July 2020 Volume 9 Issue 11
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F O R M O R E D E TA I L S C O N TAC T 0 1 2 3 5 5 5 5 5 4 5 O R E M A I L T R A D E _ S A L E S @ V T E C H .C O M w w w.v t e c h . c o . u k
CONTENTS July 2020 Volume 9 Issue 11
34 Feature: Construction
48 Feature: Imaginative Play
Publisher and Managing Editor email@example.com 01442 502 408 07932 651 207
Sales Director firstname.lastname@example.org 01442 502 405
Circulation and Financial Director email@example.com 01442 502 406
07 08 16 18 22 114
26 29 56 78
34 38 48 62 68 74 113
From the Publisher News Industry Moves Marketing World Licensing World Allegedly
NPD column Talking Shop Viewpoint Touching Base
Feature: Construction Brand Profile: Lego Feature: Imaginative Play Feature: Stationery Feature: Reboot 2020 Q&A: Toymaster Special Feature: Diaframma
Contributors The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Jonathan Chambers | Ruth Clement Jim Hawker | Asha Bhalsod
Rachael Simpson-Jones Editor firstname.lastname@example.org 01442 502 406
68 Feature: Reboot 2020
62 Feature: Stationery
Assistant Editor Lisa@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406
Design and Production Manager email@example.com 01442 502 405
toyworld toy world The business magazine with a passion for toys
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Toy World 5
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e made it – after what often felt like an eternity, we’ve finally moved to the next phase of unlocking lockdown, with non-essential stores across the UK once again open for business. When we were told that stores were being ordered to close for an indefinite length of time, I am sure that many in the toy community feared the worst. Yet despite all the trials and tribulations of the past few months, it has been well documented that the UK toy market has fared remarkably well. It’s true that there have been winners and losers, both in terms of companies and categories, but with value sales increasing over the past few months – as NPD reports in this month’s column on page 26 - we really can’t grumble. It’s more than just commercial success too; toys have unquestionably played a pivotal role in helping parents get through the past few months. Kids have enjoyed more free time to play, instead of their days being taken up by school and after-school clubs, while parents have been able to see first-hand just how long a good toy can keep children occupied for. We’ve seen the benefits of play appreciated by parents, which will hopefully stay with them long after lockdown is a thing of the past. And, for once, the sales increase hasn’t been driven by heavy retail discounting – toys have been selling close to full price across the board. Now comes the next big challenge – how to entice shoppers back to stores, when it is undeniably safer to continue to shop from the comfort of our own homes. We’ve been speaking to a host of retailers to hear how they’re planning to tackle the challenges of the new retail environment head on – you can read what they had to say in our Talking Shop feature, which starts on page 29 (wait until you find out about Sally the social-distancing Spinosaurus and her special sanitising station – truly a stroke of genius!). From fewer FSDUs - especially in smaller indie stores - to trestle tables at the entrance for a store owner to conduct transactions or even retailers who are prepared to open their stores outside normal trading hours to allow individual customers to shop safely, I think it’s fair to say that many consumers will find a very different toy store experience to the one they have become accustomed to, at least in the short term. By the time you read this issue, many stores will have been open for several weeks. Speaking to a selection of retailers in the first few days after lockdown was lifted, early indications were encouraging, although there were some understandable caveats. Ireland opened ahead of the UK and it was good to receive a call from SMF Toytown’s Alan Simpson, keen to share the news that first week sales were on course to match the
corresponding period last year. Alan admitted that he had been apprehensive about re-opening, budgeting to hit around 50% of last year’s number. So, to say that he was pleased with the initial trading performance was an understatement. Many English toy retailers have also reported a respectable start to post-lockdown life: Toy Barnhaus writes in this month’s column (page 33) that initial sales were in line with last year, also noting that while there were fewer customers, those that turned out were spending more. Other toy retailers have used phrases like ‘steady’, with most pointing out that high ticket items have continued to sell well. It is also interesting – and slightly counterintuitive – to hear from toy retailers that since lockdown, most shoppers have been from the older demographic, rather than younger consumers. Maybe that is why initial reports suggest that jigsaws remain as popular as they’ve been for the past ten weeks? Ahead of re-opening, most observers and pundits predicted that the older generation would initially be more reluctant to hit the High Street, while younger customers would relish the opportunity – anecdotally at least, it appears that the reverse may be true, so it will be fascinating to keep an eye on this particular trend. Overall, I think a fair summary would be that toy retailers seem relatively pleased and, more than anything, just delighted to be open once again. When planning the content for this issue, we came to the conclusion that with many launch plans having been disrupted or delayed in recent months, it would be important for retailers to hear about suppliers’ key new introductions for the second half of the year, when they will be available and how suppliers will be generating excitement amongst consumers for all the hot new lines. Therefore, we decided to make the July issue of Toy World a special ‘reboot 2020 edition’ – celebrating the fresh start that awaits the toy community as we enter the second half of the year. As an industry, we have fared incredibly well during lockdown, but the next six months will be crucial for toy suppliers and retailers alike. As ever, the festive season will remain pivotal to the fortunes of the toy market, and it’s time for us all to refocus on how we can make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. You can read about all the great new products coming to market over the coming weeks in our special ‘reboot 2020’ feature, which starts on page 68. The grand re-opening of High Street UK will hopefully mark a turning point on the road to retail recovery. We are finally moving forward – onwards and upwards people, onwards and upwards.
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News Gary Grant of The Entertainer named among 100 most influential people in retail
Fenwick & Bentalls resigns membership of Toymaster It was revealed on 11th June that the Fenwick and Bentalls department store group has tendered its resignation from the Toymaster Group, effective immediately. Speaking exclusively to Toy World, Toymaster MD Ian Edmunds commented: “Fenwick became Toymaster Members more than a decade ago via their purchase of the Williams & Griffin department store in Colchester. In more recent times they remained Members, although invoiced very little business through the group. They stayed as Graham Hook, the toy buyer, saw value in the information on the toy trade and toy retailing being a Member of the group gave them. The position of toy buyer was made redundant, Graham left the business at the end of May and Fenwick have decided they do not need what others cherish so dearly. We received an email, as no doubt other suppliers did, from Kieran McBride (Fenwick director of Buying for Furniture Home and Food) on 6th April at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that states: ‘we need ask you to share the burden by supporting us with a 50% discount on all invoices awaiting payment. If you can agree to this discount, then I can prioritise payments, so that they are with you within the next two weeks.’ This is not a company that Toymaster wants to be associated with, from either a risk or values point of view. Fenwick leaving is a good day for the group, in my humble opinion.”
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Gary Grant, founder and chief executive of The Entertainer, has been announced as one of retail’s most influential leaders of 2020 in the Retail 100, an annual ranking published by RWRC, home of Retail Week and World Retail Congress. On receiving the news, Gary thanked his team: “I am delighted to have been recognised as one of the most influential people in retail, but this influence has only been possible as a result of the strong and committed team I have supporting me. In every part of the business, from our shops to logistics to head office, I am fortunate to have people truly dedicated to the success of The Entertainer and I’m extremely grateful for all they do.” This year, the Retail 100 has placed special emphasis on leaders who have stepped up in the face of the pandemic and made tough but necessary decisions in response. Gary added: “I have always believed that retail can and should be a ‘Force for Good’, and we are committed to supporting the communities we serve. As well as our charitable commitment to them we have also recognised that the way our customers like to shop will undoubtedly have changed over the past few months. We will always look for new ways to serve our customers as retail continues to change and evolve.” Representing the developing retail ecosystem, there are 23 new faces in this year’s list. Rishi Sunak is the highest placed new entry, following his introduction of measures with retailers in mind. The Retail 100 also features more female leaders than ever before in the list’s history – 23, up from 18 last year.
Â© 2019 Moose
News SMF Toytown reports strong first week’s trading in Northern Ireland Just prior to toy stores across the UK reopening, encouraging news emerged from Northern Ireland, where nonessential stores have been able to open from early June. Toytown’s Alan Simpson confirmed that the three branches which re-opened then – Enniskillen, Port Rush and Coleraine – were on target to reach the same level of sales that the stores achieved in 2019. When asked how he was feeling, Alan replied: “I couldn’t be better. Like a lot of retailers, I had been apprehensive about re-opening and approached it cautiously, budgeting to hit around 50% of last year’s number. Re-opening hasn’t been without its challenges: instructions from the government were about as clear as mud – many owners couldn’t understand which stores could re-open and which weren’t allowed, while we were only given a day’s notice that shopping centres would be able to open again.” Despite the challenges, Toytown decided to start by re-opening three stores initially. Asked if there were any stand-out performers, Alan admitted that “sales came across the board. It was probably the worst week of weather since furlough started, but people were still stocking up on outdoor lines. I feel a lot of people won’t be travelling abroad for their holidays this year, so they are getting prepared for their staycations. I think this is a great opportunity for toy retailers and our government should be encouraging people to spend their money here this year. Businesses have struggled and it’s our own economy which needs support. You’re not just spending money, you’re investing in your community.”
Richard North and Joel Silverman launch ToyAid Richard North and Joel Silverman, with the support of their respective companies Wow! Stuff and Kidsknowbest, have created ToyAid, an initiative which aims to raise funds for charities of particular relevance to the toy industry. The duo say they have drawn inspiration from the recent efforts of individuals and companies to offer help during the coronavirus crises, from building ventilators and PPE, manufacturing sanitisers and donating toys, games, puzzles and money. The pandemic has disproportionately affected smaller charities which don’t benefit from as much funding as others, meaning many of those working with sick, disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable children have been left exposed. ToyAid aims to support these smaller charities. Part of this support will come in the form of the ‘Buy Some Toys for Make Some Noise’ campaign, the registered charity of Global media group, which owns Heart, Capital, LBC, Classic FM, Smooth, Radio X and Gold. The campaign will see ToyAid raise as much money as it can in support of those families and individuals hardest hit by the pandemic, through pledges from toy and entertainment companies, as well as sales of ‘ToyAid-able’ toys, video games, entertainment products, licensing fees and business services. KidsKnowBest and Norton PR will be delivering an extensive PR, online influencer campaign for all manufacturers and brands, all free of charge. Readers wishing to get involved can find out more can visit www.toyaid.org.
Character Group publishes half year results The Character Group has published its results for the halfyear ending 29th February 2020. While acknowledging that the decline in consumer spending in the UK toy market, the weakness of sterling and uncertainty over Brexit before the 2019 Christmas period had an adverse impact on sales, the Group remained strongly cash-generative throughout the period. The onset of the global pandemic which has significantly impacted toy sector sales since March was also acknowledged in the report, however the results in the first half were largely unaffected by this factor. Revenue for the period dipped to £51.7m, while operating profits came in at £2.7m. Standout performers during the six months to 29th February 2020 continued to include Peppa Pig, Pokémon, Goo Jit Zu and Little Live Pets, to be further bolstered by the exciting new launches planned for later in the year. Having maintained operations to preserve the business-critical functions of the Group and to fulfil demand for its brands and products over the lockdown period, the business is now in a strong position to move on from the lockdown across all the markets in which it operates. Fresh collections unveiled at Toy Fair included exciting new distributor lines, as well as some key brands developed in house. The UK debut of Character’s own Shimmer ‘n Sparkle Instaglam collection is another major focus for Q4. The new, high quality, sustainably sourced Peppa Wood Range, designed for younger Peppa fans, has received a positive reception from the trade.
The Salespeople’s Charity offers assistance during coronavirus crisis Many sales representatives have been stuck at home, unable to carry out their normal business whilst physical stores have been shuttered. As income is drying up and bills may be mounting, an organisation that may be able to provide some respite is The Salespeople’s Charity. Support is made available in the form of financial grants to assist with utility bills, household items, rent, general living costs etc. The sole criteria to qualify for consideration is that the applicant, their spouse or partner must have spent a minimum of five years ‘on the road’, visiting business customers to sell products or services B2B. This excludes those who sell B2C or whose sales role is retail or telesales based. Many of the trustees have themselves spent their working lives on the road; the charity manager himself, Brian Riddell, was involved in various sales positions for over 35 years. If you require assistance at this time, and feel that The Salespeople’s Charity could help you, please don’t hesitate to contact 01752 932155 or enquire via the website - www.salespeoplescharity.org.uk. The charity is also keen to hear from people interested in becoming a Trustee, particularly in the Manchester area and in Scotland. If you’d like to find out more, please contact Brian Riddell on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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+44 (0) 1628 488944 interplayuk.com email@example.com
News Ty Flippables Dinosaur in space launch Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched on Saturday 30th May from Cape Canaveral and was the first commercial spacecraft that has carried humans into space. The mission included a sequined dinosaur toy passenger, which joined the NASA astronauts onboard. Shortly after launch, the soft toy - a Ty Flippables Tremor Dinosaur - appeared floating around the cabin of the Crew Dragon in NASA’s live feed. It is not uncommon for a plush toy to accompany astronauts during launches, to help indicate when the spacecraft has reached zero gravity and astronauts are experiencing weightlessness. The astronauts both have sons who were allowed to choose one of their toys to go into space and fulfil this important role, and the sequined apatosaurus was selected. The Demo-2 mission was undertaken to show that SpaceX can transport astronauts to the International Space Station - and get them back - safely. It is the final step to allow SpaceX to become certified by NASA’s Commercial Crew programme for regular flights carrying astronauts to the International Space Centre. The 6” dinosaur with blue/pink reversible sequins is a best-selling, yet retired line. Customers have been trying to track down remaining stock or re-sale listings of the Flippable, and sellers on eBay have re-titled the item “SpaceX Ty Flippables Tremor Dinosaur Limited Edition” as a consequence. Whether this surge in interest results in the dinosaur being re-introduced into the Flippables range at a future date has not been confirmed by Ty.
Ginette McGee launches Nutcracker Toys After a brief hiatus, independent toy retailer Ginette McGee is back in the toy business. Ginette has over a decade’s worth of toy experience, having run a chain of stores in Sussex. Her first store, Toytown, opened in 2009. The business expanded over the years to three stores, winning a Toy Retailer of the Year award in 2015. The stores gained a reputation for friendly, knowledgeable staff who were passionate about the range of toys on offer. Unfortunately, due to the cost of massive repairs required on the Seaford store, it was forced to close last year. A post on Facebook over the weekend announced Ginette’s return to toy retailing, stating: “Something I’ve kept under the radar, but can’t keep quiet any longer….the news is out, the toys are back in town! From little acorns – lots more to be added over the next few months.” The online store will offer a carefully selected range of quality timeless toys, games and puzzles, sourced from trusted, passionate and responsible toy makers including Ravensburger, The Puppet Company and Artstraws. Nutcracker Toys aims to replicate the personal service that Toytown was renowned for, and according to a message on the new website (www.nutcrackertoys.com), Ginette also hopes to announce a new High Street location in the not too distant future.
Kids@Play completes move to new site Kap Toys Ltd, the company more commonly known as Kids@Play, has confirmed it has completed its move from two sites in Chepstow and Caerphilly in Wales to a new single site in Tockwith, North Yorkshire. Situated just off the A1 outside Wetherby, the new office and warehouse has undergone a major refit and the transition has been managed despite all the challenges through the lockdown period. Nathaniel Southworth, managing director, said, “We are delighted with our new home and are immediately seeing the efficiencies of operating from one site. Moving is traumatic at the best of times, but doing this in March and April in 2020 is something we won’t forget in a hurry. We look forward to focusing on our exciting product launches through to Christmas. Thanks to all our customers for their patience over the last couple of weeks – it really is appreciated.” The new address is: Kap Toys Ltd, Unit 14, Rudgate Business Park, Tockwith, North Yorkshire, YO26 7RD All orders can continue to be emailed through to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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News Hope for high streets as town centres report encouraging footfall figures Figures released in June for 63 town centres found the average number of people venturing out in the last week of May was just 22% of prelockdown levels. However, there were notably higher volumes of footfall in UK towns compared with UK cities. Centre for Cities, who conducted the analysis, found that in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield there were just 17% of pre-lockdown numbers. In Cardiff, the quietest city, the figure was just 11%. In contrast, Aldershot in Hampshire was at 57% of what it had been before hospitality venues and all non-essential shops were shuttered on 23rd March. Southend and Basildon in Essex were back to 53% and 49% respectively. Others in the fastest-recovering top 10 were the seaside towns of Worthing, West Sussex, and Blackpool, as well as Mansfield, Slough, Birkenhead, Merseyside and Blackburn and Burnley. These figures offer hope that high streets, especially in towns, will get a further boost now the majority of non-essential shops have reopened. Andrew Carter, chief executive at the Centre for Cities, commented: “If high street footfall does not increase as lockdown eases then it could put many city centre jobs at risk as the furlough scheme is phased out. The Government should consider ways to boost demand on the high streets once they reopen – VAT cuts and cuts to alcohol duty are one way to support retailers and pubs.”
Introducing Globix Retail Adrian Leafe, European sales manager at Globix Retail, tells Toy World what the company’s distribution lines offer retailers and its plans for the coming months. What can you tell us about Globix as a company? Globix Retail was founded in 2010 as a trader in IT components. Since its inception, the company has become a successful European distributor, servicing all major retailers in Germany, Austria, UK & Ireland, France, Poland and the Czech Republic. We’re headquartered in Dussledorf, Germany, with three further offices across Europe including our UK division, from which we officially launched in 2019 in collaboration with Amaira Holdings group, which is based in Leicestershire. As a distributor, we’re leveraging strong brands with popular licences, successfully introducing electronic- and lifestyle-driven products to the market. Our portfolio of brands is always expanding; currently, it includes KIDdesigns, Youth Electronics, Rockboards, Konix, Noble Collection, Paladone, Polaraid and Kodak, plus many more. We’re very excited to already be presenting our core ranges in the UK. We’ve had a tremendous response so far, and now we look forward to making the products available to consumers for Q4.
How has Globix fared during the pandemic? What have you found to be the biggest challenges and opportunities? Although things have been very unusual, we’ve seen significant growth via our e-commerce partners, which have a strong foothold in the market. Our biggest challenge has been the uncertainty surrounding what the market will look like in Q4, which in turn has put pressure on the FOB orders; either they’ve been placed on hold, and/or reduced by 20-30%. However, the big opportunity for us is that we’re able to bring some really innovative, fresh new ranges to the market for Q4, giving us a competitive edge and an element of newness in the eyes of our retail partners.
Which kids’ properties are you most excited to be distributing this year, and what stands them apart in the market? We have all the most popular kid’s properties - Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, L.O.L. Surprise!, Minions and Trolls World Tour, featuring across a variety of products in our exclusive new youth electronics range. The line-up comprises 6-string guitars, stand up karaoke microphones, Bluetooth karaoke microphones and sing-along karaoke machines with lights and digital cameras. All will be in stock and available in the UK from August.
How will Globix be approaching the rest of 2020 in terms of marketing and retail support? We’re working closely with all our retail partners to ensure the ranges will be placed in a number of key catalogues this year. The investment we’ve made should secure us maximum visibility across our entire portfolio.
What are your aims for Christmas and SS21? We have three main aims. Firstly, we’re looking to grow and develop what we have, as well as introduce further new ranges where appropriate. Secondly, we’ll be working closely with our current customers while also introducing our products to new accounts. Lastly, we’ve committed to always giving and maintaining a high level of support and service for all our customers, complete with a personal approach that we believe is key to good relationships.
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Industry Moves Industry recruitment specialist Rowena Shorey re-launches under own brand For the past fourteen years, Rowena Shorey has been specialising in talent acquisition for the Toy and Nursery markets, recruiting primarily for mid to senior and director level appointments across sales, marketing, product development and general management. In October 2019, Rowena took a leave of absence, needing some personal time out. Having resigned from Tinderbox she is now re-launching under her own guise with Rowena Shorey Consulting. Whilst recognising the challenging times ahead as the world tries to navigate Covid-19 difficulties, Rowena hopes that her wealth of knowledge and expertise of recruiting in these markets will benefit companies who may need additional help with attracting talent, and provide support to candidates throughout the recruitment process. Anyone who has engaged with Rowena in the past will know that she makes time to understand the values which underpin a business culture and what the key drivers are in a candidate; her approach to the recruitment process is always consultative, honest and friendly. Rowena can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on 07970 383641.
Geoff Sheffield joins The Entertainer The Entertainer has appointed Geoff Sheffield as buying director. Geoff has a wealth of experience that The Entertainer says will be hugely valuable in supporting the growth agenda of the business in an increasingly complex and changing global market. The appointment follows the departure of John Driscoll, who spent two years with The Entertainer. Geoff’s experience includes 15 years at Russ Berrie UK, with five years as director of international sales. From there, he moved to Dubai and joined the Board of RM Retail (owners of Hallmark franchise and The Toy Store retail chain) as buying director, helping to develop The Toy Store brand and curating an extensive private label programme. Returning to the UK, he set up HeyBear Consulting to support companies with their international sales and buying strategies and worked as VP of sales for UK, Eire and the Middle East for MTW Toys, the exclusive distributor of Thinkway Toys. The move comes as Stuart Grant takes up his new role of group sourcing director. Geoff will lead the buying function and coordinate the buying activities for all UK and international stores, partners and channels and work closely with Stuart on the group sourcing agenda and support the group’s own label sister company, Addo. Speaking about his appointment, Geoff told Toy World: “I’m delighted to join the team at The Entertainer and bring the knowledge and expertise I’ve gained over the years to support the ambitious growth plans of the business.”
Lazar Vukovic unveils new business venture Lazar Vukovic, a former Winning Moves executive, has set up InShortSupply, working with retailers and distributors in the UK, Europe and Asia to facilitate trade. According to Lazar, this new venture had been under consideration for some time. He told Toy World: “I started to think about this idea again as the coronavirus pandemic caused more and more challenges in retail. A lot of retail stores which were not set up to trade online were left with dead stock and further buying commitments which meant they needed liquidity.” As a result, Lazar has fast-forwarded his idea. His many positive relationships with individuals in the international toy industry have already facilitated several sizeable deals in a short space of time. partnerships have been forged in the UK with companies from toy specialists to large FMCG retailers. Lazar is able to trade globally, however his speciality is in complex territories such as Russia and Greece. The business is twofold: 1. Clearance stock: Lazar can help those finding it hard to shift end of range stock due to geographic popularity or overstock. 2. Facilitating new markets: helping customers enter new territories. If any toy company would like to clear their stock or look at entering a particular new market/territory, Lazar can be contacted on 0759 007 7369 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit www.lazarvukovic.com/inshortsupply/
Green Board Games announces James Wallis as new studio manager The appointment marks the next step in a new era for Green Board Games (GBG) following its acquisition by the Asmodee Group in 2019 as the company’s first UK-based game studio. GBG is best known for its BrainBox titles, which offer 10-minute trivia challenges on subjects from maths and science to animals and even football. James has enjoyed a career that has brought him direct experience of almost every part of the games industry. As a games designer, he is best known for the storytelling card game Once Upon a Time, which is now available in 12 languages and is frequently utilised as a learning tool by TEFL teachers. He founded and ran Hogshead Publishing, the UK’s largest publisher of role-playing games in the 1990s, and has distinguished himself as a journalist, a writer of 17 books, and most recently a lecturer on games design at London South Bank University and the National Film & Television School. “Being studio head at Green Board Games is a dream job for me,” says James. “The strength of the BrainBox line gives us a great foundation to explore new areas where games and learning come together and being part of Asmodee lets us plan big.”
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Marketing World Vivid teams up with the Sea Life Trust for launch of Vet Squad Vivid has unveiled a new charity partnership with the Sea Life Trust for the launch of Vet Squad, its new vet-themed brand. The range of figures, vehicles and play sets focuses on perennial nurture and care play patterns, but with added adventure. The Sea Life Trust’s mission is to protect the world’s oceans and assist in the rehabilitation and support of marine animals in their care. A £20,000 donation from the proceeds of Vet Squad will be given to Sea Life Trust to continue this important work. Chloe Burrowes, assistant brand manager at Vivid, said: “With a love for animals at the heart of the Vet Squad brand, we are delighted to be partnering with the Sea Life Trust to support its mission in helping endangered marine wildlife globally. It is great for us to know that by encouraging children to become animal-saving adventurers in the world of Vet Squad, our donation can also make a real difference globally in rehabilitating and caring for animals in reality.” The Sea Life Trust partnership will be activated with an on-pack endorsement as well as PR and social support from the Sea Life Trust throughout autumn/winter 2020. Vivid will also launch a series of competitions to win tickets to visit Sea Life attractions across the UK. The charity partnership is part of a launch programme for Vet Squad including a series of webisodes, a 1,200 TVR campaign, vet influencer activity and digital marketing.
Smyths Toys and Magic Star partner on exclusive Oscar deal Smyths Toys and Magic Star, the children and family entertainment label of Sony Music, have partnered on a 360 deal for the iconic Smyths Toys character Oscar. The deal is set to include media licensing, original animated video content, third party brand partnerships and consumer products. An album release will be produced by Blackbook Music, which also brokered the deal. Oscar was created by Smyths in 2016 and has since featured prominently in a number of advertising campaigns alongside famous characters including Barbie, Buzz Lightyear and Woody. The character also appeared in the hit music video ‘If I Were a Toy’, which aimed to break down gender stereotypes. Will Speer, head of Magic Star, said: “We are really excited by the opportunity to work with such a collaborative and forward-thinking partner as Smyths – there are so many possibilities for developing Oscar and bringing him to new audiences.” Tony Smyth, managing director, Smyths Toys Superstore, added: “We are delighted to see Oscar shine in his role as a music star and to work collaboratively with Magic Star and the great team there to make that happen.”
Hornby unveils Scalextric TV campaign and highlights new products Scalextric has announced plans for a new TV advertising campaign for its best-selling My First Scalextric set. The 30-second advert will be aired on Milkshake, Cartoonito, Boomerang, Nick Jr, Nick Jr 2, Tiny Pop, Disney Jr, CITV, ITVB and Roku. The ad highlights several of the product’s USPs, including its ease of assembly and suitability for younger Scalextric fans from three years and up. The set features two rally cars and adjustable power hand-controllers, colour coded in red and yellow to match chevrons on the circuit. Scalextric is also supporting the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future in 2020; the brand’s Back to the Future DeLorean has sold out before it’s even been released. Hornby is also welcoming new products to its portfolio. A special limited-edition Class 66 model went into production in early June, featuring a livery dedicated to Captain Tom Moore and the NHS. So far, £140,000 in sales has been donated to NHS Charities Together. Airfix recently launched two Start-Up Bundles, including a selection of products to kickstart any kit modeller into the hobby, alongside a ‘How to Build: Hawker Hurricane 1:48 scale series’ video on its YouTube channel. A new Humbrol Weathering series is due to be launched on YouTube, and will tie in with new powders for painting and modelling enthusiasts.
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TV winners This month, Jonathan looks at how the new normal has affected marketing plans for 2020 and resulted in renewed confidence in linear TV advertising
ith non-essential retail now open, schools and nurseries likewise to varying degrees and companies staging returns to their places of work, we are once again having to navigate yet another ‘new normal’. With the shifts in consumer behaviour that this entails, how do the different media channels now fit into Q4 plans? Will cinema be able to find its way back onto plans? Will TikTok continue to grow its user base? And importantly, how relevant will linear TV be given its historically market leading share of ad spend? To answer that question, let us look at how children’s linear TV viewing has evolved since the start of the pandemic in the UK.
children of all ages. Working to the assumption that schools remain open for the rest of the year (minus holiday periods), linear TV will continue to demonstrate a compelling case to remain central to Q4 advertising strategies.
Jonathan Chambers Director of AV Investment, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7906 Jonathan.Chambers@generationmedia.co.uk
That being the case, who is best placed to emerge from lockdown and deliver the audiences that advertisers need to reach? Especially as despite lockdown conditions, commercial impacts (children 4-9) across the entire children’s channel set actually declined -17% year-on-year (primarily driven by Turner, -48%, and Disney, -26%). Sky Kids, galvanised by Pop (Free to Air), now has a commanding market share, controlling close to two thirds of the total available inventory despite experiencing a -9% YoY decline across
demand is a long way short of 2019, as advertisers withdrew, in the main due to the pandemic.
ar -2 0 09 -M ar -2 0 16 -M ar -2 0 23 -M ar -2 0 30 -M ar -2 0 06 -A pr -2 0 13 -A pr -2 0 20 -A pr -2 0 27 -A pr -2 0 04 -M ay -2 0 11 -M ay -2 0 18 -M ay -2 0 25 -M ay -2 0 01 -Ju n20
Toys & Games CH4-9 Equiv. TVRs
Toys & Games CH4-9 Equiv. TVRs
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% of total commerical viewing
ar -2 0 09 -M ar -2 0 16 -M ar -2 0 23 -M ar -2 0 30 -M ar -2 0 06 -A pr -2 0 13 -A pr -2 0 20 -A pr -2 0 27 -A p CH4-9 equiv. r-2 impacts 0 04 -M ay -2 0 11 -M ay -2 0 18 -M ay -2 0 25 -M ay -2 0 01 -Ju n20
CH4-9 equiv. impacts
% of total commerical viewing
In fact, across the lockdown period (23rd March30th May), Toys & Games advertising (measured as CH4-9 equiv. TVRs), fell -33% YoY. However, with toy stores open from the 15th June, we could be in line to Children 4-9 viewing behaviour under lockdown see a bumper June from the Toys & Games market. 700000 42% Figures from 2019 on the chart show that, typically, 41% there is a large decline in Toys & Games advertising 600000 40% across June and the first half of July, as brands 39% 500000 wait until the Argos catalogue release to deploy ad 38% 400000 Children 4-9 viewing behaviour under 37% campaigns. Withlockdown no Argos catalogue in 2020, a need 36% 300000 to stimulate sales at retail to secure Q4 listings, 700000 42% and 35% 200000 41% low cost offers available from TV supply partners, 34% 600000 33% expect to see an influx of advertisers in the 40% June 2020 100000 39% 32% 500000 data. 38% 31% 0 400000 37% This influx could also lead to renewed confidence 36% 300000 in linear TV advertising, which has certainly been 35% 200000 reduced over the past decade. There are numerous 34% 33% case studies to show that brands which have been 100000 32% % of total Total commercial viewing Commercial kids channels able to continue with advertising under lockdown, 0 31% without the constraints of supply chain issues, have seen compelling levels of ROI. With this the ultimate the entire portfolio. To cement the Free to Air March, there was a significant uplift in the total time objective for the majority of brands, especially in a point, CITV emerged from the period in growth spent viewing linear TV. On average, children aged marketplace like Toys & Games, ensuring linear TV (+2%), emphasising the importance of not only 4-9 spent nine hours and 19 minutes consuming %Pop of total Total commercial viewing channels is performingCommercial optimally iskids critical. Generation Media this channel, but also and Milkshake to Q4 linear content, a huge 27% uplift versus W/C 2nd employs data led strategies to not only optimise campaigns (dependent on target audience). March. However, with parents turning to linear budget split by media channel but ensure maximum Toys Games linearduring TV advertisingBut under lockdown vs. 2019 how will advertiser demand adapt to the ‘new TV as a trusted news& source (particularly delivery and therefore potential ROI. For more normal’? At the time of writing, the data available government 5000 briefings), children’s commercial details, get in touch via our website. (up until the 7th June) demonstrates that advertiser channels did not benefit proportionately. In fact, 4500 whilst4000 there was a 22% uplift in commercial impacts (children 4-9), children’s commercial channels 3500 only represented 37% of total linear commercial Toys & Games linear TV advertising under lockdown vs. 2019 3000 viewing, compared to 45% for the same period in 2500 5000 2019. During 2000 lockdown, that figure has fluctuated 4500 somewhat, 1500 but never exceeded 40%. 4000 That1000 is until W/C 1st June, when schools partially 3500 reopened 500and with this came the return, to some 3000 extent, of routine for parents across the country. 0 2500 04-Apr-19 04-May-19 04-Jun-19 04-Jul-19 04-Aug-19 Through04-Mar-19 Giraffe Insight’s Kids and the Screen study 2000 we have been able to track the habitual nature of 1500 2019 2020 children’s media behaviour and the major role 1000 that routine plays in this. Not least when it comes 500 to the traditional after-school period which, even 0 in lockdown, has remained peak viewing time for 04-Mar-19 04-Apr-19 04-May-19 04-Jun-19 04-Jul-19 04-Aug-19 Unsurprisingly, when schools closed W/C 23rd
Licensing World Hannah Mungo departs NBCUniversal Hannah Mungo has announced her departure from NBC Universal, where she held the position of UK and Ireland director of consumer products, as she takes up a new post at Sutikki. Hannah commented: “One chapter ends, and another begins! After nearly four years setting up the NBCUniversal Brand Development UK business, building the team and working on some amazing power brands it’s time for the next step in my career. I’m hugely excited to announce my move to Sutikki as a Brand and Business Growth Consultant which includes developing a strategy for the much-loved Moon and Me Franchise driving commercial success across the world. I’m really excited to be taking all my learnings into the future and into my project at Sutikki and look forward to connecting with all my industry friends and network in this new role. At the same time, I wish all my colleagues at NBCUniversal the very best for what is set to be a very exciting next 12 months for the business.”
New series MixMups to celebrate diversity and disability Raydar Media and Mackinnon & Saunders have announced that they are teaming up to produce a new pre-school, stop frame animated TV series. The MixMups, developed with support from the BFI’s Young Audience Content Fund, sees Pockets, Giggle and Spin transported from their Helter-Skelter home, through a Magic Box Dress-Up portal, to embark upon costume-filled, problem-solving adventures which address the day-to-day life experiences of children living with and without disability. The MixMups has been created by Rebecca Atkinson, founder of the #ToyLikeMe campaign, who felt that there was a need for more visibility of disability on screen. To date, the campaign has helped deliver inclusivity for 150m disabled children worldwide. Rebecca said: “In MixMups I wanted to create an innovative show and brand, bursting with fun, magic and play, which would bring disability representation into the mainstream in a way which has never been done before.” Mackinnon & Saunders, whose credits include work on global pre-school brands such as The Twirlywoos, Postman Pat SDS and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, will produce the show from its Manchester based studio and workshop facilities. Licensing expert Valerie Fry is on board as part of the Raydar Media team and will oversee the development of a global consumer products programme in tandem with the television rights team.
Playmobil reveals latest Back to the Future toys Playmobil announced the latest additions to its Back to the Future range in time for Father’s Day on Sunday 21st June. The cult franchise, which stars Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2020, and Playmobil is celebrating with a raft of new releases. To commemorate the milestone, the DeLorean - Doc Brown’s iconic time-travelling vehicle - has been reimagined in Playmobil form. The DeLorean features folding wheels for hover mode, gull wing doors, an illuminated flux capacitor inside and illuminated exterior. Also included is plutonium inside its own special case, which can be inserted at the back of the vehicle. The playset comes complete with Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown figures, depicted in their outfits from 1985. A skateboard, remote control and Einstein the dog are also included. Collectors can also look forward to special figures of Marty & Doc Brown in their 1950s outfits. The sets comes complete with a 50s Rock‘n’Roll guitar and newspaper with ‘clock tower’ headline.
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Launchi ng Apr
©Disney & ©Disney/Pixar
SISO TOYS UK
Licensing World Aardman announces senior promotions Aardman has announced the promotions of Rob Goodchild to commercial director and Alison Taylor to director of distribution and business development. These newly created roles in the sales and marketing arm of the business form part of a departmental restructuring to consolidate the studio’s sales, marketing and brand management expertise. Rob Goodchild joined Aardman as UK licensing manager in 2008, before progressing to head of licensing. In that time, he secured major partnerships for all of Aardman’s key brands supporting global business growth, as well as working to deliver innovation-led projects. In his new position as commercial director, Rob will assume strategic responsibility for the selling and marketing of the studio’s services including third party commercials and short films, the rights exploitation for all Aardman brands, and defining new business opportunities such as the development of IP and animated content for third party brands, theme parks and attractions. He will be tasked with delivering revenue across different categories and markets, influencing growth in key territories across Europe and Asia. Rob also directs the development of Aardman’s branded interactive business, working to increase its presence in the gaming space and with pioneering companies to grow Aardman’s output in new technologies including AR and Blockchain. Alison Taylor, currently head of sales and acquisitions at Aardman, will be responsible for driving the financing, distribution and long-term content exploitation strategy for each brand. Both Alison and Rob will report to Sean Clarke, managing director at Aardman.
Blue Sky Designs inks new licensing deals Blue Sky Designs has partnered with five new licences, four of which have been signed as part of a portfolio deal with Hasbro; these are Monopoly, Tonka, My Little Pony and Nerf. The rights Blue Sky have been granted are across multiple ranges, including stationery, lunchware, bags and gifting. Gavin Holden, commercial director at Blue Sky Designs, told Toy World: “We have found in the past that people often revert back to nostalgic brands when times are troubled. Given the current situation, we expect people will want to take a step back rather than chasing the next big app or collectible craze. Monopoly has been around for 85 years; Tonka has a strong heritage and My Little Pony is a very wellestablished brand.” Blue Sky has also signed the rights to both classic Space Jam and Space Jam: The New Legacy, which will hit cinemas in July 2021. This deal with Warner Bros. is slated to come into effect from January 2021, but Blue Sky is in the process of talking to retailers looking to list these new products from Easter next year. From January, it will offer classic Space Jam items across multiple ranges. Blue Sky Designs has continued to work hard and keep up business throughout lockdown. Gavin concludes, “We took the decision early on to pounce on this downtime to bolster our portfolio, so that when everything starts to go back to normal, we will be ready with a strong collection of exciting product and licences.”
Obituary - Michael Seres Michael first worked in the toy and licensing community during the noughties. He started his licensing career at Copyright Promotions, where he managed the sports licensing division. He then moved to Celador, where he was responsible for the licensing and marketing of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? during its phenomenal rise. He went on to consult for several licensing companies including Fremantle, where he helped to set up licensing programmes for X Factor and The Apprentice, before establishing his own toy company, Danjam, which focused on the licensed wooden toys category. Michael had long-term health issues which did not hold him back during the time he spent in the toy and licensing community, but led to a career change over the past decade, when he established connected medical smart care company, 11Health. He also developed a unique coaching programme which used patients as health coaches. In 2015, he was appointed as the inaugural Stanford Medicine X Entrepreneur in Residence - Medicine X being a hub for new ideas and technologies about the future of medicine and health care. He was also an accomplished motivational speaker and wrote many articles for medical magazines. David Wootliff, who worked with Michael during his extensive toy career, told Toy World: “Michael was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, so inspiring and positive… just a really lovely guy, very supportive.” Our thoughts are with Michael’s family at this sad time.
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Glass half full?
Following a surprisingly positive selling period so far, NPD has been working on a full year 2020 scenario planning figure for the UK toy market. Here, Rory looks at the potential outlook for the rest of the year.
t the time of writing the UK toy market is currently +7% in value YTD vs. the same period in 2019. That is the best performance we have seen at this stage of the year since 2016, when the market was also growing at +7% at this stage and finished with a full year performance of +6% in value. This year has been unprecedented; with the UK going into lockdown in March and only just easing out of some of those measures, the last few months have been turbulent to say the least. But the toy market has performed well in a tough time. Before school closures were announced, the market was -5% in value vs. 2019. Over the lockdown period the market has been +17% in value as parents use toys to help with the challenges of home schooling and keeping children occupied and happy, while good weather has meant Outdoor Toys has amassed nearly £100m in value from mid-March to early June. Recently, NPD has been working on a full year 2020 scenario planning figure for the UK toy market and has calculated three scenarios for year end, ranging from a pessimistic to optimistic outcome. The realistic scenario figure for 2020 is -4%, and this figure has generally been well received across the NPD client base. This means the market is going to be quite different in the second half of the year. So, what is going to change?
If the market is going to finish at -4%, it would mean that the period from now until December will be -8% in value, so a marked contrast from the first half of the year, or at least the last three months. When we consider that more stores will be open, and consumers will generally be out and about more, it does seem strange to be talking about the rest of the year being so different. But the last three months have been anything but normal and this will have an impact on the rest of the year. Spend may be up, with over £50m more being spent on toys post lockdown than the comparable period last year, but volume is significantly down with nearly 6m fewer units being sold. Since lockdown began, the average price is up across every single supercategory. Some of the most notable increases are in the categories that are proving to be popular choices just now; for example, Building Sets has increased from an average price of around £13 last year to over £19 this year. Parents have been looking for items that have play value and can entertain kids for longer. Bigger and more expensive toys are winning over lower priced items that might be deemed to have a shorter shelf life. Impulse purchases are not happening as parents largely shop without children, consequently we have seen a huge change in the collectibles trend during the lockdown period. When schools go back and shops are fully open nationwide, this may change and could impact trends over the next few months. However, parents will potentially be saving for the all-
Pre & Pre post& lockdown value trend post lockdown value trend
Director UK Toys & EuroToys NPD important peak season period.
Outdoor Toys has been one of the big winners during the lockdown period, with £30m more being spent on this category from mid-March to early June versus 2019. This has undeniably been helped by some good weather, but also by parents keen to get kids out into the garden and active. Over the last few years, Outdoor Toys has averaged around £65-70m in value for June and July combined, but only time will tell if that money already been spent this year. If parents have simply bought Outdoor items a little early this year, then this will affect the spend over the traditional summer months and is another factor that could influence market performance in the second half of the year. That said, there is a counter argument that if families cannot go on holidays and even more time is being spent in the garden and on day trips, then Outdoor Toys could still enjoy a strong summer.
ValuePre salesValue UK lockdown toy market post lockdown are +17% &in the post value trend sales in the UK toy market post lockdown are +17% Value sales in the UK toy market post lockdown are +17% 25 25 20
own are +17%
25 20 15
10 10 5 5
0 -5 -10
st Lockdown % Trend vs. 2019
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Pre-4.8 Lockdown % Trend vs. Post Lockdown % Trend vs. 2019 Pre Lockdown % Trend vs. Post Lockdown %2019 Trend vs. 2019 2019 Pre Lockdown % Trend vs. Post Lockdown % Trend vs.
DocumentThe classification: Party Confidential NPD Group,Client/Third Inc. | Proprietary and confidential Source: The NPD Group | EPOS UK | YTD Jun 08 2020 1 DocumentThe classification: Party Confidential NPD Group,Client/Third Inc. | Proprietary and confidential
DocumentThe classification: Party Confidential NPD Group,Client/Third Inc. | Proprietary and confidential
Source: The NPD Group | EPOS UK | YTD Jun 08 2020
1 Source: The NPD Group | EPOS UK | YTD Jun 08 2020
With life starting to creep back towards normality, the UK toy market trends may not be as strong as they have been over the last 12 weeks. Consumers embraced particular toy categories during this period, and the toy market met that demand admirably - even with the majority of stores being closed. There are so many unknowns still to come this year; in all of our potential scenario planning outcomes, the second half the year will have a declining trend. But one thing is for sure, the sales increase which the UK market has posted over the lockdown period have put it in a fantastic position moving into this period. Remember, for our realistic scenario of -4% to happen, the market would be -8% for the second half of the year. A market that was flat for the rest of the year would lead to a final year trend of +2%. I’m not sure anyone at the start of April would have considered that could even have be a possibility, so we can but dream.
Source: The NPD Group | EPOS UK | YTD Jun 08 2020
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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.
Games has been one of the standout areas of the UK market over the last few months, with parents buying items that can get the family together during lockdown. Scrabble is a firm family favourite and has seen a rapid increase in property rankings in May vs. April 2020. Scrabble Original was also the No.1 item in Family Games for the month of May.
Fastest growing properties
Fastest growingStandard subclasses in toys Building Sets has gained over £10m so far in 2020, with four Outdoo Standard Building Sets has gainedsubclasses over £10minsothe fartop in 2020, 10. with four Outdoor sublasses in the top 10. Sales Gained £M The top 10 fastest growing subclasses for YTD May show some of the latest trends in the market over the lockdown period. There are four Outdoor & Sports Toys subclasses in the top 10 growth subclasses, being led by Pools, which has added nearly £8m so far this year. Standard Building Sets is the top growth category so far in 2020, and value growth has come from the average price across the subclass rising from £12.60 in 2019 to £16.51 this year. Three of the other top 10 spots are taken up by Games & Puzzles subclasses with Adult Puzzles the top performer, having added nearly £5m so far this year.
Standard Building Sets Pools Playground Equipment Fashion Dolls Adult Puzzles Family Board/Action Games Card Games Sport Activities & Games Large Dolls & Acc Skates/Skateboards/Scooters
£2.7 £2.6 £2.4 £2.3 £0
£7.9 £7.5 £7.4
Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | YT
DocumentThe classification: Client/Third Party Confidential NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential
BRUDER Spielwaren GmbH + Co. KG Postfach 190164 · 90730 Fürth/Germany Telefon: + 49 (0)911 / 75 209-0 Telefax: + 49 (0)911 / 75 209-100/-290 email@example.com
The toys are back in town Indies have proved resilient and adaptable throughout the pandemic, and with the re-opening of ‘non-essential’ shops in June, they have shown their resourcefulness yet again and adjusted to new ways of retailing. The following spoke to Lisa Currie.
Neil Armstrong - The Toy Book Warehouse, Pickering It is going to be a challenge for us to reopen the shop because we are incredibly busy online and have limited staff at the moment, so it’s impossible to do both to full capacity. We will open with shorter hours to begin with. We are not planning to bring any other staff back immediately, because we don’t want to put them or ourselves at risk. We have worked cautiously since the week before lockdown was announced; my brother and I had already made the decision to limit customers to one family or group in the shop at one time, and we worked alternate days so that if one of us got ill, the other could still work. We have worked this way since, with less days and longer hours, and will continue to implement most of these measures when the doors reopen. We have always traded online but recently it’s been like Christmas trading every day. We are used to processing large volumes during peak season, and we’ve experienced that level of business for the past three months - with the added challenge of social distancing and solely trading online. Our online platform has proved important to us as we don’t have a huge local trade, but nationwide demand has been so high that we have been working very long days, arriving before seven to get all the orders packed and to the post office by the end of the day. We have found ourselves increasing our spend with suppliers that we haven’t used before, which has opened up increased opportunity and a larger pool of suppliers to use moving forward. Throughout the lockdown period, the suppliers that have remained open have serviced us well; our agent for Mattel deserve a special mention for all the help we’ve had. Stock has been an issue, with some suppliers not being able to replace sold-out stock, but largely speaking everything has been ticking over – although we would have had more luck buying a multi-coloured unicorn than getting hold of a Monopoly game! When we reopen the shop, I don’t expect to have any issues with stock volume. By switching to new suppliers, we have bought significantly more stock than usual, and been braver with how much we’ve ordered to see us through. We have plenty of stock for the initial period after lockdown eases. However, we hope to finally get some more stock from Lego, since it is a best seller that we have not been able to keep fully ranged. As well as Lego, I expect lower price point items to start selling again once our physical shop is open. This has been a trying time and parents will be on the lookout for ways to keep kids occupied and give them a treat without spending too much. Arts and crafts has been doing well, particularly Galt and Crayola; everyone’s got the bug now and I expect this category will remain strong. I think the jigsaw craze has calmed down now, partly because of the good weather which means everyone is spending more time outside. Although the shop has been shuttered, deliveries have been rolling in and the shop currently resembles a packing warehouse. Our priority now is to get the shop tidy, set up a sterilising station for consumers to use at
Lisa Clay - Armadillo Toys, Leeds It is a worry not knowing how many people will feel comfortable coming out to the high street once we reopen. However, we are committed to making the shop safe and consumers confident. We have created a one way system; the shop is full with plenty of stock so there wasn’t much I could do in terms of rearranging, but I have removed a few stands to make the newly implemented one way system flow more smoothly. We have worked hard to make sure that the shop is still child friendly, even with all the rules and restrictions in place. I have a created a character called Sally the Social Distancing Spinosaurus. Sally has left footprints all around the shop for the children to follow. I am hoping that parents will encourage their children to stay on these footprints and move to the next one when told. I understand it is harder to get younger children to keep still, especially when there are toys around. Usually they would treat the shop as they would a playgroup or school, where they are used to moving freely. Social distancing stickers are of course an obvious measure for all shops to apply, but I hope that the dinosaur shaped footprint stickers will make it that bit more enticing for kids. I have also created a sanitising station with “Sally’s Special Sanitiser” for customers to use. We’ll be running Sally’s Colouring Competition, among other activities. Ultimately, we need to adapt to fit this ‘new normal’, but we’re doing everything we can to make it child friendly as well as safe. I want customers to adhere to the appropriate measures, but there is no reason why we can’t make them more exciting and fun. As well as Sally, I have tried to involve characters that children know and love and have enrolled one of the Playmobil big figures. The Playmobil policeman is wearing a face mask and will act as our queue marshal outside the shop, sporting a sign on his chest with instructions for customers. Over lockdown, crafts and jigsaws were very high sellers, as well as animal and dinosaur figures, especially Schleich figures. Sales may change as consumers look for something new to entertain them over the summer holidays, though it’s tricky to say what will be the key lines moving forward. For a lot of toy shops, myself included, around 70% of what we usually sell is for children’s birthday parties. Of course, this hasn’t been the case recently, but I expect more sales as soon as parties pick up again. I haven’t closed a day since the shop was shuttered and have been taking phone orders throughout lockdown. Initially this was for deliveries, however most people now order for collection. I plan to carry on with these services for the time being. From the 15th June, I am also offering appointments for the first hour of everyday. Customers can book a time slot of 15 minutes and have the whole shop to themselves. This system is ideal for anyone who feels nervous or is vulnerable, or even for larger families. I have nothing to lose doing this; if no one has booked an appointment I can just open the shop as normal.
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Talking Shop Phil Heath - Heaths Toymaster, Barrow-in-Furness We are very pleased to have been given the green light to reopen from 15th June and having read the guidelines, we are confident we can implement them moving forward. I have ordered screens to put up on the counters to protect both staff and customers. I have also ordered the appropriate signs to put on our windows and floors, as well as gloves and masks for our staff. We have done a rough assessment which is yet to be finalised but essentially, we have done all the groundwork. Getting the right materials in place is our priority at the moment. If the government had said we could reopen much earlier, we wouldn’t have been ready; there is so much to organise, and it is vital that customers and staff feel safe enough to come into the store. We need to work out how many customers we can have in the shop at one time; the shop is about 1500 square foot in total, which means it should be fairly simple to monitor. We expect to see an increase in card payments as a proportion of our sales, so I will be speaking to the bank about a card machine provider with no minimum spend. This should attract customers looking for pocket money/lower priced items who understandably don’t want to use cash payment. I don’t know how busy we will be initially, but I imagine we won’t need our normal staffing levels at the start of reopening. I think there will be an adjustment period for customers, and they won’t all react to shopping on the high street again in the same way. They will want to see that we are doing everything we can to be safe and sensible. We have had lots of people asking when we will be open, which is good sign. Business has continued throughout lockdown with local deliveries while the shop has been shuttered. Early on we found a local courier to carry out our home deliveries at a reasonable price and this facility has been welcomed by customers. As well as our toy department, we sell stationery, office supplies and crafts which all saw a surge in demand, especially at the beginning of lockdown. Although we expect some customers to be eager to get back into the shop, especially with summer holidays approaching, we still plan to offer local delivery for those reluctant to come out. The uncertainty for the future is a worry but we have got through the lockdown period, so now we can focus on getting people back to the high street and making them feel confident and safe to shop. I think people will still be worrying about a possible second wave for a while, therefore safety measures are the most important aspect for shops like us to focus on right now.
Bhav Patel - Toy Galaxy, multiple locations I’ve I have no doubt that, for the next few months, trading is going to be challenging. There has been a mixed reaction to the lifting of lockdown measures, and I am not sure how this is going to translate into sales. Even if a lot of people choose to return to the high street, as a business we will be forced to limit the number of customers in the shop at one time. We have worked hard on a strategy for reopening, as it is important that we do all we can to make customers feel safe. We hope people act responsibly and abide by the two-metre distancing rule - we will have staff in place to monitor the situation at all times. The predicament we find ourselves in is reopening while holding a lot of stock that is out of season, which we need to clear because we need the space - and the cashflow. To attract customers through the door, we will offer a buy one, get one free sale on everything in store. This is a much more aggressive offer than we would normally undertake, but we recognise that people may not have as much money to spend right now. As well as looking at how we stay in business, we need to look at how we can help customers who are loyal and are willing to come back into store. Overall stockholding is lower than usual for this time of year, but the priority is to generate revenue through the tills, as well as getting customers back. With limits on the number of shoppers, we plan to give customers an attractive offer so that they are happy to part with their cash and bring down our stock levels. During lockdown we have continued to trade online. Initially we experienced a high spike in sales and many of our suppliers were still able to ship stock, which was great. The first three weeks were really busy and seemed overwhelming, but this did calm down and we were able to use stock from our stores as needed. As we didn’t know how long stores would be closed, it was important to generate sales and turn stock into cash. Puzzles, games and crafts have been popular during lockdown. Those categories have always been steady sellers and they have now evened out to normal levels. At the end of May/start of June, we saw a surge in demand for outdoor toys. With such favourable weather, paddling pools, sports equipment and garden toys were all selling well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is a lot of stock left in the UK already. I think suppliers have been stripped bare, so it will be interesting to see what becomes available again and how long this demand will last; the summer period is always unpredictable. It’s not safe to bank too much outdoor stock this far into the season; we have been blessed with good weather so far, but this could easily change, in which case puzzles might experience another spike. Demand is always changing, but as independent retailers we are able to react quickly and make sure our merchandise in store reflects those changes, as long as we have the space and the right stock is available.
Amanda Harrop - Gosling’s Toymaster, Marple, Stockport We are continuing with local and online deliveries whilst we work out new safety measures for when we can reopen later this month. At the minute, the shop requires a lot of organisation and we have also been painting and redecorating the front of the shop with new signs. This was already planned before lockdown was enforced, but we brought it forward because it made sense to redecorate while the shop has been shuttered. We should now hopefully have a fresh new exterior ready in time for opening. We’ve been coping reasonably well throughout lockdown. We were already set up online, so we haven’t had to make any drastic changes in order to keep business going. The only thing that has changed is our local delivery service. During lockdown we have allowed customers to ring up to place orders for local delivery to avoid anyone having to come to the shop. A big priority for us is working out new precautions and guidelines so that we can reopen safely and fit the government requirements. We are working out a one-way system; we are not a particularly big shop, so I expect we will also have to limit the number of people that come into the shop at any one time. When the reopening of non-essential shops was announced in May, I felt a bit disappointed that the reopening time was still so far away. We were hoping they would say we could open from the 1st June: however, there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. I expect there will be mixed feelings among customers about returning to the high street. Although some will be quite content going into shops, there will be others who will be reluctant. For this reason, we will carry on with a local delivery service to ensure all our customers can be catered for.
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Talking Shop John Bentley - Howleys Toymaster, Weymouth Over the last few months, we have been utilising our online platforms as much as possible. Now we are excited be reopening, but also apprehensive to see how big an impact social distancing will have on footfall. We have a strong presence on Facebook and put a lot of effort into promoting the shop through our social media. We are lucky that we are well established and that our location is a town with a beach, which means we have footfall from both areas. Our strengths include our extensive range, large volume of stock and our spacious premises. We have taken out some fixtures, as I am sure many shops have, to enable us to adhere to social distancing guidelines. This does mean that we have had to cut back the range, so now we will adjust our ordering to carry more depth and less width. Summer is our peak season, even better than Christmas, so we rely on doing well while the sun is shining. At the beginning of June, we had a packed beach, but our doors were still shuttered under government guidelines; now we have some making up to do. We have a loyal customer base in Weymouth as well as returning customers in the holiday makers, however limiting the amount of people that come into the store means that we won’t be able to hit anything like last year’s sales. As we hit the height of summer and the usual tourist season, I expect we will get increased weekend day visits, as people can’t currently stay over. Caravan sites may be up and running soon, but hotels will be more of a challenge. Our peak time is usually in July, when the shop can be packed. We are used to buying for that volume of people, but this year is likely to be very different, so we have adjusted our ordering accordingly. During lockdown we did run low on some lines, particularly in games and puzzles, but we are not too worried because as people start to get out more, outdoor toys and our usual best-sellers like Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Lego and Sylvanian Families are likely to be more in demand. As a result, I think the key this year is to ensure best sellers are always in stock. If footfall is down, there is more pressure to sell something to everyone that walks into the shop. We will no longer have the luxury of people coming in for a casual browse. We are working hard at stocking best sellers in depth and being as aggressive as possible in terms of promotions and sales – there is a lot of time to make up for.
Sue Greaves - Salter Street Toys and Models, Stafford Following welcoming customers back to the shop from 15th of June, we now have shorter opening hours, from 10am – 4pm Monday to Saturday. We only have one member of staff and a maximum of two customers in the shop at a time. We have managed to keep most of our loyal, regular customers shopping with us throughout the lockdown period by offering an online service whilst the shops have been shuttered. I have been coming into the shop once a week and taking orders over the phone, which are then delivered by us. We will continue to offer this service for customers who don’t feel comfortable coming into the shop just yet. We realise not everyone will be as keen to venture back to the high street right away and we want to consider everyone’s needs, especially those in a more vulnerable position. Since we need to limit the number of customers in the shop, continuing the delivery service means we can reach more people and increase business. While the shop has been closed, we have been offering 20% off every item in stock. To entice customers back to the shop, we will be promoting even more offers on different items to make the high street experience worthwhile for those who do venture out to see us. We’ve got screens installed around the till, visors for all the staff, a hand sanitiser station and crosses on the floor signalling a two-metre distance. Galt Jumbo jigsaw puzzles, craft items, Lego and puzzles as a whole continue to sell well for us, however we have struggled to get hold of more Lego, including the new minifigures and sets, both of which have been heavily requested by our customers. We haven’t been able to get those delivered while the shop was closed; we have back orders in the system, it is now just a question of when they will arrive. Our Lego rep has been really helpful, keeping us informed along the way. Some of our suppliers have been doing business through lockdown, but not all. In terms of suppliers, Galt and Animal Planet, among others, have been brilliant; processing orders and responding quickly to any of our queries. Toymaster has also been helpful during this tricky period. Thanks to these companies, stock volume has been ticking over nicely and we have a healthy selection of products ready for customers in store.
Jade Oliver-Deacon - The Toy Shop, Okehampton, Devon I’ve kept in contact with the majority of my customers throughout the lockdown period, mainly through my Facebook page. This keeps them updated and allows me to take orders, which I have been able to fulfil by collecting stock from the shop and delivering to local addresses. I have informed customers that when the store opens again, it will not be opening full time initially. I will be working 9:30am - 2:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I think consumer confidence will return gradually, and I don’t expect a massive surge in physical store sales from day one of reopening. I think people will need more time to adjust and some will prefer to continue with the delivery option, rather than venturing into shops right away. Hopefully, I will be proved wrong, but I feel it’s important to be flexible and continue offering other methods of shopping for my customers. Since I will be offering limited hours and days, customers can contact me and organise a time to visit outside of this time frame, should it not suit. I’m happy to open the shop for them when possible and will assist them if I can. Only time will tell if the opening hours I have chosen will be the optimum shopping times. The delivery service will still be available, especially to vulnerable people and the elderly. With summer in full swing, outdoor toys and games will be in demand; traditional items like Swing Ball, tennis and croquet sets and paddling pools always sell consistently well. I’ve already delivered lots of them in recent weeks, and they will continue to be a key offering in store. I expect educational toys to continue to be popular. Although the summer holidays are fast approaching, if some schools or specific school years don’t go back in September, parents will still be looking for educational products to help with home-schooling.
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indie viewpoint Clair Letton - Wigwam Toys, Brighton I personally considered the date for reopening to be too soon. Although I realise the situation may differ in other areas of the country, we have seen very poor observance of social distancing guidelines in Brighton and Hove, and I am concerned that the infection rates may rise as a result. Nevertheless, we have been making plans under the assumption that we will be opening on 15th June, but I will be reassessing daily based on the infection rate figures and whether I believe it is safe for myself and customers. We will continue to offer the click and collect service offered during lockdown and are currently looking at apps for the website to schedule customer collection times. Physically, we are only a small store and it would be difficult to maintain appropriate social distance, plus I am concerned about customers handling products. With that in mind, we will place a table across the entrance to create a counter service. We will still do our absolute best for customers and continue to make recommendations. Since they won’t be able to browse, I will also be doing “show and tell” for items like books, as well as product demos which we will put out on our social media pages. Fortunately, we have a large window which I will load with products so customers can visually shop and make decisions whilst queuing. As Brits we are used to standing in queues but, as Mary Portas said, we can do things to make the experience more enticing. Wigwam Toys will have a distraction window that will change each week. One idea is to put up a selection of Magic Eye posters, and we’ve also considered hiding items in both windows and challenging customers to find them, or a giant spot the difference – anything that will offer entertainment value. We will be operating on reduced opening hours, since my staff are furloughed and I have to run the online side of our business as well – plus operating a learning schedule at home with teenagers adds another obstacle to juggle! We set up our website a year ago, so thankfully we were still able to operate during lockdown. We turned the shop floor into the website packing area and merged our web stock with our physical shop stock. This meant we could offer customers everything that we physically sell in store. It’s certainly been interesting running the business alone. I feel like I am back in the early days when we were still finding our feet. It was always a family affair - my children have become expert box assemblers and have been invaluable as my helpers when trying to get all the parcels packed in time for collection. Attracting customers back to the store is going to be interesting; once consumers habits change, it can be tricky getting them to change back. This will depend in part on how safe and financially stable they feel. At the beginning of lockdown, the average value of online orders was considerably higher. The longer lockdown goes on, the more cautious people are going to be with their money. Perhaps, for a while at least, we will see customers putting their money into products with durability and longevity, rather than disposable fad driven items. Being able to monitor and be responsive to customers’ demands will be crucial going forward. The retail landscape has been vastly changed by the pandemic. If we are unable to offer the in-store experience, we are going to have to work incredibly hard to retain customer loyalty, and the portion of funds they have to spend on toys.
Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus
So nice to have you back where you belong
s we write this, it is Monday 15th June - a date which has been in our diaries for a few weeks now; the day that we opened our bricks and mortar stores for the first time. Like most of you out there, we had been closed for 12 weeks, and it was a relief to finally open our doors again. This has been particularly fun in our Crawley store, as we had been running our online business from the shop floor, it had turned into puzzle warehouse. A few hours moving stock around however, and things were looking shipshape – all thanks to Mark’s family helping out! The good news is that, so far, trade has been steady and in line with last year - and we are very pleased with that. We were a bit worried when, in one of our shopping centres, the queue for Primark was snaking around the entire lower mall this morning. However, people also shopped elsewhere, and we have noticed that although there are fewer customers, they are spending more in store. Our branches will have reduced opening hours initially, opening at 9.30am and closing at 4pm. We will be reviewing that daily as the week goes on and will extend it when the level of trade warrants it. A big consideration is the number of customers we are able to let in at any one time This depends on the floorspace in store; in our biggest store we will allow 10 customers, and in our smallest just five. In conjunction with this, we have given a lot of thought to the number of colleagues we have in store. Currently there will be two members of staff each day, with a cover for breaks, and the rest of our staff are still on furlough. We will bring back further staff gradually, when the level of trade warrants it. With a lot of children still at home until at least September, the trade pattern is probably going to be a lot like school holidays, when the weekends can be slower and trade during the week peaks over the middle of the day. The good news is that the Toy Barnhaus online shop has still been busy, even with the shops now open, and we certainly think that this will balance up our overall sales in a positive way. We owe a big thank-you to eBay, since working with them we have had some great publicity, and even made the Mail Online this week. We are now convinced that having an online presence is key. Going forward, one of the big questions is whether business will continue at the current rate, as people get used to shopping again, or will it decline once the initial pent-up demand has passed? We don’t have a crystal ball, but we hope for the former. We are also starting to wonder what Christmas will look like, and whether we will move to 1-metre social distancing soon? But what is certain is that it has been great to get the doors open and speak to our customers again, they have all been very friendly and cooperative. An area of focus for the next few months will be outdoor product. With lots of children still off school, and most families unable to go on holiday this summer, they will be looking for things to keep the kids amused in the garden. We also anticipate that anything craft-related, as well as games and puzzles, will continue to be strong sellers. It will be interesting to see if collectible ranges pick up, as they rely on regular trips which have not been possible over the last few months. By the time you read this, many of these questions may have been answered. Good luck and happy and safe trading to you all. (P.S. if you need a paddling pool, you know where to come!)
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Construction brands have emerged from lockdown in an enviable position. From 1st January to 23rd May, sales of Building Sets were up +17% on the previous year, according to NPD data, and the category looks set to carry this momentum through to the second half of the year, with new play patterns, licences and materials adding to the already impressive range of options for kids (and adults) to enjoy. Toy World spoke to leaders in the category to find out what the coming months have in store.
I’m very aware lockdown has been a challenge for many people, for many different reasons, but we have seen an amazing uptick in sales during the past few months,” says Paul Bulger, country manager UK at Cobi. “Overall, we’re +67% up on last year and have seen triple digit growth in both April and May. With more and more people discovering Cobi for the first time, and existing consumers coming back for even more sets, we’re confident this trend will continue for the rest of 2020.” The company may be looking forward, but its portfolio is based firmly in the past, offering an unrivalled selection of building sets based on historical vehicles, including tanks, planes, ships and utility vehicles from WW1 and 2, alongside models of iconic vessels such as Titanic and, new for 2020, Concorde. Cobi is also on board as a licensee for Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 classic Top Gun. Appealing to fans of the movie, aircraft and construction alike, the range offers detailed sets of
various piece counts which allow builders to create model versions of Maverick and Rooster’s F18E Super Hornets, as well as the former’s WW2 P15-D Mustang, which feature in the movie. Paul explains what he thinks sets the company apart from other construction specialists. “First and foremost, we’re able to offer lines that no other construction company can, and combine them with quality, detail, a really substantial build time, and competitive RRPs compared to other construction toys. We pride ourselves in the quality of our kits and go to great lengths to make sure they are the best on the market. For example, most of our products use pad-printed detailing instead of stickers. Add in a great margin for the retailer and a factory based in Europe, and you can see there’s much that’s unique about Cobi.” Mattel’s Mega Bloks brand is also poised for further growth this year. Having grown by 25% in 2019, the current No.2 manufacturer in Building Sets is also the
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top growing manufacturer in the Junior Building subcategory and has seen Mega First Builders become the fastest growing property YTD. “2020 is really off to a great start,” enthuses Pauline De La Riviere, marketing director, Mattel. “We provide innovative play experiences and accessible value for fans and families, celebrating construction by infusing each of our sets with the most detail and authenticity we possibly can.” The brand has introduced new licensed offerings this year in the form of Pokémon and Game of Thrones, two markedly different properties. “The great thing about the licences we have partnered with is that they appeal across a broad age range,” says Pauline, when asked what each brings to the Mega Bloks brand. “Pokémon has a loyal kid following and strong collector base, whilst Game of Thrones offers a lot to adult fans. We are also excited to have the video game licence Halo join the portfolio later this year, which also has a fantastic appeal across kids,
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For more information visit www.megabloks.com/en-gb/ © 2020, MEGA Brands Inc., & ™ MEGA Brands Inc. All Rights Reserved.
adult merchandise collectors and other fans of the franchise.” Sustainability was already a buzzword coming into 2020, and the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased level of focus (and scrutiny) across the consumer products sector. To meet growing demand, Mega unveiled its new environmentally sustainable, bio-based plastic line earlier this year; in addition to the blocks themselves being made from greener materials, the new sets also have fully recyclable Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)certified packaging. Mattel’s goal is to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics materials in both its products and packaging by 2030, expanding the Company’s Environmental Sustainable Sourcing Principles, which were announced in 2011. Pauline adds: “Part of our sustainability mission is to create products that are long-lasting, which is why we’re so proud that our new plant-based blocks are designed to be just as durable as our classic blocks.” Geomag, the first company to market a construction range made from 100% recycled materials – its Green Range – is set to further expand the options available for shoppers looking to purchase sustainable toys. According to Geomag MD Clive Wooster, the Green Range takes what is essentially waste plastic and repurposes it into toys which will last years while looking after the planet, something the company’s consumers feel is increasingly important. A Swiss company, Geomag is also quick to market and can replenish stock without the lengthy supply chain delay sometimes experienced when product is being manufactured further afield. Yet more innovation has been introduced for 2020 in the form of Mechanics Gravity, a new play system which uses a unique gravity motor to kickstart the moving mechanisms of structures. Two tabletop constructions games, Challenge Strike and Challenge Goal, will offer fans of building and competitive play the chance to create their own fun gaming setups powered by the forces of magnetism. “With three key components, Magicube, Classic and Mechanics, our range stretches across the age groups,” Clive tells Toy World. “Magicube very much focuses on preschool play for children aged 1.5 years and over, at which stage learning through play is key. Our Classic line combines play with simple construction techniques, offering a fun way to build structures, while our Mechanics range takes this to the real construction arena, with basic engineering principles and more complex models featuring bearings and fulcrums - all with the invisible power of magnetism.” With a product line-up spanning a wide range of price points, ages and complexities,
Geomag is able to match products to the customer base of individual retailers – something that may be particularly useful as stores re-open after lockdown. For example, the company recommends that retailers with a focus on lower-priced pick-up items should take a look at its Rainbow and Confetti ranges, while those with strength in pre-school would be better suited to the Magicube and Classic ranges. “In differentiating between online and physical retail, we’ve noticed that online retailers go for higher price points and can take advantage of our extensive assets package of videos, YouTube instruction videos and other supporting assets, while physical stores are supported with POS, window displays and the creation of in-store theatre,” Clive details. “That said, the Geomag products that work well in-store also feature well online; the line between the two approaches to retail is more blurred than it used to be.” Geomag’s core TV and digital campaigns will begin in the October half term and continue throughout November and December. The company aims to tap into the resurgence in TV viewing resulting from the lockdown, so TV campaigns will remain core to advertising and communication strategies. These will be supported with a robust digital and social media plan.
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“We’ve recently appointed Media PR as our global PR partner; we’ll be utilising its strengths in the UK, as well as other global markets, to build our brand awareness,” Clive adds. Cobi offers POS and other assets to help retailers highlight its products in-store and online. Marketing and advertising campaigns have been developed for key 2020 products including Maverick and Titanic, while social media will continue to be heavily utilised to connect with fans of the brand digitally. Weekly live streams take place on the Cobi YouTube channel, supported by Facebook and Instagram competitions and new product highlights. “Whilst we also use the traditional methods, reaching out to our consumers in this way means we can give them up-to-the-minute product launch information, highlight any key lines that are back in stock, and run competitions for those must-have lines everyone wants to get their hands on,” says Paul. “Most importantly, it also allows us to point them in the direction of where they can buy Cobi product. I have lots of advice for retailers, but my two main areas to focus on would be product knowledge and product positioning. Potential customers should know that Cobi consistently receives 5-star reviews, is compatible will other brands, comes in at attractive price points and offers strong margins at retail. When it comes to ranging, Cobi works well in the model or vehicle section, to increase the offering for parents. For example, if a kid can build a Spitfire out of blocks instead of glue and paints, then there’ll be less mess and a happier parent at the end of the day. In an ideal world, dual siting would be the best option, with Cobi in both the construction and model/vehicle aisles, but I appreciate there is only so much space. I’d advise online retailers to call out the amazing reviews Cobi gets; consider placing these within the online store in sections that are relevant.” Retailers can also take advantage of the wide range of assets on offer from Mega Bloks for use both in-store and online. Although remaining tightlipped for the time being, the brand has confirmed that activations are planned for the second half of 2020, for both Mega Bloks and Construx, including Peekabloks, Halo, Pokémon and more. Mattel also launched the Mega Bloks Cartoons for Kids in May this year on the Fisher-Price YouTube channel, with several episodes available to watch now. Pauline states: “We don’t want to give too much away, but we’re definitely excited to continue making great strides in 2020, and we look forward to sharing our 2021 range with retailers very soon.” Over the next pages, Toy World takes a look at the latest construction ranges set to hit the market for Q3 and Q4.
As widely reported throughout the lockdown, construction toys have been more popular than ever with families and kids wanting to engage in fun building projects at home. Toy World spoke to Marius Lang, UK & Ireland head of marketing at Lego, to find out how the company has weathered the past three months and its plans for the rest of the year. What opportunities did the coronavirus pandemic present Lego? Has there been an overall uptick in sales due to lockeddown families wanting at-home entertainment? We know that many families turned to building with Lego bricks to help them through these difficult times and we’ve continued to see a strong demand for them. We’ve been incredibly inspired to hear so many stories of families enjoying playing with Lego bricks together at home, and to see some of the amazing Lego creations that are being shared by people of all ages on social media. Several famous faces have made an appearance too, such as The Beckhams, Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Ball, Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix and ex-footballer Wayne Bridge. Inspired by the magnitude of the impact of the crisis on children’s education, we launched our #LetsBuildtogether initiative to help keep kids at home learning through play. We created www.lego.com/letsbuildtogether and
#letsbuildtogether across our social channels as a way to share building ideas, challenges set by Lego designers, retro builds and live build-alongs with fans everywhere.
Can you give us an update on the campaign and other charity initiatives? How these will continue or change as we move past the most severe lockdown restrictions? Since the #LetsBuildtogether initiative launched in early April, we’ve been sharing play inspiration to help families stay curious and creative and we have been incredibly inspired by how many fans have engaged with this and shared their own creations. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to provide play inspiration with new content. The Lego Foundation recently donated $50m to charity partners around the world who are helping with Covid relief efforts. In the UK, as part of this, more than £200,000 has been donated to UK children’s charities to support those in our local communities, through online
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educational resources, set donations and other play equipment, as well as supporting basic needs such as food, sanitary products and care hampers. One of our long-standing partners, Fairy Bricks, has donated more than 30,000 Lego sets to the children of NHS workers, as part of our commitment to give 500,000 Lego sets to children-in-need across the globe.
How will Lego be addressing the challenges now facing retail and retailers as the lockdowns are lifted? We’re doing all we can to supply the products people want the most and have been as agile as possible in response to changing consumer shopping habits, such as the shift to online shopping. Throughout lockdown, we continued to trade online via Lego.com, the online channels of our retail partners and our grocery partners. With the Lego range in strong demand, we are continuing to work closely with our retail partners to help support their needs as best we can as they begin reopening their stores, to help them be safe and successful. We’ve also
innovations that would expand on the classic Lego brick experience, whilst ensuring the Lego brick remains at the heart of what we do. Since then, we’ve stepped into the arts & craft category with the launch of Lego Dots, launched three new incredible Lego Technic sets and announced Lego Super Mario, the new physical play experience that brings Super Mario to life in the world of Lego bricks. As we move into the second half of the year, there’s so much more to be excited about. I can’t wait to see how Super Mario and Lego Fans alike engage with Lego Super Mario when it launches on 1st August. The response we’ve received so far from media has been overwhelmingly positive. The Lego Technic Ultimate Lamborghini Sián is available now in Lego stores and launches in wider retail from 1st August. It’s a true feat of engineering excellence and one we are really proud to add to the Lego Technic line-up. We recently announced the first addition to the much-loved Lego Mindstorms theme in seven years; it’s definitely been worth the wait. The new Robot Inventor 5-in-1 set provides new creative coding possibilities, offering the ultimate playful learning experience for young inventors and creators.
continued to support our themes and product launches with marketing investment and will carry on doing so over the second half of the year. We temporarily closed our owned and operated Lego Stores in March to protect our colleagues and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. In mid-June, as the UK government allowed non-essential retailers such as toy shops to reopen, we began to reopen our stores. We are doing this very carefully; the safety of consumers and our colleagues is our top priority. Before we open a store, we review the latest local information, introduce strict safety measures and, most importantly, ensure that our colleagues feel safe returning to work. Visiting our stores today will feel a little different. We’re limiting the number of people we let in at any one time, and, once inside, ask that shoppers keep a safe distance from each other and our colleagues. There won’t be play tables or other shared play experiences, but shoppers will still be able to browse our full range of products. We are deep cleaning shared surfaces such as counters and door handles several times a day, and many of our colleagues are also wearing face coverings. Hand sanitisers are available on request. What won’t be different is the warm welcome shoppers will receive. We’ve missed Lego fans, and our fantastic store colleagues have enjoyed welcoming them back in-store.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Lego throughout the rest of 2020? We have an incredibly strong line up of products available during the remainder of this year, which presents us with many opportunities from both a trade and marketing standpoint.
It’s vital for us to remain focused and prioritise our efforts. We want to inspire kids and families to remain connected, creative and curious, and need to ensure that we continue to put the safety of our colleagues, partners and communities first.
What can you tell us about Lego’s marketing and brand campaigns for autumn/winter? Have these evolved in light of the pandemic? The last few months have been an uncertain one for families, brands and businesses alike. We’ve all had to take a moment to pause, reflect and rethink priorities and, like everyone else, we’ve had to be agile. As we plan our campaigns for autumn and winter, the health and safety of all involved remains our priority. We are adhering to government guidelines, and elements of our campaigns have been adapted accordingly. We have just launched exciting new sets for Lego City and Lego friends, as well as a brandnew wave of Lego Harry Potter sets which will continue the success of this theme. We have more exciting campaigns launching over the rest of the year. We will be supporting and inspiring families with learning through play over the summer months, and lots of activity is planned for the launch of Lego Super Mario in August. We’ll also be continuing our Rebuild the World campaign, which aims to nurture the creative skills of the next generation. And let’s not forget, Christmas is creeping up fast…
What key Lego lines are you most excited to be launching in the next six months, and why? At the start of the year, we announced that we’d be launching a series of new play
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I’m also looking forward to the latest additions to our core lines Lego City and Lego Friends. We’ve just launched our largest Lego ship ever sold as part of the Lego City range - which has taken on a sea and air theme for 2020 – and our popular Lego Friends theme ventures into the jungle as part of its new animal rescue theme, complete with new vehicles and adorable animals including a sloth.
What are your hopes for Christmas, and early 2021? Firstly, I hope that we all finish 2020 in a more positive place than we are experiencing right now, as this year has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone. For The Lego Group specifically, the festive period is a very important time of the year, and I hope that our incredibly strong line-up of products, and fun and creative campaigns, help to inspire many more families to enjoy building together. As for 2021, other than promising exciting things are on the horizon, I’m afraid I can only say ‘watch this space’.
Guidecraft 07725 833 273 | www.guidecraft.com Thanks to authentic building toys such as Little Bricks, Guidecraft provides children aged three and up with a tactile experience through which they can connect to their surroundings. Each weighted brick is scaled to a miniature brick size for an authentic, realistic building experience. Young children can build models and practise architectural theories while using large and fine motor skills as well as their imaginations. This 60-piece set also includes 10 double-sided concept cards that act as inspiration using real-life examples of constructions, so children can develop their language and spatial awareness as well as develop STEM skills and engage in social and emotional growth. Guidecraft emphasises the importance of open-ended play, the beauty of organic, loose parts, and the significance of hands-on learning through children’s connections to nature. To expand the play potential of Little Bricks, kids can combine the four colour gradients of the bricks with natural elements such as sand, sticks, leaves and other loose parts.
Eco-Wood-Art (+3) 7544 558 4036 | www.eco-wood-art.com/en/ Perfect for hands-on family STEM learning, the Eco-Pure 3D-Puzzle Range from EcoWood-Art offers an assortment of fun self-assembly projects for builders of all ages. Each stylish model kit helps introduce the basics of mechanics, improves memory and logic, and develops engineering skills and imagination. The model kits are made from birch plywood using a laser cutting process and arrive ready for assembly, with simple elastic bands bringing the mechanical functions of each build to life. Kids can discover one of the world's most famous tanks with the 3D wooden puzzle of the T-34. This model comes equipped with working tracks and a rotating tower, while details such as openable boxes make the fully assembled model an eye-catching play-and-display piece. For 2020, the choice of tanks has been expanded with the addition of the impressive new T-34-85. The wooden Triceratops walking dinosaur model is equipped with a rubber-band engine and a movable head and tail; once complete, the model stomps around like a real dinosaur. For added realism, the model can be painted, or simply left as it is to complement almost any interior. Medieval shooting artillery can be explored with the wooden Trebuchet construction kit, with which builders can create a model of the iconic siege throwing weapon from the Middle Ages. A type of catapult, the throwing spinner is secured on a hook for loading, which provides tension. By releasing the hook, the trebuchet is then fired, releasing its load. EWA offers plenty more models and construction kits to enjoy, across a range of themes including wildlife, astronomy, cars, fidget toys, trains and motorcycles. Readers are invited to contact Eco-Wood-Art at email@example.com for additional information.
Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Meccano continues to support a host of educational initiatives, building on its role within the STEM/STEAM category. With the brand’s goal to get kids building and creating, Meccano has recently launched a refreshed Junior Build range, suitable for kids aged five and upwards who will now have the tools to experiment and satisfy their enquiring minds. The Meccano Junior 150-Piece Free Play Bucket is ideal for first-time builders and comes with an easy-to-follow instruction sheet for three different builds to inspire creativity. With redesigned parts and tools, it’s easier than ever before for kids to build a car, robot, space shuttle and more. Kids can snap nuts onto parts to make them lock and use the bolts to hold pieces together and stay in place as they build. As young inventors assemble their own creations, they will learn how principles from science, technology, engineering, arts and math are practically applied. With so many pieces included, a child can let their imagination run wild to assemble their own creations. New builds can be displayed, or tools can be attached to the lid and the pieces stored in the reusable bucket for later. The Meccano Junior Pull-Back Buggy has over 130 parts. Redesigned parts and tools allow kids to easily assemble and re-assemble their own deluxe vehicle models with a pull-back motor. Young inventors can put together their very own Pull-Back Dune Buggy, ATV or Off-Road Truck. Builds can be customised with the included stickers to give vehicle a realistic look. At an entry level point into this refreshed range, kids can choose from or collect four new vehicles; the Junior Motorbike, Junior Race Car, Junior Bulldozer and Junior Helicopter. All four Meccano Junior STEAM building kits each feature over 45 redesigned parts and tools and are ideal for the first-time builder, offering endless building possibilities. As kids assemble, they will strengthen hand-eye coordination, problem-solving and fine motor skills. Spin Master will support the range with a strong influencer PR campaign.
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60264 LEGO City Ocean Exploration Submarine
41422 LEGO Friends Panda Jungle Tree House
Â©2020 The LEGO Group
Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk The Junior Engineer’s Workshop has creative kits ranging in difficulty to test the mettle of any budding engineer. Using real nuts and bolts and real steel, these kits allow kids to design, build and play. Each kit has a difficulty rating to help consumers choose from the easy to the more challenging builds. The sets are also available in a variety of sizes at different price points, including the smaller sets which include a helicopter, a plane, a racing car and a motorbike. This year saw the addition of the Pullback and Go Off Roader, the Pullback and Go Robot and the Pullback and Go Digger. The various pieces can be combined to build unique creations adding even more to the play value. There is a larger helicopter available with moveable propellers, and an aeroplane which also has moveable parts. The award-winning Monster Truck has moving wheels. For a more challenging build, the Action Bot has moving joints, and a Ferris Wheel has intricate carriages and a moving wheel. All sets are complete with a quality finish and evocative vintage styled packaging. New from Bburago is the Bburago City range, with which kids can build their own city. Complete with the relevant vehicles, the city can grow with the addition of a burger bar, a police station, train station, hotel, a kiosk and a car dealer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Mega Bloks kickstarted the year with the launch of an innovative new sustainable, bio-based plastic line. The Mega Blocks range will now feature three pre-school building sets: Polar Friends, Safari Friends and Woodland Friends, all made from the new bio-based resins. The building sets also boast Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)certified fully recyclable packaging. The pre-school range, part of the Fisher-Price family, continues to communicate the developmental benefits of construction play through products suitable for 12 months and over. Perfect for little hands, the range includes the popular Building Bag 60 Piece Assortment and ABC Learning Train and Build n’ Learn Table. New to the Mega Bloks Peek-A-Blocks segment is Peek-A-Blocks Chase & Slide Amusement Park Playset, PeekA-Blocks Forest Playset and Peek-A-Blocks Artic Playset, all of which are ideal for first builders. New to Mega Bloks Construx is the Pokémon range, including the Pokémon Power Pack Assortment, Medium Pokémon Assortment, Tyranitar, Jumbo Pikachu and Jumbo Eevee. Pokémon fans can build bigger battles with some of their favourite characters in a new, larger size. In 2019, Mega launched Construx Game of Thrones with two sets to collect. This year will see an extension to the range; Viserion vs Jon Snow, Targaryen Ship and Battle of Winterfell sets expand the portfolio. Also part of the Construx line-up is the Halo range, which offers new figures and vehicles to collect this year, plus full marketing support going live later this year.
Geomagworld 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld.com Mechanics Gravity is a completely innovative play system that expands Geomag’s concept of play and gives movement to the traditional Mechanics models. Geomagworld’s R&D department has developed an innovative gravity motor that uses the weight of the Geomag spheres to kickstart the mechanisms of the Geomag Mechanics structures. Free from electric motors or batteries, movement is achieved in a green and sustainable way. The Gauss cannon, another creation from Geomagworld, is based on the principle of magnetic acceleration. The laws of physics, when applied to these Mechanics toys, make this line particularly STEM-friendly, capable of stimulating scientific insights from the simplest principles up to very high levels. New for 2020, tabletop construction games Mechanics Challenge Strike and Mechanics Challenge Goal will be introduced. These sets are designed for children to build, learn and play together, and are suitable for 1-4 players. Once built, the 185-piece Challenge Strike set lets kids use spheres to start the gravity motor and then try to achieve the highest score as they drop out of the bottom. The 96-piece Challenge Goal set begins with the magnetic cannon and is inspired by the principles formulated by the famous German scientist Gauss. Kids launch the balls along the path towards the goal, and can enjoy either playing solo, trying to beat their own high score, or challenging their friends to see who can rack up the most goals.
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THINK OUTSIDE THE BLOCKS
PI R E D P L A Y
AG I NAT M A
K’Nex with your customers and BUILD success in 2020. Supported by a multifaceted digital, social & influencer marketing campaign.
S C H O O LIN G
COME BUILD WITH US
For further information www.basicfun.com 01189253270
Basic Fun 01189 253 270 | www.knex.co.uk For 2020, K’Nex aims to expand on recent growth in sales with continued focus on multi build sets, plus the entry-level Kid K’Nex subcategory. Kids aged 3-5 are encouraged to ‘think outside the blocks’ with Kid K’Nex. The range offers themed multi-build character sets designed to inspire creativity, alongside soft, chunky and flexible pieces that are easy to fit together and pull apart, and ideal for smaller hands. There’s plenty on offer for Core K’Nex fans too, with the Beginner 40 model easy build set, the 10-in-1 Building Set and the Creation Zone 50 Model Tub. The latter include all the pieces needed to create a car, crane, dragon, swing ride, robot and more, while the substantial reusable storage tub easily holds all 417 K'Nex parts while also being large enough to store partially and fully built models. The set comes with an easy-to-follow colour coded instruction manual, or kids can use their imaginations to create builds of their own. Classic K’Nex parts connect with a simple click. The K’Nex Architecture range is new for autumn. Two impressive kits allow builders to create huge replicas of some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. Initially, the 3-foottall Eifel tower and the moving London Eye, which spans almost a meter, wwill be available. The entire K’Nex portfolio will benefit from high profile PR and marketing this autumn. For more information please contact Tim Ives, head of sales - Tim.Ives@ basicfun.com.
The Lego Group 01753 495 000 | www.lego.com
Cobi 07796 175 764 | www.cobi.pl Top Gun was one of the best loved films of the 80s, so it comes as no surprise that one of the most eagerly awaited movies of 2020 is the sequel, Maverick, which sees Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer reprise their roles from the original movie. Cobi is pleased to be part of this franchise, and is offering three iconic planes from the new movie for fans of the franchise to enjoy. The first two aircraft are F18E Super Hornets; the first construction kit allows fans to build Rooster’s aircraft using 555 bricks, while the second comes with 570 bricks for the construction of Maverick’s plane. Features include moving ailerons, working undercarriages, missiles and cockpits that open. Coming in at a smaller scale, and offering a slightly easier build, is the 265-brick classic World War 2 aircraft - the P15-D Mustang - which Maverick works on and flies in the movie. As with all Cobi products, this model is packed with features including a movable propeller, rudder and undercarriage, plus a Maverick figure. The majority of Cobi products benefit from pad printed detailing rather than stickers, a technique utilised for all Maverick kits. This printing method results in a high level of detail for on-shelf display, while fans wanting to play with their models need not worry about missing stickers. This year, Cobi also releases one if its most popular kits to date, Concorde. In association with the Brookland’s museum - where one of these planes resides Concorde has been reproduced as a highly detailed construction set. Featuring authentic British Airways livery and a working undercarriage, the 1.95 scale model takes 455 bricks to construct and is stunning when complete. All sets listed are ideally suited to collectors looking to build and display, as well as perfect for children who enjoy construction toys and vehicle play. Cobi will be supporting its sets throughout key periods across social media, weekly YouTube broadcasts and consumer-facing in-store POS, displays and media features.
Lego’s partnership with Nintendo has seen Super Mario’s world reimagined in Lego brick form, creating a new and interactive play experience. The Lego Super Mario Adventures with Mario Starter Course is the entry point to the range, featuring everything fans need to build their own Lego Super Mario world, including an interactive Mario figure which collects virtual coins in real-life game levels. The starter set also features seven action bricks for different interactions with the Lego Mario figure. Children can unlock challenges and characters to play with alone and against friends. The Lego Mario figure has LCD screens in its eyes, mouth and belly that display a variety of reactions to movement, colour and action bricks. The figure also plays iconic sounds and music from the series, adding to the experience. In addition to the Piranha Plant Power Slide and Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion Sets announced in April, the full Expansion Set line-up now includes the Guarded Fortress, Mario’s House & Yoshi, Toad’s Treasure Hunt, Desert Pokey, Whomp’s Lava Trouble and Boomer Bill Barrage. A range of 10 collectible enemy characters is also available in blind Character Packs. Each pack will contain a buildable character and action tag to play with; Paragoomba, Fuzzy, Spiny, Buzzy Beetle, Bullet Bill, Bob-omb, Eep Cheep, Blooper, Urchin or Peepa. The range is supported by a free app which tracks scores to encourage continuous rebuilding, and offers digital building instructions with zoom and rotate viewing tools to make building easier. The app also features a safe forum to share ideas with friends. The full Lego Super Mario assortment will launch on 1st August, while the Lego Super Mario Starter Course is available now.
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Little Bricks With authentic building toys such as Little Bricks, Guidecraft provides children a tactile experience through which they can connect to their natural surroundings. These weighted bricks are scaled to a miniature brick size for authentic, realistic building experiences. This 60-piece set also includes 10 double-sided concept cards that act as inspiration using real-life examples of constructions. Children will learn language skills and spatial awareness as well as develop STEM skills and engage in social emotional growth as they construct, deconstruct and reconstruct.
Specia! l offer
As an added incentive to help support our retail partners, we would like to offer 5% off of orders over ÂŁ500. Please use the code BUILDINGBACK to take advantage of this offer!
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Magformers 01270 446 250 | www.magformers.co.uk Magformers continues to add play value to its award-winning magnetic construction toy range with the new Town Series. The collection consists of five themed sets that can be enjoyed individually or combined to make a Magformers High Street, plus a set which creates a battery-powered bus and road system to ferry shoppers around town. Each set lets kids makes a different building, including a bank, ice-cream café, mini-mart and hospital, and comes complete with its own special play character, accessories and Magformers magnetic construction pieces. The Magformers City Bus set includes a cute motorised bus that travels along a layout of 11 grooved road pieces. The bus always stays on course thanks to a clever on/off interlocking mechanism. This can easily be disabled with a click of the free-play switch, allowing the bus to trundle along flat floors on its own and opening up the play potential. A Stop-Go barrier brings the bus to a halt, while lifting the barrier up lets the bus continue its journey around Magformers town. A bridge is also available to further enhance the cityscape. The company has also introduced MagBuddies collectible bagged sets at an attractive pocket money price point. There are four in the series, each containing a character and four pieces which can be used to make a mini world or can be combined with any other Magformers set.
Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com
DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk Plus-Plus is an award-winning creative construction toy which lets children use their imagination to create colourful 2D mosaics or 3D creations, either alone or with parents and siblings. A perfect educational STEM toy, Plus-Plus stimulates fine motor skills and creativity while developing focus and patience. Plus-Plus uses just a single shape, ensuring every piece in the set has an identical profile. This means they all snap together in the exact same way, making it easier for younger kids to both plan and assemble their models. Plus-Plus tubes have proven a hit with kids and their parents; 30+ themes are available to choose from, each packaged in an attractive clear, travel friendly and reusable container. The 100-piece tubes are available in CDU displays of 24 pieces or can be purchased individually for hanging in-store. Perfect for making a bigger impact at retail, the floor spinner stand holds up to 144 tubes and comes complete with a play tray.
Ravensburger’s awardwinning GraviTrax brand is set to welcome the GraviTrax Pro range this year. The GraviTrax interactive track system is an open-ended building concept, offering children the chance to experiment with gravity, magnetism and kinetics as they design tracks. A variety of tiles, levels, tracks and features enables them to control the speed of their gravity sphere as it travels around the created course. GraviTrax Pro will expand on the current range of GraviTrax sets, expansion packs and add-ons, offering engaging new ways to create tracks via vertical panels and other unique components. Quite literally taking the action to a new level, GraviTrax Pro opens the door to impressive new play possibilities by enabling the creation of taller, more complex tracks as well as towering structures. Compatible with existing items in the GraviTrax range, the new GraviTrax Pro collection will include GraviTrax Pro Vertical Starter Set, Vertical Expansion Pack and Add-ons. The GraviTrax Pro Vertical Starter Set includes 149 elements which let kids build vertical track systems; walls, pillars and balconies can be combined to form 3D structures. Ravensburger will support the launch with heavyweight marketing support including TV, digital and PR.
Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Flair’s heritage Stickle Bricks brand makes construction easy for the smallest of hands. The brand has been a trusted introduction to construction play for generations, offering today’s infants the same colourful bricks that their parents and grandparents enjoyed as children. Developed for kids as young as 18 months, the Stickle Bricks Little Builder set offers an ideal entry point to the range; tots can begin building with the assortment of brightly coloured bricks right away. Ideal for bigger builds, the award-winning Fun Tub is popular amongst builders with more complex designs in mind. The tub also doubles as a handy storage container. In themed Stickle Bricks, the Farm Set includes everything required for a chunky tractor construction project, complete with wheels and a farmer to drive the finished vehicle.
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The land of make believe With the majority of children likely to remain at home until the autumn, parents are looking for ways to keep them happy and occupied over the coming months. Suppliers of imaginative play products are readying new launches to encourage kids to get creative, engage their imaginations and have fun. Lisa Currie finds out more.
ver the last few months, events have been postponed, schools closed, and many plans put on hold. But through it all, parents have found alternative ways to celebrate birthdays at home, turned the kitchen into a classroom, spent more time with the family (pets included) and have become extremely creative in their approach to day to day tasks. For children and their families, role play, dress up and all branches of imaginative play have been essential in aiding these adjustments. “Imaginative play has been hugely important in the current circumstances,” explains Phil Cassidy, managing director at Casdon. “Most children have had to stay home from school and have missed out on so much social and emotional development from learning and playing with their peers. Imaginative play helps to fill this void by bringing playtime into
the home and garden, allowing their thoughts to come to life.” Design and marketing coordinator at Amscan, Emily Duke, agrees that dress up and role play has been beneficial during lockdown, with escapism just as important as the social and developmental benefits of this type of play: “Not only are children learning whilst playing, they are creating and expressing stories that they have conjured up in their minds. A child’s imagination is wonderful; by being able to transform themselves and their surroundings, they can go anywhere and be anything they want to be. Imaginative play has been the best form of escapism for them during lockdown.” As role play items and dress up ranges continue to be heavily sought after by parents and their children, it comes as no surprise that the category has fared well during these unprecedented times. With the
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summer break fast approaching, this encouraging performance is likely to continue as parents look for ways to keep their youngsters entertained and their minds stimulated whilst off school. Furthermore, role play and dress up is a category that promotes and encourages self-expression and creativity, which have been valuable attributes for people to tune into and exercise in their daily lives over the last few months. With a vast range available, Casdon has experienced increased interest across its role play portfolio, as Phil told us: “I would say there have been more opportunities than challenges for the category in recent months. Naturally, kids want to engage in interaction, but haven’t been able to do so as usual. Imaginative play is an ideal solo activity, and the toys we offer can help with this.” Phil also highlighted how spending more time at home with family has increased children’s desire to
copy the tasks they see parents undertaking around the house. “I don’t doubt everyone has been doing lots of cleaning and tidying around the home whilst in lockdown, and our Dyson Cord Free replica lets kids emulate mum and dad and take part in these household activities.” Theo Klein has introduced new sets for little ones to use as they help around the house or mimic mum and dad. Last year, the company introduced a new sustainable range with the strapline “Klein goes bio”. With this expanded offering, parents can be assured that they are purchasing an eco-friendly option for their kids to play with as they pretend to cook dinner, set the table or go shopping with their own shopping basket. The new sustainable products in this range are 100% recyclable, made of renewable raw material and are 90% bio-based, making pretend play fun and climate-friendly. Dress up play is another simple play pattern that can transport children to a world of their own or allow them to become their favourite characters. Senior trade marketing manager at Smiffys, Sharon Poulter, reveals what the specialist dress up company has in store for consumers for the duration of 2020: “Licensing plays a huge role here at Smiffys, and we have a range of costumes for pre-school and toddlers. The children’s market is growing for us and we are seeing continued demand from parents who want favourite literary characters bought to life, especially for World Book Day. Key lines for this year include Thomas the Tank Engine, Mog the Cat, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Spot the Dog, Where’s Wally? and Roald Dahl.” She adds: “As well as licences, we also have children’s tabards, for those dress up times where children want to transform into a profession like a doctor or a police officer. These are easy to wear; they have no difficult fastenings or too many components, making them perfect for a younger age group. Also new for this year is our 3D ride-in octopus costume which immediately transports kids into the sea.” Licences are also a big focus for Amscan according to Emily, who tells us more about what’s new for the second half of the year. “We’re really excited to be introducing a selection of new licences. These include Hey Duggee! launching later this year and Love Monster, which will be launching in time for World Book Day 2021. We are also welcoming Ryan’s World, one of the world’s most well-known kids’
YouTube platforms, featuring toy reviews, science experiments, educational content and lots of fun activities like music videos, arts and crafts and of course, pretend play - so we have lots to look forward to.” On top of this new licensed offering, Amscan has also announced a new range of children’s Halloween costumes, which further facilitates the company’s efforts to contribute to a more environmentally friendly future. Its 100% sustainable costumes are available to pre-order now for Halloween 2020. The initial launch includes six children’s designs, with which children aged 2-10 years can dress up as a werewolf, mythical witch and neon skeleton, to name a few. Smiffys also has plenty in store to make Halloween a family affair. “It’s the next biggest party in the dress up calendar,” says Sharon. “For 2020 more people might be partying at home, so this year Smiffys is running with the strapline “Bring the Party Home”.
Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Brand new for autumn 2020, the Little Tikes My First Appliances range invites children to trial new experiences through a range of home appliances. The innovative range boasts realistic features that echo those of real-life appliances, allowing little ones to explore play in a whole new way. Vets in the making can nurture their pets back to health and perform ongoing animal assessments with the Little Tikes My First Pet Check-up Set, suitable for ages three plus. The playset features a working light and interactive weighing scales, inspiring creative roleplay that will keep children entertained for hours. Little helpers can roleplay with the all new Little Tikes First Washer-Dryer for ages two and above. When the dials are turned, they make wash/dry cycle sounds, and the drum spins round. Complete with 10 realistic laundry accessories, this playset contains everything to encourage imaginative roleplay. Mini chefs can cook up something fun with the Little Tikes First Oven for ages two plus; a kitchen playset with realistic cooking sounds and dials, as well as an interactive stovetop, adjustable oven shelves and a working light. The oven is complemented by the Little Tikes First Fridge, also for ages two and above. This realistic fridge playset features a working ‘ice’ dispenser that drops plastic ice cubes when pressed. Complete with 10 kitchen accessories, this playset also makes lifelike sounds. The Little Tikes First Sink & Stove has realistic sounding stove burners; kids simply turn the knobs to hear them click. Once the cooking is done, little ones can use the working tap to wash the dishes like a grown up. The interactive playset comes complete with over 10 kitchen accessories, and no batteries are required.
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We have lots new in store for children, but our Halloween range will also be focusing on getting the whole family involved, with costumes available for girls, boys, toddlers, babies, mum, dad and even the dog! As the official licensee for The Addams Family, we can kit out the whole family, who can channel their inner Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday and Pugsley.” Now that larger outdoor gatherings have been given the green light and non-essential shops have been allowed to reopen, there is even more scope for the imaginative play category, not only in the form of dress up for birthday celebrations and Halloween, but also as gift purchases. Presents for children’s birthdays make up a large proportion of sales for independent toy shops, and the varied price points of role play items make them an ideal choice for gift buyers. Casdon’s new Flymo Lawn Mower, for example, is an ideal accessory for outdoor play, making it the perfect gift for birthday boys and girls this summer. Despite the ongoing restrictions over mass gatherings, the category has a strong second half to look forward to, as Emily outlines, “As some sense of normality begins to return, people will look to make up for all those missed special occasions, which should hopefully result in a summer full of celebrations. Also, as more restrictions are lifted, we hope that social gatherings, including play dates and postponed birthday parties can be rescheduled – which should mean more superhero or character themed parties.” Role play and dress up suppliers are ready to face any new challenges which arise as the retail channel re-opens, as Sharon explains: “Many of the nationals that we supply have remained open over lockdown and we have been working collaboratively with them throughout. We are now geared up to support our independent customers as they reopen. We know there is some nervousness around reopening, and we have toolkit ideas that we will be offering to help stores feel confident. Ultimately, we are keen to make sure our independents are not on their own; we want them to know we are here and haven’t gone anywhere. If we help them with their confidence, this will help with consumer confidence in turn.” Over the next few pages, Toy World outlines the latest offering in the imaginative play category.
There's Plenty of Spooktacular Costumes at Amscan
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Have a Spooktacular Halloween with our Peppa Pig Costumes! Check Out Our Peppa Pig Party Range & Foil Balloons Online Now!
Bring the party to life with Amscanâ€™s collection of some of the worldâ€™s most loved and in demand licenses. Our ranges of party products, balloons and costumes create great excitement for all ages!
Amscan 01908 288500 | www.amscan.co.uk Amscan has announced its new range of 100% sustainable costumes. Available to pre-order now for Halloween 2020, the initial launch includes six children’s designs all available from ages 2-10 years. The six classic designs include Mythical Witch, Skeleton, Neon Reaper, Neon Skeleton, Werewolf and Rose Vampiress. The costumes are designed to be merchandised together and work well as a cohesive range. The costumes comprise of fully recycled materials (exclusive of trims), with details in sublimation print. No glitter has been used or any additional applications. The full costume, including the label, has no virgin materials whatsoever. All plastic has been removed from the packaging, now made from card which is suitable to be recycled after use. The packaging also has a secondary function before being disposed of and can be turned inside out to create a trick-or-treat bag which kids can customise. Particularly attractive to online retailers, the packaging fits the requirements of a large letter, making the costumes manageable and cost effective when posting out to customers. For bricks and mortar retailers, a pop out euro-hook has been incorporated to ensure that as many retail solutions as possible are accommodated for during this first launch. With a competitive RRP of £14.99, the company expects the new Halloween range to be a hit for the autumn season, and hope more consumers will “Recycle, Rewear, Repurpose”. View the collection online now or contact a sales representative for further information.
Smiffys 0800 590 599 | www.smiffystrade.com
Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Flair and Just Play have a selection of role play accessories for kids to act out their favourite character adventures. Dress up items and masks from PJ Masks will turn boys and girls into their much loved pyjama clad heroes. The new Turbo Blast costume sets have all three heroes to choose from. Each full body outfit and matching fabric mask comes in the signature red, blue or green colour and is enhanced with silver super-charged accents. They are perfect for imaginative dress up, pretend play, birthday parties and more. Kids can also get ready for their own world tour with Just Play’s Trolls World Tour collection, which includes a Trollific Wig so kids can have bright pink hair just like Poppy, and then create music using the Trolls World Tour Microphone and Trolladellic Instrument assortment. For Frozen fans, Flair will unveil the Frozen II Magic Ice Sleeve and Ice Walker. The Magic Ice Sleeve has jewel detailing and lace trimming plus an icy blue glitter bracelet that secures the spray ice. Kids simply lift their finger to activate the magic ice. The Frozen II Ice Walker is a magical foot projector that fits over shoes. It will light up and project snow crystals and ice on the floor once kids start walking or running. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Smiffys understands that lives have changed dramatically over recent months; many parents have had to adapt in ways they never thought possible, by taking on the role of teacher and playmate, all whilst juggling the demands of daily life. Smiffys is committed to keeping kids entertained without reverting to too much screen time. The company see its children’s collection of costume and accessories a way to bring characters to life and encourage development through imaginative play. Learning should be fun, and with over 200 new lines for 2020, from animal onesies to enchanted fairy-tale princesses and knights, quick and easy pull-on tabards, instant kits and face painting packs, there’s something for every little adventure. The company’s range of officially licensed costumes has favourite literacy characters by Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter that continue to delight children across the world. New licenses for 2020 perfect for pre-schoolers include Spot the Dog and Thomas the Tank Engine, allowing children to role play scenarios from their favourite stories. Dress up is an opportunity to bring the whole family together, with many collections now including costumes for parents and siblings. Smiffy’s has seen an increase in orders for family costumes and predicts the trend to continue into Halloween 2020, with a variety of themes on offer, from Viking Warriors and Egyptian Heroes to the officially licensed The Addams Family collection. With many events cancelled this summer, the company’s aim is to ‘Bring the Party Home’. It offers a full range of items, whether for a garden festival, lockdown birthday or imaginative school project. Email email@example.com for more information.
Number licence in role play in Europe
MORE THAN 250.000 PCS SOLD IN UK IN 2019
TVCAMPAIGN: NOV. â€“ DEC. 2020 MIN. 260 TVR
Toys - made with passion
www.klein-toys.com U.K. sales contact: Sina Staerz - Export UK & Eire | eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Klein Toys |
Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk Tobar has a wide range of products to inspire imaginative play, from tea parties with friends to emergency surgery on a favourite doll. The Wooden Flower Stand and the Wooden Flower Tea Set have everything kids need to impress their friends. For tea on the move, the Butterfly Tin Tea Set and the Bear Family mini tea set are both fully equipped with cups, saucers, teapots, milk jugs and sugar bowls along with cutlery for the perfect picnic with dolls and teddies. Kids can pretend to be a great warrior with the Sword and Shield set or the Wooden Knights Axe. Also available is the wooden bow and arrows for aspiring archers. For those who want to mend rather than maim there’s the Junior Doctors Kit. This fourteen-piece set is enclosed in a flexible case which can be carried with the handle or worn on the back as a rucksack. Inside is a host of useful items that can be used for imaginary medical-based play.
Siso Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com Casdon combines pretend play with internationally renowned household names to bring replica appliances and role play accessories to the playroom. 2020 continues to see a refresh across all packaging, with bright colours, bold designs and numerous languages now added. With the Little Helpers, Little Cooks or Little Shoppers ranges to choose from, there’s something in the Casdon collection for all types of retailer. Now that the summer months are here, kids can get outside with their families and have fun in the garden with the Flymo Lawn Mower. The Flymo looks just like the real thing, with its iconic base and foldable handle for easy storage. The mower lets kids know when they’re on the move with a mechanical click as it moves over the lawn. The Little Helper collection is home of the Dyson replica vacuums. These toy vacuums feature real suction and spinning beads and are instantly recognisable. The Dyson Cord Free Vacuum is a direct replica of the life size Dyson and has been specifically designed to be true to life down to the last detail. The model features working suction, realistic sounds and twist and turn action. The spinning beads indicate movement and the vacuum is designed with the same bright colours as its real-life counterpart. Kids can pretend to clean the house just like their parents, while developing essential life skills. Each collection comes with a heritage and quality that parents trust. Casdon will be increasing its marketing support for retailers with a strategic year-round online campaign to further consumer awareness of the company’s full range of much-loved toys. For more information call Casdon on 07951 033234 or email email@example.com.
The Chefs Corner Restaurant is a comprehensive kitchen that has everything kids need to cook up a feast, including a fridge, oven and hotplate with sound effects. Over 70 accessories are included, to help young cooks create and serve a meal. There’s a sink with tap and real water function, an espresso machine, plus a cash machine with calculator and credit card reader to help develop numeracy and maths skills. Smoby is already known for its large playhouses, but new addition The Smoby Cats House has introduced a whole new play pattern, as kids take care of a kitten as if it were the real thing. Inspired by a cat scratcher, the multiple play spaces offer hours of fun. Features include a resting area with a removable house, a grooming salon, a swing to cradle the cat, a play area, a food dish, litter area and more. Also included is a kitten soft toy with sound effects. Simba Smoby’s extensive imaginative play range also includes dolls and baby care accessories, vet sets and medical carts, the Aqua Play collection, and a variety of outdoor playhouses suitable for any garden.
Theo Klein +49 6345 408-0 | www.klein-toys.com In 2019, Theo Klein expanded its range with the “Klein goes Bio” line. The articles are made of bioplastic that is obtained from sugar cane. The sustainable products are 100% recyclable, made of 100% renewable raw material and are 90% bio-based. All products in the range are made in Germany and packed in recyclable material. The quality of Klein’s sustainable range is in no way inferior to plastic alternatives, and the bright colours will make every child’s room shine. With the new sets, little ones can get creative with their pretend play. The items are suitable for children aged two years plus and are available as either a Cooking Set or Dining Set for two or four persons. They can cook dinner with the Klein goes Bio Cooking Set, featuring a pot, pan, salt and pepper dispensers, spatula, two spoons and a soup ladle, and can also play at setting the table just like their parents do. A brand-new shopping basket is also part of the bio range, with accessory boxes available. Since an extension of the range in 2020, the “Klein goes Bio” line now includes sand and gardening articles, Little ones can enjoy pretend play in the garden with the Handcart with Bucket set, suitable for children aged one and above, which includes a bucket, hand rake, hand shovel, sand mould and sieve. Other items include the Klein goes Bio Lawnmower with Removable Grass-Basket, suitable for children aged 18 months plus, or the Watering Can, Spade and Rake. Whether it is the Tartlet Party Set for the beach or the Lawnmower Set for the garden, Theo Klein has a range of colourful, eco-friendly items to appeal to young children’s growing imaginations. Readers can contact Theo Klein to request its catalogue to view the company’s complete range.
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Viewpoint In the right place at the right time
S 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.
o many Zoom calls commence with the same question: how has lockdown been for you? I hear mixed reviews from my clients. Some toy clients are thriving with significant growth in home activities such as puzzles and arts & craft kits. Others have mothballed their marketing campaigns simply because they cannot get enough stock out of China or into retail distribution to deliver a return on their advertising investment. Reports of a second wave in Wuhan are doing little to allay fears for the Autumn / Winter season. On the positive side, the consumer appetite for toys has grown, not waned over recent weeks. We are about to witness the most widespread staycation in living memory and a diversion of holiday travel expenditure into home entertainment – including toys. British weather is predictably variable beyond June; there will inevitably be wet, rainy days when children will be stuck indoors in August. Whilst toy advertising spend usually takes a dip over the summer months, this is a key opportunity for the toy industry to re-activate its marketing drive and insert itself into children’s summer holiday lives in the most practicable, affordable and absorbing way possible. Of course, it only makes sense to reactivate marketing campaigns if supply can support demand, with inventory already located in the UK and accessible to consumers – in the right place, at the right time. We could be about to go through a cycle of stores opening and closing based on action taken at a local or national level in relation to the Covid R-number. It requires a careful balancing act to ensure that inventory
is in the best location to respond to the circumstances of the moment. If stores go into lockdown again, will there be enough inventory in distribution warehouses to meet online sales demand while too much stock sits on inaccessible shelves in shuttered up retail stores? The online grocery channel has provided a much-needed lifeline to households for essential goods. It boasts a volume of website visitors that toy companies can only dream of generating via their own branded sites. For toy companies to fully capitalize on that online grocery traffic, they could invest in a joint direct selling venture with the grocers, using their own separate and independent warehouse and home delivery services to meet demand. Understandably, the grocery channel’s focus is on securing supplies of essential goods, which has made it harder to establish toy visibility in store, or to secure space allocation in the grocery supply chain. A joint initiative would insulate the toy category from future diversion of grocery channel resources and attention in the event of a second wave of Covid. It would also keep inventory circulating in the right location to respond to demand. In exchange, retailers themselves should take the necessary steps to improve the online shopping experience for toys with a few much-needed tweaks to the design and taxonomy of their e-commerce pages within brand guidelines. Paying a fair level of corporation tax in the UK, in the face of demand for properly funded public services, is a pertinent and dissonant issue for millennial parents and is heating up as a topic discussed, with advice being sought and searches tracked for ‘alternatives to Amazon’. The
Entertainer, Smyths and Argos are among the go-to alternatives for shoppers seeking a wide range of toy choices. Ready for the return of normal trading and in response to trading during the pandemic, The Entertainer has introduced a “Fast Track” proposition to provide a multitude of home delivery or collection options to service demand in these unusual circumstances. Smyths is consistently clear and measured in its approach, and second only to Amazon in its CRO converting online traffic to purchase and delivery. Many independent high street retailers have stepped up to the challenge and set up local home delivery services of food and essential goods, from local butchers, independent grocery stores and even farm shops. There are reports of a mini high street revival of sorts for small independent retailers and a boost of customer loyalty in response. Some independent toy retailers have followed the example of other independents on the high street, turning a crisis into a catalyst for change and success. I believe there are opportunities for many other toy stores to take the leap into e-commerce, and I would urge the toy industry to support independent toy retailers in taking this crucial step. As a problem solver and a resource investigator by nature, I would also be happy to offer my services to anyone looking to dip their toe in the water. The Great British Staycation is a unique opportunity to grab back the initiative and recover some muchneeded sales momentum.
The times they are a-changin’
T Jim Hawker Co-founder of Threepipe agency: a team of PR, social, content, SEO and paid media experts
he turmoil of the last couple of months has meant a great deal of contact time with our clients, as we support them in the best way we can. This contact time has led to lots of interesting chats about how retail will change, both from the perspective of the brand, but also by the retailer itself. This isn’t a full list of the topics that have been covered: however, it summarises a few of the themes that may well play out in the coming year as a result of the pandemic.
Internal recognition For many multi-channel retailers, e-commerce contributed a minority percentage of sales (let’s say 20-30%), but during the lockdown this has flipped to providing up to 100% of sales. As high street retail reopens, retailers could see e-commerce stabilising at 50% sales contribution. This has led to an increased focus on the e-commerce team and a better interest and understanding of how it works from owners/investors/ management team. This has provided
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hope that moving forward, there will be better allocation of resource in terms of people and budget into these teams. Restructuring The previous ways of working were never efficient. Marketing, brand, PR, CRM and e-commerce were too often siloed. I cannot tell you the amount of times that brand teams have proudly handed assets over to the digital teams that are not fit for purpose. The last couple of months has led to lots
Early role play fun with Flymo! A brilliant replica toy version of the iconic Flymo Lawn Mower, for realistic pretend play for Little Helpers on sunny days in the garden or rainy days indoors!
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Viewpoint of internal discussions about how to bring these teams more closely together. Often, the e-commerce teams have been viewed as an afterthought and very much at the bottom of the funnel, with the role of the brand teams to attract interest at the funnel’s top. Towards the end of the year, it is likely we will see these teams come closer together to ensure that brand and performance media channels work much more closely together. Many companies I have been speaking to are now planning on how to restructure their teams as they move into Christmas trading.
Retail buyers and data
Multiples vs Indies
Buyers have often relied on experience and gut instinct to make their decisions. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Heads of e-commerce will now have a greater role in feeding in data and insights to help inform purchasing decisions. Stock needs to work for both online and offline channels and, with reduced store capacity, buyers will need to understand the mix of products that will perform better online than offline, which will require a change of mentality and behaviour.
A lot of brands I have chatted to feel let down by the multiples. Of course, they recognise the challenges they have faced, but they have had a hard time doing business with them over the last few months. On the other hand, independent stores have been creative, innovative and energetic to make things work. This loyalty will be rewarded in the future. I was on a webinar recently when a major retailer mentioned that they will be leaning more heavily on brands to contribute more to marketing plans and I know full well how this will go down. For far too long, multiples have asked for cash and provided little in return in terms of data, insight and reporting. This will be fiercely contested over the coming months.
T Asha Bhalsod Asha has 10 years eCommerce account management experience, including at Amazon and managing the Amazon/eCommerce businesses at Tomy UK and Melissa & Doug. She now runs Etopia Consultancy, to help brands create their eCommerce strategy and grow their Amazon business, and can be contacted on email@example.com for guidance with selling on Amazon.
he digital shift during the pandemic indicates that the e-commerce market share could double by the end of 2020. Who remembers the time when e-commerce was a ‘nice to have’ for many businesses? The pandemic has accelerated e-commerce growth by three years, with predictions that UK e-commerce will grow a huge 19% versus the predicted 11% pre-pandemic. The survival of many businesses will hinge on their adaptability in stepping away from traditional bricks and mortar stores and transitioning into digital markets that can interact and sell to customers around Europe and the rest of the world. Despite Amazon’s French warehouses closing for a considerable time, it is estimated that in France, e-commerce sales will grow by 17%. Bricks and Mortar vs Online? In spite of a surge in visits to physical stores because of individuals needing social association after lockdown closes, a potential downturn will prompt a further change in shopper conduct. Customers may well spend less but will search for products with full intention of purchasing. Just browsing for products will become less frequent, and therefore bricks and mortar stores that rely on experiential shopping experiences will lose importance. The focus will increasingly be shifted to online shopping.
How can brands help conversion of their products? As customers will arguably spend less money post pandemic, the Amazon machine will see an
increase in people researching products. Making your products more discoverable by using product specific and relevant keywords will be extremely important. Research shows that over 70% of Amazon product searches are generic product searches and do not include brand names. If this trend continues, Amazon’s DSP program will be a fundamental strategy for targeting customers looking for your products. Amazon’s DSP uses customer purchasing data and targets these customers with a simple creative advertisement or video. Coupled with a great brand store, the customer can be bought into the brand story, which will strengthen brand loyalty and showcase your full range. Is your Prime Day strategy correct? It’s hard to ignore that, last year, July was the month with the most amount of traffic for Amazon globally. Prime Day 2020 may have been delayed for the current year, rather than taking place in the standard month of July, but with rumours that it will be held in Q4 (at the time of writing), brands will need to re-evaluate their strategy for both Prime Day and Q4. Prime Day will kick off the Q4 sales season and with Christmas sales getting later and later every year, will Prime Day being in Q4 cannibalise Christmas sales? That said, it is a bigger opportunity than before, and the changes mean brands must rethink four things: 1. The size of the opportunity 2. Who the online shopper is 3. How to gain early traction on key Christmas products
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4. H ow to protect your brand and products We’re getting into that crucial period in toys where key Christmas items will be launching. Typically, new products are hard to grow rapidly on Amazon, so many brands will need to create a clear product/brand launch plan. ‘Born to Run’ is an interesting concept launched by Amazon last year that could be part of a strategy to quickly gain traction on your new products. E-commerce skills Reflecting on the last 12 weeks and the impact Covid has had on businesses commercial structures, what has been clearer than ever is how under-resourced e-commerce and Amazon teams are. Looking at recruitment trends, it is clear that this is already becoming a focal point: the majority of roles across sales, marketing and digital now have an added online responsibility. Hiring a talented specialist to fill commercial gaps and future proof long-term revenue clearly make sense, however are we at risk of trying to run before we can walk? Your approach to online needs to be personal and individual; Amazon highlights this more than anyone. There is no “one size fits all” and businesses should be prepared to challenge the norm to unearth how to grow in a supercharged e-commerce environment. If you would like an audit of your Amazon and e-commerce strategy, then please get in touch with Etopia Consultancy.
Viewpoint Read all about it
T Rachael Simpson-Jones Rachael is editor of Toy World and has solid experience in the trade press, where she has honed her skills in creating unique and original content across web and print platforms.
housands of retailers will be breathing a sigh of relief right now (along with their suppliers), having started welcoming consumers back through their doors after what has felt like a very, very long period of lockdown. Though necessary, the previous 10 weeks of severe restrictions have been undeniably tough for the majority of stores. Many have had to adapt their way of trading through lockdown, while they have also been forced to make physical changes to their stores, so consumers feel safe returning and, of course, lest we find ourselves in a similar situation in future. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons to have emerged from the crisis is that for many retailers to survive, an omnichannel approach is key. It’s not enough to only have your brick & mortar store; to capture as many sales as you possibly can, you need to also be active in the online space. Dip a toe in several ponds, and you’ll surely catch more fish. There are clear parallels here with trade marketing and the role of publishers. Imagine, if you will, a Venn diagram. Consumers of written media such as magazines fall largely into two groups – either they gravitate towards the publication’s online offerings, in the form of a website and social media channels, or they tend to favour the print issue – with the overlap inhabited by a large, crucial subsect of people who will use both media to access the widest choice of information in the most appropriate format. Publish a magazine without a complementary website or social media, and you’ve failed to capture a huge chunk of audience. Publish a website without a print offering, and you’ve fallen into
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the same trap. Some reading this may disagree - we’ve been hearing (wrongly) that print is dead for years, after all but hear me out. Each of us consumes information in myriad different ways, day in, day out, likely without even being aware, but here we’ll consider only two basic types of consumption; lean forward and lean back. The lean forward consumer knows what they are looking for, and actively seeks it out. Here’s an example. I read the consumer publication Empire. Empire has a website, uses various social media platforms, and publishes a print issue each month. When I hear about a new movie or PlayStation game, nine times out of ten I will jump on the website, search the name of the movie or game followed by ‘Empire review’, look at the star rating, perhaps read a bit more about it, then leave the website. Two minutes and I’m gone again. In this example, I am leaning forward. I want to find a particular piece of information, actively search for that and that alone, consume the information, and then move on. When the print issue of Empire arrives however, I’ll become a lean back consumer. Cup of tea in hand and a selection of biscuits nearby, I’m ready to let new information find me. Maybe I’ll gloss over a feature or interview that doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting, but more often than not I’ll read the issue cover to cover, absorb everything in it with a reasonably open mind, and be willing to change my thoughts or opinions based on new information. That 2,500-word article which would be so daunting online is suddenly a breeze, and I’m likely to look at the glossy printed adverts for much longer.
As retailers have learned, some more successfully than others, if you want to reach your target audience, regardless of where it is lurking, an omni-channel approach is the only way to do it. Retail has effectively been switched off an on again, hopefully debugged and with a new operating system installed. Suppliers would be wise to do the same when it comes to their marketing campaigns. With renewed focus on the importance of omni-channel business models, and with a lot of ground to make up between now and Christmas, brands need to ensure they are reaching all corners of the market using tried and trusted media partners. If you’re reading this, you’re hopefully already appreciative of what Toy World can offer your brand. Throughout the lockdown, our website has provided readers with the most important and up-to-date information available, edited for digestibility and relevance, while our print issues have continued unabated, delivering news, views, opinion and product guidance at a time when it was most needed and appreciated - and while other platforms went dark. As a writer, I believe in the power of the written word and, as an editor, I strive to ensure that Toy World magazine, the website and the daily newsflash are filled with engaging and entertaining content for our readers. The team works collaboratively with all sectors of the toy industry to ensure that we achieve this. With much uncertainty still out there, we know how important it is to get your message in front of your target audience. If you’re interested in seeing what we can do for your brand, let us know.
Category features on
Plush Wooden Toys STEM Toys •
Plus special SHOW OFF feature, giving you the opportunity to highlight your latest ranges to retail customers, whether the Toymaster & Autumn Fairs take place or not.
For editorial enquiries, contact Rachael Simpson-Jones email@example.com or Lisa Currie firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editorial copy date – 3rd July Ad copy date – 14th July
REAL BAKEWARE FOR KIDS
Home office briefing This year, suppliers of the stationery category continue to create innovative and appealing products for kids and adults alike. Toy World spoke to a selection to find out more.
ince March, the home has become a classroom for youngsters and a home office for many working adults, and the desire for a cool and diverse stationery collection has not wavered. Fun and fresh stationery collections are all the rage, not only for making home learning fun and adding a touch of personality to workspaces, but also helping to amuse kids whilst regular activities remain suspended. Sarah Piper, junior category manager in stationery at Sambro, comments, “Parents have found stationery a useful tool when occupying their children during lockdown, whilst also giving them a chance to explore their creativity. Many families have been making colourful signs for their windows and homes to show support to the NHS and key workers.”
Meeting this desire to inject colour and creativity into daily activities and home-schooling lessons, the scope for stationery has broadened over recent months. Leon Jarmolowicz, European brand director at Crayola, reveals which products have been in demand lately. “Throughout the lockdown period, families have turned to trusted classics that kids can use easily,” explains Leon. “Classic formats are available and selling very well, but we have new items too, like the Paint Sticks which we have just launched. Part paint, part crayon but delivered in an easy to use ‘lipstick’ format - they dry in absolutely no time at all.” John McDonnell, managing director at Galt, echoes parents’ desire for fuss-free stationery which enables kids to get creative in the home, without the need
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for a lot of arts & crafts equipment and mess. He comments, “We are seeing a greater move towards products like Water Magic, and our recently launched Learn to Draw set, which uses a projector and discs to teach children to draw in four easy steps. These are both in line with parental preference by being selfcontained sets which are mess-free.” This year, Sambro is expanding its key ranges to reflect the demands of consumers within the current climate. Sarah told us: “Having reviewed our ranges, we can see that key trends emerging within the stationery category include activity stationery such as our 80-piece Colouring Activity Set and The Super Journal Set. Stationery blind packs and surprise capsules are also popular; this year we have developed our Puzzle Palz range with new collectible
characters from Disney’s Frozen II, Minions and Baby Shark.” As we start looking to the second half of 2020, Gavin Holden, commercial director at Blue Sky Designs, reveals that the company has been busy signing new licences during lockdown, meaning that Blue Sky will be entering 2021 with an even more impressive portfolio of brands. Gavin explained, “We took the decision early on to pounce on this downtime to bolster our portfolio, so that when everything starts to go back to normal, we will be ready with a strong collection of exciting product and licences.” Back to school is a pivotal time for stationery suppliers, and with a whole host of new licences available, Blue Sky aims to ensure that everyone will be able to have their favourite characters and themes featured on their pens, notepads and much more. Four of the new licences have been signed as part of a deal with Hasbro: Monopoly, Tonka, My Little Pony and Nerf. Blue Sky has also signed the rights from Warner Bros. to both classic Space Jam and Space Jam: The New Legacy, which will hit cinemas in July 2021. Gavin added: “We have found in the past that people often revert back to nostalgic brands when times are troubled; I think consumers feel more comfortable going back to the things they know and trust. Monopoly has been around for 80 years; Tonka has a strong heritage and My Little Pony is a very well-established brand. We expect people will want to
take a step back rather than chasing the next big app or collectible craze.” With this year’s back to school period expected to face a unique set of challenges, Blue Sky is also in the process of developing innovative new ideas to help combat the impact of Covid-19, making certain new measures easier for kids and adults to adhere to in a post-lockdown world. Gavin explains: “There are many products we are developing in reaction to the current climate. We have almost finished the development of two new kids’ stationery products that help with classroom hygiene. This includes hand sanitiser dispensing pens, which kids can fill up at home and use at school. They have a simple pump action nozzle on top of the pen so kids can clean their hands before putting pen to paper. In addition, we will be launching 3D licensed character sanitiser dispensers, small enough to clip to a school or lunch bag; we intend to launch both across numerous licences for winter 2020.” He adds, “We have introduced study wallets to our licensed ranges for this winter. These A4 oversized fabric wallets with multiple pockets are perfect for organising homework sheets, projects and keeping cables and pens etc. together inside school bags.” To accommodate a wider working from home culture, Gavin reveals details of a new range of stationery designed for the adult audience: “We will shortly be launching a full range of work from home
essentials, including desk tidies, desk lamps, monitor stands and traditional stationery such as notebooks and pens sets. These will all be launched under our new “Home Office” branding; it looks super stylish and appealing, and we’ve had a fantastic early reaction to the concept.” Evidently stationery has lots to offer, both immediately and in the near future. Now that the high street is back open for business, Leon highlights how the stationery category will keep up with this strong demand and cater to its wide range of customers moving forward: “The pandemic has affected all aspects of the chain, so we have been working extremely hard to ensure our supply levels to customers are optimised as much as possible. In addition, we continue to work with healthcare professionals and education and community groups to deliver Crayola supplies. What continues to amaze is that it is not just our core audience of children that benefit from our products, but a wide range of age groups, from those coping with autism to those in geriatric care.” Over the next few pages, Toy World has a collated a selection of new products in the stationery category which are ideal whether consumers are working from home, home-schooling the kids, or readying for back to school or a return to the office.
Blue Sky Designs 01133 879 670 | www.blueskydesigns.co.uk Arriving in time for this summer is the Harry Potter potion pen. Made to look and feel like a glass potion bottle filled with a pearlescent liquid, the potion pen actually writes and is ideal for aspiring wizards heading back to school. The company has gone 100% plastic free on the packaging, using a clever window box. Also new for this summer is the Harry Potter illuminating notebook, which contains around thirty micro led lights which are activated by pressing the front cover. The notebook creates an impressive effect both in daylight and in the dark. Nerf is one of Blue Sky’s new licences that is launching this summer. The initial launch range will consist of classic formats such as the Bumper Stationery Wallet, a multi-pocket pencil case, notebooks and sticker fun sets. For the second phase launch, new innovative formats are coming; pop-out targets are incorporated into the card packaging, with sticker sheets inside some products so kids can set up their own shooting challenges. Stickers with different scores on them can be applied to targets around the house or outside. Blue Sky’s Friends stationery collection is expanding for summer with many new product formats added to sit alongside the best sellers. The company has seen a huge increase in demand for this licence since the start of the year. There is a cosmetic bag shaped pencil case, several notebook formats and a quote pen in which Friends fans push the top button and watch the quotes spin. There is also a clever clipboard “to do” set designed to look like a Central Perk order pad.
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Sambro 08458 739 380 | www.sambro.co.uk Ensuring that stationery is kept relevant, fresh and engaging, Sambro has focused on making its range innovative and competitively priced. Expanding on the already successful Puzzle Palz range, the company is refreshing its best sellers and introducing new Puzzle Palz vehicles. New Marvel characters will be launched, and the Disney Princess collection will be revitalised with a new look. Sambro’s Back to School range will become more focused, expanding on key licences and Sambro’s own brand stationery range, suitable for both boys and girls. The own brand range will include lines such as filled pencil cases and miniature stationery sets, all of which are on trend for the tween market, the demographic focus for this range. Baby Shark is another new licence for Sambro, and the company has already seen a keen appetite for the property from retailers and grocers, with the stationery lines that it is planning to launch having been well-received by buyers. Stationery as a category has experienced growth during the coronavirus pandemic and Sambro’s marketing plans will be reflective of how the current climate has impacted the public. There will be a focus on key licences as well as own-brand ranges, and the breadth of age appropriate, creative and highquality product in the company’s vast portfolio.
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Mookie 01525 722769 www.mookie.co.uk Micropacks have been a hit amongst children since launch and have been designed to look exactly like mini backpacks. The striking collectible items are available in eight fun and colourful designs and textures. Each Micropack is packed to the brim with six miniature stationery pieces, offering a little bag of goodies that children will love to collect and show their friends. With over 100 different miniature pieces of stationery options, kids will never know what is inside the Micropack until it belongs to them. Each Micropack comes with a backpack clip which allows kids to attach their Micropack to their backpack or bag and have their miniature stationery to hand wherever they go.
Vivid 01483 449944
Galt 01614 289 111 | www.galttoys.com
With sales of stationery soaring, Galt offers two new early drawing kits for budding artists aged four and up. Learn to Draw has a built-in projector and easy step by step pictures for kids to trace, while the Travel Learn to Draw set is ideal for future visits to family and days out. Two First Water Magic books also join Galt’s Water Magic range. Baby Dinosaurs has been designed for kids aged 18 months and over, for no mess and fuss-free playtime.
With a strong heritage in arts & crafts, Crayola continues to combine tradition with innovation to deliver the best creative experiences through a vibrant variety of colours, washable solutions and fresh product ideas. Recent innovation includes Easy Peel Crayon Pencils, designed with quick-dry technology and easy peel barrels so that sharpening is never needed. Young artists can simply peel away the layers to expose a vibrant colour core that produces great results on a range of surfaces. Crayola Paint Sticks are a new less-mess alternative to painting. Drying in no time at all, they offer full coverage and bright bold colours, while the innovative design allows kids to colour easily within thin lines or across big surfaces, adding fun and precision to any painting activity.
A.B.Gee 01773 570 444 | www.abgee.co.uk A.B.Gee’s Jar Melo range of exclusive stationery and art & craft supplies has proved to be a huge hit with families during lockdown. Ideal to help with the challenges of home schooling and keeping children interested and engaged, the range’s element of fun has been essential. The comprehensive range boasts over 90 lines to choose from, from washable markers, drawing books and finger paints to origami sets, liquid chalks and rock painting. A firm favourite from A.B.Gee is the Washable Sidewalk Chalks which includes 24 giant chalks with dots and stripe patterns. Street art has become a hugely popular activity over the last few months and is a great way to share messages of support and brighten up local pavements. Kids simply pop their chalk into one of the holders provided and let their imagination do the rest. The chalks are dust free, easily washable and come in a handy plastic tub for storage. Visit A.B.Gee’s website to see the full range.
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Reboot 2020 a fresh start for the toy trade When the UK was placed under strict lockdown conditions on 23rd March, no one knew for certain how things would pan out. From deserted high streets to the isolation experienced by many, the past three months have been difficult for a host of reasons, and most people will be immensely glad and hugely relieved to be moving forward into a new phase. As the entire nation undergoes something of a work and life reboot, Toy World takes a look at some of the lessons learned during lockdown, what the short-term future of toy retail might look like, how consumer habits have shifted and the biggest opportunities out there for Q3 and 4.
onday June 15th marked the grand reopening of the English retail scene: the date heralded a fresh start for the toy community, with all nonessential retailers once again allowed to open their doors to shoppers. Many stores in Scotland followed suit on 29th June. In Ireland, large retailers with entrances onto a high-street were given the opportunity to open on 8th June, while shops in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man beat everyone to it by several weeks. However, some stores remain closed, with experts such as KPMG’s Paul Martin observing that a selection of retailers with multiple locations will be opening in stages between now and Christmas. Now comes the next big challenge – how to entice shoppers back to stores. Early footfall data
is encouraging, with research firm Springboard showing that by 5pm on the 15th June, although shopper numbers remained lower than the corresponding week last year, footfall was 38.8% higher than the Monday of the previous week. After 12 weeks largely stuck at home, with only a weekly trip to the supermarket to look forward to, the opening of all other shops has provided welcome relief for many consumers. With most toy stores choosing to re-open as soon as restrictions were lifted, there is plenty to be hopeful about as we enter the second half of the year and count down to the allimportant festive selling season. While many non-essential categories have struggled to match traditional sales during lockdown, the UK toy market has proved remarkably resilient. According to NPD, the value of UK toy sales rose
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by 17% in the two months from the beginning of lockdown compared with the same period last year, while Games & Puzzles saw a +43% uptick in sales between 1st January and 23rd May, compared with the same period in 2019. Outdoor Toy sales, meanwhile, rose +31% in the same period, and Building Sets jumped +17%. Meanwhile, as outlined in Rory Partis’ article on pages 26-27, the UK toy market is currently +7% in value YTD versus the same period in 2019. Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, has predicted that sectors such as toys will ‘fare well’ compared to many others, with SMF Toytown’s early results supporting this statement; MD Alan Simpson told Toy World that the three branches which re-opened on 8th June – Enniskillen, Portrush and Coleraine – were on target to reach the same level of sales
that the stores achieved in 2019 within a week of welcoming shoppers back. There are several obvious reasons why the toy industry should be so thoroughly bucking the trend. Firstly, as has been reported throughout, being stuck at home can be terrifically dull. Toys and games provide entertainment, keep kids occupied and happy, and offer families a pleasant activity to enjoy together. Parents getting to grips with homeschooling have turned to toys and games for their educational properties, working them into lesson plans where appropriate, to stop young learners from growing fractious. And now the shops are back open, there’s an awful lot of kids out there whose parents feel they’re deserving of a treat in the form of a visit to the local toy store. Indeed, despite initial concerns about whether parents would take their kids to the toy store with them, early reports indicate that plenty are doing just that. However, it’s undeniable that the pandemic and resulting lockdown have changed the face of retail, at least in the short term, maybe forever. With stores temporarily shuttered for so long, consumers were forced to look online for the products they needed and wanted, resulting in a huge shift to online shopping. Research by Retail Economics and Squire Patton Boggs shows that 45% of consumers bought items online that they would normally have bought in store for the first time during the pandemic, and this behaviour is expected to stick, even as the lockdown eases. It’s entirely plausible that many consumers previously wary of shopping online have discovered that it’s not as bad as they feared, while others may be enjoying a wider choice of products than they had access to before. This doesn’t mean brick & mortar is dead, far from it, but it would appear that the future of retail will rely far more heavily than before on an omni-channel approach designed to reach consumers wherever this may be, across multiple touchpoints such as social media, digital storefronts, targeted adverts and directto-mailbox newsletters. Omni-channel retailing in itself is an entire article, but if you’re reading this, and you’ve got a physical store, a couple of social media channels and a website, then congratulations – you’re arguably far better placed than some retailers to adapt to the postpandemic retail landscape. When it comes to online, retailers without a website may want to consider setting one up. It doesn’t even need to cost too much. There are sites out there that allow you to set up a basic business site for free. Online extends into the social media space too. Independent toy retailers have found that Facebook and Twitter have allowed them to keep trading throughout lockdown, even while their store has been closed. Many of the indie toy retailers Toy World has been speaking to since lockdown began have set up a local delivery service in this way, taking orders through their social media channels and dropping them off to customers either the same day or the next day. Being able to pivot so quickly shows just how adaptive and flexible toy retailers are, not to mention resourceful – and it seems likely that demand for this sort of personal, fast service will continue for some time yet. Online marketplaces such as eBay have been utilised
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to good effect during lockdown too, as Toy Barnhaus can attest, by allowing indies to set up a digital storefront through which they can trade. In Toy Barnhaus’ case, that resulted in around 300 parcels a day being mailed. According to cofounders Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes, their eBay store has made the same amount of revenue in three months as three of the retailer’s eight bricks & mortar stores would usually bring in during the same time period. We’ve also heard how enhanced Click & Collect services have been put in place at retailers including Smyths and The Entertainer, meaning consumers can order, pay for and pick up products with zero contact. In-store, Covid-19 has changed the way we shop too. Play-tables have been removed and FSDUs have been temporarily ditched, as stores look to maximise floorspace and keep aisles as clear as possible, so shoppers can socially distance without tripping over things. Maximum shopper numbers have been introduced, hand sanitiser stations are popping up like dandelions from a pavement, and staff are likely to be wearing gloves, face masks or face shields - or an impressive combination of all three. Last year, there was much talk about experiential retail saving the high street, the need for shops to offer something unforgettable and unique alongside the baseline ‘get the thing you want and then leave’ approach. Best laid plans and all that; now we’re being encouraged not to touch things if we can help it - as I found out last week, having been forced to buy some caramel flapjacks because I’d already touched the box (honest). This needn’t mean shopping must become a chore. Instead of play-tables, toy retailers
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can demo products to consumers in-store, highlighting their features and showing them in action. Alternatively, a TV setup can be used to play brand assets on a loop. Knowledgeable staff can talk to consumers when they enter the store, find out what kind of toy they’re looking for and offer suggestions for consideration, cutting down the number of products that may be picked up and ultimately put back if they are deemed unsuitable. Window displays can be geared to provide entertainment for waiting consumers and their kids; a ‘Find the Hidden Figure’ or ‘Count the Rainbows’ game is easy to set up, helps showcase products, and makes shoppers feel like their time isn’t being wasted. These simple things in themselves tap back into the experiential shopping experience consumers value. Shopping and spending habits may well have shifted as a result of the pandemic. Generally speaking, consumers can now be separated into two groups. The first group contains those fortunate enough to have come through the crisis relatively unscathed, still in employment and with the same amount of discretionary income to hand (or slightly more, if they’ve saved on commuting and other expenditure), while the second is comprised of those who have been made redundant or have had their hours or wages cut, meaning they have less income than before and have had to adjust their spending accordingly. Both groups are likely to be mindful of where their money goes, with the former prioritising spending on what they feel is important to them – home entertainments, luxuries and products associated with well-being
– while the latter will place more importance on essentials and value-offerings that won’t eat into savings or limited incomes. Interestingly, while parents and children in the UK have been buying fewer toys, they have been spending more on those they have bought during lockdown – the average purchase price of a toy or game has risen from £8.07 to £9.65, according to NPD figures. In many sectors, including toys, the adage ‘quality over quantity’ is ringing true. Brand loyalty has also been key to spending decisions during lockdown, with consumers choosing to spend on products or names they know and trust, rather than gambling on a brand they are unfamiliar with. Where consumers physically spend their money has shifted too. While some shoppers are reluctant to return to the shops just yet, polling shows those wanting to are potentially more likely to favour their local shops and high street over retail parks and shopping centres. Springboard’s footfall figures for May showed that, while city-centre footfall declined by 88%, local high streets proved to be far more resilient, falling just 44% by comparison. While much of this may simply boil down to the fact that a lot of the population is working from home, making local shops the most convenient option, it’s clear that safety is also a key consideration for
shoppers. The findings are backed by the Retail Economics/Squire Patton Boggs survey, in which 29% of consumers who said they are comfortable going to physical shops said they were happy to shop at the local high street, which proved to be twice as popular as retail parks (14%). Shopping malls in town centres are the least desirable places to visit, according to the survey. This is clearly good news for many indie toy retailers; the shop local drum has been banged for years, and now it seems many consumers are willing to dance to the beat. Silver linings can be found elsewhere too; having become an area of increasing demand for a large portion of consumers, sustainability has emerged as a key consumer trend for 2020. Throughout lockdown we’ve been confronted with headlines about improving air quality, the return of wildlife to areas usually dominated by humans, clearer waters – and it’s given us a taste of what our future could be like if we all start being a little kinder to the planet. Sustainability and environmental friendliness were already key areas of focus coming into 2020, but with visible, tangible proof of our impact on earth laid out before us in the papers and across social media, expect to see renewed and expanding initiatives to take things even further. In our June issue, we discussed how MGA Entertainment, Zuru, Tomy
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and Mattel were investing in new materials and recycling partnerships; in this issue, Mattel has also provided information on its environmentally sustainable, bio-based plastic Mega Bloks line, which joins Geomag’s 100% recycled Green Range. Retailers looking to create or expand an in-store ‘Green Aisle’ certainly have plenty to choose from this year. When it comes to marketing, the pandemic has again presented toy suppliers with interesting opportunities to explore across the remainder of the year. As outlined by Jonathan Chambers on page 20, and Alice Morrison on page 113, TV advertising is likely to play a larger part than normal in reaching audiences over the next six months, especially given the loss of the iconic Argos catalogue this year. The online space continues to fragment, with consumers now scattered across platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, LinkedIn and doubtless numerous others. Getting messaging in front of the right audience, on the right platform, at the right time, will require careful strategic planning. Some experts have also noted the damage brands may have inadvertently caused their image during lockdown, either by going dark and failing to issue a statement on their return, or missing the mark with messaging, resulting in campaigns that ended up tone-deaf or irrelevant. Brands that have remained ‘on air’ will have maintained the trust and support their consumers place in them, and will therefore find themselves in a stronger position coming out of lockdown. A Nielson report entitled Recalibrated Consumption Dynamics in A Covid-19 Altered World states that as brands start to reinstate their marketing activity and messaging, they will need to look at where audiences have shifted their listening, viewing, engaging and socialising, as well as how they will need to repair broken relationships or strengthen new ones. Digital and virtual engagement will need to be a substantial new focus area for marketers, according to the report, with consumers increasingly valuing connections with brands they trust and who showcase they care about them and their communities as we moved into the postpandemic landscape. Clearly, there’s much to think about when it comes to the next steps for business, whether you’re an indie toy store, a grocery multiple, a toy supplier, sales director or PR & marketing manager. Despite the many challenges presented by lockdown and Covid-19, better times definitely lie ahead; Christmas is now only six months away, and there are millions of kids out there whose parents will be keen to ensure the end of 2020 is a whole lot better than the start. Regardless of our day jobs, we’re all consumers, and we’ve been presented with a unique opportunity to shape the future of retail and consumerism as we want it – to restart, and to reboot. In this feature, we spoke to a number of leading toy suppliers about how they’ll be supporting their retail partners in Q3 and Q4, and provide a comprehensive overview of the most exciting and innovative toys and games hitting the market for autumn/winter. Fresh, innovative new products are going to play a key role in encouraging consumers to return to the high street and shopping centres, and we hope you will find plenty here to get excited about.
Flexible friends Toy World spoke to Ian Edmunds, managing director of Toymaster, to find out how its members have fared during lockdown and how the buying group is helping them face the ‘new-normal’ of retail. First things first – what can you tell us anything about the Toymaster show this year? There’s certainly an appetite for the show to go ahead in September, despite the challenges we face with coronavirus, but the situation is out of our hands at present. We’re looking to the government and its official guidelines for information on how we can proceed with the show, and what form it may take. If they say gatherings are fine to go ahead in September then that’s great, and if they say it’s not allowed then we’ll obviously cancel or further postpone the show. If the show takes place, then we fully understand not everyone will want to attend but as it stands, we’ve had positive feedback from a good number who tell us they will.
How have your members fared during the lockdowns? I’d have to say that our members have arguably fared much better than anyone would have thought possible when lockdown began. In March, the outlook and mood were quite
negative, but both have improved as things have progressed. The help from the government in the UK has been fantastic and most of our members have managed to keep selling, whether that be via a full blown website, on platforms like eBay or Amazon, or simple click & collect and local deliveries driven by social media. Not a single member has permanently shuttered their store as a result of coronavirus, which we’re delighted about.
What major lessons about independent retail do you think have been learned? Enough to fill about 55 books, frankly! When it comes to independents, the entrepreneurialism has really shone through throughout lockdown. Being small businesses, one of the biggest strengths of indies is their adaptability and flexibility. A small retailer can decide to do something, and then just do it; it’s one of the biggest advantages indies have compared to multiples, and it has paid off since 23rd March. By working together, sharing information on what’s
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worked and what hasn’t worked, our members have proven once again what an inventive and helpful group of people they are. The result is that they’ve come through this pretty well. Independent retailers have so much potential to be part of the solution, not part of the problem; they care, they’re a part of the local community, and this resonates with a lot of shoppers.
There are a number of retailers who didn’t have a dedicated website or a strong social media presence when lockdown started; with a lot of focus now on the need for omni-channel retail, do you think some of your members might re-evaluate their approach? Most of our members already have a fantastic social media presence, which has allowed them to really drive click & collect and local delivery offers for their customers. What a lot of them lack is a full-blown website, and I’ll be honest – once Amazon gets its act together again, and pricing comes back to the fore, I still don’t see that there
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will be much profit in running one. This is why so few have a website and moving forward, I don’t see this changing dramatically. At its most basic, what you need is the ability to communicate with your customers, and social media provides that.
How is Toymaster supporting its members through re-openings? Our Irish members, which make up 25% of our business, opened on Monday 8th June, and Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have been open several weeks now. The rest have then followed. We’re doing what we would usually do, keeping lines of communication open to share the relevant government advice for where our members are trading. We’re not trying to make up our own guidelines, instead compiling and passing on advice from government advisors as and when it comes out. We’ve already discussed the variable need for POS screens, risk assessments, essential PPE and other safety measures. We haven’t had to change our levels of communication; only the information is different.
Have you had any feedback from your members which re-opened earliest on what it’s been like? I didn’t think anyone would be taking their kids into shops – I thought it would be a case of ‘in and out, thank you very much, goodbye’ – but we’re being told that the opposite is true. The reasons for this seem fairly obvious in hindsight; parents have been stuck at home with their kids,
and now they want to get out and treat them to something nice. But I will admit, this has struck me as a pleasant surprise.
What big opportunities are out there for indie toy retailers during the second half of 2020? Do you think consumers will be pleased to return to the high street? Everything we’ve seen would suggest that there’s increased support for shopping locally. Consumers are arguably less willing to use public transport, and are wary of heading to the bigger city centres and shopping malls. And the issue of sustainability, which was of growing concern to people even before Covid-19, is now a major consideration for many shoppers. If ever there was a time that these messages weren’t falling on deaf ears, hopefully this is it. I’d like to think that all the positive things that our members have engaged in while on lockdown will stand them in good stead moving forward.
What message would you have for suppliers at this time? We continue to talk them through the process, same as we have been with our members, trying to guide them on what the retail environment might look like when we come back. For example, we’re advising suppliers not to bother with FSDUs for the rest of the year. With social distancing in place, gangways need to be kept clear; displays like that aren’t going to work. We’re passing on the lesson’s we’ve learnt (and continue to learn)
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to them, as well as liaising on basic stock deals which may help our members.
How do you think Christmas will be this year? Christmas looks after itself and I don’t think this year will be any different. The toy market remains resilient to anything approaching a recession – things must be pretty desperate if you aren’t buying your kids Christmas presents. I also think the shop local messaging out there at the moment will really kick in as we head into the festive season. In the shorter term, kids have been locked up for quite a while now, and, as I said earlier, some treats are in order. There’ll be more staycations this year which certainly won’t do any harm, as there’ll be more money floating around in the UK waiting to be spent, and then Christmas follows. I’m glad stores are now reopening, and I’m very glad this didn’t all happen in October or November. You and I would be having a very different conversation if that were the case. Now, we just need to ensure we’re guarding against a second wave.
Is there anything our readers really ought to know at this time? I mainly want to say thank you – thank you to our suppliers for the support they’ve offered, thank you to our members for supporting and assisting each other, and thank you to Toy World for helping to spread the word and keep the conversation going.
Don’t stop me now As retail gets back on track, Toy World spoke to a selection of suppliers to find out how companies are re-booting plans and ranges for the remainder of 2020.
Mary Wood UK & Ireland general manager, Tomy Tomy UK has seen an extremely strong performance throughout lockdown from supermarkets as well as other retailers with online platforms across the trade. We’re certainly grateful to have such a broad retailer base, particularly across the independents. In these times of uncertainty, consumers seem to have turned to brands they know and trust, such as Lamaze, Aquadoodle and Toomies, plus both Drumond Park and Tomy games, and we expect that to continue even as competition increases. We appreciate that, even with stores re-opening, it will still be a very difficult time for retailers having to cope with social distancing while picking brands and products that provide limited risk. The Tomy portfolio is solid; it combines brands consumers know and trust with attractive pricing, superb quality and great play value. We’ve pulled back on in-store demo units and FSDUs as space will be at a premium, but strong marketing support is nevertheless in place with more online assets for social or digital use. Our major brand launch for autumn/winter is Ricky Zoom. The TV programme is really gathering momentum now, ready for our product launch on 17th July.
Nick Thomas General manager, Vivid UK Lockdown presented numerous challenges, but Vivid took early precautions to protect the business, focusing in on what were to become essential product categories to ensure we could meet consumer demand. Arts & Crafts, Outdoor and Games, three of the growth supercategories during lockdown, performed well for us, with Crayola, Phlat Ball, Wubble, Sequence, On Your Marks and Escape Room emerging as the standout brands. When core Crayola items such as Supertips and Washable Paints started to hit the top ranks in retailer charts, it became clear that we had to ensure increased supply and stock for retail. Not only was Crayola the brand of choice for families undertaking home schooling, we also soon learned about the versatility of the brand when we set up a charity division to ensure we could get product to hospital geriatric wards and nursing homes. We were blessed with good weather to help kick start the outdoor selling season, while games sales were strong as families engaged in a way normally only seen at Christmas. I’m interested to see how consumer spend will pan out into Q4. Vivid has a lot to be excited about for autumn/winter. We have several new ranges set for launch including Vet Squad, a reboot of the historic evergreen brand Animal Hospital, and Goliath is building on its current portfolio with a selection of new games across the Pre-School, Kids Action and Family Games categories. The Science4you range goes from strength to strength following Green Science’s nomination at the recent Nuremberg Toy Fair Toy Awards. The product leverages an ecologically conscious approach and is set to be one of the main innovations of 2020.
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Will Collinson UK general manager, Zuru As everyone knows, the outbreak of Covid-19 has had a profound effect on day-to-day life, as well as the majority of businesses. However, it’s great to see that the UK toy industry has seen growth in certain areas as people spend more time at home. At Zuru, we’ve seen significantly increased demand across our portfolio, in particular on our Bunch O Balloons and Fast Fill Water Blasters. Given that the lockdown effects will remain for some time, and that we’re set to enjoy a healthy amount of further good weather, Zuru is in a great position to capitalise on this. Looking to Q3/Q4, there’s no question that consumers will adopt a much savvier approach towards spending. Alongside our hero launches, we’ve been working closely to support our retail partners on our core ‘value’ lines - X-Shot, Metal Machines and Max Build. With most lines within these ranges positioned at key volume-driving price points, Zuru enables its retailers to offer compelling value statements, without compromising on quality.
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Sara Taylor General manager, Spin Master UK At Spin Master, we have been adapting very well to the new realities of Covid-19. One of the areas we’ve concentrated on has been the independent trade, many of whom do not have the benefit of an internet business. We’ve developed tailored promotional offerings for independents, as well as some one-time buys with excellent consumer offers, to help them get back on their feet quickly. We have also implemented TV and digital media together across a number of brands. This campaign went live during halfterm week, and has been running for several weeks now. We’ve streamlined our focus for the second half, focusing on several new brands that bring innovation and ‘newness’ to the industry and consumers alike. Additionally, we’ll be putting the usual level of Spin Master media and trade support behind these new launches so that we can all hit the ground hard and fast when the season kicks in.
Managing director, Geomag Like most of the industry, we’re breathing a sigh of relief that our independent stockists are opening for business again - it’s been an unbelievably tough time for them. In the early weeks of the lockdown we put together a Drop Ship Programme for our indie partners, offering them four great value bundles for their customers which we would deliver directly to homes. Now, with doors physically opening, we’ll be offering our independent partners a Replenishment Offer to get them back in stock. This should enable them to fill in any gaps over the next four weeks, and get the Geomagworld momentum running again.
Michael Hick Vice president & country manager - UK & Ireland, Mattel We’re excited to be supporting toy stores big and small as they open their doors to consumers again. The last three months have been a challenging time, from a stuttering start in March and April to what has now turned out to be yet another demonstration that the toy industry is one of the most resilient of categories - and that trusted brands are the ones that consumers turn to. Mattel has outpaced the market, with Barbie, Fisher-Price, Scrabble and Uno, as well as Mega, having all grown phenomenally in the last three months. At the beginning of the crisis we had a very clear plan to pivot our support to target the consumer where they were shopping - online - and to be able to reinvest our budgets as soon as retailers were open again. We’ve been working towards this moment and have ensured robust plans are in place to create demand with exciting marketing and consumer initiatives. We still have exciting new brands to launch and new product introductions across our portfolio; we’re ready and able to support all our retailers, as we help to get consumers back into stores and grow the category in the second half of the year.
Martyn Weaver Head of brand, Scalextric, Hornby Hobbies Hornby Hobbies has hosted a lot of activity during the lockdown, including Kids Zone and interactive features for the hobbyists. While we can see the interest for our brands is incredibly high, based on social media traffic and product demand, the retail process is currently more challenging than ever. Without knowing how things are going to be in the second half of the year, it becomes more of a challenge for retailers to manage their programmes. Many have scaled back their FOB programmes, thus increasing the need for more domestic supply. There’s an opportunity to increase volumes for lines currently in production, meaning we can still meet the known demand from consumers. All our new products, such as Scalextric Batman vs Joker Spark Plug, My First and Micro Scalextric sets, will be supported by TV and digital campaigns.
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touchingbase Tony White UK sales director, Moose Toys We appreciate how difficult this period has been for the bricks & mortar retailers that have had to close, and we can’t wait to see them open again. While Covid-19 has certainly posed considerable challenges, we see a wealth of opportunity in enhancing our online offering and digital presence with retailers. This is something we, as a business, have made a top priority over the last three years. The lifting of lockdown will see our focus increase further, driving online sales and marketing across all our key partners to ensure we have the best possible chance of success in what is an ever-evolving consumer landscape. Throughout lockdown we have seen great success online across our core brands, and we are expecting this to continue. In addition to our established ranges, we have a strong portfolio of exciting new brands launching for autumn/winter, covering a broad range of consumers and sectors, across a range of price points and categories – the first of these being Oh My Gif this month. We’ll be supporting our retail partners with marketing campaigns across all key brands to ensure we are visible to the consumer wherever they are shopping and consuming media. Whether that be through TV, digital, social and merchandising, we’re aiming to capture Click & Collect, in-store shoppers and online shoppers as much possible.
Country manager, Hasbro UK and Ireland
Sales director, Wild + Wolf
As we continue to deliver play experiences, we have a unique opportunity to share our knowledge and make it easy for families around the world to have fun. Throughout lockdown, our mission to make lives better for children and their families became more important than ever. With this in mind, we launched our Bring Home the Fun campaign, a global initiative created to provide parents with activities that foster quality family connections during extended time at home and indoors. As we move forward, with lockdown lifting, we will continue to encourage and support families to play together. Our biggest strength is the relevance of our brands, and we were incredibly heartened to see so many people embracing them throughout lockdown. As restrictions begin to ease, our aim remains the same - to offer experiences that are fun to play, fun to watch, and fun to share. We have several exciting launches and activities planned across our franchise brands, including Hasbro Gaming, Play-Doh and Nerf, as well as partner brands including Marvel and Frozen. Our aim as a business is to remain agile throughout the next few months. We’re partnering closely with retailers to understand their roll out plans and how we can best support them, be it for store openings, click & collect or online.
The number one objective for Wild + Wolf in 2020 was to expand our distribution network, encompassing even more specialist toy and games retailers in the UK & Ireland. This, in turn, would support the launch of our new licensed Ridley’s collections, which span Disney Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, as well as Petit Collage with Roald Dahl. Lockdown trading underlined the gaps in our distribution, as demand swelled online in areas where we have little to no retail presence. We’ve got some incredible new product launching for the second half including Star Wars The Child’s Cute Loot Card Game. This is set to be the biggest selling product in our 15-year history. With lockdown lifting, we can really focus on building this distribution and preparing for our seasonal peak trade in Q3 and Q4. We offer 50% margin as standard to support retail partners, and until at least the end of 2020 we’ve lowered our minimum order value to £200 carriage paid so our customers can manage cash flow and stock effectively. Additionally, we’re offering an early order incentive for a further 10% discount and have identified lines in our collections where we can offer enhanced margin. Beyond that, we’re all about creating quality, innovative products, and the Ridley’s team is already working hard on developing the 2021 collection.
Lorna Smith Director of sales, EMEA, Guidecraft As restrictions lift and the world begins to shift towards a new normal, Guidecraft continues to pursue its mission to provide high-quality, educational toys and learning furniture to our loyal customers. We prioritise providing engaging experiences for young children by offering a range of natural toys that encourage open-ended play, hands-on learning and creative, constructive play. Moving forward, whether parents choose to send their children back to school as they reopen or decide to adopt a new, home learning lifestyle, Guidecraft is committed to providing all the right tools for early learning and teaching. Readers can check out our new video series, Lauren’s Learning Lab, (youtube.com/c/guidecraft) for many helpful ideas on how to design spaces that encourage child-driven learning at home. As an added incentive to help support our retail partners, we would like to offer 5% off orders over £500. Please use the code BUILDINGBACK to take advantage of this offer.
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touchingbase Mark Hunt Marketing manager, Character Options Character has emerged from lockdown in a position of strength and, despite market uncertainties, is committed to delivering one of its biggest marketing campaigns to date. Our TV campaigns started in June and from now through to Christmas, digital will be always-on, mixing up the platforms so that we reach our target audience in every way possible. Our Fab Five products - Squeakee the Balloon Dog, Pokémon Carry Case Playset, Laser Battle Hunters, Little Live Pets Gotta Go Flamingo and Peppa’s Shopping Centre - are Character’s must have toys for 2020. These will be the focus of our product placement and are likely to feature in several top toys lists this year. We’ll also continue to market and develop core brands such as Peppa Pig, Little Live Pets, Pokémon, Heroes of Goo Jit Zu and Fireman Sam. In addition, we have numerous new launches from this month, all of which will be supported with robust marketing campaigns. We are particularly excited about our Shimmer N Sparkle InstaGlam Dolls, a range of fashion dolls with real makeup inside, as well as the Peppa’s World of Wooden Toys range, which is made with high quality, durable and sustainable wood and features eye-catching, colourful designs. There’s a lot of excitement in the Character camp going forward.
Paul Bulger UK country manager, Cobi
Emily Duke Marketing & design coordinator, Amscan With restrictions slowly being lifted and normality returning, we’re hopeful that social gatherings, including postponed birthday parties, can now start to be rescheduled. We’re confident that many people will have celebrations to make up for after all the missed life events we’ve seen due to the lockdown, which will likely result in a long summer of parties and get-togethers with friends and family. We’re optimistic that the fun-filled festivities will continue right through to Halloween, especially as the holiday falls on a weekend this year. In preparation, Amscan has launched its new catalogue and SKUs on its website. Customers will have plenty to choose from, to help consumers transform their event into something ‘spooktacular’. We’re continually evaluating whether Amscan is fulfilling the needs of its clients, many of whose requirements are changing on a daily basis. We also need to be proactive and prepared; as restrictions are lifted there will be a surge in consumer demand, so we need to be ready to support the nation as it looks forward to celebrating weddings, birthdays and other special occasions like never before.
For Cobi and its retail partners, one of the biggest opportunities during previous months is the huge upsurge in sales of construction sets since lockdown, especially those in the Kidult category. We now need to work with our key retail partners to make sure they have the stock and marketing tools to keep those new consumers engaged and coming back for more kits, helping to build their collections while also purchasing their children their own Cobi sets to play with. We’ve also been presented with a great opportunity to show those retailers who currently don’t stock Cobi the quality and amazing value of our products. With the upsurge in sales we’ve seen, we’re keen to ensure no one is missing out on the opportunities the brand provides. With support from Cobi, we can make sure retailers have the POS and product ready and waiting for the moment consumers, which have been buying online during the last three months, walk through the door looking for Cobi products in person.
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Sue Barratt Country manager UK, IMC Toys The big opportunities for IMC are our key new launches, specifically within Cry Babies and VIP Pets. Given that consumer shopping habits have had to change and are likely to remain online-focused, even if just in the short to medium term, we need to look at ways of supporting both our eCommerce accounts and our bricks & mortar accounts with different strategies. The latter is especially important, with the cancellation of the Argos catalogue. We are fast-tracking a specific central eCommerce team to guarantee the rich content retailers need along with specific digital marketing plans. We’ve also improved our marketing support with the recruitment of Generation Media and Playtime PR, both of which are adapting plans to drive these key launches and get the best return from our awardwinning animated series. In addition, we’re also working with Amerge to further extend the online shopping journey for our consumers. We’re delighted that Cry Babies continues to perform well; in line with the UK toy industry growing in specific categories, this brand has grown in market share in the last few months and remains a key focus for us. We will be supporting our retailers with new plans including online packages, plus window displays to drive interest on the high street.
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Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options’ TV advertising has begun in earnest with core collections airing their TVCs across both linear and digital channels. July will see Character’s PR push kick off with a virtual influencer event; kids across the UK are invited to join in the festival feel of the Character Kidz Big Weekend, which will see a dozen key brands benefit from strong focus during the 3-day event, delivering millions of views across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Already highlighted by TV’s The Gadget Show, Laser Battle Hunters has brought new innovation to the RC sector. These full-function radio control vehicles enable kids to move forward, reverse, spin and turn at speed. The ground-breaking multidirectional 4-wheel driving system offers drifting and side to side manoeuvring, so battlers can outlast and outblast their opponent. Each pack includes two vehicles for play straight out the box. The battling play pattern will be the focus of the influencer and digital activity planned in for the brand, alongside the high-impact TVC. From the world of Little Live Pets comes Gotta’ Go Flamingo, which Character is billing as ‘the most outrageous electronic pet of the season’. The flamingo will entertain kids as he wiggles and jiggles his neck and repeats what they say. After being fed, he’ll let kids know that he’s ‘gotta’ go’ before doing a poop in the toilet while singing a funny song. To repeat the fun, kids simply feed him again. Other Little Live Pets launches include Lil’ Dippers, realistic fish that swim free from the bag when kids submerse it underwater. Each fish features impressive lifelike movement, with articulated fins and tails that allow them to swim through water. The entire Little Live Pets brand will be supported with TV and always-on digital activity including YouTube, TikTok, microsites, filmstrips and pre-roll. One of the standout stars of previews, Squeakee is tipped to be in high demand this year. The electronic balloon dog is sure to impress kids and adults alike as he comes to life just like a real pup, with over 60 interactive sounds and movements. The global launch will ensure that Squeakee’s presence is felt throughout the season. The Pokémon portfolio has much to offer for 2020, but the Pokémon Carry Case Playset, which brings the world of Pokémon Toys to life, is a particular highlight. A raft of features, including a bounding boulder trap, treetop trap door, battle arena, launch pads, secret caves and more, will allow children endless adventures with their Pokémon. When play is over, the set easily folds up to become Ash’s iconic Kanto Region backpack and will safely store Pokémon figures. Peppa Pig’s Shopping Centre Playset has two floors and four shopping areas to enjoy. Kids can swap the backgrounds and swivel the signs to create six different shops in total, with a real working lift to add to the experience. Pressing the button sends Peppa up to the second floor, while pushing it down returns it to ground level. The set also features a working microphone plus easy-topress buttons which trigger fun shopping sounds. The shopping centre will be supported by its own TVC which will highlight all the features, as well as a substantial digital campaign targeting Peppa fans and their parents. The Peppa Pig portfolio has many more new lines to look forward to for 2020. This year will also see the launch of the extensive Peppa Wood collection. Play value, sustainability and style have been combined in this beautiful collection, designed with younger hands in mind. Other new brands will come to the fore from July, including Character’s in-house developed Shimmer and Sparkle InstaGlam range. This new collection has had plenty of support from retail, which will be reciprocated with an all-encompassing marketing drive. An interactive website will be available from launch, while TV and digital activity will take an always-on approach throughout autumn.
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Tomy 01392 281927 | www.tomy.com Tomy’s Ricky Zoom toy line launches in July following increasing consumer demand for products based on eOne’s top-performing property, which has been on air with Nick Jr. since October and Milkshake! since April. The range features items from entry-point collectible character figures through to the hero Lights & Sounds Ricky bike, RC Turbo Trick Ricky and Ricky’s House Playset. The Ricky Zoom toys will be supported from launch with a sustained digital and TV media campaign through to December. Tomy’s games portfolio continues to build on the successes of 2019 in partnership with Drumond Park. The Logo Board Game Second Edition launches in July with new packaging, new brands and new questions. This highly anticipated launch will be supported with a social media campaign and a heavyweight TV campaign in November and December, alongside Drumond Park’s No. 1 best-selling adult game, Articulate! For the family audience, Tomy is launching two brand new games from Drumond Park. Sketchy is a speedy game of sketching and swiping, while Fill Your Pants is sure to be a family favourite. Both lines will be supported with digital and TV media campaigns. At the younger end of the market, Tomy is introducing two new games based on top performing best-sellers in the form of Screwball Scramble 2 and Greedy Granny In A Spin. The new Mini Games from Drumond Park are also proving to be best-sellers, with consumers keen to pick up well-known games in snack-sized format. Tomy is also launching the Harry Potter Wizarding Quiz. The game features a virtual quiz master with over 1,000 questions about the Harry Potter universe. The Tomy Toomies best-selling Hide & Squeak Egg range will expand further for autumn/winter. The range delivers toys that grow with children from nine months upwards into their pre-school days. The hero line is the 2-in-1 Eggventure Train. This versatile 2-in-1 toy combines a spinning Ferris wheel and a push-along train with carriages. There are five different ways to play, as kids progress through different ages and stages. Part of the Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggventure range, kids will enjoy swapping all the different eggs from toy to toy, as well as hooking vehicles both large and small to the train thanks to the universal hitch. Tomy will also be adding two new mats to its Aquadoodle range in autumn/winter – Disney Princess Aquadoodle and Baby Aquadoodle. Baby Aquadoodle is perfect for at home or on the go. The mat sits comfortably on tabletops and highchair tables, and is suitable for ages nine months and over. The Disney Princess Aquadoodle offers hours of mess-free creative colouring fun. As with all Aquadoodle mats, once the water has dried the drawings fade away, ready to start over again. The Disney Princess mat is suitable for ages 18 months and over.
Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk In the Cluedo Liars Edition board game, lying offers a way to get to the truth. The game sees players use Investigation cards to help them work out who killed Mr. Boddy in the mansion. Players pick a card and read it out loud, trying to convince other players that they're telling the truth - even if they're not. Players suspects of lying can be called out by hitting the Liar button. Whether they were caught lying or telling the truth, an Evidence card is revealed, and the players move one step closer to cracking the case. When a player is ready to make an accusation, they secretly look at the cards placed inside the case file envelope to reveal ‘Who, What, and Where’. A correct accusation wins the game. Nerf Ultra blasters have an advanced design which allows for extreme distance, accuracy and speed. The blasters include Nerf Ultra darts, the only darts they work with. The farthest flying Nerf darts ever, each is made from lightweight foam material and features an innovative flight tip and Aerofin Technology. The Nerf Ultra One motorised blaster has a high-capacity 25dart dart drum and comes with 25 Nerf Ultra darts that can be blasted up to 120 feet (36 meters) through the air. The blaster also offers on-board dart storage for quick reloading during Nerf battles. New from the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations range, and suitable for kids from age three and above, the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Candy Delight Playset will spark imagination as kids create their own Play-Doh gummy bears, pretend candy bars and play candy cups. They can fill the top with Play-Doh compound, then turn the crank on the candy machine to see colourful Play-Doh candies pour out. The creations can then be scooped into candy buckets to be shown off to friends. Five cans of non-toxic Play-Doh compound are included. Launching this Autumn, from Hasbro’s Star Wars Collection, The Child Animatronic Edition toy has sounds and motorised sequences. Touching the top of The Child’s head activates over 25 sound and motion combinations, including happy and excited sounds, giggles, babbles and more, while the toy’s head moves up and down, its ears move back and forth, and its eyes open and close. Boys and girls can pretend to harness the power of the Force as The Child closes its eyes, raises its arm, and sighs as if exerting a great amount of energy. Laying The Child down will trigger a nap with the eyes closed. The toy comes with a Mandalorian pendant, so kids can roleplay protecting their young ward.
Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk Launched this Spring, the Hey Duggee Flip & Learn Phone and Smart Tablet help young learners to develop skills. For autumn, Paw Patrol ELAs will launch with a Paw Patrol Smart Phone, Ryder’s Alphabet Pad and Count with Marshall. A new Peppa’s Phonic Alphabet introduces letters, spelling early words phonetically, plus numbers and colours. A Mr Tumble Flip Up Phone is also joining the Something Special line-up. Paint Sticks Paint-A-Puzzle is a new way to get creative with Paint Sticks. Featuring different themes, each Paint-A-Puzzle set comes with 12 giant floor puzzle pieces and six Paint Sticks. A Paint Sticks Mini Art Station and a Giant Paint Stick will also available. The new Nerf Bunkr battle zone system features innovative Nerf-branded inflatable obstacles suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. The Nerf Bunkr Battle Zone System Multiple sets are now available in the UK. Trends UK’s SpyX range and the Science Mad range continue to be evergreen properties that appeal to families all year round, with price points to suit every occasion. Finally, a new Magic Advent Calendar with 24 different tricks will be available this autumn.
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Orchard Toys 01953 423 422 | www.orchardtoys.com Speed Spelling is an engaging redesign of Pass the Word. This fast-paced spelling game is suitable for kids aged 5-9 years and encourages children to spell a range of words, from simple to slightly more challenging, as they race against the timer. In recent months, Orchard Toys has found its most popular lines have been the overtly educational ones, so the company feels the new title and modernised box front will be even more attractive to parents who have found themselves home-schooling and supporting their children’s learning. The redesign is available now. Silly Sausage Dogs is a fun counting and colour matching game. Players spin the spinner, pick a card and count the number of spots as they race to build the longest sausage dog they can, with the most spots on its jumper. Suitable for 2-6 players aged four and over, this game offers fun for all the family. With the growing popularity of sausage dogs, this new product is a welcome addition to the range and is expected to sell well in the build up to Christmas, following its launch in September.
HexBug 01925 454 093 | www.hexbug.com HexBug introduces nano Flash, an all-new experience utilising the same vibration technology that has seen the brand achieve global recognition over the past decade. Able to move at speeds twice as fast as the original nano, nano Flash has a longer body and lights up as it navigates its new environment. There will be three sets available upon release, including the nano Starter Set, nano Playground and nanoplex. The sets have flexible, jelly-like walls, enabling kids to build their own habitats and change things up with ease. The collectible brand JunkBots joins the HexBug portfolio this year. Comprising 36 unique characters, Series 1 invites kids to unlock the dumpster-like packaging, search through the trash that lives within, and build their own creations by combining the parts they find. Three sets will be released in the launch range including a Single Trash Bin Set containing one mystery robot, a Dumpster Set containing two robots, and a Large Dumpster Set containing four robots. Both Dumpster sets come with guaranteed power cores, which bring the JunkBots to life through movement. A dedicated website, Junkbots.com, will let collectors learn more about the range. New for autumn/winter 2020, MoBots move, dance and mimic voices thanks to their intelligent design. With three MoBots available to collect, including Mimix, Ramblez and Fetch, kids can make a new robotic friend that will talk back to them, dance with them and even collect items around the house. Voice control technology allows users to talk to any of their robots and have their voice repeated back in a range of ways, from a high-pitched tone to a low, sonorous boom. Nano Flash and JunkBots will be supported with a full 360 marketing campaign across the year, including TV and digital support, while MoBots will benefit from digital and PR support.
Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Cave Club, Mattel’s newest franchise, is the first fashion doll brand set in prehistoric times, but with modern themes that kids will relate to. A unique world based on the ‘first friend group to roam the Earth’, complete with dinosaurs by their side, Cave Club promotes the timeless bonds of friendship, fun outdoor adventures and cute dinosaurs. Cave Club will reach kids across multiple touchpoints and is Mattel’s first digital launch to be driven by content. Debuting this month, the new and exclusive online content series will bring the Cave Club world to life on YouTube with over 140 minutes of owned content for 2020 including an animated series. The toys will transport imaginations to the dawn of time, inspiring kids to explore the worlds ‘firsts’ with prehistoric characters, engaging hair play and cute dinosaur pets. The range includes five best friends within the Cave Club Core Fashion Doll assortment - Emberly, Fernessa, Roaralai, Tella and Slate - which are designed to spark storytelling through neon soft fashion, bold rooted hair, ferocious dinosaur friends and themed accessories. Mattel will launch the dolls with a 360-degree marketing plan, including comprehensive TV and BVOD advertising, YouTube coverage and bespoke, engaging content created with top UK Girls influencers.
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Toynamics UK 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk Hape has taken railway play to the next level by combining technology with traditional toy concepts. The free Bluetooth app, for use with the Remote Controlled Engine, lets kids control the train’s direction, speed, lights and sounds. The train also features buttons on the top to control it without the app. The train can be charged by USB (cable included), and - like all Hape train engines - fits on all other major railway brands’ tracks. Hape has also developed apps for its other ranges, including Quadrilla, the company’s range of high-quality marble runs. Hape’s Junior Inventor range lets kids experiment with inventions using tools, nuts, bolts and other components. The eight sets offer a range of options, from the 3-experiment kits all the way up to a 15-experiment workbench. The range also includes sets which come as part of a toolbox, and a portable workbench so children can take their sets on the go. For 2020, Hape has unveiled five new Junior Inventor lines including starter kits and deluxe kits. Also included in the 2020 line-up is the tool belt, which allows children to hold their tools whilst playing. As part of the range, Hape have developed an app which allows children to try new and different inventions as well as share their own online. Hape’s extensive range of products is exclusively distributed in the UK & Ireland by Toynamics.
Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com Whilst children have been confined to their homes, unable to see their friends or family members, imaginative play has been an important source of entertainment. To help keep young minds active, Casdon brings internationally renowned household names to the playroom. The Little Cooks collection includes the Mr Kipling Cake Stand & Tea Set, allowing little ones to treat friends and family to afternoon tea. The brightly coloured shape-sorting cake stand includes a selection of cakes, plus plates and cutlery. The Casdon Morphy Richards and DeLonghi ranges are a perfect addition to any pretend play kitchen. The Microwave, Kettle and Toaster Set comprises a microwave with a realistic looking touch pad and lights, plus a kettle and pop-up toaster. The DeLonghi Microwave has a rotating turntable, flashing lights and cooking sounds to inspire imaginative play. Each set is ideal for children looking to create their own breakfast, and looks just like the appliances mum and dad use. Each collection also benefits from heritage and quality that parents trust, making Casdon a leading role-play brand.
Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Already a hit in the US, I Dig Monsters is a collection of charismatic vinyl monsters with designer-toy aesthetics that can only be revealed by carving, slicing and digging them out of the cold-to-touch compound. Series one will have 28 Monji Monsters to collect including ultra-rare and limited-edition designs. Each Monji will also have a temperature activated colour change feature. The I Dig Monsters July launch will involve a marketing campaign including TV, pre-roll, influencer activity and more. For fashion fans, the new Jelli Rez allows kids to create high end resin-like fashion pieces with a unique jelly texture, ready in only 15 minutes. Kids can mix, mould and pop to create customisable necklace pendants, keychains, rings and more. The four themed Style Me Packs yield up to eight designs each. The Super Glitter Set makes up to 20 designs. Marketing will include fashion tutorials and key craft and fashion commentators, plus traditional TV and pre-roll. Hairdorables has numerous new product launches, TV marketing campaigns, digital campaigns and a strong influencer marketing campaign planned for autumn/winter 2020. Season two brings the Prom Perfect Hairmazing collection with all new outfits and hairstyles. The core Hairdorables collection will see the launch of series five, as well as the all new Longest Hair Ever Hairdorables joining the collection this autumn. The Hairdudeables will have their own standalone series and there are also new additions to the licensed Hairdorables Loves range. The Totally Tiny range miniature collection of pretend treats has both sweet and savoury sets to collect. For more information email email@example.com
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01582 670 100 | www.zincsports.com With consumers more conscious than ever of how they are going to commute to work, Zinc is introducing its new Eco commuter scooter range this month, which offers greener, cleaner and safer travel. At the forefront of the new lithium-powered range is the Eco Max, which travels up to 20km on a single charge with a top speed of 24km per hour. Three speed options ensure the rider is in control of their journey. The Eco Plus can travel up to 24km per hour and travel up to 15km on a single charge. All Hy-Pro’s Eco scooters feature an LCD screen which displays speed, speed mode and battery level. Both scooters boast a sleek foldaway design for easy storage, while rapid charge times make them ideal for the daily commute. The new e-scooter range will be available at retail this summer, with domestic stock available from July. Retailers also have the option to trial the range, with direct dispatch available via Hy-Pro’s partner Swag Distribution. With a continual focus on keeping the brand both aspirational and accessible, Zinc’s new offering accommodates a range of abilities and budgets. A full complement of children’s scooters allows kids and parents to travel together; e-scooters, kick scooters and stunt scooters cater for all preferences. Available domestically, the E4 is an ideal first electric scooter for kids aged 5+. Riders can travel to up to 5km on a single charge at speeds up to 8km per hour, while the Push and Go accelerator makes it easy for kids to join the commute. The new range will be supported by extensive marketing campaigns. Bold out-of-home campaigns on the London Underground are planned for Black Friday, and a TV campaign, which will run for a full week on mainstream channels, will launch in September. These campaigns will be paired with online activity including paid social media and YouTube.
Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk Learning Resources has launched Botley 2.0 the Coding Robot. Botley 2.0 helps kids as young as five learn to code through 100% screen-free play and new advanced features. Children can use the new ergonomically designed gaming style remote to programme a sequence of up to 150 steps in six different directions, navigate obstacles with an advanced object detection function and even make Botley 2.0 dance. The new version of Botley has light-up eyes and a light sensor that activates its eyes in the dark. Kids can also change the colour of Botley’s eyes and programme a light show. With so many new features, Botley 2.0 provides endless coding fun for children without the need for a screen and makes it easy for children who are new to coding to get started. As they grow in competency and confidence, they can progress to create complex coding challenges and unlock hidden features that transform Botley into a train, ghost, police car and more. The new robot is available in two variants: single Botley 2.0 which comes with remote programmer, detachable face plate and coding cards, and the Botley 2.0 Activity Set which comes with more accessories for STEM learning fun. To support the release, Learning Resources has launched an integrated marketing campaign including retail, point-of-sale, social media and online support, with bespoke instore solutions available to retailers on request. Botley 2.0 will be further supported by PR, influencer and digital media campaigns in the build up to Q4 and the Christmas gifting season. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Brainstorm is still focused on product launches for 2020, with a selection of new lines planned to hit retail by September. The much-anticipated Eugy range extensions can now be ordered. This sustainable arts & crafts line has seen sales rocket during lockdown, and retailers can now add Eugy Sheep, Parrot, Narwhal, Owl, Meerkat, Whale Shark and Polar Bear to their current offering. Eugy has featured across several leading media platforms during lockdown, and the marketing team has maintained sales momentum with competitions and fan photos regularly appearing across the company’s social channels, as well as a recent successful Facebook ad campaign. The StikBot range has remained as popular as ever over the previous few months. TV advertising and PR for the new KlikBot collection is planned for Q3 and throughout the remainder of 2020, driving sales in Q4. KlikBot is the latest incarnation of the social-sharing StikBot toy range. The new action figures come with interchangeable pieces and articulated limbs and accessories, allowing kids to create even more imaginative stop-frame animations using the free StikBot app. September welcomes new key lines to the Brainstorm Toys range, including the Light Up and Glow Astronaut, My First Telescope and 450X Microscope. The full range of products, both existing and new, can be viewed on the Brainstorm website, while the sales team remains on hand to answer all customer enquiries.
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Moose Toys 01637 882200 | www.moosetoys.com Set to revolutionise the collectible toy space with humour, movement and shareability, Oh! My GIF is the latest collectible toy range from Moose Toys. This new range of toys is inspired by the online social language of GIFs and is a new way for kids to express themselves. The range brings the world of digital GIFs, memes and stickers to life through a range of GIFbit characters. Each GIFbit allows kids to share the fun and humour of GIFs with their friends. They simply push, pull, turn or twist to reveal its funny, surprise movements. Creating endless fun and shareability, the GIFbits can also be transformed into a digital version using the augmented reality card included within each Oh! My GIF pack. Kids can scan the AR card using the exclusive Oh! My GIF app to unlock their digital GIFbit. Along with the physical versions, these can be collected and shared with friends and family. Each GIFbit is revealed once opened from its packaging, with the single pack, the box also converts into a photographic backdrop adding to the play pattern. There are over 50 GIFbits to collect in the range including rare metallic, ultra-rare metallic and a limited-edition GIFbit available in single packs and in the three pack.
IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com New from IMC Toys, the VIP Pets are fashionable, pet themed collectibles with styleable hair. Each pet features 30cm long hair in its own unique colour. Packaged in a semi blind box, the hair is hidden, and the colour is then magically revealed by adding water. Kids are able to style their pets hair taking inspiration from the VIP Pets best friends, Fabio and Fabia on their official YouTube channel, Kitoons. The animated series consists of 21 five-minute episodes. There are 12 different styles to collect and each one comes with nine different surprises including a chair and suction pad to help with hairstyling. Suitable for ages five plus, the VIP Pets are available from July. Originally launched in 2016, Cry Babies Magic Tears has sold over 5m units in 50 countries. IMC has expanded this best-selling range with the Cry Babies Magic Tears Winged House Series 2, which will feature a range of new babies to collect, each hidden inside a shimmering winged house. Kids feed the baby water, squeeze its belly and watch it cry coloured tears. Each baby comes with six different glitter accessories including a winged bottle, a dummy and either a bow and toy wagon or a bib and a highchair, as well as personalised stickers and a customised blanket. There are 12 different babies to collect including a rare baby that has a colour changing onesie. The Cry Babies Paci House Series 2 features babies hidden inside a dummy shaped house which opens with tears. Kids use the pipette to drop tears on the chimney and make it pop open. Each baby comes with eight accessories including four customised to each doll. There are six babies to collect in the range, including an exclusive rare character with a glow in the dark onesie. Cry Babies Magic Tears are suitable for children aged three plus. The new ranges will be launching this summer and kids can also follow the Cry Babies Magic Tears adventures on Kitoons. For more information on Cry Babies Magic Tears, VIP Pets and other ranges by IMC Toys, contact email@example.com.
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Bandai 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Bandai is set to relaunch Harumika, the award-winning fashion toy which proved a popular choice with noughties children. Complete with a fresh new look for 2020, the fashion design arts & crafts kits include mannequin torsos, fabric and accessories to inspire creativity amongst budding designers. Safe and easy to use, no sewing, scissors or glue are required to enjoy Harumika. Because all materials and accessories are reusable, crafting possibilities are endless and sustainability key. Benefiting from Harumika’s historical success, Bandai is relaunching the IP with an even stronger offering to tap into rapidly changing trends, and a comprehensive marketing campaign to raise awareness amongst target kids aged 6+. A fashionista campaign will be implemented with the aim of creating a community of creative talent and providing a wealth of content and fashion inspiration, while dedicated YouTube and Instagram channels are currently in production in addition to a bespoke gifting campaign targeting fashion editors and mumfluencers. An exclusive girls’ print partnership and brand collaborations with children’s fashion week are also currently underway, to hit the key Q3 period. With updated designs and fabrics, each of the kits includes styles inspired by French fashion agency, NelliRodi, with whom Bandai has collaborated for brand currency. The Single Torso Set Assortment offers an entry point line, with a choice of four styles, each with fabric and accessories to customise individual creations. A Double Torso Set Assortment also includes four different options, all taking inspiration from current and classic trends and themes. The ultimate set in the collection is the Bridal Gown Set, which inspires children to design their own signature creations from a selection of satin and lace fabrics.
SPEEDS UP TO 25KM/H
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AIR BLOWN TYRE
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Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk The DC Batman range features four-inch Batman Mission Figures, that each come with a collector card along with three mystery accessories hidden in compartments. Each figure also comes with a collector’s guide; the collection can be expanded with Batman, The Joker, Robin and more. Spin Master is set to launch the second season of Bakugan in late July, for which there is a new collection of Bakugan: Armored Alliance toys and playsets. Arts and Crafts sees an innovative tweak to last year’s Cool Maker Nail Stamper, which re-launches as the 2-in-1 Nail Stamper. The studio includes a built-in dryer and five nail patterns to choose from. Kids can design and create their own hair extensions with the Cool Maker Hollywood Hair Extension Maker. This DIY studio lets kids style 12 hair extensions. Both new items will be supported with campaigns running throughout autumn including TV, Digital and PR. Also new to the arts and craft range is Kinetic Sand SandWhirlz. Following the spring success of the Rainbow Mix Set, this latest, larger set has everything required for sand transformations including 2lbs of Kinetic Sand (red, yellow and blue), six shape shifters, two extruder tubes, a scoop and more. When kids finish playing, they can fill the case’s compartments with Kinetic Sand and store everything inside. The Charged Up collection from Paw Patrol has launched in parallel with new broadcast content for the Nick Jr hit pre-school TV show from Spin Master Entertainment. The range includes themed vehicles for all six pups, such as Mighty Chase’s Charged Up Transforming Vehicle, packed with features like translucent light-up details, sound effects, a projectile launcher and rescue net. The Mighty Pups can also be collected as Charged Up 1.5” Mini Rescue Figures. New to the Hatchimals range are the Hatchimals Glow Ups, 7.6cm dolls with a push-down feature that makes the eyes blink. There’s also Hatchtopia Life, where fans can hatch a cuddly Hatchimal. Each Hatchimal comes with a code which can be used with the downloadable free app.
Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk Playmobil has lots to look forward this Q4 with a full package of marketing support, including in store point of sale material, TV advertising, digital campaigns, plus blogger and influencer partnerships. Following the success of the newly launched Scooby-Doo! Mystery Machine, six new sets will join the range, including the Mystery Mansion. The Playmobil Back to the Future DeLorean will also feature heavily in the run up to Christmas; the iconic movie car has been a hit for collectors young and old. Fans of small world play will be well catered for with the Playmobil Camping range and the launch in September of the brand new Playmobil Construction sets, which will offer little ones the chance to create their own play worlds. The campaigns look to communicate not only to children but to mums and dads to make sure everyone is aware of the ranges on offer in the approach to the Christmas gifting season. The display team will also implement in store theatre as part of the complete 360° marketing campaign. For more information, retailers should contact their sales representative or the main office on 01268 548111.
DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk Hama Beads, the original arts & craft bead brand, is exclusively distributed in the UK by DKLBeysal. The brand continues to impress with its low prices and high play value. A popular starter option, the range of Small Blister packs will benefit from new designs for 2020, and an assortment of themes including Glow in the Dark. Each pack contains a pegboard, ironing paper and enough beads to make three creative designs. A best-seller among the larger gift sets is the 10,000 Bead and Coloured Pegboard Bucket, containing over 10,000 beads in 10 different colours as well as two coloured pegboards. Maxi beads are suitable for younger Hama fans aged three years and over. New to the 2020 Maxi bead line are two themed blister packs; each includes approximately 100 beads, a small transparent butterfly pegboard and ironing paper, making them an ideal starter set. These beads are larger than the popular Midi bead, making them easier for little fingers to create with.
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Ty 023 9387 6600 | www.shop.ty.com Ty, the company behind popular collections such as Beanie Babies, Beanie Boos and Flippables, is launching the newest addition to the Ty family – Squish a Boos. Squish a Boos are 35cm in height, and are made of bright, soft and silky plush suitable for babies, children, tweens, teens and adults. The launch range comprises nine Squish a Boos characters, based on the most popular Beanie Boos, and will prove popular with fans of the brand looking to add something new and cuddly to their Ty collection. Each Squish a Boos is priced at £9.99 RRP.
Zuru 01604 401 719 | firstname.lastname@example.org Having experienced a surge in sales across its portfolio of outdoor and construction toys, Zuru is preparing to boost its foothold in the collectibles, girls, and plush categories for the Q3 period. July sees the launch of new lines extending the Rainbocorns, Smashers and Pets Alive ranges. Rainbocorns unveils its third series of surprise plush characters housed in mystery eggs. Rainbocorns Series 3: Wild Surprise brings six wild characters including a Toucan, Elephant, Tiger, Zebra, Giraffe and Peacock – all complete with the Rainbocorn horn. A rare Silver Starred Sloth has also been added to the range, further increasing collectability and repeat purchase opportunities. Each Rainbocorn Wild Surprise Egg ‘hatches’ to reveal 10 surprises, including wild-themed Boo-Boocorns, nail decals, stickers and a sequin heart. After the success of Boppi the Booty-Shakin Llama in 2019, Zuru introduces Fifi the Flossing Sloth to its stable of Pets Alive robotic pets. Named as London Toy Fair’s Hero Product for 2020, Fifi’s movements mimic one of the most iconic dances of the decade – The Floss. Complete with blinking eyes and impressive moves, Fifi slowly starts to dance, then speeds up until she’s flossing to three catchy dance tracks. Following the successful launch of collectibles brand Smashers Dino Epic Egg in 2019, July sees the unveiling of the latest wave of super-sized surprise dinosaur eggs. Bringing the smashing element to the giant unboxing trend, these giant eggs are designed to be smashed open to discover a host of surprises including slime, compounds, construction, clues and collectibles. The new Dino Ice Age Surprise Eggs provide arctic expeditions for children to discover clues in order to uncover frozen ‘fossils’ and build an exclusive Smash-O-Saur dino character. Smash-O-Saur Dino bones creates a rich and engaging unboxing and construction experience. The bones are hidden within different compounds which children need to excavate, from stretchy snow and ice slime to crystal slime, growing snow and blizzard bombs. Once all the bones have been uncovered, children can construct their Smash-O-Saur. With three to collect, each Dino Ice Age Surprise Egg also includes six Smash Egg Smashballs, pickaxe tool, arctic scratch-map and Smash Egg rebuilder. Each of the new product ranges will be supported by robust PR, influencer and advertising campaigns across TV and digital platforms from July onwards. For FOB sales enquiries, please contact info@ zuru.com.
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Wow! Stuff 01902 390 428 | www.wowstuff.com Launched at the end of 2019, Wow! Stuff’s K-Blings - billed as 'the collectible that lives on your cable' protect and personalise cables across a range of devices and other accessories; phones, computers, headphones, shoelaces and more. Sold in blind bags and 5-packs with one mystery blind to reveal, K-Blings are mini Chibi stylised characters that wrap around the weakest area of a cable and protect the point at which they are most likely to fray or break. Collections can fill the length of a cable and turn any cable into a 'cable bracelet’ holding all kids’ favourite brands. The range has benefitted from social media coverage; TikTok influencers have been personalising their cables with K-Blings, ensuring their fans can easily see which brands they love most. Selling out in the initial Harry Potter brand in November 2019, from August more Tier 1 brands will launch including Marvel, Disney, Pixar, DC and more. Contact email@example.com or Leanne.firstname.lastname@example.org for information on availability.
Inside Out Toys 01908 969 969 | www.insideouttoys.co.uk Inside Out Toys recognises the growing consumer demand for sustainable toys, produced by ethically and socially responsible manufacturers, and the brands the company offers reflect this. Jumini, Inside Out’s own brand of brightly coloured wooden toys, was launched in 2016, followed in 2019 by the Studio Circus collection of pastel-coloured wooden toys, designed in the Netherlands. Inside Out has been actively looking for new environmentally friendly toy brands to add to its portfolio and came across the award-winning Tikiri brand at Spring Fair 2020. Tikiri produces 100% natural rubber and organic cotton toys, which fit perfectly with Inside Out’s company ethos, and the company is pleased to have been chosen to represent the brand in the United Kingdom. In addition to sustainable wood and rubber toys, Inside Out recently made an agreement to become the UK distributor for Viking Toys and its Ecoline of environmentally friendly ‘plastic’ toys produced from sugar cane. The company also expects to be able to announce another partnership agreement for a complementary brand of toys, making Inside Out a strong choice when it comes to ‘green’ toys. The company says its warehouse is well-stocked and that new products will be available soon, including the pastel coloured stacking rainbow from Studio Circus, and the new fishing game from Jumini. Tikiri toys are in stock and ready for despatch too, together with a range of Viking Toys. Over recent months, Inside Out has built up the brand recognition for its toys through social media and continues to grow its number of followers. By developing a new website and updating it with a ‘find your local stockist’ page, the company is supporting its customers by directing potential purchasers straight to them. Minimum order value is still £150 carriage paid (mainland UK) across all brands, and there is currently a 10% discount on all orders of £250 or more until the end of July. Existing customers will also benefit from Inside Out’s extended 45-day credit terms, as the company understands that times are hard for many small businesses in the current climate.
Eolo Toys +34 985 090 130 | www.eolo.com Eolo Toys has announced the latest addition to its Party Pets range, Slowy, known as The Fastest Cuddler in the Jungle. This funny and colourful sloth is available in two colours and has bendable arms that allows kids to hang him anywhere. Slowy also tumbles and rolls backwards and forwards, while making funny sounds and playing music. The new interactive sloth plush has additional features, including react-to-sound’ and repeat modes. Slowly has received a strong response from customers and the company will be expanding into new markets with its Party Pets line offering, which includes appealing characters, features and packaging designs. New characters are set to join the Party Pets line in the near future. Eolo Toys will be supporting this key line through a series of strategic PR and marketing campaigns. For business inquiries, customers can contact email@example.com.
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Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en August marks Schleich’s 85th Anniversary, which coincides with the commencement of several major marketing campaigns. This milestone, along with the brand’s strong in-store and online presence, means Schleich is expecting ongoing popularity following record-breaking growth in recent years. Schleich’s TV advertised Horse Club welcomes a raft of new horse breeds and playsets to choose from this year. The Big Horse Show playset takes centre stage for this collection and features a marquee, arena, horse and accessories. To add to the equestrian spectacle, the Pony & Trap for the Big Horse Show features Horse Club figure Clara, a Connemara pony to pull it along, plus several other accessories. Horse Club will continue to be supported with TV and digital throughout the winter sales months. Schleich’s Dinosaurs World will also be TV advertised, marking a significant increase in support ready for the introduction of the range’s first ever playsets, which can be used to create new dinosaur scenarios with the three Colby brothers - Maxx, Luis and Flynn. The Large Dino Research Station boasts a mobile crane, trapdoor, movable fencing, cannon with tranquiliser darts and a lance for catching dinosaurs. Schleich will also be supporting all its other ranges; from the core animal collections to the fantasy worlds of bayala and Eldrador Creatures, the company offers a wealth of different play options at a variety of price points. Eldrador Creatures welcomes three new fantasy beasts from the recently created Jungle World. With their special design and unique features, these highly detailed figures are suitable for children aged 7-12. #SchleichAroundTheWorld is a core message for the Wild Life collection, which has rescue as its main theme. Key lines are the Large Animal Rescue Truck and the Animal Rescue Helicopter. The entry level Farm World range also focuses on looking after animals, with the new Farm World veterinarian sets.
Asmodee 01420 593 593 | www.asmodee.co.uk 2020 is a landmark year for Dobble which celebrates its 10th anniversary, and Asmodee is marking the occasion with several new editions of the popular game of speedy observation. Available now, the first new release is The Gruffalo Dobble, which takes the image-matching game on a walk through the dark wood. Featuring illustrations from the beloved children’s book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, this new twist on a family favourite challenges players to spot the matching image, whether it be a little brown mouse, a snake or the Gruffalo’s knobbly knees. The celebrations will continue with two releases in August. Dobble XXL, the game’s giant-sized edition, is perfect for outside or garden play over the summer and will see players jumping from card to card in a race to get from the first card to the last before their opponents. It will be joined by a major licensed edition of the game, as Frozen II Dobble invites fans of the Disney movie to embark on a trip to Arendelle with images of all of their favourite characters. This will all be capped off in October with a special Dobble Collector’s Edition, featuring a package deal of two completely new Dobble games with visual twists. The Spooky edition features glow-in-the-dark cards for a Halloween mood, while the Party tin contains cards with a golden finish to celebrate the game’s anniversary in style. Meanwhile, Asmodee continues to support those who are spending most of their time safely at home with an online resource for free print-and-play editions of many of its most popular titles. To date, the resource has seen over 3.1m downloads and continues to be regularly updated with new games. By visiting print-and-play.asmodee.fun, families and solo players alike can easily put together fully playable versions of beloved games including Catan, Dixit and Carcassonne, and enjoy never before seen content like a new home themed expansion for Ticket to Ride.
VTech 01235 546 810 | www.vtech.co.uk To continue its growth within the youth electronics category, VTech is expanding its portfolio with new autumn/winter launches planned for 2020. A new addition to the Kidi range is the KidiZoom Studio, complete with green screen to create special effects. This high-definition video camera kit comes with everything kids need to create the show of their dreams. They can set up the included tripod to film their very own unboxing videos or use the flip-up lens and handle to capture the perfect on-themove selfie video. With the kit, they can host a show, give tours, create disappearing illusions and trick shots, or shoot how-to videos. The 20 included animated backgrounds can be used to set the stage for videos. There will be a strong media campaign for the KidiZoom Studio, launching in autumn/winter 2020 and running throughout peak season. TV advertising will be supported by online activity and VTech will also be working with well-known kids YouTube influencers to help launch and build excitement around the new product.
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Pioneer Europe 01279 501 090 | www.Qualatex.com Pioneer Europe has announced the launch of the new Qualatex mid-year collection. Available this summer, the line-up offers a range of balloons in new, on-trend themes suitable for various celebratory and special occasions. The innovative new Rainbow Clouds Deco Bubble Balloon features a colourful rainbow design, while the new Bees range includes two hexagonal Microfoil shapes, each with a message side and a plain honeycomb side, making them perfect for constructing decorative backdrops. A coordinating Sweet Bee 36” Microfoil shape and Bee Happy 11” latex balloon are also available. The fun new Robot Head Microfoil shape can be paired with the complementary 18” Happy Birthday Robot Cogwheels balloon. The summer collection also includes two new Bubble Balloons to further enhance the popular Fairy and Balloon Dogs collections recently launched, while ‘Under the Sea’ themed parties can now include a cute Deep Sea Diver Microfoil shape. There’s also a Let’s Party Disco Ball for retro-themed celebrations. By popular demand, the Birthday Confetti Dots latex range has been expanded to include a Rose Gold option, available now. Pioneer is also launching its new Style collection of Pioneer Party products. Previewed at Spring Fair and Nuremberg earlier in the year, the new collection features four core tableware ranges - Rose Gold Ombré, Rainbow Ombré, Pink & Gold and Blue & Gold - and is available to order now. Developed by and exclusive to Pioneer Party, these ranges were designed to co-ordinate with key Qualatex and Northstar Balloons best-sellers, to achieve a stylish party look for any occasion. In addition to plates, cups and napkins, the range is supplemented by a host of new accessories that can be used to add finishing touches to any celebration, virtual or otherwise. Options include Time to Party, Happy Birthday, Baby Boy, Baby Girl and Baby Shower banners, a foil curtain, table confetti, stylish paper fans and more. The range also includes straws, an attractive assortment of candles and a cake topper. With individual numeral candles and Happy Birthday candles available in Rose Gold and Rainbow Ombre, as well as classic candles in complementary colours, even the cake can match the theme.
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MasksForAll (34) 650 695 721 | www.masksforall.shop/en As masks have now been made obligatory in many countries, new company MasksForAll has been launched by Barcelona-based toy designer, Amy Holden, who struggled to buy face masks suitable for her children. Seeking an eco-friendly option that didn’t use up valuable PPE, which is vitally needed in hospitals, Amy has set up production of reusable, sustainable masks locally, just outside Barcelona. The masks have two layers, allowing a filter to be inserted, and a curved shape which reduces gaping over the nose. The 100% organic cotton lining has been tested to offer more than 94% filtration capacity. In order to celebrate the solidarity and optimism shown by children during the pandemic, the company asked them to send photos of rainbow artwork, so that a unique fabric could be created and used in the manufacture of the masks. MasksForAll makes an extra mask for every three sold, to donate to local charities and good causes. The company has already donated over 500 masks. The masks are available from MasksForAll’s online shop, or can be supplied to retail; for enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Full details: www.insideou�oys.co.uk Or email: Info@insideou�oys.co.uk
Wild + Wolf 01225 789 909 | www.wildandwolf.com Alongside editions adapted from best-selling Ridley’s games such as Disney Think Fast! and Star Wars Selfish, and reaction games developed with unique themes like Star Wars Force Battle, the Ridley’s team has created a selection of completely original games for autumn/winter 2020. Fans of The Mandalorian should look out for the Star Wars card game The Child’s Cute Loot, while Chewie fans will enjoy Don’t Upset The Wookie. With 13 licensed games available across a variety of franchises, there’s something for everyone. Building on its successful own-IP portfolio, Ridley’s autumn/winter collection welcomes six new games and two new jigsaw puzzles. House of Plants is an intuitive set collection game that will see millennials and plant lovers alike test their skills as plant parents by purchasing and caring for house plants. Packaged in a golden novelty cat case, Lucky Cat is a fun card game; players race to collect a full set of numbered and coloured lucky cat cards. The first player to win two rounds wins the whole game. New for Ridley’s, the Mini Games range includes four unique titles: Who Let the Dog Out, Pixelate, Crazy Golf and Fortune Cookies. In the social deduction game Who Let the Dog Out, players work together to find the missing dog whilst avoiding saboteurs. Crazy Golf, which can be played solo or with friends, offers a dice version of mini golf; players can build a range of crazy courses and play through them with a roll of the dice. Jigsaw enthusiasts can discover mouth-watering treats with the Street Food Lover’s 1000-piece Jigsaw Puzzle and learn about endangered species across the globe with the Endangered World 1000-piece Jigsaw Puzzle. The Ridley’s sales team is committed to supporting retail placements, with a suite of marketing assets available. New FSDUs ensure strong in-store presence, while online assets have been created to support e-commerce channels including ‘How to Play’ video content, photography and graphic design elements. Comprehensive promotional autumn/winter launch campaigns are also in place across social media, PR, events and more.
01235 555 545 www.leapfrog.com
The Pick Up & Count Vacuum from Leapfrog is a smart vacuum toy that picks up ten play dust pieces. Kids roll the vacuum over the dust pieces, encouraging motor skills as they manoeuvre the pretend vacuum around the room. As the vacuum picks up the dust pieces, it identifies each colour and helps children with colour recognition. Bouncing balls inside the spinning vacuum canister add excitement to pretend tidying. Three play modes teach colours, numbers and counting with six learning games. Five light-up panels illuminate to match the colour of the piece the vacuum picks up; the vacuum says the colour name and counts the piece to reinforce learning. The tilt-able handle adjusts to multiple heights, allowing the vacuum to grow with the child, while a dust bin on the back collects and stores all ten dust pieces. The vacuum is suitable for ages 2-5 years.
Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk Posh Paws has unveiled its new feature plush range for the popular Sunny Bunnies pre-school licence. The retail launch will be supported with strong marketing and PR campaigns, aimed at driving awareness and engaging children and parents with creative content that promotes the entertaining features of each line. Available now, the range includes the small Sunny Bunnies slammers which laugh when thrown, medium sized Giggle & Wiggle Bunnies and Large Giggle & Hop Bunnies that will amuse children with sounds and movement. New to the portfolio for 2020, and developed to show gratitude for the care and commitment shown by NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic, is Posh Paws’ new Thank You Bears lineup. Landing in the UK this September, the Thank You Bear range includes a 2-colour assortment of 6.5” bears in a CDU, alongside an 11” multicoloured teddy bear. Both will have a sound chip inside, which will play the sound of clapping and cheering when pressed. Posh Paws will donate a percentage of the profits from each Thank You Bear sale to NHS Charites Together; the partnership means the charity’s logo is featured on the CDU and tag. Each tag also features space for a ‘To and From’ message, allowing consumers to send a thank you gift. April saw the Trolls World Tour movie break numerous digital download records when it was released across on-demand services, which added to the original Trolls movie box office success. To coincide with the DVD release this month, Posh Paws has created a new Rainbow Poppy plush toy. Rainbow Poppy is as she appears in the spectacular end scene of the movie, complete with rainbow hair and outfit. The existing Trolls World Tour plush collection is also available; fans can choose from Poppy, Branch, Queen Barb and Tiny Diamond in small, medium and large sizes.
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Topps 01908 800100 | www.topps.com Slam Attax Reloaded, the 13th edition of Slam Attax, celebrates the superstars of 2020, but also offers collectors the chance to get their hands on the iconic legends who helped make the WWE what it is today, such as The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. There are three different Mega Tins to collect, all featuring a Gold Limited Edition plus 14 exclusive cards of WWE Legends vs. Stars of 2020. The Collector Tins also have a new twist for 2020, with separate versions for icon John Cena, comeback king Edge, and the â€˜Legit Bossâ€™, Sasha Banks. All three tins come with 41 cards, plus a Gold Limited Edition card. Topps is also giving away relic cards in 1:4 Mega Tins, featuring superstar-worn clothing or memorabilia from big events, plus authentic autographed cards in select lucky packets. There are more eyes on WWE in the UK than ever before, with Channel 5 becoming the first terrestrial broadcaster to show freeto-air WWE programming in the UK for 20 years. BT Sport has also signed a multi-year deal with WWE, making an early impact with unique social media and advertising campaigns. This year also saw the first ever British Royal Rumble winner and first ever British WWE Champion, Drew McIntyre. His achievements made headline news in the UK, featuring in multiple national newspapers and on the BBC website. Additionally, Irish superstar wrestler Becky Lynch taught an English lesson on BBC Bitesize this year.
Rainbow Eco Play 01749 841315 | www.rainbowecoplay.com Rainbow Eco Play creates its own innovative, environmentally friendly sand-based products in the UK. Launched this summer, Slinky Sand is essentially slime without the goo; the product is made of sand which makes it dry, but it moves and flows just like slime. Super light and wonderfully tactile, Slinky Sand makes the perfect pocket money purchase. It is available in six vibrant colours and comes in reusable and recyclable tubs of 170g and 300g. Smooshy Sand is a moving magic sand which is great for sensory play for younger children and is fast becoming a trend with older kids creating ASMR crunching sound videos. Kids can squeeze it, mould it, slice it and chop it, then watch the magic sand ooze through their fingers. Moulded and shaped much easier than traditional play sand, it is non-toxic and never dries out. Kids can choose from six colours including natural. Like Slinky Sand, Smooshy Sand is also supplied in resealable tubs of 170g and 300g. For craft projects, Rainbow Eco Play has developed a shimmering arts and crafts Sparkle Sand, which comes in handy shaker bottles perfect for little hands. With zero plastic glitter, Sparkle Sand is made of 100% natural minerals and is brightly coloured, making it ideal to use for cards, decorations and art projects. The shaker bottles have flip-top lids designed for better control, to reduce mess and wastage. There are six colours of Sparkle Sand available in 220g shaker bottles. Pastel, Fluorescent and Bright craft sand ranges are also available. New customers will receive a 10% discount on their first order by quoting code TWM10. Email email@example.com for more information.
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Alpha Group 01293 804 599 | www.alphatoysuk.com Alpha’s Subway Surfers master toy line features a range of collectibles from the globally popular mobile game, available across a variety of key price points to suit all budgets. The range focuses on the four pillars of Subway Surfers’ DNA - street art, music, skate and dance – supported by a ‘phygital’ (physical x digital) incentive programme allowing Subway fans to collect coins and special items to unlock in-game rewards. The Sub Surf Spray Crew features 4” figurines of Jake, Fresh, Tricky and Frank, each within their own stylised collectible spray can. Also available at launch are the Sub Surf Shorties, a collection of five 2” figurines of the game’s star characters. From Jake to the Inspector’s Dog, this pop art range has been styled to reflect the brand. Collectible stickers are included with each mini figure, making these ideal pocket money purchases or impulse gifts. Alpha Group’s top-flight pre-school property Super Wings has upped the action for Series 4, introducing upgraded and added-value new characters and exciting storylines across 40 new episodes of 11 minutes long, plus 2 x 20-minute specials. Two new characters join the popular Transforming Vehicles range, along with super-charged versions of fan-favourites Jett, Astra, Dizzy and Paul. Priced at sub-£10, and with more than 20 to collect as singles or in refreshed multipacks, these popular 5” figures transform from plane to robot in three simple steps. The brand values of teamwork, friendship and problem solving remain core to the show, and have been captured in key lines and play sets for autumn/ winter. The 2020 hero product World Aircraft is an interactive playset based on the location featured in Series 4, with a push-to-release runway, lights, sounds and workable wheels. The play set is compatible with the Transform-a-Bots character range, so fans of the show can easily replicate their favourite on-screen storylines.
Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk New products from Tobar as we head into the late summer and early autumn period include the brand-new interactive version of Atmosfear, which is available to buy now in time for Halloween. The game now features an app and lots of interactive play value around the original game concept, featuring the GateKeeper. More tech wizardry abounds with Zuru’s new Robo Alive Rampaging Raptor which runs and bites like a real dinosaur. With a realistic design, fast clawing movements and advanced robotic technology, the Raptor outruns other predators and even includes Surprise Dino Slime inside. Zuru’s new Robo Alive Attacking T-Rex stomps and walks with real Dinosaur movement, and bites and roars. The best-selling Tangle collection is set to be a favourite this autumn. The range includes everything from Tangle Pets to Tangle Wild, Junior Tangle, metallic and now a LED light up Tangle range. All of Tobar’s range can be viewed on the website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Jazwares will introduce new Power Treads this summer. An innovative new way to play, Power Treads are all-surface vehicles that flip, rip and roam. Already a runaway hit on TikTok, with millions of views since New York Toy Fair, Power Treads is the hottest new launch from WowWee. Power Treads are all-surface vehicles (ASVs) that young creators build and unleash. Kids can design and customise their ASV and then build epic trails using the modular track set. Tracks can be placed closer together for more control or expanded for more challenging routes. To conquer new heights, kids can activate the Power Trekker to trek around or power through. They can even add obstacles using found objects to create stunts and challenges. With 1000 plus courses, youngsters can build any trail at unlimited scale. The Power Treads range will be launched with full support from a TV and digital campaign, influencer activation across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, product reviews and consumer PR campaigns. Jazwares has also announced a range of cuddly new characters in a variety of sizes, set to join the Squishmallows line-up this month. The new additions to the Squishmallow squad follow the recent launch of twelve 7.5” characters. An additional eleven larger characters will join the line-up alongside special exclusive characters in selected retailers, plus a brand-new line of four reversible Flip-A-Mallows. The expanded launch of Squad 3 is set to take the brand to the next level when it debuts trade-wide with a new cast available in an array of sizes. These range from 12”, 16” and super-sized 20”. Four styles of the new Flip-A-Mallows will give kids the opportunity to own two toys in one as the reversible 5” plush can be flipped over to reveal a second character. The personality of each Squishmallows character is detailed on its hangtag, to create an emotional connection and encourage collectability. Jazwares is supporting the Squad 3 roll out with significant TV sponsorship, digital advertising and a sponsored kidfluencer campaign.
Hornby Hobbies 01843 233 500 | www.hornby.com
Galt 01614 289 111 | www.galttoys.com Great for supporting family play time, Galt’s 3 Little Pigs and Antarctica games offer an ideal introduction to board games for kids aged two years and up. Featuring adorable wooden animals, these fun games encourage colour recognition, teamwork and storytelling as players help the pigs and seals make their way around the board. Children have been exploring their creative sides more than ever during lockdown, and Galt’s selection of arts & craft kits has been created to engage and inspire any young artist. From baking, sewing, pottery and card making, Galt offers a wide range of products ideal for a number of creative styles and outlets. The Hair Design Case and Nail Design Case, both of which come in fun reusable suitcases, join the range for autumn/winter. Each contains goodies to inspire self-expression and creativity. The award-winning STEM Explore and Discover range has seen success over the past few months and continues to offer quality science kits for young children. These kits, which are full of fun components and experiments to discover, are all designed alongside the National Curriculum and are therefore ideal for home learning. The new Giant Science Lab joins the range; complete with a lab coat for extra immersion into the subject, the kit is packed with experiments any aspiring scientist will love.
Scalextric has announced the next generation of Scalextric Spark Plug. Featuring the characters from DC Comics, the Batman vs Joker set is controllable via an IOS or Android smart device and will include two Spark Plug dongles, a Joker Car, and a Batman Car plus a track featuring a jump, crossroads and a side swipe. Racers can enhance the gameplay by restricting their opponent or supercharging their car in Versus Mode; each player starts with 10 lives, losing one each time they leave the track. They can also personalise each race by playing as their favourite hero or villain from the Batman franchise or by adding character filters to their photo. The Scalextric Batman vs Joker Spark Plug set will be supported by a comprehensive digital media campaign. A series of new Micro Scalextric sets includes YouTube sensation Ryan’s World, James Bond and Batman vs Joker. Each of these sets feature over four metres of track with nine layout options to choose from including a loop-the-loop and half pipe. An assortment of Track Packs let kids expand their 1:64 Micro Scalextric layouts with wacky new track options. All Micro Scalextric sets will be supported with a digital marketing campaign. Finally, the ever popular My First Scalextric set will again be supported with a TV campaign in 2020, targeting children’s TV channels between May and December. Airfix recently released the newly tooled Quick Build Audi TT Coupe, which had almost sold out on pre-order on the Airfix website. Airfix Quick Build is a snap together plastic kit suitable for all of the family, guaranteeing hours of fun. Quick Build and Airfix have been particularly popular during lockdown. Members of the Airfix and Humbrol teams recently appeared on Hochanda shopping channel to demonstrate some popular Airfix kits, showing viewers what they will find in the kits as well as completed models.
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PMS International 01268 505 050 | www.pmsinternational.com With the world facing many new and unforeseen challenges this year, the festive season will be much anticipated, with many celebrations to be had. Elfie and Elvie are set to arrive towards the end of November, encouraging smiles and laughter and plenty of pranking. The Elves Behavin’ Badly range offers a light-hearted fun release from the stresses and strains of recent times, and this year the elves have more tricks up their sleeves. Elves Behavin’ Badly is supported by a major advertising and PR campaign, to be released shortly. This year’s campaign will be bigger than ever, with a larger budget being allocated than ever before. The thrust of the PR campaign will be to encourage all children, their parents and friends to prank throughout the four weeks leading up to Christmas. There has been a clear signal from the last three years that there is a huge appetite for pranking in the Christmas holiday season, as evident by the Elves’ social media pages, which contain pranks being played on kids, family members and colleagues. The core range is heavily centred around Elfie, Elvie and the babies, however there is also a wide range of dress up accessories, reading and colouring books, plus a whole host of pranking accessories available. This year PMS has introduced new items that can be personalised, including cardboard and wooden Christmas Eve boxes. Elfie & Elvie’s new Pooey friends are also expected to be a big hit with kids. The company is holding a high volume of stock of the Elves Behavin’ Badly collection and even more stock is currently under production, to ensure that demand will be satisfied.
Siso Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de Siso Toys’ licensing agreement with Disney took effect from April. The new plush collection includes all of Disney’s biggest properties, such as Frozen II, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Disney Princess, Dumbo, Lion King, Disney Classics, Minnie and Mickey, and many more. The 17cm animal core collection features favourite characters from a raft of Disney’s iconic films. Priced at under £20, these quality plush toys offer a strong gifting option; consumers can choose from The Jungle Book’s Baloo, Thumper from Bambi, Dumbo and many more. An exciting addition for the second half of 2020 is the cute and mysterious ‘Baby Yoda’ from Star Wars: The Mandalorian. This 100% plush character comes in at 25cm tall. Demand for the toy is expected to be high following the success of the series. Jada’s range of detailed model vehicles celebrates the best in action film merchandising, offering scaled replicas of the most memorable wheels driven by both heroes and villains. Jada has an enviable die-cast Fast & Furious range as part of its Hollywood rides line-up. The franchise generated almost $6b at the box office. Comprising of all the popular cars from across the 8-film franchise, 2020 sees new additions from Hobbs & Shaw as well as fan favourites including Domenic Torreto’s Dodge Charger and Brian’s Nissan Skyline. Batman celebrated his 80th birthday this year. Jada’s 1:32 scale Batmobile cars are ideal for Bat-Fans, while the 1:24 scale Batmobiles come with a mini Batman figure. The range includes the Batman vehicles from Batman 1989, Batman Forever and The Dark Knight. Also available is the Back to the Future line-up. With a theatrical re-release scheduled for autumn 2020, Jada’s iconic DeLorean in 1:32 and 1:24 scale, as well as the Nano-Packs, are expected to be a popular choice at retail. The evergreen brand Steffi Love produces £3m sales each year according to NPD data, and offers a substantial variety of themes such as wedding, fantasy and princess together with affordable price points. The Steffi Love collection is being continually developed; retailers should ensure they are up to date with the on-trend themes of the moment by requesting a 2020 catalogue from Siso Toys.
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Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Gazillion Bubbles has become an outdoor brand of choice for retailers and with new deliveries in July and the ramping up of advertising, Funrise is keen to welcome new retailers on board. Digital activity includes over 2m pre-roll views with a focus on the Incredibubble Wand along with the Tornado and new Bubble Storm machines. The 2L Giant Bubble and Original solution bottles also offer strong opportunities for additional sales. The second half of the year will also see the next stage of the roll out for Funrise’s Cat vehicle line, which includes a wide range of styles with innovative features incorporated into freewheeling toys, motorised toys, toys with lights & sounds, RC, and metal options. As with Gazillion, the Cat collection will benefit from a high-volume digital campaign over the coming months. The Cat Steel range of vehicles comes with a lifetime guarantee; kids can choose from Dump Trucks and a Wheel Loader. Autumn sees the launch of the Cat Junior Crew, fun characterised vehicles ideal for pre-schoolers, while the Cat Massive Mover RC enters the marketplace with all-terrain performance, real payload suspension and lights & sounds. The eagerly awaited release of Bright Fairy Friends (BFF) is slated for September. This new property brings a unique magical light up experience and plenty of hidden surprises. Each 6” BFF doll has light up wings and is packaged in an on-trend mason jar which doubles as her fairy home and lights up when motion is detected. The jars can be switched from motion sensor mode to nightlight mode, which keeps the jar lit for 30 minutes while kids drift off to sleep. With a range of BFFs to collect, kids can create a beautiful light-up display. Marketing support for BFF includes a YouTube channel with animated shorts, plus a global influencer campaign ahead of the launch on National BFF Day, backed up with animated pre-roll and filmstrips. BFF also delivers unique in-store theatre with interactive light-up display units for instant shelf appeal whenever someone walks past.
Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com Launched last year, the Xootz Viper Go Kart and Elements Electric Scooters have seen strong sales, not only in the UK but across more than 20 countries worldwide. This year saw the company introduce several new and innovative products to its ride-on range, including the award-winning Typhoon Power Drift Trike and Electro and Evader Scooters. The Typhoon Power Drift Trike was created using in-house tooling and 3D design, evolving the Viper design and colourway. With an impressive run time of 60 minutes and a max speed of 16km per hour, this ride-on provides endless outdoor fun. The Electro & Evader electric scooters both boast a high spec to ensure all rides are high-performance. A running time of 80 minutes, a max speed of 18km per hour and a thumb throttle have been combined with an eye-catching, foldable design, resulting in a range of fun and versatile electric scooters perfect for teenagers. There’s increasing demand for electric scooters developed with younger riders in mind, and Wilton Bradley has aimed to cater to this market with its award-winning Elements scooter. Designed for children aged six and over, with a smaller, lighter frame and child-friendly features, the scooter combines eye-catching colourways, a foldable design and an impressive spec. The Elements scooter has a one-hour run time, a maximum speed of 8km/h and a thumb throttle for easy riding. Finally, the new Xootz electric range delivers the full package; a very high specification and numerous features, competitive pricing, positive consumer reviews and multiple awards. At the time of writing, the Xootz Elements Electric Scooter is ranked as the best-seller within its category on Amazon UK.
Basic Fun 01189 253 270 | www.basicfun.com Basic Fun’s relaunch of the much-loved brand Tonka is already making waves in the market. The new range focuses on the toughest of play, making steel and sturdiness central to the messaging for parental appeal. Fresh play patterns, such as the inclusion of a mess free Tonka Dirt compound in the Micro and Metal Movers toys, provide realistic dump truck experiences and increase pester power, while a keen approach to pricing has resulted in an entry level SRP of £2.99. Launched in 2019, Cutetitos will expand its food-inspired range of plush collectibles over the coming months with several new series. Fruit scented Fruititos Cutetitos and the Ice Cream Babbitos are perfect for summer, while new themes coinciding with back to school will be announced soon. Taste Budditos are set to join the collection in August. Each wave will be supported by TV and pre-roll to ensure fans know what’s coming next. Further brands benefiting from significant support include Lite-Brite, Care Bears and Pound Puppies. Pound Puppies welcomes new characters to collect, and from July every UK sale will result in a donation to The Dogs Trust. This fitting partnership will also work to reinforce the ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ message across all media campaigns. The new Care Bears collection echoes the Tiny Pop TV series and will be backed by a Care Out Loud campaign featuring celebrity and influencer sampling. Each with its own message and personality, the new Care Bears are highly collectible for today’s kids. Lite-Brite will see a move to TV support, hoping to see it mirror the 1m-unit success the brand has enjoyed in the USA. K’Nex will continue to build on its sales growth this year with STEM multi build sets, the new 3+ entry-level Kid K’Nex sub-category, and the K’Nex Architecture range. Perfect for ‘K’Nexperts’, this range launches in autumn. For more information about the Basic Fun Q3/4 portfolio, please contact Tim Ives, head of sales - Tim.Ives@basicfun.com.
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Globix Retail 07917 667266 | www.globix-retail.de/en This year sees the return of Rockboard 2020 RBX Scooters, thanks to European distributor Globix Retail. Designed to handle serious action, each Rockboard features unique propulsion technology for impressive speed and power. Smoothing out the ride is an innovative enhanced rear suspension system which absorbs lumps and bumps as kids ride along. The scooters have also been developed with a handbrake, meaning riders never have to touch the ground. Available in glossy pink, black and white, Rockboard 2020 RBX Scooters are suitable for kids aged seven and over. For more information, contact Adrian Leafe, European sales manager - Adrian.email@example.com – or call the number above. Globix Retail works in collaboration with Amaira Holdings Group.
Interplay 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com For autumn/winter 2020, Interplay is unveiling a host of new lines. New licensed Disney Marvel and Disney Princess designs are available in the Face Paintoos range, enabling fans to achieve the face paint look of their favourite characters with ease. Flower Bed Babies are being introduced to the evergreen My Fairy Garden brand. Fairy Babies Ella, Lila and Mila sleep in their flower beds, which children can carry everywhere with them. The flowers come with magical petals that grow into red edible leaves once planted. Appealing to the modern, young stylist, the FabLab brand has new, on-trend products with sustainable and environmentally friendly components. New and innovative beauty-box style packaging offers an unboxing experience that is both user-friendly and eco-friendly. The new FabLab Nail Art Deluxe and FabLab Hair Flair Deluxe set (TV advertised AW20) feature the latest nail art and hair styling tools to create Instagramready designs and looks. Each kit contains tools and accessories and a built-in mobile phone holder to watch the FabLab tutorials. A new play concept has been introduced into the Fuzzikins range. The Ice-Cream Van can be coloured in with the pens provided and doubles as a handbag. The Fuzzikins range in AW20 will also see a new Dress-Up Mega Pack. Both will be TV advertised with new 3D animated creative. Following a successful launch, Interplay has extensive growth planned for its Games portfolio. Supported with significant investment in an integrated marketing programme that will engage the key target audience and encourage purchase decision, the company is introducing thrilling new titles to its line-up, including strategy games and creative games. Building on the success of the 5 second Rule brand, 5 Second Rule Spintensity is an all-new version of 5 Second Rule with an additional electronic timer and spinner. Featuring a real flying drone, Drone Home is a kids’ action game where kidsrace to launch their four aliens to safety before the enemies knock them out.
Bruder www.bruder.de Bruder’s range of police vehicles and accessories is being expanded with the introduction of the 1:16 scale RAM 2500 Police Truck with Policeman. Based on the recognisable RAM 2500, this versatile 4x4 pickup truck features the colours and graphics typical of American police vehicles as well as a realistic lights & sound module on the roof for even more realism during play. Just like the real thing, the truck has a crew cab and four doors which open, meaning the model can easily accommodate four figures. The included policeman figures comes equipped with a cap, belt, truncheon, torch, gun, handcuffs and radio. The model also features suspension on both axles to provide ride comfort and off-road capability, and the front axle can be steered using the included steering wheel extension. Adding further play potential, the truck‘s tailgate opens so kids can load and unload police cargo.
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Making an impact Shops are reopening, lockdown restrictions are easing and life is beginning to return to something resembling normality. With Christmas looming and three months of challenging trading conditions behind us, we spoke to Alice Morisson, international sales director at the kids and family marketing agency Diaframma, about how toy companies are approaching the second half of 2020. What’s the feeling in the kids marketing space - have budgets been tightened due to the financial impacts of the pandemic, or is there more of a feeling that strong ad campaigns are required to make up lost ground? Now more than ever, companies are really thinking about where best to place their marketing budget, and which types of platforms will provide the maximum ROI. We have seen a variety of responses; some budgets have been tightened or reassigned and some launches have been delayed, while some of our partners haven’t altered their plans at all. The situation is stabilising daily, and the levels of certainty and positivity are growing. Diaframma always strives to produce campaigns that are strong and impactful, and I believe our track record demonstrates that this is always achieved. Given the times we are in, this definitely contributes to selling products even more than before.
What lessons about kids and family advertising have been learned during lockdown? Television viewership undoubtedly increased during lockdown. We also know that children are much more exposed to a variety of platforms, thanks to all the devices they or their parents own. These are facts that have become apparent
over the past few years, and the production of a variety of content that caters for this change has been a turning point for us. That said, lockdown has also shown that many families have been looking for more activity-based projects to keep kids active not only physically, but also mentally.
When will your studios be reopening? We reopened the studio on 4th May. We initially shot ads which just contained product and adult hand models to abide by government regulations and to ensure safety not only for team, but also for our talent. We have been shooting with talent for over three weeks now and are very happy with the way things have been going. Currently, we’re working with family members only on set, but as regulations loosen, we are adapting and widening the casting possibilities. Each week we hit new levels, which leads us to believe we’ll be back to normal sooner rather than later.
Are you still offering live-streamed shoots, and what has uptake of these been like? Is this something the agency might carry on with? This is still a service we offer, and quite a few clients have asked to use it. Of course, it’s not the same as having a client on set with us, but it comes pretty close. Many clients have also been comfortable and confident enough to receive
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photos and videos of the first takes and a recap at the end of the shoot day. Most importantly, the results have been very satisfying for us and for our customers. I think what we all miss more is finishing a long day on set and going out with a client for a well-deserved Italian meal! This crisis has definitely changed the way companies work, including us, but as we’ve all learned in different ways, we’ve also proved to be extremely adaptable. In this case, I think it will depend on what our clients’ needs and preferences are in the future. The important point is that we can offer a variety of services to satisfy everyone’s needs.
There’s still some uncertainty regarding toy fairs and trade events. With this in mind, is advertising likely to play a bigger role than perhaps it has in previous years? We usually attend all major trade shows; they are the most effective way for us to really have quality time with our customers. Regardless of what happens with future trade shows, there will always be a need for advertising. Products are sold through consumer awareness, for which advertising is key. As we’ve seen throughout this lockdown period, it is more important than ever to be able to convey a product’s story and uniqueness as budgets throughout households worldwide are tightened, and parents are more conscious of spend.
Now stores have re-opened, the next big challenge is how to entice shoppers back to the High Street when it is undeniably safer to continue to shop from the comfort of our front rooms. Someone recently forwarded me an email newsletter from Mary Portas’ organisation: Mary exhibits a genuine passion for the retail channel and has some interesting thoughts on how it can reinvent itself in a post-covid world. I tend to agree with Mary, if all you can put in the positive column of the new shopping experience is ‘health and safety, hygiene and practicality’, is that going to be enough to persuade people to venture out for non-essential purchases? None of us is that desperate to follow floor arrows around a store like some postapocalyptic trail of disappointment. I am sure some of Mary’s ideas would translate well to the toy retail environment: I particularly liked the suggestion of keeping the queue outside the store entertained and engaged – turning tedium and frustration into an experience and potentially even a sales and marketing opportunity. I’ve seen examples of this previously, when stores have sent staff out to ‘work the queue’ by demonstrating a selection of toys and novelties. Not only a chance to show off the latest products, but an opportunity to show those customers how welcome they are. It may even give stores the opportunity to boost impulse sales, something I am sure that many toy retailers are concerned about in the post-covid world. Undoubtedly, experiential activities and retail theatre are going to be a lot harder to execute in the short term, and it is going to test the creativity of retailers to the max. But if retailers can find a way to turn a more sterile environment into the fun-filled experience traditionally associated with toy stores, it is surely going to be a big plus. Atmosphere, personality and connection are going to be just as valuable as they ever were -retailers are just going to need to be a little more creative in how they deliver the magic (while wearing face masks and brandishing a disinfectant spray)… Some of the changes to High Streets and Shopping Centres will be a little more permanent: in my local town Watford, the Debenhams store has closed permanently. The store was hailed as a glimpse into the future of Debenhams when it opened in September 2018 as part of a £180m extension of the Intu centre. Fast forward a mere 18 months and it is indeed sadly indicative of the future of Debenhams: the retailer has been unable to reach an agreement with Intu over rent and the flagship store has been well and truly scuppered. I can’t imagine how many millions have effectively been poured down the drain because the two parties weren’t able to reach a compromise; it shows just how brutal some landlord / tenant negotiations are going to be in the coming months. But then I guess if you are over £4bn in debt as Intu is, you need to play a bit of hard ball… Most memes circulating at the start of lockdown suggested that copious quantities of alcohol would be parents’ key support mechanism – in practice, it turns out that toys were just as important (if not more so). Big ticket items have sold well - not just
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outdoor products, but many other toys too - as kids have enjoyed more free time to play, instead of their days being taken up by school and after-school clubs. Parents have been able to see first-hand just how long a good toy can keep children occupied for. And, for once, the sales increase hasn’t been driven by heavy retail discounting – toys have been selling close to full price across the board, while many other retail sectors have seen prices fall. In the main, sales haven’t been driven by heavyweight marketing campaigns either. We’ve seen the benefits of play appreciated by parents, which will hopefully stay with them long after lockdown is a thing of the past… The news that Hong Kong has extended its ban on international visitors for a further three months surely places a huge question mark over the traditional October trip. While the travel ban will now be in force until the end of September, a further extension has not been ruled out; I would have thought that it would take a brave person to book flights for October under those circumstances, while corporate insurance won’t cover you for any trip, at least until the Foreign Office changes its stance on international travel and maybe even beyond. As well as the Hong Kong trip being under threat, it is equally debatable how many international visitors will relish a trip to LA this October. At least LA is largely held at company’s regular premises: I wonder how the situation in Hong Kong is affecting tenancy renewals in TST? Companies fund permanent showrooms by amortising the cost over several trips – will they remain cost-effective if it just comes down to one trip in January? That said, one of the many challenges of replacing trade shows and face-to-face meetings with zoom calls is that seeing and handling a product, literally feeling the quality and checking it actually works, is a huge part of the toy buying process. Waving a new line around in front of your laptop camera isn’t quite going to replicate that experience. I am sure the industry is full of scrupulously honest and decent salespeople, with no charlatans to be found, but even so, it’s nice to handle the merchandise just to be on the safe side… I was sad to hear that Michael Seres passed away recently. Known and loved by all the people who met him when he worked in the toy and licensing community, the numerous comments we’ve received since we announced the news show just how wellliked and respected Michael was. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time, but through his ground-breaking work in the health sector, which he had focused on in recent years, his legacy will undoubtedly live on… While it is warm and sunny outside, Christmas is most definitely coming – Rachael and I recently filmed our contributions for a TV show focusing on Britain’s favourite Christmas toys, which is due to be shown on Channel 5 this festive season. By the time it airs, lockdown will hopefully be a distant memory, the only reminder of which will be a TV programme featuring my distinctly ‘throwback’ lockdown hairstyle, the likes of which hasn’t been seen for several decades.
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PEOPLE ARE TALKING... “I suffer from PTSD and modelling helps me concentrate and relieve symptoms. Lockdown has been a particularly difficult time for everyone but especially people with mental health troubles and many a hour whilst working from home has been spent doing a bit ‘at the bench’ to break up the time and relieve stress and strains. I have completed one build and am in the middle of a second to make an Air to Air refuel duo. Thank you Airfix for keeping me sane.”
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For more information please call 01843 233502 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org To view the full 2020 range visit www.scalextric.com /officialscalextric