accordingly and with salivating consumers, ready to buy. A short sharp hit to kick off the Christmas season. The retail market has evolved, and the volumes of consumption have changed too. Items promoted at larger chains are often not being snapped up by avid consumers; instead they are predominantly mopped up by savvy resellers. A number of large retailers have run promotions on hero products. If you view the hero lines on Amazon. co.uk, they are “on sale” from over 50 sellers. I nearly said suppliers, but that is the wrong word. Have a click into the stock levels of these parties, most have just two to six pieces of the item. The more sophisticated of these sellers are even using arbitrage

ovember turned out to be a memorable month for retail for all the wrong reasons; a black month as opposed to a Black Friday, with the very sad news that both Mothercare and Mamas & Papas (coincidently when all the leaves were brown and the sky was grey) went into administration. Collectively the largest multiple nursery retailers in the UK disappeared in the same week, and in the case of Mamas & Papas, reappeared as if by commercial (black) magic.

from last year, when the UK nursery industry also lost big name retail distribution in Babies R Us. The failed re-invigoration of Kiddicare, first by Morrisons and then by Dunelm, meant that the brand was permanently closed in 2018.

Nursery product has always sat adjacent to toys in both product and life-stage terms and therefore has significant supply cross-over, with many pure infant pre-school toy brands such as Lamaze, Chicco, Fisher Price and Vtech all supplying the nursery channel.

The sad demise of Mothercare UK and parts of the Mamas & Papas retail estate is an obvious opportunity for the highly fragmented nursery independents, who continue to survive by offering amazing customer service, leading brands and realistic pricing.

These developments follow on

Nursery is also not (yet) an area particularly well serviced by the retailers who have picked up the toy demand from other retail failures; B&M, Home Bargains, The Entertainer and The Range. However, Smyths does an admirable job with a basic core nursery offer, albeit in a limited ‘back of store’ footprint.

Other retail sales impacts in

software to spot the pricing gap/ benefit of listing as a seller. These clever people don’t even buy the stock. They rely on taking the order through Amazon and then processing the order to the alternate national retailer to fulfil. That is the market we are in today. We have savvy consumers and retailers (to a point) and in between there are gaps. It is these gaps that provide an opportunity for smaller companies. We cannot end up in a position where there are only large retailers and suppliers with no room for the independent retailer/supplier. 2019 has been a year of lessons for me: some of them more painful than others, but lessons all the same. There are so many questions as we go into 2020: Do we go to Hong Kong? If you don’t go to Hong Kong, which trade fair do you go to? Will London Toy Fair become increasingly important? What exchange rate should we use? Will Brexit happen? What I do know from experience is that we will all go into the New Year with optimism, because that is what we do. You won’t see a toy industry person moping in January. Every salesperson will be telling you that Christmas came, it came late, but it came - and we are going to do better in 2020.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, good night…

Nat Southworth

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

My hope is that we will all be saying that because it is actually what happened.

November included the flooding in parts of the Midlands and Yorkshire, making many town centres and out of town shopping destinations no go areas. This regional impact on retail sales during the busiest weeks of the year will register on a national scale when the November retail figures are announced. Retail Gazette reported in November that 44 UK retailers of scale had gone into administration in 2019, a few of them more than once after short term rescues failed to secure the businesses in the long term. This year it was fashion that was heavily impacted by retail failure, with many of this year’s largest retail casualties have being clothing dominant chains; 15 on the list are fashion related. Let’s hope a strong December brings some festive cheer to the toy industry and the momentum carries well into 2020. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Toy World 41

The Long Black Friday – Part 2

David Ripley David is currently EMEA category director at Groupon. His long career as a toy buyer has included stints at a number of the industry’s largest retail accounts.


Feature

Nuremburg Toy Fair

Destination Deutschland Spielwarenmesse returns from 29th January to 2nd February 2020, offering new trends, new speakers and a whole lot to see and do. Toy World looks at what’s on offer from the upcoming iteration of this unmissable international show.

Ernst Kick

The Spielwarenmesse is one of the most important gatherings for the world’s toy industry,” explains Ernst Kick, CEO of the Nuremberg-based trade event. “Almost 3,000 exhibitors from more than 65 countries present their innovations here every year, including all the key players and important brands. Together with innovative start-ups, they offer the 70,000 or so trade visitors a terrific choice of around a million products. The Spielwarenmesse therefore provides buyers and retailers with a comprehensive overview of the market. 48% of trade visitors to Nuremberg have told us that the Spielwarenmesse is the only show they attend, which illustrates just how highly rated it is by the industry.” The show celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2019, a landmark event that brought with it several positive changes. The new Electronic Toys product group was welcomed by exhibitors, who appreciated the increased awareness which the section generated. The Tech2Play area invites trade visitors to test products in the Robot Toys, Virtual Play, RC Toys and Electronic Learning categories. At the 2020 Spielwarenmesse, a new exhibition format is being launched to enable non-exhibiting companies to present their innovations in the Tech2Play area, thereby expanding the offering and giving smaller companies, or those for whom travel to the show would be prohibitive, the chance to benefit from the

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exposure an international show like this offers. The anniversary year also saw the creation of a new section focusing on Model Railways and Model Construction, which were merged to create a bigger combined group with a more targeted focus. In addition, the brand-new LicenseTalks information platform was launched, allowing licensing industry leaders to present the latest market information and worldwide trends. The product categories and special features will be expanded further and tweaked in time for Spielwarenmesse 2020, according to Ernst. “Special areas such as Baby and Infant Articles, Showtime, Toys meet Books and Tech2Play have all evolved extremely well,” he says. “These compact formats help visitors gain their bearings in each of the extensive product groups. The special areas enable exhibitors to show their products in a second, high-exposure location, whilst trade buyers can go there to find additional ranges and inspiration for their product presentations. Showtime, which was established in 2019, allows exhibitors to showcase their latest fancy-dress costumes on the catwalk. Our current focus is on developing and improving these special areas and activity zones.” Toys meet Books returns to the show for the third year. Exhibitors have the opportunity to present their non-book ranges in a high-exposure second location in the central foyer of Entrance Mitte. The 200m² space gives valuable pointers to booksellers


AND INTRODUCING

VISIT US AT NUREMBERG! STAND NUMBER: C-05-1, B-08-1 THE LARGEST LICENSE PORTFOLIO IN THE INDUSTRY! For any queries please contact us via email at orderseu@funko.com FunkoEurope

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Feature

Nuremburg Toy Fair

wanting to extend their basic range, with the focus on products and on-trend items of particular relevance to the book trade. Besides product and POS recommendations, Toys meet Books also offers opportunities to engage with colleagues and speakers. From Wednesday to Saturday, a daily programme of talks tailored specifically to the needs of booksellers will run from 10am-4pm. Market researcher Axel Dammler will explain how the toy market works, while Markus Fels will discuss how booksellers can tap into complementary product ranges. Visual merchandising expert Sabine Gauditz of Arte Perfectum will also be on hand to provide practical tips on creating emotive table presentations. In October, Spielwarenmesse revealed its trends for 2020. Selected by the show’s international TrendCommittee, which includes Toy World publisher John Baulch, and on display in the TrendGallery (Hall 3A), products that fall within this year’s categories will be presented on eye-catching TrendIslands for the benefit of attendees. Toys for Future will focus on sustainability in play, so trending products will have a firm focus on climate protection and sustainability. These items not only promote environmentally friendly behaviour and raise awareness of environmental issues through play, but are also made of eco-friendly materials such as bamboo or recycled plastic. Characters from well-known computer games and e-sports are becoming popular licensing themes. In the Digital goes Physical trend, digital characters have entered the world of conventional toys. These toys open the door to new experiences through play, with each character’s physical counterpart becoming an extension of virtual reality. Be You!, meanwhile, showcases toys and games for all. This trend aims to bring together two objectives: to help people with special needs, and to promote tolerance, inclusion and diversity. People with disabilities or diseases can have very different tactile requirements when it comes to toys and games, so products within this theme stimulate their minds and motor skills whilst creating shared experiences to enjoy. “It isn’t easy for buyers and retailers to recognise relevant trends early on, which is why our international TrendCommittee is sent out every year to identify emerging trends around the world,” Ernst explains. “Our trends have great international potential, and for buyers and retailers they’re a good starting point for creating a successful product range.” Exhibitors who believe their products are a good fit for this category have until 15th December to apply for a spot in the TrendGallery – visit the website (www. spielwarenmesse.de) for more information. Taking place on 28th January from 9am-12.30pm

at NCC Ost, the Spielwarenmesse PressPreview gives international journalists, bloggers and top buyers the opportunity to be among the first to view and experience product debuts and highlights. Participating companies can take part in a group photo in front of the photo wall with Ernst, and will then head back to their stands to present their products to around 400 media representatives and 480 top buyers. Child models, celebrities and showfloor performers will also be on hand to bring the products to life and engage with attendees. Alongside the latest products, visitors to the show can enjoy a host of informative presentations from

Toy World 46

industry leaders across all sectors thanks to the Toy Business Forum, which is located in the centre of the TrendGallery in Hall 3A. Talks take place every day from Wednesday onwards, between 1-3pm, with each of the five days focusing on a specific theme – trends, change, digital, retail and marketing. Among those lined up to take the floor on the opening day of the show is Richard Gottlieb, the founder and CEO of Global Toy Experts, who will be looking at shifts in the toy industry and how to adapt to them successfully. Just a few feet away, visitors can also view the nominees and winners of the ToyAwards, an accolade given to outstanding innovations in five different categories; Baby and Infant (0-3 years), Pre-School (3-6 years), School Kids (6-10 years), Teenager & Adults (from 10 years), and a Startup category which is open to companies that have been trading for five years or less. The winners of the 2020 ToyAwards will be announced during the Opening Ceremony on 28th January 2020. Last year’s winners include Hape’s Magic Touch Piano Musical Toy, Bruder’s bworld theme sets, Playmobil’s Magical Mermaid World, Ravensburger’s Know!, and Mabot from Shenzhen Bell Creative Science and Education. The New Exhibitor Centre (NEC) in Hall 3A enables newcomers to turn their debut at the Spielwarenmesse into a success. Companies appearing in this area of the show not only enjoy special terms and conditions, but also benefit from organisational support from start to finish. “The NEC lets buyers and retailers find new and inspiring ideas for their product ranges all in one compact area, and more than 20 companies from 18 countries have already booked a stand,” explains Ernst. If you’re looking for something innovative and fresh to the market, this is the place to go. “We offer visitors a range of services to help them plan their visit in advance of the fair” Ernst adds. “They can buy their ticket for Spielwarenmesse online, and now have the option of saving it on their smartphone as an e-ticket. At the same time, attendees can use their admission ticket for free travel on the local public transport network in Nuremberg, Fürth and Stein. The list of exhibitors, their contact details and the interactive hall plans are already available online – either through our website or the Spielwarenmesse app. These services will enable buyers and retailers to make all the necessary preparations for their visit to the world’s leading toy fair.” We asked Ernst what the future holds for Spielwarenmesse following its anniversary year. “It’s impossible to tell,” he replies. “One thing is certain though - toys will be around forever because people will always want to play; that’s why the Spielwarenmesse will continue to adapt to market changes, and will always be ready for the future.”


TM


Company Profile

Casdon

Founder, Tom Cassidy at the company's Blackpool factory

Casdon the real deal The Cassidy Brothers team in Nuremburg

Casdon, which specialises in ‘Just like the real thing’ replica toys based on iconic household names such as Dyson and Flymo, is gearing up for its 50th appearance as an exhibitor at Spielwarenmesse. Managing director Phil Cassidy spoke to Toy World about the landmark year and how things have changed over the decades.

Why is the Spielwarenmesse such an important show for Casdon? Our international business has grown considerably over the past 10 years. We’re doing very well in the States and Australia, and have been picked up in Japan, France and Germany, so Spielwarenmesse, as an international show, is great for us. We have a fantastic spot right at the entrance to Hall 12, so we can capture all the global buyers as they walk past and spot our products. The show has marked the start of many successful business relationships for us. Presence at a show can play an important role in your success, especially if you are moving into new markets; visibility leads to awareness. Appointments are key too, both in the form of walk-ons and advance bookings.

headed up by my dad, used to drive there directly from the Brighton Toy Fair. The show hasn’t changed radically since I started attending it in 2007, although it’s certainly grown

Buying and selling in the toy trade over the past 50 years has changed dramatically; how has Casdon’s approach changed to keep pace?

How has the show changed over the years? My dad was present at the first fair we ever showed at as a company in 1967. It was held on Airport Road in a large tent called the Leichbauhalle. The following year the show was moved to Maxshere Haus; being a building, we could leave the stand and toy samples in situ until the following year. When the show was moved to Langwasse, the British exhibitors were in tents once more, next to the Israeli stand, which had armed guards at the entrance. Casdon representatives,

I do, yes, for two main reasons. Firstly, if you’re going to buy toys it’s important to see and feel the quality of the product before you purchase it. Secondly, this business is all about relationships. Emails and phone calls are all very well and good, but nothing compares to face-to-face meetings and this element of trade shows can never be replaced.

in terms of the number of exhibitors and the show footprint. I’d say there is a wider range of companies present now, and this helps attract a wider customer base to the event, which is great for everyone there.

Do you think trade fairs are as relevant now as they ever were?

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I would have to be honest and say that our approach hasn’t really changed much over time. We still tool, design and manufacture toys that look like the real thing, and it’s the real thing that changes the most. By replicating these products faithfully, we can’t help but evolve along with them. Our brand is well known in the UK, and is going to be known worldwide eventually, but we’ve always manufactured quality product at affordable prices and that isn’t going to change. This is why Casdon is growing when some other manufacturers are struggling. Buying has changed; suddenly, without the restriction of shelf space, buyers can select far more products. This must be very tough for all our friends in the buying world. The online element now means you can get listings on websites far more easily and quickly, and the reasons a product may or may not get bought


are put into the hands of consumers. If you make good toys at the right prices, your business model can work more easily. Previously for Casdon, if a large toy buyer didn’t like a product it would be more difficult to justify the tooling costs and get it into production. Now the end-user holds much more power; they can leave reviews and spread the word on social media, and a line can become a success.

What can visitors to your stand expect to find?

Testing

Quality assurance

Advisory services

In addition to my smiling face, visitors can expect to find exactly what we’re known for – good quality replica lines, at great prices. They will also find our much-expanded sales team. Iain Mann, global sales and operation manager (iain@casdon.com), looks after the entire sales team and The Americas. Gaby Budai-Corfield is our EMEA international sales manager (gaby@casdon.com) and John Langley, APAC international sales manager (john@casdon.com), will also be present. Please contact your relevant territory

Sustainability

Chemical management

Global market access

manager soon for appointments.

Will you be marking your 50th appearance with a special event? Yes; on Friday the 24th at 4pm, we will be holding a drinks reception on the Casdon stand [Hall 12, Stand C-04], complete with nibbles, to say thank you to our customers and contacts for their support over the years. Everyone’s welcome to come and join us.

Data management

UL and the UL logo are trademarks of UL LLC © 2019.


Nuremburg

Funko 020 3376 3223 | www.funko.com Hall 12, Stand C-05-1/B-08-1 The ever-expanding choice of Funko Pop! includes a wide range, from super-sized variants to the introduction of chrome, clear, metallic, flocked and even glitter options. Offering extensive choice as well as the ability to adapt to new trends, Funko’s prominent presence in retail is growing exponentially, with statement pieces at Primark, Hamleys and The Disney Store. Whilst Pop! remains Funko’s most well-known form factor, focus and attention has been given to other sub-brands in the Funko portfolio. This includes softlines such as Loungefly and the company’s growing apparel line including Pop! and Tees, Funko Home & Gift and the newest category extension, Funko Games, which debuted with the popular Funkoverse light strategy game. Loungefly will take centre stage at Nuremberg, with new items from Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Mulan and Pixar. For Pop! and Tee ranges, Nuremberg attendees will get a glimpse of several of the upcoming exclusive Pop!, complemented by the premium Tee with its Funko stylised artwork. Funko Home & Gift is dialling up its collection by marking the 70th anniversary of Cinderella with a nod to the classic Disney princess. Similarly, Mickey Mouse is getting a revamp with a Mickey Rainbow range and Rick and Morty must-haves are on the horizon to complement the new season, coming soon. The Jurassic World Funkoverse boardgame is ideal for gaming fanatics who have enjoyed the previous iterations from DC, Harry Potter, Rick and Morty and Golden Girls. Guests will also get a sneak peek of new signature games set to hit later in 2020. In 2020 Funko will be expanding to new audiences. Among the hot new lines to be revealed at the show is Paka Paka, which pays homage to Japanese gashapon culture.

Eduk8 01661 831 080 | www.eduk8worldwide.com Hall 12.0, Stand C-01-2

Eduk8 will be launching its new exclusive Mark Makers range, an early writing programme that encourages every child to make their mark, at Nuremberg 2020. The range has been developed in cooperation with author Rachel Fay. Aimed at children from five months and above, Mark Makers simplifies writing skills through making basic marks. These marks make up letters of the alphabet, as well as numbers and shapes. Four characters, Lionel, Archie, Ziggy and Swirlo, display each specific mark through their design shape and colour. Within the range, four story books follow the journey of each character through Letter Land and Shape City. An activity book allows children to transform their mark into letters of the alphabet, as well as marking the shape of each character in the range. Stickers and a colouring book also accompany the line. Eduk8 will also be showcasing Calming Clouds, created by a former SEN teacher. The Clouds are designed to provide a calming environment and includes three variations of the Cloud that range in size and features. All variations carry a lighting system, with the larger of the three boasting rain drop crystal visuals and a built-in music system. The Chalk Board range, launched earlier this year, will also be on display on the Eduk8 stand featuring some new designs.

Toy World 50

Rollplay 07986 971902 | www.rollplay.com Hall 7, Stand B50 Rollplay will kick off 2020 by celebrating its official exclusive takeover of the Mini licence for children’s e-vehicles with the launch of a Mini Countryman in summer 2020, which will be available to preview at the show. Kids aged three plus will be able to replicate their parents rides with the all new model which will include a range of authentic, premium features from a padded seat, radio and MP3 hub with screen and Bluetooth, working LED headlights and a 12V rechargeable battery, plus other new elements. Further adding to the company’s already impressive portfolio of licensed vehicles will be the new prestigious BMW X5 range due to launch in the Spring. Incorporating a pushcar for children aged 1-4 years, an electric version for ages 18 months - 4 years and a two seater for ages 3-6 years, the premium collection will boast authentic, realistic designs, and will be packed full of features, including opening and closing doors, radio and Bluetooth, working LED headlights, remote control and engine and horn sounds. 2020 will also see Rollplay continue to expand and consolidate its high-performance offering. Following on from the success of the Nighthawk which launched in 2018, Nuremberg will see the brand showcase the Nighthawk NxtGen. Suitable for ages eight plus, the ride-on will offer the same thrilling, high-speed, close-to-the-ground experience as its predecessor but with greater portability thanks to an incorporated folding mechanism which will make it easier to carry and a lighter weight, faster loading lithium ion battery. Finally, Rollplay will also unveil new look branding, which will include a new website, logo and colourways. The more modern, simple aesthetic is designed to represent the brand’s positioning at the forefront of innovation in children’s e-vehicles.


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Nuremburg

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en Hall 6, Stand C-21 As the highlight of the company’s exhibition season, Schleich’s Nuremburg stand is the place to see what’s new for 2020, with a huge assortment of figures and playsets that are ideal for young animal lovers. The company’s offering includes a prehistoric showcase to introduce the first playworld experience to Schleich Dinosaurs. This new Dinosaurs World will see the introduction of playsets revolving around three brothers, Maxx, Luis and Flynn Colby, and their prehistoric adventures. Horse Club will have plenty to look forward to, including a horse show playset. Alongside characters Hannah, Sofia, Lisa and Sarah, a marquee, arena and a new carriage are available to create an impressive horse show. This is just one of four new playsets that Schleich will be launching for 2020, demonstrating the growth potential behind this key part of the Schleich portfolio. New figures, playsets and accessories will also be on display for Farm World, Wild Life and the fantasy world of Bayala and Eldrador.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk Hall 6, Stand C39 From the wildlife programmes Planet Earth and Blue Planet comes BBC Earth. This collection has been carefully handcrafted to bring each toy animal to life, using the best fabrics and featuring the iconic BBC Earth emblem. From the plains of Africa to the freezing temperatures of the Artic, there is an animal for everyone in the range of soft toys. Brand new to the BBC Earth range is the Babies collection. This new range of cute animal babies is expertly made and perfect for imaginary play and cuddles. Also new is a collection inspired by YouTube and TV sensation Sunny Bunnies; the brightest of characters that spread lots of fun and laughter. This range of soft toys includes a variety of different sizes and features, including small slammers that give out their infectious laugh when thrown; medium sized toys that giggle and wiggle; and large bunnies which giggle and hop. The collection includes all five fluffy Sunny Bunnies: Turbo, Big Boo, Shiny, Iris and Hopper. Other collections on display include Pirata & Capitano, How to Train Your Dragon, Jurassic World and brand new Ragtales.

Gibsons 020 8661 8866 | www.gibsonsgames.co.uk Hall 10, Stand E-5 Gibsons invites visitors to Spielwarenmesse 2020 to view its collections of jigsaw puzzles and games. Piecing Together is a special collection of large piece puzzles that will be available at the show. The large, easy to handle pieces and beautiful images have been carefully designed to be age-appropriate for adults, yet accessible for all. The images will prompt reminiscence and are ideal to spark conversation, making them suitable as a rehabilitation activity and able to be enjoyed by those living with dementia. There are 10 designs available ranging from 12-24 pieces, and the puzzles can be completed inside the box which provides a frame to work within and makes them easy to store. Gibsons is also adding seven new designs to its White Logo Collection in January. This is a range of design-led jigsaw puzzles for adults. The puzzles are presented in smaller boxes, without shrink-wrap in order to be more environmentally friendly. Amongst the new releases is Written in the Stars, a celestial design with 500 pieces, and Paper Flowers - a beautiful floral image created entirely from paper.

Toy World 52


Wood Stackers - Standing Stones

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Wood Stackers - River Stones

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Nuremburg

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com Hall 7, Stand A-26 Wilton Bradley will be showcasing a range of its toy portfolio, including a selection of ride-ons, at the show. Launched last year, the Xootz Viper Go Kart and Elements Electric Scooters saw strong sales in the UK and worldwide. This year saw new products added to the range including the Typhoon Power Drift Trike, created using in-house tooling and 3D design, evolving the Viper design and colourway. With a run time of 60 minutes and max speed of 16km/h, this ride on provides endless outdoor fun. The Xootz bubble scooter lets kids leave a trail of bubbles wherever they go by simply adding bubble solution to the rear mounted bubble machine. The bubble scooter is available in blue and green, or pink and blue. In the electric ride-on category, Wilton Bradley will be introducing its new brand Vroom. Also on show will be the Range Rover Ride On & Suitcase. This licensed product is suitable for travelling tots aged 2-6 years and is exclusively available from Wilton Bradley. Mi-Mic has attracted lots of attention at previous Nuremberg shows. The innovative karaoke microphones can be connected to phones or tablets via Bluetooth for a singalong session. The Mi Mic with phone holder is perfect for kids to sing along with music direct from their smart device and the Mi Mic Karaoke Disco Cube Speaker allows kids to create their own karaoke disco. The Monster Smash-Ups range of exploding trucks allows users to race, smash, eject and rebuild the monster trucks. The introduction of the Monster Smash-Up Carnage models this year sees a new collection of trucks, with two new, smaller models available, intended for younger smash and crash enthusiasts. Crafts is a recent addition to the Wilton Bradley catalogue, including the sub-brand Made It which includes the collection of craft Yarn Animals that encourage kids to express their creativity. New to Made It for 2020 is the range of marbling kits - three kits including a photo frame, a canvas and a paint kit give kids complete control to create their own designs. Finally, licensed products from Volkswagen will also be showcased, including the Kids Pop Up Play Tent which is based on the original T1 camper van.

Guidecraft 07725 833 273 | www.guidecraft.com

Quercetti 07789 316 417 |

Hall 4, Stand D50

www.quercettistore.com Hall 5, Stand C-58 Italian toy manufacturer Quercetti is introducing 15 new STEAM-focused toys from January. The range focuses on affordable price points between £10 and £20, and is delivered direct from the Quercetti factory in Torino Italy to offer attractive margins. Spiral Tower, one of five new marble runs being introduced, is an ideal first marble run for kids. Quercetti offers the widest range of marble runs of any company, ensuring there is something to suit children of all ages. The new Jumbo Peggy line offers hand-eye coordination and colour perception development while improving fine motor skills and manual dexterity. The Quercetti Montessori line is extended with two new items; one for lacing skills and a second for learning to tell the time. Coding is an area in which Quercetti excels, having produced coding lines for decades. With coding becoming an increasingly important part of the learning process, Quercetti is introducing four new coding toys for 2020 such as Peg Code - a toy that enables a child to encrypt and decrypt early words. Those unable to make it Nuremberg are recommended to get in touch with Quercetti’s exclusive UK & Ireland agent, Kids International Marketing, by emailing Wendy Wood (wwassociates1@outlook.com) or calling 07399 623 971.

Toy World 54

Creator of natural children’s toys for over 50 years, Guidecraft products focus on the importance of open-ended play, the beauty of organic, loose parts and wooden materials and the significance of hands-on learning through children’s connections to nature. Through a range of toys that are inherently educational and STEMbased, Guidecraft enriches children’s lives through creative play and encourages them to use their imaginations in the classroom and beyond. Toys that organically connect children to their environments, such as Guidecraft’s Wood Stackers River Stones, invite children to fully immerse themselves in creative, holistic play. The rounded, wooden stones are sanded smooth to highlight the natural grain and tones of the pieces. Different-sized River Stones help children understand weight, gravity and relationships. Large, double-sided Inspiration Cards, included with each 20-piece set, encourage children to find creative solutions for building familiar objects with organic blocks.


Nuremburg

Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com Hall 12, Stand C-04 2020 marks a special occasion for Casdon, as the company celebrates 50 years of attending the Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair. The Little Helper collection is home of Dyson replica vacuums. The Dyson Cord-free Vac is a direct replica of the life size Dyson and has been specifically designed to be true to life, right down to the last detail. The model features working suction, spinning beads, realistic sounds and a twist and turn action just like the real thing. The spinning beads will mesmerise children and the vacuum will be an instantly recognisable favourite at home. Designed with the same bright colours as the real-life product, kids will be able to feel grown up and develop essential life skills. For summertime, kids can help mum and dad have the garden looking ship shape with the Flymo Lawn Mower; another replica from Casdon Toys. The Flymo features a foldable handle for easy storage and a mechanical click when the mower is on the move. It also features the iconic orange base. Each collection comes with a heritage and quality that parents trust. Casdon will also be increasing its marketing support for retailers with a strategic year-round online campaign to further increase consumer’s awareness of all the company’s much-loved toys.

Diamant Toys +972-8-8566101 | www.diamanttoys.com Hall 12, Stand A-10/B-05

Diamant Toys is launching its Keypsees line – a new range that comes with plenty of surprises for kids to unbox. The company is renowned for its arts and crafts product ranges, however this new line signals an additional direction for Diamant Toys and is due to hit the market in 2020. The range includes furry pets, featuring animals like unicorns and owls, which have their own colourful houses to live in. Each box contains a pet and nine surprises. By using the magnet found in the attic, kids can reveal the pet and all the surprise encased in the box. Surprise accessories could be a comb, a bow, a food dish or a bone, depending on the animal discovered with the magic magnet. One of the surprises is a key, which kids will need to open the box for their new pet to live in. There are over 15 different pets in the series. Diamant Toys has further developed the line to include a Mermaid series, complete with glittery accessories, special effects, an aquarium and a fish bowl. There is also a racing car edition.

Pretend to Bee 0115 921 5690 www.pretendtobee.com Hall 8, Stand B-15 Pretend to Bee will extend its dress up ranges in 2020 with the addition of new animal tutus, which will be launched exclusively at Spielwarenmesse. The beautifully designed tutus come in a range of creatures including a swan, flamingo, peacock and unicorn, all ideal for budding ballerinas. Other new lines include a Train Driver and a plush Jet Pack for children. There are also two deluxe Knight costumes with matching sword and shield accessories available. The velour faux fur trimmed capes have sparkling LED lights in the hem, which pair perfectly with the Light and Sound Wands available in pink and blue. Pretend to Bee will launch its new brand, Active Learning, next year, and visitors to Nuremberg will be able to view the range for the first time. The new range comprises soft play products suitable for nurseries, school or home, all made to professional standards in the UK. The range offers everything from ball pools to changing mats and construction sets, to create the perfect environment for little ones. For further information on the new range, go to www.activelearning-uk.com or call 0115 978 7799.

UL 01256 312100 | CRS.UL.com Hall 12, Stand E-15/16 UL representatives will be available on stand number E -15-6 in Hall 12.0, together with Assogiocattoli - the Italian Toy Industry Association - to talk about toy safety. UL’s industry expertise and active involvement in the development of international toy safety standards allow it to help clients stay up to date with ongoing changes within the toy industry, which impact product compliance strategies. UL fosters safe living and working conditions for labour forces everywhere through the application of science to safety, security and sustainability challenges. With a passion for making the world a safer place, UL tests, inspects, audits, certifies, validates, verifies, advises and trains, and supports these efforts with software solutions for safety and sustainability. The company’s team of experts can develop comprehensive quality assurance programmes to help ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and brand specifications. No matter where in the world companies source or sell, UL’s network of accredited laboratories and field services can help mitigate supply chain risk and help launch products. For questions about toy safety, email TOY@UL.com or telephone 01256 312100. UL will also be at Toy Fair in London in January 2020, on stand B49 on the ground floor, as well as Hong Kong and New York.

Toy World 56


Nuremburg

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk Hall 5, Stand B-06/C-05 Learning Resources’ new Q1 product launches at Spielwarenmesse will premier both in the 2020 Trend Gallery and on the company’s own stand. The new products will bolster the company’s extensive existing product offering in Early Years, Science, Maths, Reading, Coding and STEM categories. Spielwarenmesse 2020 is a key event in the Learning Resources global marketing calendar, and this year the company will be releasing over 70 new products and line extensions to successful existing ranges. The sales and marketing team will be on hand at the stand to demonstrate new and existing products. Coding Critters is a screen-free range of toys that introduce coding concepts to children aged four and up. In 2020, new characters include bunnies Bopper and pals Hip & Hop, and Pair-a-Pets join Ranger & Zip, Rumble & Bumble and Scamper & Sneaker for more storybook coding adventures. Toys that support early learning and development is a key category for the company, which has developed products like the 24-Hour Number Line Clock. This new kind of teaching clock helps children link the concept of reading a number line with telling the time, by showing children that a clock is just a circular number line. The clock is available as a demonstration version for teachers and a smaller student version for hands-on learning. Learning Resources will also be introducing new products in the fine motor skills segment that help children master these essential skills. Playfoam offers retailers and consumers a compound toy that is versatile, child-friendly, non-drying and non-sticky. The Playfoam brand offers a wide range of options from pocket money collectibles through to creative play sets and multi-player games. Playfoam’s bead-like structure makes it a popular choice for sensory play and tactile development. Launched in Q3 2019, Playfoam Pluffle is a new entry into the compound category. Where Playfoam is all about construction, Playfoam Pluffle is all about deconstruction and flow. It’s easy for children to use and the squishing, squashing action, bright colours and mesmerizing flow action offer a new sensory play toy.

Hyper Toy Company 07775 706 929 | www.hypertoys.com Hall 7, Stand A53 Hyper Toy Company is extending its ride-on portfolio with the launch of the HPR350 24V Electric Motorbike, a scaled down motorcycle perfect for riders over 13 years old. With a maximum speed of up to 14mph, 12” real pneumatic knobby dirt tires, the HPR350 is fun to ride on varied terrains. Bringing innovation to the R/C category, Hyper Toys is introducing the new Drift King with new ‘Drift’ technology - equipped with four-wheel drive, lifting and lowering chassis, LED lights, music and programable actions. Hyper is also launching the 1:10 scale Ford Velociraptor Hennessey six wheel R/C and the compact Yamaha YXZ Nano R/C, offering hobby grade performance at great value prices. The RIPRAIL stunt scooter range offers a full range from beginner through to pro level, using the finest quality components and sporting the latest designs and paint finishes. Hyper Toys will be showing at Nuremburg as well as New York Toy Fair. For more information, contact james@hypertoys.com or diane@hypertoys.com.


Nuremburg

Zuru

01604 401 719 | sales@geemac.biz Hall 12, Stand H-04-6 Following the global success of Boppi the Booty-Shakin’ Llama, Zuru will be unveiling a Rainbow Boppi to drive brand growth. Elsewhere within the company’s robotic pets portfolio, Zuru’s Robo Alive brand is maintaining double-digit growth YoY and will be showcasing realistic new lines. Rainbocorns, Zuru’s collectible plush IP, continues to grow with new series and more to discover. Encompassing on-trend animals, sequins, and surprises, Rainbocorns sees further extensions for 2020 and will be unveiled during the show. New and planned waves of the 5 Surprise blind collectible capsules will feature heavily. The new Dino Strike theme and Unicorns Series 2 will offer a host of surprise toys for kids to collect, plus super-rare figures across both themes. The new Dino Strike collection includes 13 dinosaurs to collect and battle, each with customised accessories. The latest additions to Zuru’s Smashers and Cotton Candy Cutie ranges will also be on show.

HTI 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk Hall 12.2, Stand P-09

Teamsterz remains a key focus for HTI and is once again an integral part of the company’s growth plans for 2020. Significant planning and investment in the range throughout the year means lots of new lines will be showcased in January. One Teamsterz sub-category which has seen further investment is the newly-launched Motorisation range, with seven new additions including Colour Change Jet Racers and Boom Box Truck, all of which feature interactive buttons with a mixture of sounds, lights and movement. New to the market for 2020 are Teamsterz Monster Moverz, which are character-inspired additions to the Motorisation range. By pressing a button, kids can awake the dinosaur or alien and see the cage rattle, watch the shark snap its jaws or see the Night Crawler transform into a beast. HTI has also added to Teamsterz JCB Mighty Moverz with the introduction of the classic Excavator to sit alongside the already popular Dump Truck and Wheel Loader. These each feature actions and sounds that capture real-life construction at the touch of a button. HTI is also gearing up to showcase the Evo range, which has seen further investment and new tooling for the autumn/winter 2020 season. The Unicorn and Dinosaur ranges include outdoor favourites such as Balance Bikes and Inline Scooters, as well as battery-operated Trikes, Quad bikes and Light Up Pogo Sticks. New tooling has seen the addition of two new lines to Evo’s battery-operated ride on toys. The ride-on Fire Engine features horn and siren sound effects, as well as working siren lights and a pretend fire hose. Evo’s Enchanted Carriage is perfect for kids who love unicorns. The pink carriage features a light up unicorn horn and sound effects.

Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Hall 12.2, Stand P-08

Autumn 2019 saw Baby Annabell launch several new product ranges, including the re-imagined Baby Annabell and Alexander Interactive dolls and a new Lunch Time range. 2020 will see Baby Annabell continue to expand its play themes with new items within the Lunch Time and Sweet Dreams ranges revealed at the show. Also on show will be new play theme Baby Annabell Baby Care, which enhances realistic play for children in caring for a newborn. A host of new dolls from newborn, pre-school and early school age will also be showcased alongside outfits for all seasons. Baby born introduced new dolls throughout 2019, including a new Baby born Sister range with the Baby born Soft Touch Sister Blonde, Brunette and Brother dolls, which all have soft touch, fully bathable bodies, as well as nine functions and 11 accessories. The brand will be revealing new additions for 2020 at Nuremburg, with product innovations for the Bathtime and Baby Care ranges including a new magic Baby born doll, a Unicorn range and an innovative styling head joining the Sister Styling Head range. Spring 2019 saw Zapf successfully launch waves one and two of collectible brand Baby born Surprise, plus two large playsets. Zapf will be releasing new waves for children to collect in 2020, with themes like Gardens and Pets on offer. Each new character comes with a host of surprises for children to discover, from eye colour and hair style reveal, to colour change and nappy pattern surprises. A unique game sheet is also included, which extends the play and unboxing experience with each new character revealed. Additional products will include a new playset complete with multiple play areas; an exclusive doll and pet; the next innovation to the popular Bathtub Surprise, plus new large pet characters with a colour-change surprise.

Toy World 60


Nuremburg

Desi Doll Company 07769 694 655 | www.desidollcompany.com Hall 1, Stand B-20

The UK-based Desi Doll Company is leading the Islamic toy market globally. Having served the market for over 11 years, its products have reached thousands of homes across at least 20 countries. This year the company will launch My Little Muslim friends, a range of five talking dolls that help promote respect and understanding amongst Muslim children and peer groups who may not share the same faith. They aim to teach young children that having different faiths does not matter in friendship, and that people have plenty in common regardless of faith. The My Little Muslim Friends range encourages friendship as well as faith, and sings 'We are the best of friends'. The new talking dolls, launching in December, are designed and distributed by The Desi Doll Company, using the company's experience in making best-selling Islamic toys since 2008. Having successfully listed toys at Asda and Morrisons, the company aims to make its products accessible to more children across the UK and globally. This will be Desi Doll Company’s third consecutive appearance in Nuremberg.

Trefl 07850 779797 | www.trefl.com Hall 10.1, Stand F-36

Trefl is one of the biggest manufacturers of puzzles and games in Europe and holds most of the major licences for childrens puzzles. The company also has a wide and varied portfolio of licensed games. In the UK, the main focus is on Trefl’s bestselling Mistakos stacking chair game. Suitable for up to four players, this fun game has sold over 480,000 units worldwide in just three years. Trefl’s novelty Neon Color puzzle line places the emphasis on colour and modern design. A special paint is used during the manufacturing of every individual product to obtain an intense neon effect. With all products being delivered direct from the Trefl factory in Gdynia, Poland, the company is able to offer some of the most competitive prices on the market and is enjoying a 100% increase in UK business as a result. The range has been refreshed for 2020; over 700 items are now on offer, and are sold to over 50 countries worldwide. For more information, please contact Trefl’s representatives Steve or Ria Richardson at SJR Associates to arrange an appointment: sales@sjr-associates.co.uk.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com Hall 12.2 Stand P-26

From January, IMC Toys will be extending its Bloopies range of best-selling bath toys. Bloopies Shellies are mermaid collectibles aimed at girls aged 3-6 years old. Shellies live in iridescent shells which, when placed in water, open to reveal which Shellie lives inside. Each shell contains a pearl which can be released by completing the maze. All Shellies come with different accessories depending on their personality; there are 12 characters to collect including a rare character with a glittery tail and an ultra-rare character with a thermochromic tail. Like all other Bloopies, Shellies can blow bubbles from their mouth and squirt water, and for added play value the shell has a chain so kids can use it as a stylish bag. IMC Toys is putting substantial support behind the launch of this product, with a strong TV campaign in Q1 coinciding with a digital and social campaign, paid influencer activity, retail marketing activations and giveaway collaborations. Alongside the campaign, the company is launching a new animated series on its YouTube channel Kitoons from January. Season 1 will offer 13x5 episodes which will include all the Bloopies Mermaids, Divers, Mimi and Shellies. Last year, IMC Toys successfully launched its new line of collectibles, Cry Babies Magic Tears, comprising miniature versions of the best-selling Cry Babies dolls. These cute collectibles cry real tears and are set apart from other collectible ranges due to the accompanying animated series on YouTube. The animation, which tells the story of the Cry Babies Magic Tears world, is into its second season with over 150k subscribers and 105m views. In January, IMC Toys is launching wave three of the collectibles, so kids can add 12 more characters to their ever-growing collections.

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Q&A

Toy Fair

Behind the scenes with the BTHA:

Bringing Toy Fair to life Ahead of London Toy Fair in January 2020, Toy World spoke to Majen Immink and Rebecca Deeming from the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), to learn more about how the team prepares and plans for Toy Fair each year, what they most enjoy, and what’s in store for the upcoming show. Majen Immink

Rebecca Deeming

Can you give us a run-down of your roles and responsibilities? Majen: I am director of Fairs & Special Events at the BTHA. My role involves organising the whole show, from the exhibitor application process to working with our contractors on the show’s finishing touches. Rebecca: I am the PR & events manager at the BTHA, I manage all the PR at Toy Fair, working alongside our great PR team at Bastion to offer exhibitors the best opportunities for gaining coverage at the show. Recently, I’ve also started working on Toy Fair operations, assisting Majen with the planning of the show.

How far in advance of the doors opening does the planning for each Toy Fair commence? Rebecca: We start planning ahead to the next Toy Fair as soon as the last one has finished. With exhibitor applications for the following year being opened from the first day the current show is taking place, we get to work straight away, collating exhibitor applications as well as reviewing improvements for the next show. In summer, we collate all the materials and documents needed for the show manual, so exhibitors have everything they need to know about exhibiting at Toy Fair. Majen: Whilst you may think that post-Toy Fair will be a period of rest, it isn’t. We start to allocate exhibitors for the next show as early as March. We experienced a particularly strong re-booking rate this year and sold out the space with more than 250 exhibiting companies in October.

Can you talk us through how each show is fleshed out? Majen: The first thing we look at is feedback from the exhibiting companies and those that attended

Toy Fair, to give us an overview of what we need to address for the next show. We also look at the broader needs of the toy industry, to see what Toy Fair can do to support new initiatives at and around Toy Fair. Majen: Another aspect of the show that we need to manage is ensuring there is a good balance for exhibiting companies that are looking for business appointments and a chance to speak to the press.

What’s the standout show memory for you from across the years? Rebecca: It’s so hard to choose just one memory, but battling a colleague in Wicked Vision’s Body Bubble Balls in the background of a live BBC Breakfast piece a couple of years ago was a lot of fun. Majen: I always look forward to welcoming the children each year to the Demo Zone. They bring so much fun and energy to the show and are the best judges of the toys, as well as being the most important part of the toy industry.

If there was one thing you wish more people knew about Toy Fair, what would it be? Majen: Toy Fair doesn’t stop after the show, we work throughout the year with our members. Profit from Toy Fair is poured back into our other initiatives each year, including the BTHA’s policy work, toy safety, Make Time 2 Play campaign - which promotes the value of play - and various other industry events.

Sales and buying have changed dramatically over the years; how is an annual trade fair like Toy Fair staying relevant year after year? Rebecca: We’re constantly evolving and each decision we make is rooted in the needs of the industry.

Toy World 64

Majen: At the turn of the millennium we saw an increased demand for Toy Fair to help facilitate startups and small businesses, which normally don’t get as much exposure at trade events. Introducing the Greenhouse Area in 2004 meant we could provide a platform for innovative start-ups and upcoming toy companies. We’ve been delighted by its success and its addition has given these exhibitors the ultimate chance to network with industry leaders. The Greenhouse has quickly become a staple at Toy Fair, and we can’t imagine the show without it. Rebecca: In the last ten years we’ve also added Toy Fair TV, The Demo Zone and last year’s brand-new Content Creation Zone. These are all geared toward helping exhibitors better showcase their products to the press, and increase the show’s presence in the digital age.

Finally, what do you think is the most exciting thing about Toy Fair 2020? Majen: We are excited to be hosting our first ever Influencer day at Toy Fair 2020. With more media attending Toy Fair every year, this will better support content creators in a way that is beneficial to all involved. Rebecca: The Influencer day will take place on the second day of the show - Wednesday 22nd January and we think it will be a great opportunity to support the influencer/blogging world, which is becoming an integral part in marketing for a lot of toy companies.

London Toy Fair 2020 will take place from Tuesday 21st till Thursday 23rd January at Olympia London, W14 8UX. For more information on how to register, details on travel, and for a full list of exhibitors, visit www.toyfair.co.uk.


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Allegedly

The new Toys R Us Adventure interactive experiences in the US have been receiving distinctly mixed reviews. A Chicago Tribune journalist who visited the new Chicago store pulled no punches, referring to it as “a branding experiment masquerading as a play space, sifted through a dissipating fog of lingering nostalgia, with a gift shop at the end. It is not the dream rekindled, or even the toy-store chain revived. The Toys R Us Adventure is a mess, but worse, it looks cheap and feels cynical." At $96 for a family of four to enter, it certainly isn’t a cheap day out. And with only three brands featured in the gift store, it seems that most US toy suppliers aren’t convinced either. US toy stalwart Richard Gottlieb summed it up quite nicely: “It is difficult to understand what Toys R Us has to do with an overpriced, boring entertainment venue.” It’s a huge shame, as the Toys R Us Asian and Canadian operations illustrate what could have been achieved with the right management… The annual Dream Toys media event took place a few weeks ago. Over the years, Dream Toys has established itself as an important fixture on many toy companies’ festive promotional schedules. However, just as the retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, so too has the media arena. Many toy retailers release their own festive lists, often much earlier than Dream Toys – it’s become a very congested, competitive field, and there is a limit to how many stories the media will feature which essentially cover the same ground. In addition, the broadcast media are now largely conspicuous by their absence from Dream Toys. To make matters worse, a previous strong supporter of the event – This Morning – went rogue this year by compiling its own Top 12 list and broadcasting a segment last week, thereby removing a valuable piece of coverage from the event. I can only imagine the disappointment at Bastion and the BTHA when they found out about This Morning’s plans – I doubt this would have happened when our prime TV partners had closer, personal relationships with the toy community (shame there is no Clive Crouch figure to fight our corner at ITV these days). Taking all this into consideration, Dream Toys still performed valiantly, generating a substantial amount of positive coverage for the toy industry, both on the day and over the following days. Ok, the occasional media outlet fell into the ‘bah humbug’ category – particularly the BBC’s curmudgeonly piece which focused heavily on the decline in UK toy sales so far this year – but most adopted a more festive tone and helped to spread the good word… The thing which does seem to be freeing up consumer purse strings right now is a bargain – or at least the perception of a bargain - as is evidenced by the huge number of consumers who have descended on Mothercare over the past few weeks in search of deals in the closing down sale. Apparently, despite the fact that discounts are only set at 10-20% at the moment, huge volumes of product are being shifted – so much so that queues are forming around blocks and some suppliers are having to redeploy stock to keep stores topped up. Gordon Brothers must be making an absolute killing! Ironically, many of the products being snapped up in their droves were actually cheaper a few months ago as part of the

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retailer’s standard promotions - so much for savvy customers. And I am reliably informed that many consumers currently stripping Mothercare bare are bemoaning the loss of the retailer to in-store staff, while at the same time cheerfully admitting that they haven’t stepped foot inside a Mothercare store for years. I sometimes wonder whether some people understand the concept of irony – or appreciate the ‘if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it’ conundrum that affects every bricks and mortar retailer… It has been revealed that members of the Mothercare head office team were not paid for their last month’s work, and will have to make a claim for their wages to the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS). I’m not sure it was an entirely sound judgement call. I remember distinctly when a major retail figure observed at the height of the Toys R Us debacle that the way the directors behaved during the wind-down of the company would determine what happened when it was time for them to seek their next role. The message was clear: reputations – both good and bad - have a habit of sticking. The fact that Mothercare directors who had just taken bonuses totalling over £500m told staff that they weren’t prepared to pay their wages takes some cojones. And lest we forget, if it does fall to the RPS to cough up, that money is coming out of the tax purse – so in a way, we’d all be paying. Thanks to the Mothercare board for that Christmas present to us all… Another retailer bedevilled by less that sound judgement recently was Harrods, one of those rare retailers not driven by price considerations – so much so that it felt sufficiently confident to announce that it would be continuing to limit access to its Christmas Grotto, this year to customers spending £2,000. The inevitable online backlash led to some hasty backtracking – of sorts. The retailer subsequently freed up a few slots for urchins and the great unwashed to be able to visit the Grotto, if they are lucky enough to win one of a handful of places available via an in-store lottery (providing, presumably, they doff their caps and are prepared to be ever-so-humble while they’re about it). I’m not fully convinced this counts as an admission by Harrods that the initial policy was elitist snobbery at its finest, but hey, it’s a start… Prior to the announcement that Mothercare would be closing all of its UK stores, it had been revealed that the retailer had brought in so-called ‘restructuring experts’ KPMG to advise it on its next steps. Did no-one there see what happened to Thomas Cook recently, after it spent a king’s ransom on not one but two of the big four accountancy firms to help it out of the mire (spoiler alert: the countless millions it spent on them only pushed it further into the mire). A toy person got in touch to share his own experience with a former company: “When we got KPMG on board it cost more than £30k a week. I pointed out to the board that we now needed to make all the money to cover our overheads (same as before), plus this £30k a week - and do all the extra work to deal with KPMG’s requests.” My own view has always been that the eye-watering sums involved are generally disproportionate to what a restructuring firm can realistically achieve, especially at the late stage when they are usually introduced into the mix, long after the rot has set in.


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Profile for TOYWORLD MAGAZINE

Toy World Magazine December 2019  

Toy World Magazine December 2019