Toy World Magazine March 2020

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March 2020 Volume 9 Issue 7


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The Team...

CONTENTS March 2020 Volume 9 Issue 7

John Baulch

42 Feature: Action Vehicles

62 Feature: Outdoor Toys

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

Mark Austin

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

Anita Baulch

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

Features

News

Regulars

07 From the Publisher 08 News 18 Industry Moves 22 Marketing World 26 Licensing World 110 Allegedly

34 NPD column 37 Talking Shop 40 Viewpoint 56 Fresh 58 Sustainability Spotlight

Contributors The NPD Group | Ruth Clement Clive Green | Jim Hawker | Mark Buschhaus Stephen Barnes

30 Brand Profile: Wilton Bradley 32 Company Profile: Moose Toys 42 Feature: Action Vehicles 60 Company Profile: Hunter Price 62 Feature: Outdoor Toys 90 Special Feature: Toy Fair Review 94 Feature: Science & Nature 106 Opinion: Jim Hawker 108 Feature: ICTI Ethical Toy Program

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

94 Feature: Science & Nature

90 Special Feature: Toy Fair Review

Lisa Currie

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

Mark Crowford

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

toyworld toy world The business magazine with a passion for toys

Alakat Published by

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

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Toy World 5

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T HE

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1 2 0 2 y r a u n a J 1 o 2 t i b i 9 1 Exh n o d n o L , a i Olymp A huge thank you to all our

exhibitors and visitors for making Toy Fair 2020 a great success. We're looking forward to welcoming you back next year.

New Layout Next year Toy Fair will take place in the Grand, Grand Gallery, National and National Gallery at Olympia, London.

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For further information on exhibiting & sponsorship opportunities please contact +44 (0)20 7701 7127 or email Majen@btha.co.uk * Unfortunately members of the public are unable to attend


I

t is just over a month since I wrote my last Leader column, yet so much has happened that it feels like an eternity. For those who were delighted to see the back of 2019, the start of 2020 suggests that this year will throw up fresh challenges for the global toy community, as well as offering new opportunities.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

The coronavirus outbreak continues to dominate headlines across the globe, and the toy community is monitoring developments extremely closely. This is a humanitarian crisis, and we must never forget the human cost of the outbreak; however, it is inevitable that the focus of the toy trade is on the potential impact to the global supply chain over the coming weeks and months. While the situation remains in a state of flux, the general consensus seems to be that the earliest realistic starting point for a return to (relative) normality is the start of March– albeit there will be a significant backlog to clear. However, only four weeks’ disruption would be a massive bullet dodged. It could potentially have been far worse: we’re in low season for production, and most people should have Easter stock in their warehouse or at least in transit. If this outbreak had happened ahead of peak season, carnage would have ensued. Nevertheless, the prospect of further disruption to the global supply chain remains very real. In addition, there is a huge question mark over exhibitions in Asia - and indeed travel to the region - during the first half of the year. Meanwhile, the UK retail channel continues to experience significant turbulence: the unfortunate demise of both Beales and Hawkin’s Bazaar vividly illustrated the continuing fragile nature of High Street trading. Those regrettable developments were shortly followed by the announcement that Debenhams would be closing all of its toy departments, with the inevitable consequence that all of the head office staff members working in the toy category have been made redundant. Subsequently, Boots revealed that it would be heavily reducing its in-store toy presence. The move seems partly be down to the difficulty in generating a profit from the in-store space given to toys, and also the result of the retailer identifying an opportunity to grow its business in other categories as a result of the closure of Mothercare. It appears that Boots feels that the space given over to toys can be more profitably used on other ranges. A minimal in-store offering and an online presence will remain, but effectively, Boots has wound down its toy presence to the bare minimum. And all of this has happened in only the first two months of the year! Of course, sad though these moves are for the staff and for toy suppliers, it seems inevitable that other retailers will benefit as a result.

Indeed, despite everything that has happened over the past month, people have not been downcast – far from it. It’s at times like this that you appreciate just how resilient and stoic the toy trade is; whatever is thrown at us, we just get on with it to the best of our collective ability. Just as there have been some disappointing developments to contend with, there have also been plenty of positive stories to balance things up. The Entertainer has announced a tie-up with retail giant Reliance Brands to open a chain of Entertainer-branded stores in India. 18 stores are planned over the next 18 months, an ambitious move for a retailer which continues to push the boundaries at home and abroad. Funko has announced that it will be opening a brand new purpose-built distribution centre in Coventry to cope with the company’s rapid expansion. Hasbro’s 2019 results were generally felt to be impressive, with the company reporting growth for both Q4 and full-year. Mattel may have come in flat over the same period, but it still outperformed the declining market and exceeded its full year guidance, emerging as the number one US and global toy company, with improved operating income, cash flow and gross margin. There are plenty of other encouraging, uplifting stories featured in this edition: we spoke to the Moose Toys UK team as it celebrates an extremely successful first twelve months, while we also shine a spotlight on Hunter Price as it ramps up its presence in the toy and licensing space. There are exciting new product launches aplenty, as we feature the Outdoor, Action Vehicles and Science and Nature categories. We are also introducing a brand new regular column - Sustainability Spotlight – which will highlight the initiatives which toy companies are putting in place to address consumer concerns over sustainability and environmental responsibility. As an industry, I believe we are beginning to tackle these issues with genuine, credible long-term solutions – not just greenwashing and token gestures. We’re delighted to be recognising those companies which are actively getting to grips with the challenges in this area, and welcome your input as to how you’re tackling these issues for future columns. Another body which is keen to acknowledge the good work being done by toy companies in this area is the Toy Industries of Europe, which has launched the Play for Change awards. The awards will celebrate toy developments which impact the planet and children’s lives in positive and inspirational ways. You can find out more about this exciting new initiative and how to enter on page 16. I am delighted to have been asked to chair the judging panel, and I hope you will make our decision as difficult as possible by giving us many great options to choose from.

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News Exhibitor space for 2020 Toymaster May show sold out The Entertainer finalises international deal with Reliance Brands in India The Entertainer and Reliance Brands Limited (RBL) have announced that they have signed an exclusive long-term agreement for the entry of The Entertainer into India. The master franchise agreement with RBL will see the opening of The Entertainer stores in Mumbai in the first half of 2020, followed up by an aggressive store roll out plan. The Entertainer is currently the largest family-owned chain of toy shops in the UK with a total of 172 stores. The partnership with Reliance Brands is part of The Entertainer’s strategy to tap into the booming Indian market, bringing to the country a wide selection of toys, including its private label brand Addo. Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer, said: “India is a key priority as we continue our international expansion and Reliance Brands is a highly professional and dedicated team with extensive retail knowledge and experience.” Speaking exclusively to Toy World about the deal, The Entertainer’s director of International, Phil Savage, said: “This is the biggest and most exciting international deal we have signed so far. The plan is to open up to 18 stores across India over the next 18 months, largely in mall and high street locations, in key cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The deal has been in negotiation for a long time - long before I started here - and we’re delighted it has now come to fruition.”

The Toymaster May show exhibitor space is now sold out. The show will take place from Tuesday 19th May till Thursday 21st May at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Managing director at Toy Master, Ian Edmunds, said: "All space has been filled and Toymaster would like to take this opportunity to thank those attending for their support." For further information, Ian Edmunds or Yogi Parmar can be contacted on 01604 674477 or ian. edmunds@toymaster.co.uk and yogi.parmar@ toymaster.co.uk

Debenhams to close toy departments Department store chain Debenhams is set to close its toy department, according to reports seen by Toy World. Sources have also suggested that head office employees working in the toy category have also been made redundant. The news comes as Debenhams continues to pursue a CVA; the retailer has been in difficulty since reporting a record pre-tax loss of £491.5m in 2018, and in April 2019 was taken over by its lenders. As part of its rescue plans, the retailer closed three stores last year, and a further 19 between 11th-25th January. Another 28 will follow next year. Debenhams' chief executive, Stefaan Vansteenkiste, has previously said the chain was working to implement a 'transformation' despite a 'challenging retail environment'.

Distributor of leading toy brands

Telephone: +44(0)116 478 5230 Email: sales@toynamics.co.uk Toynamics UK & Ireland Ltd,10b Nursery Court, Kibworth Business Park, Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, LE8 0EX

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ALL ENQUIRIES CALL HASBRO ON 0208 569 1234 © 2020 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.


News Hawkin's Bazaar enters administration Hawkin's Bazaar has suspended its website and the company’s remaining stores are running clearance sales, with gift cards accepted for a limited time after administrators were appointed. Tom Straw, a partner at administrators Moorfields Advisory, said it had been a challenging Christmas for the toy trade. The retail business, which employs 177 people, has struggled to compete with Amazon and others. It is not the first time Hawkin’s Bazaar has experienced financial challenges; the company went into administration in 2011, which resulted in the closure of two-thirds of its store network. In 2016, the retailer was acquired by Merino Private Equity, but was put up for sale again last summer. The most recent accounts show a near-£1m loss on sales of £15.3m in 2018. Hawkin’s Bazaar’s challenging Christmas period reflected the struggling high street retail sector generally. Although the company is in administration, at the time of writing, stores were expected to continue trading until further notice. Speaking with Toy World in December, Tobar CEO David Mordecai had commented that he was hopeful that a buyer would be found for Hawkin's Bazaar, but unfortunately current events appear to have overtaken these plans.

NPD results - hard year for toy industry, but UK remains largest toy market in Europe

On the opening day of the London Toy Fair, The NPD Group reported figures which showed that, in line with many other sectors, the toy industry endured difficult trading conditions in 2019 with a -6% drop in year on year sales. Total sales for the year were £3.2b, which still makes the UK toy market the largest in Europe, but with Germany now a very close second. Despite the poor trading conditions, the toy industry continued to innovate, with over 32,000 new products launched in 2019. Action figures achieved 9% growth whilst board games and puzzles enjoyed a 1% increase. Collectibles also continued to dominate the market, with sales equivalent to 21% of all toys sold. 2019 was predicted to be the Year of the Movies. Despite a slow start, films played a big part in driving the market forward with 11% of total sales, up from 10% the previous year. However, they did not turn the market around at the back end of the year, as some key blockbuster titles were launched so close to Christmas. Due to its late release, Frozen II is predicted by NPD to power the market in the first six months of the year. It will be toy brands themselves which are expected to be the big market drivers.

Funko to open state-of-the-art distribution centre in Coventry Since it began trading in January 2017, Funko EMEA has seen significant expansion, with the past three years’ growth surpassing expectations as the business continues to strategically expand into new and existing markets. To reflect the company’s progression, provide its partners with an upgraded level of service and alleviate pressure on the company’s operational infrastructure, Funko has announced plans to relocate its UK operational base to a new distribution centre, located in Coventry. With 349,000 sq. ft. of operating space, including 17,000 sq. ft. of new offices and 34 loading bays, the state-of-the-art fulfilment centre is nearing completion. The new facility will be predominantly servicing the UK and Irish markets, however, a portion of its capacity will be dedicated to mainland European customers, as well as higher complexity orders. Andy Oddie, MD of Funko EMEA, told Toy World: “We are reacting to our customer needs with an innovative operational system that can mirror the pace of our company. The new space meets all our extensive requirements, and we are delighted”. Funko has confirmed the transition to the new location in Coventry has already begun, and the facility is scheduled to go live from early April this year.

Hamleys appoints David Smith as CEO David Smith, a former executive at Debenhams and The Body Shop, has been appointed as the new boss of Hamleys. The CEO has been recruited by Reliance Brands, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. David, whose most recent full-time role was running Debenhams' international operations, has taken on a challenging role at the world-famous toy store. Reliance bought Hamleys for about £70m from C.banner International, a Chinese company which had owned the business for more than three years. The sale marked Hamleys' fourth change of ownership in 15 years following a succession of largely failed attempts by a range of international shareholders to expand the renowned brand globally. Hamleys trades from about 129 stores globally, with most of those operated under franchise.

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News BTHA Briefing

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

T

his month is a particularly busy month for the BTHA and our members, with lots of events taking place. First up is a free all-day training seminar for members on brand protection, taking place on the 10th March at the BTHA office. Hosted by the Anti-counterfeiting group, the seminar will cover investigations, online digital protection, enforcement and litigation as well as updates from the Alliance for Intellectual Property and FACT. Members are also invited to join a free webinar with the Ethical Toy Program on the 18th March covering current and emerging issues regarding supply chains, emerging legislation and more. To learn more about the training opportunities available for BTHA members please contact me Rebecca@btha.co.uk. Another event taking place this month is our rearranged annual Parliamentary Event. Due to take place in November last year, where the parameters set during purdah prohibited the event taking place, BTHA members and special guests will be heading to the House of Commons, Terrace Pavilion on the new date of Wednesday 25th March. The event aims to promote the toy industry and the issues most concerning reputable toy

businesses within our network of parliamentary advocates. The reception will focus on toy safety, as we take the opportunity to raise the industry’s concerns regarding the increasing sales of unsafe products through online marketplaces. For more information, please contact Tiffany@btha.co.uk. Elsewhere, applications for Toy Fair 2021 are coming in thick and fast. A reminder to anyone interested in exhibiting next year, the early booking discount is open until the end of March. You can apply online at www.toyfair.co.uk. Next year, due to redevelopments at Olympia, Toy Fair will be taken place in the Olympia Grand Hall, Grand Gallery, National Hall and National Gallery. If you have any question regarding this change, please contact us on 0207 701 7127. On the behalf of the BTHA, I’d like to wish the very best of luck to all the participants who are running the Vitality Big Half this month on behalf of the Toy Trust, especially our very own Natasha Crookes!

For more information about becoming a BTHA member, please contact Tracey@btha.co.uk

Boots to significantly reduce toys presence in stores Toy World understands that Boots intends to considerably reduce its instore offering of toys and games. The retailer has determined that space in store could be more profitably utilised for other categories, such as nursery and gifts, and expects to maintain only a few modules of toys, although a range will still be offered online. It is expected that the number of toy lines will be reduced, in part at the expense of an increase in nursery goods, following the recently signed deal to sell Mothercare lines both instore and online. As reported in December, Boots will stock Mothercare-branded goods from this year, including clothing, as well as home furnishings and travel items such as pushchairs and car seats. Boots has also hinted at plans to host Mothercare shop-in-shops under an initial five-year deal. The expansion of these categories, which have been deemed more profitable and in demand by the retailer, will naturally necessitate extended shelf space in stores, to allow Boots to take full advantage of the opportunity. Other categories, including toys, will have a reduced presence going forwards.

Toy World 12

PMS enjoys continued success with Elves Behaving Badly range PMS continues to enjoy tremendous success with its popular Elves Behaving Badly range, which is stocked by over 60 key accounts in the UK, including Tesco, Asda, The Range, Morrisons, The Works and many more. Wilko doubled its sales last year, and many other retailers grew their sales significantly as PMS sold over 2m dolls in the UK alone in 2019, in addition to a host of accessories and add-ons. Speaking exclusively to Toy World during the Hong Kong trip, director Paul Beverley commented: “We’ll be introducing a number of new lines into the Elves range this year, including Elves Pooey Friends, to capitalise on the enduring success of Stretchy Poo products. The very encouraging early sales commitments on the new Elf Candy Dummy on a printed lanyard have taken us by surprise. However, we find that the core range continues to sell well year after year. Our retail partners continue to focus their selections around the core lines, and new additions give them the opportunity to freshen up their selection each year.” Following on from the popular 2018 video featuring Louise Walsh which achieved huge online coverage for Elves Behaving Badly, a new promotional video featuring Joey Essex continued the brand’s strong social media presence last year. Paul added: “We enjoyed a great year in the UK, and the brand is now really expanding across the globe. Our Australian customers collectively trebled their opening orders for 2020, and we’re close to signing a substantial distribution agreement with a major player which will see the range enter the US market on a larger scale this year. There are also some very interesting developments on the licensing side, which we’ll be announcing soon. 2020 looks set to be another great year for the Elves Behaving Badly brand.”


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News Hasbro reports growth for full-year and Q4 2019 Net revenue for the full-year 2019 increased by 3% to $4.72b, versus $4.58b in 2018. Fourth quarter 2019 net revenue, which increased by 3% to $1.43b, was bolstered by strong demand for Hasbro’s products for Disney’s Frozen II and Star Wars. International segment net revenue for the full-year 2019 was $1.84b, compared to $1.85b in 2018. Excluding a negative $76.5m impact of foreign exchange, international segment revenue increased by 4%. Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s chairman and CEO commented: “The global Hasbro team delivered a good year and achieved key objectives we set for 2019. We profitably grew revenues across regions, supported by the successful execution of our channel strategy. We delivered growth in Magic: The Gathering driven by the successful launch of Arena and we executed at a high level during the holiday season. Our acquisition of Entertainment One accelerates our Brand Blueprint strategy and significantly expands our expertise and capabilities as a global play and entertainment company. Our teams are actively engaged to unlock value across our organization - in gaming, in toys, in consumer products and in entertainment.” Revenue in the entertainment, licensing and digital segment rose 22% last year. Hasbro has recently completed a $4b purchase of Entertainment One, giving it access to brands like Peppa Pig and PJ Masks. Magic: The Gathering Arena and the Transformers: Bumblebee film are reported to have helped drive entertainment and licensing revenue. The company said that the threat of tariffs impacted the third quarter, disrupting the supply chain and leading some retailers to cancel shipments. It has been working to diversify its supply chain to reduce its reliance on sourcing from China.

Mattel’s Sanjay Luthra comments on latest 2019 and Q4 results Mattel has released full 2019 and Q4 results, which showed that net sales were flat for the full year 2019, including the negative foreign exchange impact of $75m, and were up 1% in constant currency versus the previous year. Reported operating Income was $39.2m, an improvement of $273.6m, and adjusted operating Income was $156.2m, up $269.3m. For Q4, net sales were down 3%, including the negative foreign exchange impact of $9m, and down 3% in constant currency, versus the prior year’s fourth quarter. Reported operating Income was $67.6m, a decline of $38m, and adjusted operating income was $109.3m, a decline of $2.2m. Speaking exclusively to Toy World, Sanjay Luthra, MD for the EMEA region said: “EMEA, our largest international region, continued to perform exceptionally well and outpaced the industry. While European retail in general continues to face challenges, our sales increased 2% in the quarter and 8% for the year. According to NPD, Mattel gained share in Europe in both the fourth quarter and the full year. Thanks to our commitment and close strategic partnership with our retailers, we have successfully improved our results and delivered growth and profit year on year, outpacing the negative market trend. Ensuring the success and support of our customers is our number one priority, while we continue to deliver great product and effective marketing campaigns which resonate with today’s consumer. “

Wow! Stuff appoints Click Distribution Wow! Stuff has announced the appointment of Click Distribution (UK) to service domestic stock supply, outside Wow’s house accounts, with its innovative licensed branded toys, gifts and games to retailers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The full range of new innovative toys for 2020 has been on display in London, Nuremberg and New York with an all new trade exhibition stand that showcased products across Disney, Marvel, Universal, Warner Bros. eOne, the Science Museum, Mensa, Bonnier Group and more. “2020 is a great opportunity to refresh our distribution channel in our home market of the UK. Click is an exceptionally dynamic fast-growing distributor that has built a reputation for its quality of service and pro-activity. Luke and the team at Click have their finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not, and we are looking forward to working closely with them over the coming months. We invent exciting new toys, and having a partnership with a team that loves spotting trends and hot new licences will benefit us both as we set our product development team to work and keep pushing the boundaries of our guiding mission of ‘Great Brands Brought to Life!’”, said Wow! Stuff’s commercial director, Dawn Lavallette. Luke Hillier, CEO, Click Distribution added: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Wow! Stuff; I’ve been blown away by some of the innovation that’s coming through the business. It’s an incredibly exciting time; their ranges complement our already strong portfolio and we are delighted to be part of the company's exciting journey.”

Simba Dickie Group to merge with subsidiaries On 30th of April 2020, the company's fiscal year end, the Simba Dickie Group will take over 100% of the shares of Simba Smoby Toys UK, of which the minority part was held by Tony Belford, managing director of Simba Smoby Toys UK. Tony will be retiring at the same time, after serving the company for several decades. Richard Belford, the current sales director, will soon be leaving the company to take up new challenges within the industry. The board of the Simba Dickie Group thanks both Tony and Richard for their long-time partnership, co-operation and for their commitment, all of which contributed to the positive development of the company in the UK. The board members wish them both all the best for the future. In the new fiscal year, starting on 1st of May 2020, Siso Toys UK and Simba Smoby Toys UK will operate under the name Simba Toys UK. Martin Whitaker, currently serving as managing director for Siso Toys UK, will take the same role for the new company; Simba Toys UK. "We are really excited to bring both companies together as one and grow our business with the full Simba Dickie Group product range with all our retail partners”, commented Martin.

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News Toy Industries of Europe to award toy makers for societal impact Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) has announced the Play for Change Awards, to recognise toy makers that impact the planet and children’s lives in positive and inspirational ways. The awards will focus on environmental, societal and educational challenges with three categories: Sustainability, Empowerment and Future Skills. The Play for Change Awards is seeking entries from forward thinking products, as well as corporate initiatives that help kids confidently navigate the world around them in ways that show respect for themselves, for others and for the planet. Chairman of the TIE Board and MD EMEA at Mattel, Sanjay Luthra, said: “The awards will champion the products and initiatives of forward-looking manufacturers throughout Europe and will highlight how toy companies – no matter what size – are behaving like leaders, thinking beyond the product itself and towards the impact their company has on the planet and kids’ futures.” The awards jury brings together judges with proven expertise in the three categories and will be chaired by John Baulch, publisher of Toy World Magazine, who sees the awards as a future driver of industry innovation. “By rewarding companies for their efforts to help kids and to improve society, these awards will help raise the bar even higher across the toy industry,” he commented. Entries of all sizes, from across Europe, that have a positive impact, will be in the running for an award. Toy makers can submit their entries from 23rd March – 8th May 2020 and winners will be announced in September. Full category details and entry requirements can be found at www.playforchangeawards.eu.

newsanalysis

Cool to be kind Entries for the Toy Industries of Europe’s Play for Change Awards open later this month. Toy World caught up with Catherine Van Reeth, TIE director general, to find out more about the awards and how interested companies can get involved. How do the Play for Change toy awards differ from others? By rewarding toy companies’ commitments to addressing important societal challenges, the Play for Change Awards are markedly different from the other toy awards that are already out there. All reputable toy companies strive to make great toys to give kids lots of fun, but we’re looking for those toys or company initiatives that go the extra mile, born from a company’s care and commitment about the world the kids will grow up in, the society they belong to, and the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century.

Why is the time right to launch the awards now? We’ve chosen three challenges that we in our job, as the ‘voice’ of reputable toy companies vis-à-vis EU decision makers and stakeholders, are faced with more and more regularly. People want to know what the toy sector is doing to address climate change, how are we making things better, how are we moving away from the old-fashioned ‘nurturing is for girls, action for boys’ view of the world, etc. These questions seem to be becoming more urgent, so we felt it was time to respond in a positive way by shining a light on all the good things already out there in the sector.

Can you tell us a little bit more about each of the three award categories, and what is being looked for in the winning entries? The Sustainability category is all about positive initiatives for the future of the planet; the Empowerment category recognises efforts to improve inclusion and diversity, while the Future Skills category focuses on toys or games that help kids develop the skills they need to be successful in years to come. We’re lucky to have three expert judging panels who will be rating the entries, meaning that the awards will be endorsed by true professionals. We realise we will probably receive very diverse entries; in the Sustainability category, these could range from an initiative to cut down the amount of carbon fuels used at a production plant, to a game that teaches kids about the importance of recycling. In the Empowerment category, we’re looking for companies that ensure there are toys in the marketplace which are representative of all children, so kids feel included and comfortable regardless of factors like race, gender or ability. And seeing as the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century put different demands on kids compared to the past, the Future Skills category will look for toys and games that help kids hone these much-needed skills, STEM toys for instance, as well as toys that encourage analytical thinking or teamwork.

How do you see these awards developing and expanding in the years to come? It would be great if the Play for Change Awards were to become the reference within the industry for toy companies keen to demonstrate their leadership in the areas of community, sustainability and diversity. These issues matter to buyers and consumers as well a company’s own employees; those people working for a leader on important issues can rightfully feel proud of their contribution.

How can companies enter for the awards, and when do entries close? The entry period for submissions will run from 23rd March until 8th May. Toy companies interested in taking part in the awards can find out more at the awards website - www.playforchangeawards.eu. They can also register their interest in the awards via the website; we’ll send them a reminder when it’s time to enter. The awards are open to all toy companies, including those who are not currently members of TIE or TIE’s national toy associations. At TIE we believe small actions can create big results, so we want to hear about all sizes of projects from as many companies as possible.

Toy World 16


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www.wiltonbradley.co.uk


Industry Moves Clementoni expands team Clementoni has announced the appointment of Carianne Wylie to the role of national account manager. With over ten years’ experience in sales and retail management specifically in high street, specialist and online sectors, Carianne will be looking after existing key accounts as well as exploring new business opportunities for the strong portfolio of product, to help maintain positive growth trend. Shahbaz Khan, UK country manager, Clementoni, said: “We are delighted to welcome Carianne to Clementoni. Her specialist sales experience will be a great asset to the business at a time when we are experiencing significant growth in the UK. With exciting new innovation planned for 2020, Carianne joins the team at a pivotal time and we are excited to be strengthening our sales team.” Carianne added: “I am thrilled to be joining Clementoni and to be working for a company that has such a strong product offering.” Carianne can be contacted by emailing carianne. wylie@clementoni.com.

Funko adds to EMEA marketing team Following the company’s exponential growth, Funko’s EMEA marketing team has expanded with the appointment of a new PR manager, marketing manager and brand marketing manager. Based in London, the team will implement marketing and PR plans to support Funko's entire catalogue of products throughout key European regions. Heading up PR, Angela Lee joins from Premier, where she served as account director working on publicity strategies for consumer entertainment properties with clients including Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Entertainment One, Rakuten and Hearst Live. Angela will be leading the brand’s PR strategy through consumer and trade media relations, publicity activations and supporting influencer engagement across EMEA territories. Marketing manager Chris Barnett joins from Entertainment One, where he managed UK retail marketing for pre-school brands including Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. Chris will be principal to marketing initiatives for leading retailers in the UK. Spearheading brand marketing, Liz Simpson joins from Unilever, where she led key strategic initiatives for global brands, driving innovation, market development and digital transformation across leading FMCG products in homecare, beauty and personal care. Liz will be integral to marketing activations for Funko’s portfolio of sub-brands and new categories being released this year. The team can be contacted at: angela.lee@ funko.com (PR manager), chris.barnett@funko. com (marketing manager), liz.simpson@funko. com (brand marketing manager).

Angela Lee

Chris Barnett

liz.simpson

Generation Media strengthens leadership team for 2020 Tamara Strange has been appointed as a director of the company, while Greta BisettoDonelan has been promoted to director level. Greta joined Generation Media as associate director of Partnerships and Content Distribution in 2019. She was intrinsic to the launch of Generation Entertainment, the Generation Media division specialised in content, which is successfully supporting both existing and new customers with their evolving content needs. Greta commented: “Our area of expertise is to identify, produce and bring engaging content to the right audience, wherever they are. We are proud to be working with top cinema exhibitors, broadcasters and content aggregators to roll out a portfolio of stellar content.” Tamara brings a wealth of experience from her media owner and agency background. She has worked with several clients in the family and entertainment space during her career, including Spin Master and Build A Bear. Tamara added: “I am thrilled to be joining the dynamic and ambitious Generation Media team, and excited about playing a part in the business’ future growth.” Greta and Tamara will join the existing leadership team including Dean Weller, chief executive officer, Lisa Morgan, managing director, Lauren Coombs, director of Client Services, Jonathan Chambers, director of AV Trading, and Alex Taylor Smith, director of Business Development.

Schleich appoints key account & business development manager With over 10 years’ experience in the toy industry, Stephanie Wallace returns to the industry from maternity leave, and brings with her a wealth of knowledge from companies such as Green Board Games, Mookie, Clementoni and, most recently, Spin Master. 2019 was a record-breaking year for Schleich, achieving more than 50% growth in the UK market. In line with the company’s strong growth ambitions for 2020 and beyond, Stephanie’s role will include managing a number of existing key accounts as well as being responsible for opening new distribution channels. Stephanie is the latest addition to the ongoing UK sales team restructure, which saw Schleich employ three of its own regional sales reps - Richard Greenwood, Charlie McBurney and Jamie Tank - in 2019. Stephanie said: “I am thrilled to be returning to the toy industry and to be joining Schleich at such an exciting time in the brand’s history. I’m really looking forward to a busy Toy Fair season, and to all the opportunities ahead.” Stephanie can be contacted on 07810 530373 or at stephanie.wallace@ schleich-s.co.uk.

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01626 835400

sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk

www.wiltonbradley.co.uk

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News The NPD Group reports on 2019 global toy sales Toy industry sales decreased by 3% in 2019 across the 13 global markets (G13) tracked by The NPD Group. Overall, the industry performed better outside the United States, with Russia, Germany and Brazil up 5%, 3% and 2% respectively. LATAM sales increased 1% and European sales were down 2%. The first six months of 2019 declined 6%, underperforming primarily due to comparisons to the Toys R Us liquidation sales in 2018 in large global markets; but the second half marked a clear improvement, declining only 1%. In 2019, Action Figures & Accessories and Games/Puzzles were the two growth areas for the year, with respective growth of 14% and 3%, while Building Sets and Dolls out-performed the market. Action Figures (+11%), Action Figure Play sets & accessories (+21%), Action Figure Collectibles (+16%) and Battling Toys & Playsets (+41%) all contributed to the growth of Action Figures overall. Games/Puzzles showed strong resilience with Strategic Trading Card Games, Card Games, Family Strategy Games, Adult Puzzles and Adult Games all experiencing growth. Looking at the top five selling toy properties across the G13 in 2019, L.O.L. Surprise! was the largest property, followed by Barbie, Marvel Universe, Hot Wheels, and Nerf. Overall growth was driven by entertainment properties with movie launches in 2019 such as Disney Frozen, Toy Story, Pokémon and The Lego Movie, as well as the video game licence, Fortnite.

Moose Toys raises £110,000 for RSPCA with Scruff-a-Luvs All Beales stores to close as no buyer comes forward After going into administration in January, the retailer announced plans to close 12 of its 23 shops. Now, the remaining 11 stores have been earmarked for closure, with the loss of many more jobs. At the time of writing , administrators at KPMG were continuing discussions with "a number of interested parties" over a sale, but preparing to close the remaining stores after failing to receive any "deliverable offers". The stores are expected to continue trading for around two months while closing down sales take place, with staff being retained during this period. KPMG added that, if a sale is not achieved, the closure date of each store will vary, depending on trading performance. A further 20 staff have also been made redundant at Beales head office. Will Wright, joint administrator for the company, said: "We'd like to thank all Beales employees for their wholehearted support and assistance during the administration process. We understand that the failure to achieve a sale so far will come as disappointing news, but can assure them that we will continue in our efforts to secure some form of positive outcome."

Groupon to stop selling goods In a statement accompanying its financial results for Q4 and full year to December 31st 2019, Groupon provided details of its plan to exit its Goods category, which includes toys, to focus on the local experiences market opportunity from the end of this year. Groupon CEO Rich Williams commented: "We did not deliver the financial performance we expected during the fourth quarter and we recognize we must move swiftly to put Groupon back on a growth trajectory. We believe our plan to exit Goods will allow us to dedicate the focus and resources necessary to build a winning position as the purchase of experiences continues to migrate online. Throughout 2020 you'll see a stronger Groupon emerge, with broader inventory, modernized products, a refreshed brand, new ways for merchants to partner with us to grow and a leaner organization." In a letter to shareholders, Rich Williams offered further insight into the decision: “We believe this plan will allow us to devote the focused execution necessary to take share in the growing local experiences market. This market, which we estimate to be north of $1 trillion, is highly fragmented, growing, and migrating quickly from offline to online. Currently, we are a market leader, yet we have less than 1% market share. In addition, our 2019 Goods category performance, particularly in the fourth quarter, has made it increasingly clear that we are not well-positioned in a saturated retail market.” It is not yet known how long existing Groupon buyers will remain in their current roles.

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Moose Toys has revealed its Scruff-a-Luvs partnership with the RSPCA has raised over £110,000 to date, helping the charity care for real animals in need. The ‘Find us Scruffy, Make us Fluffy’ concept of Scruff-aLuvs plush products resonated so well with the RSPCA, the UK’s largest animal welfare charity, that Moose Toys brokered a partnership back in 2018 to coincide with the initial brand launch. The ‘Rescue and Reveal’ messaging of the brand is designed to encourage children to understand the importance of nurturing animals. Having initially launched in summer 2018, last year saw new varieties introduced to the Scruff-a-Luvs Rescue Centre including October’s launch of the first ever water safe electronic toy, Scruff-a-Luvs Real Rescue, supported by Dr James Greenwood from CBBC’s The Pets Factor. Logan Stone, head of marketing for Europe at Moose Toys said: “We’re really proud of the difference our partnership with the RSPCA has made for real animals in need of rescue. The play pattern of Scruff-a-Luvs shows children how they can take an active role in rescuing an animal through grooming, nurture and care and it’s great to be able to give back to the cause that inspired the product. We’re really looking forward to working with the RSPCA again in 2020.”


WAVE 2

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Marketing World Edx Education teams up with with Annabel Karmel Edx Education has announced a partnership with the UK’s number one children’s cookery author Annabel Karmel. The food expert is supporting Edx Education’s ‘Learning through Play’ philosophy with a selection of exclusive brain boosting recipes. Drawing on her 28 years of recipe expertise, Annabel has cooked-up five recipe cards for under-fives, to fuel their learning and development. Edx Education has devised a number of educational toys and games which will feature on the brain boosting recipe cards, to promote the benefits of encouraging play and healthy eating. Annabel, founder of Karmel Foods, said: "Edx Education shares my vision to ensure children stay fuelled on the right foods to support them in the all-important early years. Their philosophy of ‘Learning through Play’ is such a fantastic approach, and together we hope that my brain boosting recipes will inspire parents to encourage interactive play and healthy eating at home." As part of the partnership between Edx Education and Annabel Karmel there will be access to a host of recipes, play activities, articles and competitions on social media channels, all focused on brain boosting foods and learning through play. Edx Education has been working with educational experts globally to develop an advocacy campaign in 2020 for ‘Learning through Play’ to fulfil children’s needs at different stages of their key development areas. The campaign launched on 27th January.

Ravensburger kicks off campaign on World Puzzle Day Ravensburger’s Positively Puzzling campaign got off to a great start with over 25 radio interviews marking World Puzzle Day on 29th January and the start of the ongoing activity to celebrate the benefits of jigsaw puzzles. With adult jigsaw sales for the company soaring, and up 14% in 2019, Ravensburger kicked off its 2020 adult puzzle marketing programme partnering with TV psychologist, Emma Kenny, who took to the airwaves to discuss the benefits of puzzles. Joining her was Ravensburger’s very own puzzle guru Sarah Stevens, who has worked on the development of over 2000 puzzles during her 36 years’ experience in the business. Among the stations featuring Ravensburger’s World Puzzle Day activity were Talkradio, 5Live, and over a dozen BBC regional stations. National newspapers such as the Sunday Mirror also ran editorial celebrating the world of jigsaw puzzles. “We have been delighted with the response to our Positively Puzzling campaign,” said Katy Fletcher, head of marketing, Ravensburger UK. “There is real momentum in the jigsaw category and we are seeing that play out in strong results at retail. Ravensburger achieved the number one spot for adult puzzles last year, and January presented yet more fantastic numbers for us. With a raft of really incredible artistic talent joining our already strong line-up this year, we look forward to more great news to come.”

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Playmobil introduces new loyalty scheme Playmobil has committed further to its support of independent retailers with a new loyalty scheme. The initiative will see customers collect stickers with every brand purchase, which they will then be able to exchange for a gift from Playmobil. With each purchase, customers will collect one sticker per £10 spent on Playmobil play sets. Once the customer has collected three stickers, they will receive a free Playmo-friends Figure; six stickers will earn a free Duo-Pack and collecting 10 stickers will be rewarded with a Small Carry Case. Jamie Dickinson, marketing and display manager at Playmobil, said: “We are really excited to introduce our loyalty scheme to independent retailers, and reward customers for their love of the brand. We’re encouraging all independent retailers to discuss the programme with their sales representative, to find out more.” The loyalty scheme will run until 31st December 2020. For details on how retailers can opt-in and for further information, contact sales representatives or the main office on 01268 548111.



Opinion

TikTok what you

waiting for? This month, Clive examines the rise of the TikTok platform and looks at why marketing professionals should not ignore its potential.

D

espite being a late entrant into an already cluttered marketplace, one social media app continues to rise to prominence at an impressive rate, forcing advertisers to sit up and pay attention. TikTok has cemented itself as the fastest growing social media app in the world, increasing its global user base by 500% to 500m. In 2019, it was installed more times than both YouTube and Facebook, and beaten only by WhatsApp.

on this. As it stands, 41% of its audience is between the ages of 16-24, but you only need to visit the app yourself to see how successful it is amongst the tween demographic too. It’s estimated that 16% of 8-12-year olds have a TikTok account, and if you’re a parent of young children yourself, you’ll certainly have heard of the app. This high penetration amongst younger demographics has resulted in some very close scrutiny for TikTok recently and its rise has met several hurdles along the way:

The app itself first appeared in the UK as lipsync app Musical.ly, as far back as 2014, but it took until 2017’s acquisition by China based ByteDance (owner of Douyin – a Chinese music based social media app) to gain notoriety. Rebranded for the western marker as TikTok in 2017, the app already had many of the tools needed to elevate it to its current success levels. However, investment from one of China’s largest businesses has meant that nothing has been left to chance. Perhaps most notable has been TikTok’s willingness to embrace advertising and marketing to propel it into the mainstream, culminating in its live-streaming partnership with The Brit Awards 2020 (itself an extension of a successful activation in 2019).

• I n 2018, it was fined $5.7m by the FTC under a COPPA breach for misuse of data when it was trading under Musical.ly.

However, it is more than simply investment which has enabled TikTok to evolve into its current platform. The app is designed to host content which has significant appeal for younger demographics. Unlike Facebook users - a broader, older, audience - these younger demographics are primed and ready to adopt new tech and platforms. This comes with a historic health warning of course; longevity will be much harder earned amongst this audience, as demonstrated by thinking back to Vine (the creators of which have recently unveiled the successor – Byte). Younger demographics can be hard to reach, and as such are extremely valuable to many advertisers. TikTok is well positioned to capitalise

• I n April 2019, it was banned in India for two weeks after being believed to show ‘negative content’ to youths. • I n December 2019, Musical.ly was fined a further $1.1m for violating children’s privacy laws on data collecting. The US government is showing interest too, having reason to believe that data sharing by Bytedance is a cause for concern regarding national security (something Google and Facebook may well want to encourage in order to derail a potential competitor – they already have Amazon to contend with). Despite the hurdles the app still has to pass, marketers cannot ignore its potential. If you are in the business of targeting younger demographics, you should be keeping a close watch on this new social giant. There are currently three main methods of engaging the growing user base: •C reate an account and post organically •P artner with influencers familiar with the platform •U se the ad platform (pre-roll, etc.), which is currently in BETA testing It is important to note that the ad platform

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Clive Green Associate Director, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7904 Clive.Green@generationmedia.co.uk still needs some work before it is fully COPPA and GDPR-K compliant. This means the most compliant and brand safe route is partnering with influencers. TikTok has risen to fame through short form content videos. Unlike other apps like Instagram where users follow people, TikToks algorithm is based on users viewing habits, serving content based on past behaviour. To engage users of the platform, marketers would be best served using people who make a living from engaging users of the app. The last thing to note when thinking of TikTok as a viable ad option is the tone of voice to adopt when producing content. The content that reaches trending status is focused around lip syncs, dances, comedy and pranks. The app is built to grab attention and entertain its users, so ads need to mimic this. This is another reason to work with influencers who understand the audience’s wants. Ultimately when it comes to reaching young audiences, it’s crucial to remember: •Y ou cannot rest on your laurels when it comes to social media. Young people, including children, are always ready to move onto the next big thing before many advertisers adapt and develop strategies in response. •C ontent will always rule supreme for younger audiences - and right now TikTok is winning.



Licensing World Topps details raft of collectible new licensed launches for spring March sees the release of the brand-new Trolls World Tour sticker and card collections from Topps, featuring all the new musical worlds and colourful characters from the much-anticipated sequel. The sticker collection features a range of shiny stickers for fans to collect in a Trolls World Tour branded album. Collectors can also play a fun game with their Trading Card collection, and should look out for a range of Collector Tins featuring allimportant Limited-Edition cards. Hitting the market on 23rd April, the SpongeBob Squarepants sticker collection celebrates the adventures of the world’s most lovable sponge. With a new SpongeBob movie, Sponge on the Run, set for release in May, this collection is expected be popular with fans young and old. Collectors can look forward to the launch of the Minions: The Rise of Gru sticker and card collections, launched on the 28th May. Featuring plenty of Minions mayhem, these collections include fan-favourites alongside brand-new characters from the new movie. With an all-audience appeal, Topps anticipates that these engaging collections will have a broad fan base. For the latest updates on all Topps collectibles, search ToppsUK on Twitter and Instagram or visit the company’s Facebook page; www.facebook.com/ToppsUK.

Make It Real and Swarovski form multi-year partnership Make It Real has announced a multi-year collection of products made exclusively with crystals from Swarovski. Isaac Wolman, CEO of Make It Real, commented: "We are excited to be working with Swarovski to bring an innovative dimension of on-trend jewellery and collectible products to tweens everywhere." Products coming to market this year will include Juicy Couture jewellery kits, Disney Princess and Frozen kits featuring Swarovski crystals, and a brand-new DIY collectible bracelet line, Crystal Secrets.

Lego signs new deals with Fast & Furious and Lamborghini Universal Brand Development and The Lego Group have expanded their licensing relationship to include Universal Pictures’ record-breaking franchise Fast & Furious. This new IP expansion will take shape with Lego Technic creating a new set for spring. The ninth chapter in the Fast & Furious saga will premiere around the world beginning in May. Jill Wilfert, VP of Inbound & Entertainment Licensing at the Lego Group added: “The Lego Technic brand, with its authenticity and attention to detail, and the action packed Fast & Furious franchise, are a great match. Both franchises are known for creativity and cool cars, so we are really excited to work with Universal on this awesome product, that both Lego Technic and Fast & Furious fans are going to love to build.” The Lego Technic Fast & Furious set, for ages 10 years and above, will be in stores globally from 27th April. The Lego Group has also announced a partnership between Italian car manufacturer Automobili Lamborghini and Lego Technic. A new 1:8 scale set will launch in summer and will be the third model in the Lego Technic Ultimate series, following on from its popular predecessors, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS in 2016 and Bugatti Chiron in 2018. This new partnership will see Lamborghini and Lego Technic joining forces to deliver the engineering excellence and design flair that both companies have become famous for.

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DC Batman v Joker Party Range!

Justice League Party Range!

NEW Foil Balloons!

SUPER New Party & Balloons Ranges! Pre-order Now

©Amscan 2020, ©Anagram 2020. All Rights Reserved.


Licensing World WWE reveals UK free-toair broadcast on Channel 5 WWE has announced a new partnership with ViacomCBS’s Channel 5, to broadcast highlights of its weekly programmes Raw and SmackDown on free-to-air television in the UK. Since February 2nd, Channel 5 has aired a one-hour version of Raw on Sundays at 10:30am and a one-hour version of SmackDown on Saturdays at 10:30am. In addition, NXT UK airs on Paramount Network each Wednesday from 12am. “Bringing highlights of our flagship programming to free-to-air television for the first time in the UK with Channel 5 is a significant step for the WWE brand, and more great news for our passionate fanbase in the UK,” said Andy Warkman, vice president and general manager, WWE UK & Ireland. As part of the agreement, content will also be made available on Channel 5’s streaming service My5. In addition to the new free-to-air agreement, WWE has launched on BT Sport in the UK, offering exclusive live broadcasts of Raw, SmackDown and NXT, as well as NXT UK and WWE’s monthly pay-per-view events. The launch of WWE on Channel 5 builds on WWE’s longstanding commitment to the UK. Throughout the company’s 30+ year history in the region, WWE has continued to expand its presence with experiences including marquee live events and annual talent tours.

The Pokémon Company enjoys successful sales figures

Entertainment One to premiere series two of Ricky Zoom Entertainment One (eOne) is continuing to fuel the popularity of Ricky Zoom with news that a second series of 52x11 minute episodes is entering production and will be on screen in November 2020. Since its debut at the end of 2019, Ricky Zoom has seen success with outstanding ratings in multiple markets and across several platforms. It is currently a top five pre-school show with boys on Nickelodeon in the US; number one on Nick Jr. commercial kids’ channel in the UK, and the number one show on Clan in Spain. It has also seen successful reports from other international territories including Canada, Italy and China. The property’s growing popularity was evident in the response to its first app, Welcome to Wheelford, which has been downloaded more than 4m times globally since its release in August 2019. eOne is readying the launch of the first wave of consumer products in key territories which will be led by the launch of Ricky Zoom toys from global master toy partner Tomy, including six key product skus across a variety of price points focused on core characters. The collection will roll out in multiple territories this spring. The toy launch will be followed by a limited range of secondary category product launches to meet consumer demand in 2020, including publishing, puzzles and games, arts and crafts, apparel and accessories, with additional secondary launches planned throughout 2021.

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The Pokémon Company International has announced that Pokémon sales figures soared at retail in the UK and Germany throughout 2019 for both the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) and toys from Wicked Cool Toys, as reported by the NPD Group. Year-on-year sales continue to be substantially above the market average for Pokémon, a regular achievement for the brand in recent years. According to figures recorded by the NPD Group toys retail tracking service, total UK toy sales for Pokémon in 2019 were up 24.1% against an overall market downturn of 7.1%, while Germany recorded a remarkable 100.6% increase in sales against market growth of just 3.3%. The Wicked Cool Toys range is distributed in the UK and Ireland by Character Options and by BOTI in Germany. In Strategic Card Games (SCG), Pokémon continues to be the category market leader with the number one slot in both the UK and Germany. UK sales were up 30.8%, and in Germany the increase was 98.8%, which helped the market to achieve total growth of 71.7%. Pokémon generates over 50% of the total revenue of the top 14 best performing SCG brands in the UK, and more than triple that of the 14 next best-selling brands combined in Germany. The Pokémon TCG is distributed by Asmodee in the UK and by Amigo in Germany. “In another fantastic year for Pokémon, we are delighted to see an ever-growing appetite for our product,” said Mathieu Galante, licensing director (EMEA) for The Pokémon Company International.


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

Launchi ng Apr

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‘20

SISO TOYS UK


Brand Profile

Wilton Bradley

A recipe for

success

Toy Fair this year had many highlights, but for Great British Bake Off superfans Rachael Simpson-Jones and Lisa Currie, meeting Nadiya Hussain MBE, the 2015 winner, will live long in the mind. The TV chef, presenter and author has partnered with Wilton Bradley to launch a range of cooking and baking sets for kids. Nadiya told Toy World what her hopes are for the latest addition to her popular Bake Me a Story line.

N

adiya Hussain MBE, whose stunning bakes and humble personality saw her rise to fame after winning the sixth series of the Great British Bake Off, has barely stopped since the tent cameras stopped rolling. From presenting TV documentaries such as The Chronicles of Nadiya to baking a birthday cake for the Queen, the beloved chef has been spreading her love of food and cooking more thickly than a ganache during Cake Week. Her partnership with Wilton Bradley, which has seen the creation of a range of sets for kids, is a natural next step for the mum of three, who says she is a ‘true believer in involving children in cooking from a young age’. As part of the launch for the new range, Nadiya took to the Wilton Bradley stand at Toy Fair, chatting with Toy Fair TV about the sets and meeting with key media representatives including Toy World. “Partnering with Wilton Bradley on this range has been incredible,” Nadiya enthuses, when asked what it was like to work with the company. “At every stage of development, which has been over a year from concept to finished product, I’ve been in such good

hands. The team at Wilton Bradley has taken my ideas and desires for the range, really listened to my advice and input, and the resulting cooking and baking sets it has produced are wonderful; I’m delighted with them. It really was a massive collaborative effort and a pleasure from start to finish.” One of Nadiya’s biggest focuses when developing the range, she told Toy World, was that each kit be totally practical, fun and safe to use. “Pretend cooking sets are fun, as are pretend tea parties, but I want children to develop actual skills and confidence in the kitchen that they can carry with them throughout their lives,” she says. “My 13-year-old is now quite confident in the kitchen, and my youngest child, my daughter, is now starting to gain that confidence too. It was important to me that each item in the set, be it the measuring spoons, a sieve, a cookie cutter or a whisk, be made for use in a real kitchen, during real cooking. I’d love kids to be able to go into their kitchens and know that they have their own special set of utensils they can use for that day’s baking or cooking project. There’s something really special about that.” Three boxed Baking Kits will be available; the Simple Baking Set includes utensils and cupcake moulds, the Savoury Cooking Set includes a chopping board, bowl, utensils and recipes, and the Deluxe Baking Set includes a rolling pin, utensils, cupcake moulds and recipes from Nadiya’s best-selling Bake Me a Story cookbooks. Though the selection of recipes isn’t yet finalised, she assures us that they will encourage kids to bake and cook a variety of dishes, requiring a variety of kitchen skills. Though it was primarily her sweet bakes that secured her the winners’ GBBO cake stand – who can forget her final showstopping wedding cake? - Nadiya tells us that her heart lies in savoury recipes.

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Asked if she ever thought she would end up where she has when she first applied for Bake Off, and the platform her fame has afforded her, Nadiya is characteristically modest. “Not in my wildest dreams,” she tells us, eyebrows raised in an expression of disbelief (a feeling that appears to remain to this day). “I could never have imagined that I would be doing what I’m doing now, and although it’s hard being away from my family sometimes, I love what I do.” Alongside her cookery shows and books, Nadiya has also used her platform to raise awareness of mental health issues. She’s always been open about her own experiences of anxiety, and it’s clear that she sees cooking as more than simply a way to put food on the table. “Cooking with your family, especially with children and younger members of the family, can start important conversations about wellbeing,” she explains. “From my experience as a mum, I know that my kids really open up and talk to me while we’re in the kitchen, and I feel that that time together as a family, as parent and child or grandparent and child, is vital. I’m so proud of what we have created with these sets, and it makes me happy to know that they will help children in ways that go beyond just the cookery journey.” Nadiya will be working with Wilton Bradley over the coming months to promote the new range to her fans, including videos which will be posted on her social media accounts; the celeb chef has over 226k followers on Twitter, and nearly 400k on Instagram. The videos will feature Nadiya showing children how to make the most out of the kits. To find out more, contact Wilton Bradley on 01626 835 400 or visit www.wiltonbradley.com.


Br an d

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XL GO KART

Contact: Malcolm Cook

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Pedal G

malcolm@mc-international.co.uk Mobile: +44 (0)7770 68 88 58 www.hauck-toys.com


Company Profile

Moose Toys

Moose on the loose Just over one year on from the initial acquisition of Worlds Apart by Moose Toys, and the subsequent fusing of the organisations, Toy World caught up with the European sales and marketing director Emily Maclennan and CEO UK Neil Shinner, to find out how the company has fared since the merger.

I

t is just over a year since the UK office began to operate as Moose Toys, and things could hardly have gone better for the company over the past twelve months: Moose Toys was acknowledged as one of the fastest growing companies, posting a phenomenal 78% growth over the previous year. This stellar performance saw Moose Toys become the second fastest-growing manufacturer in the UK across the whole of 2019. Things were even better at the business end of the year; December saw Moose growing by 104% to reach the number 18 slot in the top 20 manufacturers, while January saw the company continue that climb with an increase of 97% to take the number 16 position. This success was driven by a highly-focused portfolio, consisting of a combination of established brands and the new launches: Scruff-a-Luvs, in its second year, continued to be one of the best-selling toys in the UK toy market by value, whilst new launch KindiKids became the fourth bestselling new toy property. Talking to newly-promoted European sales and marketing director Emily Maclennan at the Nuremberg Toy Fair, it is clear that this is just the start on an exciting future for Moose Toys, not just in the UK but right across

the Europe: “It has been a very exciting first year 12 months, we are delighted with the progress we have made in such a short space of time. Moose has been hugely supportive of the European operation, investing significantly in people, marketing and infrastructure. A key development focus for the company is the creative development into new category areas. Moose is well-known for being a leader in the collectibles sector, and with the imminent launch of Oh! My Gif, this remains a core growth category for the company. However, Moose’s development into the pre-school market with KindiKids has been an incredible success, achieving a top four spot on launch, which was a fantastic accomplishment.” A key component in its ongoing success, Moose continues to operate close relationships with its established UK distributors Character Options and Flair. Emily reaffirmed this, saying: “We work in harmony with our long-term partners. There is a large number of brands in the Moose portfolio, and

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we recognise that our UK and European partners have huge strengths in particular categories. Hence we see it as very much as an integrated partnership moving forward.” The UK office has assumed the position of European Hub to support the company’s ambitions on the continent, where Emily and the team see great future growth potential: “Building on the recently opened French office, we have just taken on Markus Buelke as our first dedicated sales and marketing director for Germany, where we are starting to build a direct to retail programme alongside our distributor partners, a model which has worked so well for us in the UK market.” I asked Neil Shinner, Moose Toys CEO UK, to sum up the past twelve months and how he viewed the coming year. Unsurprisingly, he was highly optimistic about what lies ahead for the company: “After a phenomenal year, during which Moose Toys UK leapt into the top NPD manufacturers list after only launching four new brands in the UK, we’re already well into the next phase of our evolution. From 2020, Moose Toys UK will be driving the growth across Europe. Our continued investment in people, infrastructure and marketing is evidenced in the establishment of the French and German offices, and the extension of our logistical reach to France and Belgium. KindiKids has been an incredible first step into the pre-school toy space for us, while we also have the Bluey master toy range to come in 2021; with strong sales and over 100m content views for its Australia launch, its arrival in the UK and Europe is already eagerly anticipated. We have ambitious plans for 2020 onwards – we continue to innovate in multiple categories, with several new ranges to be excited about in 2020. I’m confident this year will see Moose and its partners continue to grow significantly.”


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NPD Insight

Trendspotting This month, Moneeba looks at the latest trends that NPD expects to shape the toy market in 2020.

H

aving completed the London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs at the time of writing this article, it is safe to say that we anticipate the 2020 toy market to be all about new trends. Whilst the UK market finished -5% in terms of value for 2019, based on NPD Consumer Panel, we can’t help but feel cautiously optimistic for this year. In fact, the month of January was up +1%; whilst this is modest growth, it is still an upward curve. Having seen some brilliant products at both toy fairs, it is no surprise that the market has started off in a positive way. One ubiquitous global trend in the toy market is collectibles, and we expect to see this continue in 2020. Accounting for one in every five toys purchased, the collectibles market was worth £256m in 2019 and we are already seeing new products emerging into the category this year. January sales show Lego Minifigures DC Comics Super Heroes being the top new collectibles item, generating £232k from just one month’s sales. Other top new items include MGA’s L.O.L. Surprise! Hairvibes which launched in January, reaching number five in the Playset Dolls and Collectibles category, combining both collectibles and hair play trends. Extending the hair play pattern, Flair’s Hairdorables sales nearly doubled in 2019, with boys figures being added to the hair play range and more to come this year. With the second Trolls movie, Trolls World Tour, set to release in April, items from Hasbro as the Trolls master toy partner will add to the trend, while the Lego Trolls range also looks set to booster the construction category. 2020 is a football year with the EuroChampions tournaments coming up this May, which we expect to see drive substantial growth in the Non-Strategic Trade Cards/Collectible stickers subclass. Reaching

£18.5m in 2018, the year of the latest world cup, and with Panini’s 2020 premier league stickers already moving up the item sales, we expect to see similar performance with the Euros this year. 2019 saw a shift in demographics with Kidults, which is categorised by toys purchased for recipients 12+ years, accounting for 24% of toy sales, based on our consumer panel YTD Dec-19. This grew by +£16m for 2019 and we expect this momentum to continue into 2020. With 64% of Kidults shopping for themselves, this age group has disposable income to dispose of as they please. The biggest driver for Kidult purchasing is nostalgia. One hot nostalgic licence in the market is Warner Brothers Friends, which saw triple digit growth in 2019, with the majority of the growth coming from family board games and the Lego line. In fact, for the month of January 2020, the Lego Friends Central Perk set was the number one product launched in the last three months. One of the key trends we were eager to explore at the Toy Fairs was ASMR products. ASMR is an acronym for Autonomous Sensory Seridian Response; the sensation experienced when touching, feeling or hearing something. With more items launching this year in this category, we found products incorporated with slime, sand or jelly and involving cutting, moulding or squeezing. We anticipate ASMR to be a hot trend for 2020, with slime still worth £23.5m of the total market. With ASMR paving the way for innovation and new ways to play, we are expecting to see a small resurgence in slime as part of the growth of ASMR. A major growing trend for 2020 and a keyword for our market currently, is sustainability. NPD’s 2019 Christmas Study, which looks at the changing shape

Item Progression:

Moneeba Baloch

Account Manager, UK Toys, Euro Toys of consumer expenditure during the Christmas period, has revealed interesting insights into how sustainability is affecting consumers shopping habits. According to our research, 46% of EU5/AUS/ US parents have decided not to buy a toy due to concerns around environment and sustainability. Across EU5, in the Infant Toddler Pre-school supercategory, wooden toys accounted for 11% of value share which was up +7% YOY. In fact, wooden toy sales have increased by +26% since 2016, highlighting the significant growth in sustainable toys.

Whether it’s hairy collectibles or nostalgic properties, innovation has driven evolution in the market as we move towards a more sustainable industry. With an exciting movie line up in 2020, including Scoob, Ghostbusters and Minions: The Rise of Gru, as well as the Euros Champions, we are hoping to see a resurgence in the toy category. It’s not just the box office that looks promising; historically we have seen unexpected trends surprising the market, such as fidget spinners or loom bands, and the next big craze for 2020 could still be out there.

As we gear up for the Euros this year, The Panini Premier League Football 2020 Sticker Property Collection Pack has risen 1030 places from Dec to Jan. Premier League Football 2020 Growing triple digits, the Sticker Collection Pack 1036 6 stickers generated £244k for the month of January alone. The same item, FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Multipack Sticker Collection, was the No.1 item in 2018, generating £1.4m and accounted for 8% of total Non-Strategic Trade Cards/Collectibles subclass. In 2016, the UEFA Euro 2016 France Stickers Pack accounted for 38% of total subclass share and was worth £4.8m value sales. The trend for sticker packs always picks up in a football year, so we look forward to another year where the Premier League Football 2020 Sticker Collection Pack will bring value to the subclass.

Toy World 34


Fastest growing licences

Fastest Fastest Growing Growing Licences Licences Jan-20 Jan-20 vs. vs. Jan-19. Jan-19.

Fastest Growing Licences ValueValue Sales Sales (£m) (£m) Jan-20 vs. Jan-19.

Sales Sales Gained Gained (£m) (£m)

DisneyDisney FrozenFrozen

£1.83Value £1.83Sales (£m)

£1.7 £1.7

Sales Gained (£m)

Star Wars Star Wars

£3.10 £3.10

£1.83 £1.10

£0.49

£1.7

Disney Frozen

£1.0 £1.0

Toy Story Toy Story

£1.10 £1.10

£3.10

Star Wars

Ryan's Ryan's World World £0.49 £0.49 Toy Story DC Comics DC Comics Super Heroes Super Heroes £0.29 Ryan's £0.29 World

Comics Super Heroes £0.29 £0.32 DC European European Soccer Soccer Club Club £0.2 £0.32 £0.2 European Soccer Club

£0.32

£0.22 £1.41£1.41

£0.29

Land Rover £0.22 £0.22Land Rover Land Rover

£0.2

Disney All Other

£0.2

All Other All Other £0.29 £0.29 DisneyDisney

£1.41

£0.18

£1.4 £1.4

Harry Potter Harry Potter Harry Potter £0.18Friends £0.18FriendsFriends

£0.5 £1.0

£0.5

£1.4

£0.5

£0.2 £0.2

£0.2 £0.2 £0.2 £0.2 £0.2 £0.2

£0.1

£0.1 £0.1

£0.1

£0.1 £0.1

Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | UK |Jan-20 vs. Jan-19

Source: The Source: NPD The Group NPD | Retail GroupTracking | Retail Tracking Service | Service UK |Jan-20 | UKvs. |Jan-20 Jan-19vs. Jan-19

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

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

1

1

1

2019 saw the licensing market improve its performance, declining by only 3% compared to a double-digit decline of -20% in 2018. The licensing market benefited from the success of movies from Toy Story, Frozen and Star Wars, but also from non-movie licences such as Harry Potter and Fortnite. 2019 ended with Harry Potter as the No.1 licence in the market. More recent data, however, shows a shift in some of the licence rankings with Star Wars being the No.1 licence for the month of January, followed by Frozen and then Harry Potter. The number No.1 fastest growing licence for the month was Disney’s Frozen, gaining a £1.6m in just one month and growing triple digits. Star Wars is the second fastest gaining property and Toy Story the third. There are a number of new licences for this month, with Ryan’s World ranking as the top new licence and the fourth fastest growing. Warner Brother’s Harry Potter and Friends also entered the top 10 gaining licences ranking at No.9 and No.10, gaining £274k between the two licences. Outside of the top 10, NBCU’s How To Train Your Dragon had a great month, ranking as the 11th fastest growing licence, gaining £130k this month. The Baby Shark craze continues ranking as the 13th fastest growing licence, followed by Pokémon which had a strong month.

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.

Toy World 35



Talking Shop

Weathering the storm Toy World has been saddened recently at the number of independent toy shops being forced to take the difficult decision to close their doors permanently. But others are managing to maintain their businesses, despite ongoing challenges on the high street, and three of them – two established and one brand new business – spoke to Toy World about what is working for them right now.

Tony Duffy - Duffys Toyworld, Dunleer, Ireland My family has been in business at the same location since May 1938, but we only became Duffys Toyworld, selling toys exclusively, in May 2005. As we currently have over 22 large retailers within 30 minutes of our store, we need to strive to make ourselves stand out in a crowded marketplace. With that in mind, we decided to focus our offering by moving away from TV-advertised lines like electronics, games, radio control and TV or film merchandise. We now focus primarily on selling role play toys, dress up outfits and lots of imaginative, creative and developmental toys for all ages. Our store is 10,000 square foot and is full to the brim. We like to choose our ranges carefully, with products that offer play-value for children. When we select a range of toys that we like, it is important to us to try and stock virtually the entire range. Our Bruder range alone consists of 278 SKUs. This is a point of difference to our competitors, who may only cherry pick a selection from a range. Business has been going well for us and 2018 proved to be our best ever trading year. In 2019, sales fell by 2% as a result of Brexit upheaval and a false start on October 31st, which left us with extra inventory that we had initially ordered to avoid running out of stock at the most critical time of the year. I expect business this year to be on a similar level to 2019; I’m not expecting too much of an increase since we still have the actuality of Brexit to go through, which might have an impact on business once negotiations get underway with the European Union. By changing our emphasis from high profile lines, which all the multiples stock, we have gained new customers from far afield; areas such as Dublin, Cork, Galway, Belfast and all places in between. We don't sell online, but we do have an online presence with a website and Facebook, plus we deliver all over Ireland and even ship to all parts of the US. Our online and social media presence brings in customers from all over the country. It also helps promote our reputation; customers can see that we are different, in terms of what we stock and the breadth of range that we carry. We care about our customers; we believe children are like scientists; if at first they don't succeed they keep trying again and again. Our toys are thought provoking and cater to this way of playing, by complementing a child’s imagination. We have play tables dispersed around the store where children can express their imagination and enjoy hands on play with our products. Our best-sellers span many categories, like

our product offering. Because we are based in an agricultural area and have one of the best ranges of agricultural toys in Ireland, this is our most popular section and our ranges cater for both kids and adult collectors. We stock a whole list of brands including Rolly, Siku, Universal, Ros, Britains, Brushwood, Van Manen, and Irish brands The Field and Millwood Crafts. Following our Nuremberg trip, even more suppliers will be joining this growing category. We also have a huge selection of wooden toys; the biggest in Ireland, featuring product ranges including Grimms, Hape, Haba, Plan, Goki, Orange Tree Toys and Wobbel, plus many more – and again, there are even more to come this year. Schleich has performed well for us over the years – we have a huge portfolio of product and are recognised as being a leading Schleich stockist. Other best-selling brands for us include Lego, Playmobil, Gotz, Monchhichi and Magformers. Our vehicle range is comprehensive, covering as many models and toys as we can, with Bruder and Hape some examples of brands on offer. We have an outdoor presence that has done very well for us over the years, but it is of course very seasonal and depends on the local weather, which is unpredictable.

Toy World 37

We have found science to be an extremely strong category over the past few years and have ever-increasing sales in this sector. Our selection of science toys generates wonder and awe among our customers, due to the breadth of our selection and the areas of interest that are included in it. We currently have in excess of 120 science sets, covering categories like bugs and insects, human bodies, atoms, genetics, engineering, construction and space travel. The many news stories about science and the environment have stimulated a lot of interest in this category. Parents today want to encourage their children to become more inquisitive, inventive and aware. Here in Ireland, we have the Young Scientists exhibition, which is a competition designed for schools to participate in and is held in Dublin each January. It encourages hundreds, if not thousands, to get involved in an extensive range of sciences, creating interest in the science zone within our store and bringing the sciences to the fore in a big way. We are forever refreshing our ranges and looking for new ideas and selections. Over the past year we have introduced a whole new selection of sensory toys, and in September 2019, we introduced a seven-metre wall of children's books. Both of these new introductions have proved very popular with customers. We have more plans for 2020 – once I have finished looking through all the catalogues from the fairs, we will get the ball rolling. We have attended London Toy Fair for almost all of the 40 plus years I’ve been in the toy business, and this year we were at Nuremberg too for the whole five-day duration. We went to both shows ready to be impressed, but found ourselves truly amazed at the innovation and all the creative products we saw. Spring Fair, however, was disappointing from a toy perspective. Toys made up less than a quarter of Hall 5. I am sure from a gift retailer perspective, there was lots to see, however this show will probably not be on our list next year since it is just toys we are after. Having been in the toy industry for over 40 years, I now find myself dealing with the grandchildren of my original child customers, which is a real pleasure. I am inspired by seeing children enjoying their toys in their own inventive and imaginative way, not the manufacturer’s way or anyone else’s. My thoughts on simplicity and the importance of play are summed up perfectly in a poem by Anita Wadley called ‘Just Playing’, which concludes: “Today, I am a child and my work is play.”


Talking Shop Dave Tree - All The Cool Stuff, Fordingbridge Christmas didn’t break any records for us last year, but it was good enough. There wasn’t a standout best-seller like there has been in previous years; in 2018 everyone was making a grab for L.O.L. Surprise, the year before that it was Hatchimals. As we’re in the middle of nowhere, really, we do benefit when there’s a craze or trend to drive people through our doors. However, it was a strong Christmas for evergreen brands such as Lego and Playmobil. There was a big emphasis on Star Wars, but Harry Potter also did particularly well, fuelled by the advent calendar. This was a master stroke on Lego’s part, because it essentially acted like a daily advert for Harry Potter Lego. Friends Lego did well, but that’s more of a one-off purchase for adult fans of the series. Licensed board games such as Monopoly and Cluedo tend to make a great impulse gift option, but the non-licensed versions performed just as strongly this Christmas. Playmobil’s main strength is the vast range of products at a variety of price points, and at Christmas this is where the brand really comes into its own. Fortnite sold really well, but the question is whether this is selling for kids or for older teenage boys, whose parents see the property as a safe bet if they are unsure what to get them. Plush toys performed well, particularly Ty, which is always a reliable range. We’ve had a better supply of L.O.L. this year, but everyone stocks it now and customers don’t need to make a pilgrimage out to us for it. Pokémon was hugely in demand, especially the core card game itself. The metal gift tin sets were really popular. I’m sure that for some retailers, certain toys stood out head and shoulders above everything else at Christmas, but for us it was an even spread, and it was in-store activity that influenced sales. For example, we hold Pokémon trading days, which are set up by Asmodee, and these definitely boosted sales. We celebrated our 10th anniversary last year, but, despite all our experience, changing shopping habits and culture still present us with challenges. October and November are often disappointingly slow; the customers come in, but use us like a showroom. You hear the dreaded words, “put it on the Christmas list,” and you know you’ll never see those people again, they’ll almost certainly go and buy that toy or game online. The reality is that we’re no more expensive than anyone else, but there’s an ongoing assumption

that online is going to be cheaper. This is a stumbling block that everyone in the independent sector faces. Because of our location, customers can’t get mobile phone signal, so they walk out of the store in order to research prices online and then vanish. You can’t challenge people about it either, if you catch them doing it, as it makes them uncomfortable and puts them on the back foot. I like to think that I offer an expert advisory service here at the store. I help customers by offering expertise on what different ages of child might be into, what’s popular right now, appropriate games or gifts for certain events, the best brands to suit their needs, or the toy that might keep their child occupied for longest. Many customers do appreciate it. One of our biggest challenges is getting the message across that people should be supporting indies year-round, not just at Christmas. Visa puts out an advertising campaign each year about doing festive shopping locally, and this resonates with consumers. Campaigns do work; shoppers are shunning plastic bags and are now far more aware of single use plastics. But consistent messaging is key. Shopping on your local high street offers an experience, it gets you out of the house, interacting, picking up that Barbie and buying it from a person, rather than sitting behind a smartphone and ordering it at home. I saw a very interesting advert regarding high streets, which made use of the ‘use it or lose it’ argument. I’m not a fan of

that, it’s guilt tripping and no one wants to be preached to, but what I did really like is that it also touched upon what shopping on the high street can do for your mental health. Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high, and while the campaign wasn’t blaming online shopping, it was saying that we spend too much time online. Never underestimate the power of a warm hello and a friendly goodbye. Campaigns usually only focus on what shopping locally will plough into the economy, or how many jobs it provides, so to hear a totally new, hugely relevant angle being promoted was really interesting. Board games have seen a massive resurgence recently, again because of that social element. I had a guy come into the store recently who runs a helpline for over 50s; he told me that the biggest concern his callers have is that they’re lonely and want to know where they can go to interact with people. It wasn’t to do with reducing bills, or debt or will writing – it was purely the need for human interaction. As we move forward with our society this will become a bigger problem, and I believe that local shops and high streets will be needed more than ever. Shopping and retail will become valued for the social aspects, rather than simply a means to pick up potatoes and the daily paper. I’ve never had it easy here at the store. I opened the shop at the height of the credit crunch, so I’ve constantly had to live off my wits in one way or another, and just do what I can. However, you can always look forward to the next big thing when it comes to toys. It might be a pocket money craze or a smash-hit licence. Over the last 10 years we’ve seen a gradual shift in marketing, and we now sell just as much to adults as we do to kids. Few toy companies are stagnant; they’re always looking for a way to innovate and capture new consumers. Sometimes they get it wrong, but there are so many out there who are doing it incredibly well and it’s brilliant to see all the new products at the major toy fairs. I’m an eternal optimist, but how the rest of the year will pan out remains to seen, especially now we are post-Brexit. For better or worse, we need to dust ourselves off and push forward. Damage has been done by the lack of direction and planning with Brexit, but hey - at least there’s never a dull moment.

Harry Stacey - Harry’s Toy Chest, Truro, Cornwall I opened Harry’s Toy Chest in December 2019, and its been going fantastically well; better than I ever expected. I was previously in business for about two years just down the street in Truro’s Pannier market, however I wasn’t getting the footfall I wanted. When I opened the shop, I was blown away. There was quite literally a queue going down the entire street. I had a film crew here and I was even on the radio. I’ve always loved toys ever since I was a kid and I have always had an entrepreneurial passion, which all began when I started selling sweets in secondary school. My entrepreneurship really kickstarted once I got back into Lego and started selling some items on

eBay a few years ago. Then I started selling on a small flea market in Truro, which has sadly closed now. My move to Pannier market really helped me boost business; the market was an excellent trade platform and helped build up my customer reputation, which made me want to give the high street a go and open up a shop. Business has been really good, it slowed down a bit in January following the crazy Christmas rush, but weekends remain consistently busy, especially Saturdays. The new Pokémon trading cards arrived in early February, which I accompanied with promotions. Features like this help keep things

Toy World 38

interesting and increase footfall. I would definitely say Harry’s Toy Chest is unique; although we have many toy stores around the area, including a Toymaster across the street which is visible from my store window, I like to think I offer something different. Those companies are really big and successful, but I’ve tried to create a more individual shopping experience. As well as new stock, I sell a lot of second hand items, as well as vintage Lego sets and other toys and collectibles that are not available anymore. This has enabled me to build up my own customer base. A sign outside reads ‘buyer and seller of quality toys and games’, to which many


indie viewpoint people have responded by bringing lots of goodies into the shop. One customer brought in his entire Pokémon card collection and someone else recently brought in vintage Star Trek figures. It is all about connections and word of mouth. Apart from my distinctive offering, I have made an effort to make the shop look interesting. I’ve added LED lights and artwork to the windows, plus I host individual events like raffle days. My aim is to make Harry’s a fun and unique shopping experience. Having an online presence on Facebook has helped increase footfall, and my to-do list involves getting a website up and running this year. I hear of more and more independent toy shops closing, which is a shame, but I have built up a strong customer base from my time in Pannier market, so I am able to appeal to both new and existing customers. Hopefully, new features like a website will only strengthen the business. Lego is my best-seller and I have invested a lot of time and money in the brand, just from my individual passion. Sylvanian families and Pokémon cards perform well, and even old school items like Littlest Pet Shop and Tamagotchi have been selling really well recently. I offer both new and old Lego sets. Lego sets I grew up with often come through the door and sometimes it’s hard to put them on sale because I want them for myself! Brand new ranges like Harry Potter and Star Wars are doing very well. I also have a pick and mix area for bricks which is always popular amongst customers. I intend to expand the range of outdoor toys by summertime. There’s a lot of opportunity for such products, being based in Cornwall. In summer, the population here almost doubles with so many tourists looking for a beach destination. My plan is to have a display table outside the shop for outdoor items. Until then my main focus is indoor toys and collectibles. Within this is a vast range of science fiction toys, featuring Star Wars, Star Trek and Transformers. Action vehicles is an area to be developed in the future. Until recently there was a Hawkins Bazaar nearby which sold a vast range of action vehicles. Since that competition is no longer available, there should be scope for me to increase my own product range in the shop. I am always looking to expand my range and am currently trying to lease the second floor of the shop, to allow more space for an even wider offering. I would like to bring in something interactive like a Lego building room for the kids; space to play. I have taken many trips abroad and explored the toy shops there, including the original Duncan’s Toy Chest from Home Alone II in New York, which gave me the inspiration for the name of the store. Pokémon cards is a big selling point for me so whilst in Japan recently, I took the opportunity to get exclusive cards and items that are not available in England. For 2020, my ultimate goal is to try and improve stock levels, and maintain them at all times - I’m still developing relationships with suppliers. I would also love to get upstairs done and the website live. With the business now up and running, I will be making plans to attend the toy fairs next toy fair season to explore how I can develop even further.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

A winning team

A

s usual, we had a jam-packed January. All the trade shows and in-store sales, which showed that everyone was waiting for payday at the end of the month, kept us busy. Takings were slightly up for January, which we were delighted with. It was a slower month for footfall, but the customers that were putting their hands in their pockets were spending more. The new products from L.O.L. really helped towards the end of the month; it is very much a case of keeping up with the new lines from L.O.L. now, as that is where the money is. The new Lego releases always help at this time of year; the new Speed Champions were our bestsellers, along with the new Minecraft lines. The Football 2020 stickers from Panini have also got off to a really good start. We had a great Toy Fair, and the highlight was being announced as a winner at the 2019 Toy Retailer awards. This is a job that we love doing, and it makes it even better to be recognised in the industry for it. Congratulations to all the other winners. It was a great evening; Mark especially enjoyed the pepperoni pizza washed down with a Peroni. All our store managers joined us for the occasion and we all thoroughly enjoyed celebrating afterwards, although it is testament to what a fantastic team we have that everyone was ready for the show bright and early the following morning. We really enjoyed Toy Fair and, although we are still looking for a new craze to arrive, there were lots of new lines to get excited about. One supplier who really impressed us was Funrise. We have done really well with the Fart Ninjas over the last few months, and they are still going strong now. The new Bright Fairy Friends looks like a great new collectible line for later this year, which is a bit different to everything out there. Our two stand-out stands were Character Options and Spin Master – although Character just edges it, due to the fantastic lunch. Character had a really strong range across all categories, too many to name. However, we loved the wooden Peppa Pig range, a real step in the right direction for sustainability, while providing a fantastic product. Spin Master has grown into one of our top suppliers now and we are very keen on the new Batman range, which looks really impressive and is extremely wellpriced. Paw Patrol is still going from strength to strength, and there was something in a secret room which we cannot mention due to an NDA which looked very innovative. John Adams had a couple of great new games, including Windy Knickers, which is more fun than it sounds. We did our usual day trip to the NEC on Sunday, and it was definitely worth a trip. We found some great new lines on the HTI stand. We also had a good look around for some new pre-school lines, some fun pocket money lines and some craft ranges. We were also impressed with the facelift at Wetherspoons, which gave us our bacon sandwich to start the day. We are starting to take in our outdoor range for the year now. We started trading with Dolu last year, as they have a fantastic range of outdoor lines. Great new lines on show that we liked the look of included a brilliant unicorn trike and a sand and water table, both expertly demonstrated by Steve Richardson. MV Sports also had some really good new lines, including licensed Teepee tents, which we have been hunting for, along with the Kickmaster football range, which always works well for us. We’re hoping some exciting new films will drive sales over the next few weeks. If Trolls World Tour can do as well as the first film, we will be delighted, and the next Peter Rabbit film is well timed for Easter, which should help us to repeat the success we had with the product last time.

Toy World 39


Viewpoint Don’t all shout at once!

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

R

esearch shows that 90% of millennials believe it is up to us manufacturers, retailers, brand owners and developers – to act responsibly in tackling environmental issues. 44% of millennials claim that they will only shop at retailers which reflect their values. Climate change is the burning issue (literally) which is increasingly setting the agenda as to which values matter most to them. However, toy shoppers will not change their behaviour comprehensively and voluntarily unless it is made seamlessly easy and seemingly without deprivation (like a successful calorie-controlled diet). In those circumstances, they will then respond proactively with their feet and their wallets. At Spielwarenmesse, Nuremberg 2020, the message was clear: as an industry, we are rising to the challenge. We are investing our R&D budgets to improve sustainability in the design and manufacture of toys. It is no longer inevitable that we will be caught short as the poor relation, exposed and shamed in all our colourful plastic glory, to the other categories which our toys sit adjacent to at retail, be they in food, beverage, household, clothing, health or beauty. In every exhibitor hall in Nuremberg, a plethora of claims were made about sustainability. Many exhibitors proudly unveiled their brand’s newfound sustainability, the culmination of careful investment of resources and expertise. A few exhibitors promoted their sustainable claims as a unique competitive advantage. “Recycled plastic was used to make this product”. “All our packaging is 100% recyclable”. “We only use sustainably sourced materials”. “We operate within a circular economy”. “We’re made of FSC wood and water-based paints”. “We’re made of bamboo, rice husks, bio plastics”. “Recycle our packaging… oh but, not that bit, or that bit.” I am an expert in shopper behaviour at retail and an expert in marketing to kids and adults, consumers in the home, but I am

not qualified to comment on or judge structural engineering, the chemistry of sustainable production (I dropped chemistry at the age of 13) or the logistics of a circular economy. I am not qualified… and neither is your average toy shopper. Nor do they have the time or the inclination to spend it educating themselves about the nuances and detail behind every claim being made about sustainability. The toy industry can do much, in its benevolence, to assuage the guilt of the conscious consumer and nudge the behaviour of the notso-conscious consumer. The most important next step is for companies to stop treating each development in sustainability as a potential competitive advantage for their brand - the “my sustainability is better than yours” approach, and to stop shouting all at once. It only serves to confuse shoppers. When shoppers are overloaded with competing messages, they feel misled, cynical and unable to trust any information, however authentic. They disengage or reach a point of decision paralysis. They may choose to act based on the simplest of messages, the lowest common denominator and “green washing”, and choose to overlook all that strenuous and genuine investment made by companies with conscience to find genuinely green alternatives and innovative solutions. It is not just down to brands, of course. There are a few ways in which retailers, especially online, can support shoppers by providing clarification and nudging their behaviours in the right direction with incentives and rewards. What works? What can be synergised between brand and retailer? • Incentives to encourage shoppers to “buy green and dispose green”. There is nothing better than a financial incentive to nudge the right behaviour and that includes rewarding shoppers with a small discount for increasing their knowledge of sustainability using online user guides.

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• S imple, easy to visualise messages, such as “This toy is made using 11 recycled plastic milk cartons”. More complex toys which use multiple materials can, nevertheless, make these claims too for some of their components. • S imple, easy and visualised instructions on how to separate components of product or packaging for recycling, making sure that end of life instructions for the disposal of toys are easy to memorise or locate and motivating to act upon. • H ow about adding a prompt during the customer review process which encourages reviewers to rate the toys they have bought based on durability, longevity and ease of recycling? This will enable brands to better justify the premium they have need to charge to offset the financial cost sustainability. There are plenty of parents who will continue to buy toys made of non-recycled plastic, knowing of its impact on the environment. I was listening to parents in research only last week sucking the air between their teeth and saying “all that plastic, it’s a shame isn’t it… but if my child wants the toy, I will get it for them, regardless.” (I have taken the liberty to paraphrase, of course). Without a cohesive, independently monitored and credible Sustainability Rating System, spanning toys and all other categories, we need to work together pre-competitively and in unison to nudge shoppers in the right direction. A plea on behalf of the thousands of confused and frustrated parents we listen to continuously at Consumer Fluent, who simply want to buy a toy with an easy conscience but cannot cut through the cacophony of brands shouting their green credentials all at once: Ask not what your shoppers can do for you, but what you can do for your shoppers.


The Sales Partnership Distributors Ltd Chiltern House, 45 Station Road Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1AT Tel.: +44 1491 412415 Fax: +44 1491 412915 Contact Name - James Triptree sales@thesalespartnership.com

www.bruder.de


Feature

Action Vehicles

The wheel thing The action vehicles category revs into 2020 with new licences, returning classics and some major tech innovation. Toy World gets behind the wheel for an in-depth look at what’ll be hitting the road this year.

M

attel’s Hot Wheels range continues to be a perennial favourite, a fact which Pauline De La Riviere, marketing director Mattel UK is extremely proud of. “Hot Wheels is the No.1 selling toy in the world, our diecast is the No.2 selling toy in the UK and we’re growing 67% YOY. We were proud to receive The NPD Group’s European Toy Industry Award for Top Gaining Toy Property of 2019 in the Vehicles category.” Pauline puts the brand’s success down to the designs the range offers, and the connection with both car culture and pop culture. “After 13 years at Mattel, it still amazes me how detailed the designs are; they truly are amazing replicas of some of the biggest and most iconic car brands in the world. We work with the biggest movie properties, and increasingly pop culture icons. Hot Wheels also has really cool and unique original cars that are complete creations and much-loved characters in their own right, like the Bone Shaker.” This year sees the return of the Micro Machines brand, thanks to global master toy licensee Jazwares. A best-selling line featuring collectible component style play sets and miniature vehicles, Micro Machines originally became a hit in the mid-1980s, when it was manufactured by Galoob. The new collection of Micro Machines is expected to hit shelves in autumn and will range from individual collectible vehicles to the hero Super Van City play set. Initial reaction has been positive; with the strength of the collectibles category continuing to grow, the rebirth looks certain to be a hit with retailers and consumers alike. Elsewhere in the Actin Vehicles category, Scalextric has been offering a dynamic slot racing experience for over 60 years, with sets catering for everyone from the very young to “kidults” of all ages. Smaller systems for younger kids feature crash resistant

cars with strong magnets to help them stay on the track; ideal for enthusiastic racers that haven’t quite mastered the speed:control ratio. The standard 1:32 scale system offers everything from entry level basic Scalextric sets to seats which feature app race control and wireless hand control, to sets which allow fans to race six cars across two lanes. For 2020, Scalextric has created a new Film and TV category, featuring a raft of big names beloved across both the big and small screen. “Our key new licences offer Scalextric, and our retailers, the opportunity to branch out to new markets, expanding beyond the traditional motorsport fans to also cater to fans of films and TV franchises,” explains Sarah Frame, brand manager. “The Film and TV category features fan favourites such as the Back to the Future DeLorean time machine, plus Batman and Joker inspired cars. Fans of James Bond can buy the new Aston Martin cars featured in the films, while younger racers can enjoy our new James Bond set, as well as a Batman vs Joker set and a Ryan’s World set.” Over the past few years, the RC category has become somewhat crowded, and it is more important than even for manufacturers to offer their own USP or distinctive play experience. Philip Redmond, CEO of Nikko Toys told Toy World, “Nikko Toys is committed to developing action vehicles with distinctive, long lasting play experience and superior durability. We want children to be surprised and excited by the features of their action vehicle, and the key for this is the combination of quality and durability, and the unique special functions which Nikko is renowned for. We are particularly excited about the launch of the new Omni-X. The unique wheel-in-wheel construction gives racing and drifting an extra dimension never experienced before.” Philip believes that, in store, the RC category can be confusing for customers. A wide variety of products and extreme differences in quality, pricing

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- and a lot of non-branded products - can make RC shelves challenging for consumers to navigate and find the right products. He suggests that retailers concentrate on a leaner range, with a re-emphasis on quality, price point and leading brands, and explains how Nikko can support retailers stocking its range. “We are in the process of selecting key retail partners, and together we will develop strong programmes to drive sales in store and online. Offering a sound mix of activation at POS with exciting events for kids, and strong social media campaigns on Facebook, YouTube, Tik Tok and Instagram, we will also host fun online and in-store racing challenges with influencers.” The need to create in-store theatre is echoed by David Mordecai, CEO of Tobar, distributor of the Bburago and Maisto vehicle ranges, who highlighted the importance of effective display: “We can create theatre now within stores, so that the products come to life. We can offer retailers in house solutions such as TVs, branded bays, POS and display stands, backed up by a strong marketing campaign highlighting the new items for 2020.” Offering attractive pricing is another factor which David deems extremely important. “Bburago is the only brand with an affordable F1 range of products, including Lewis Hamilton. Maisto has the Fresh Metal range of die cast with an unrivalled licensed range, as well as RC product which is comprehensive across all price points and, importantly for retailers, is highly reliable with extremely low returns. Last year we reduced all retail price points so that they are now cheaper than the competition and offer the retailer more margin too.” Over the following pages, Toy World looks at the products that young petrol heads will be seeking out this year.


Š2020 Mattel. All rights reserved.


Action Vehicles

Nikko Toys +852 2-1119077 | www.nikkotoys.com Omni-X is the unique wheel-in-wheel construction which gives driving and drifting another dimension. Each wheel has eight rollers incorporated into a wheel which enables motor enthusiasts to perform extreme drift and spinning actions. The remote ensures easy handling and offers, next to traditional controls, three instant access action buttons for even more actions. Elite Trucks offers top of the line off-road racing performance. With a quick charge 9.6v battery and a 360 drive motor, these trucks pack a ton of power in a tough body. Kids can race at a speed of over 20 kmph (12 mph). Under the strong, light weight vacuum-formed body lies a fully independent suspension chassis with metal steering linkages and a rear differential. Also available from Nikko is Color Wheels, which implements patent-pending colour change technology. The colour of the whole vehicle can be changed by spinning the wheel on the roof or pushing the buttons for a light changing display with music and motorised racing. Speed Swipe is a high-tech race car, once started up, kids can swipe their hands over the top of the car to activate the engine revs and lights. The more they swipe, the more it revs and the further the Speed Swipe will race. Mega Monsters bring the ancient power of the Jurassic into any race. The Beast Buggy combines the extreme off-road power and speed of a race buggy with the chomping mouth, glowing eyes and tongue of a velociraptor. The mighty Tricera Truck is the perfect combination of Baja Truck with the head-butting power and glowing eyes of a Triceratops. Each style includes lights, sounds, motorised driving and animatronic action. The Machine Maker City Service set lets kids build, take apart and rebuild their favourite city service vehicles. They can build a Fire Truck, Garbage Truck and Tow truck, then mix and match to invent their own new machine. Each vehicle includes vehicle parts, a screwdriver, a driver action figure and a manual.

HTI 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk The growth of the Teamsterz brand remains an integral component of HTI’s strategy, meaning significant investment and planning has gone into perfecting the product range for the year ahead. The Teamsterz die-cast range has expanded again for 2020, with numerous new lines ready to hit shelves this spring. The team continuously work to refresh the diecast vehicle designs and graphics each season, adding to the collectibility value of these items. The popular vehicles come in various scales, with the Street Machines and Street Kingz featuring high quality die-cast bodies with independent free-moving wheels. Several new playsets have been introduced into the Teamsterz Street Machines and Street Kingz ranges, including the Air Sea Rescue Team, Cargo Transporters and Speed Bike Racers, along with the dual branded JCB construction set. Teamsterz Motorisation category continues to flourish this season with several new additions to the range, all of which feature a mixture of lights, sounds and movement. Under the spotlight this spring are the brand-new Monster Moverz - interactive character-inspired toy vehicles. The Dino Escape and Alien Escape vehicles haul cargo that is trying to break free. Motorised drive features mean the vehicles will move forwards at the touch of a button with light and sound effects, while pressing the button on top of the cage will see the alien or dinosaur pop out. Robo Shark is available in an assortment of two colours and features thrilling sound effects and light up features, as well as a motorised snapping jaw. Kids simply press the button to watch the vehicle move forward and pull a wheelie.

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For more information on the Scalextric 2020 range, visit www.scalextric.com call us on 01843 233502 or email us at customerservices.uk@hornby.com /officialscalextric

/scalextric

@scalextric

/officialscalextric

BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics. WB SHIELDs TM & © WBEI. (s20) © Universal City Studios LLC and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Action Vehicles

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com For 2020, Mattel continues to showcase a strong line up of world-class die cast car brands, including Hot Wheels and Disney Pixar Cars. The company kicked off the year with an immersive live experience. The Hot Wheels Monster Trucks tour, by Live Nation, visited venues across the country to bring the thrill of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks to life, combining jumps, stunts, crashing and smashing action in true Hot Wheels style. The new Hot Wheels Monster Trucks range brings excitement to the line-up as it welcomes new die cast trucks and the first ever Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Loop Playset. The set includes a Hot Wheels Monster Truck as well as a Hot Wheels Basic Car. Also new for spring/summer is the Hot Wheels City Robo Shark, which lets kids build their own Hot Wheels city by connecting other play sets together. Their skills are then put to the test when they load their car into the ship-shaped launcher and create stunts among the waves in an effort to avoid being chomped by the Robo Shark. If the Hot Wheels Colour Shifter cars land in the Robo Shark's jaws, they will change colour in the shark's belly. Kids then simply open the jaws and reset it to try again. Expanding the world of Hot Wheels are the new Hot Wheels Gorilla Rage Garage Attack play set and the Hot Wheels City Super Fire House Rescue. All Hot Wheels city play sets are compatible with the orange track and other sets, making them ideal for fueling imagination and inspiring storytelling. Hot Wheels will also be introducing a variety of Track Builder packs with innovative new components to build, stunt and boost. The 20” tall Hot Wheels Triple Loop kit makes tracks 3x more fun with Mattel’s first ever triple loop. Kids can amp up the challenge with multi-use pieces for endless combinations, building a gravity drop or making a daredevil jump, and can connect to other track builder sets for amped up challenges with friends. Also new for spring/summer is the Hot Wheels Multi-Lane Speed box, which offers endless options for cool stunts and side-by-side racing.offers plenty of options for stunts and side-by-side racing. In 2020, Hot Wheels introduces Gaming Characters to its die cast car range including Super Mario, Street Fighter, Minecraft and Overwatch. Fans of Disney Pixar Cars will enjoy the new XRS Rocket Racing Super Loop Trackset, which delivers extreme Cars competition thrills. The kick-back launcher propels vehicles at speed, so kids can race through the loop as flames spin from the back of their favorite racer. Complete with a 1:55 scale XRS Rocket Racer Lightning McQueen, kids can choose to compete on a straight track or flip the diverter to launch into crazy stunts.

Hornby (Scalextric) 01843 233 500 | www.hornby.com Scalextric has announced the next generation of Scalextric Spark Plug, in a new app featuring the characters from DC Comics Batman. This will feature in the Batman vs Joker set that is controllable by iOS or Android smart device. The set will include two Spark Plug dongles, a Joker Car, a Batman Car and a ‘bash n crash’ designed to take opponents out. The track layout includes a jump, crossroads and side swipe. The enhanced gameplay now includes 10 lives; if a player knocks their opponent off the track or crashes, they lose a life. Players can also personalise the race by playing as their favourite hero or villain from the Batman franchise, or become their favourite character by adding filters to their photo. To mark the 35th Anniversary of the first Back to the Future Film, Scalextric will be releasing a brand-new DeLorean, which comes complete with a working flux capacitor light. The car features a removable lightning rod conductor and detailed decoration that includes the iconic ‘OUTATIME’ registration plate. The latest instalment of the James Bond film franchise, No Time to Die, features a plethora of Bond vehicles, old and new. Scalextric will be producing the iconic Aston Martin DB5 complete with an Italian number plate, as well as the Aston Martin V8 in 1:32 scale, which is making its second appearance in a Bond film. Other Scalextric slot car releases include an Only Fools and Horses twin pack, featuring Del Boy's yellow Reliant Regal, which lacks road tax but comes with a pair of fluffy dice as standard. Paired with it is Del Boy's tastefully decorated Ford Capri Mk III. For younger fans, a series of new Micro Scalextric sets includes Ryan’s World, James Bond and Batman vs Joker. Each of the sets feature over four metres of track with nine layout options, including a loop-the-loop and half pipe. New and exciting track packs mean that players can build on their 1:64 Micro Scalextric layout and create new racing tracks.

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Action Vehicles

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Funrise has expanded its Cat vehicle range this year to include machines in a wide range of styles with innovative features including freewheeling toys, motorised toys, toys with lights and sounds and metal toys. New for spring are the Future Force and Steel collections. Cat Steel introduces sizeable, realistic vehicles for the most robust of sandpit play, including a choice of Dump Trucks, Wheel Loaders and the impressive 20” Steel Excavator. Or for a next-generation glow effect with the sleekest of futuristic designs, the Cat Future Force has electric power sounds and articulated parts for an action-packed play experience. Ensuring continual innovation for the Cat product line development for autumn, the Junior Crew offers characterised vehicles which are ideal for younger builders. With a choice of Construction Pals and Buddies plus Lil Movers, each vehicle has its own features to discover. For educational play, Fix It Philip is a construction truck that opens out into a lights and sounds tool bench, complete with screws, tools and accessories which all have a specific purpose. Also not to be missed will be the Cat Mega Mover RC, featuring All-Terrain performance, real payload suspension and lights and sounds. For more information about Funrise’s Caterpillar range, please email Salesuk@funrise.com.

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com Britains is Europe’s oldest specialist creator of scale farm models including tractors, implements and accessories. These 1:32 scale die cast replicas are ideal for collectors looking for premium models. Farm in a Box is Britains’ hero toy for 2020, and offers a high quality toy in packaging that provides more than just a plastic casing. Instead, the cardboard box unfolds to reveal a farmyard play set which will entertain young farming fans with hours of imaginative play. The new launch of the John Deere 8RX 410, a part of the Britains Prestige range, accompanied the launch of the real tractor launch at Agritechnica 2019. Britains has also expanded its global licensed offering with the introduction of Claas, one of the biggest agricultural licensees in the world. The new partnership will see the launch of the Claas Xerion 5000 model, which comes with detailed features and a rotating cab, at the National Ploughing Show in September. Britains at Work models will be new additions as part of a special JCB range. The Rusty JCB 3C Mark III and the Muddy JCB Mini Excavator are the first of their style within the range. Featuring ‘rusty’ and ‘muddy’ decals, the new introductions will appeal both to young fans and collectors.

Bruder 01491 412 415 | www.bruder.de The Land Rover Defender Station Wagon from Bruder, is a powerful tractor vehicle combining off-road qualities and the timeless Land Rover design. In addition to the opening rear door and side doors, the bonnet opens to show off the detailed engine block. The rear seat and the drawbar coupling can also be removed. Suspension on both axles means there are no terrain boundaries during play time, and the front axle can also be manoeuvred using the additional steering column to give young motor enthusiasts a more realistic playing experience. The Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle model is a retro bike in flat track racer style that features all the typical elements, such as the seat and short exhaust. Kids can use the modern trailer which accompanies the Land Rover to transport the motorbike. The trailer features a fold-down ramp and outriggers at the front as well as rear. The Ducati motorcycle can be secured on the loading area using the enclosed transport brackets, and the driver comes complete with authentic clothing, helmet and gloves. Manufactured from high quality plastics, the model is suitable for children aged four years and above and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. The Ducati with biker is also available individually, without the Land Rover and trailer.

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Action Vehicles

Mookie 01525 722769 | www.mookie.co.uk Silverlit’s technological street brand, Exost, is launching three new products that were demoed for the first time at the London Toy Fair in January. For children aged five and above, Exost’s Revolt, HyperDrift and Motodrift are in-stores from July. Revolt is the ultimate twist and turn, transforming stunt vehicle; the front and back of the car body is able to twist and move like a snake while giving players the ability to drive on all terrains, making it perfect for indoor and outdoor play. The specially designed tyres on HyperDrift allow drivers to perform ultra-hyper drifts, redefining drifting with a speedy design and the ability to perform a U-shaped drift. The Motodrift RC motorcycle defies all obstacles and allows players to twist and drift on any surface. Motodrift features a rotating back wheel so that players can shift between driving and drifting for ultimate performance power. HyperDrift and Motodrift both feature a 2.4GHz RC which allows players to race and drift with multiple cars, increasing the opportunities for play and challenges. Exost’s latest additions to its RC range form part of an extensive range of toy cars for boys and girls aged 5-14 years.

Jazwares

020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com In 2019, Wicked Cool Toys, recently acquired by Jazwares, was named the global master toy licensee for one of the hottest toy lines of the 1980s and 1990s: Micro Machines. Now it is tapping into the nostalgia of original fans for a modern update, reviving the popular miniature vehicle playsets for kids today. Originally created in the mid-1980s by Galoob, which then became part of Hasbro, Micro Machines was a top-selling line featuring collectible component style playsets and miniature vehicles, such as model cars and trucks, emergency vehicles, motorcycles and airplanes. Although Micro Machines was known for its miniature automobiles, one of its most popular items was Super Van City, a fold-out van complete with its own compact city and playset within. Since joining forces with Jazwares, Micro Machines has been working on bringing back the classic toy automobile collections, and one of the first items to be revived is the Super Van City. Jazwares’ updated take on the iconic Micro Machines set transforms from Super Van to Super City and is sure to provide kids with tons of adventure and stories as they collect and connect their Micro Machines universe. With over 20 action-packed areas and locations to play including a working bridge, construction site, high rise building, drag strip, tons of ramps and the ability to connect to other playsets, Super Van City brings the world of Micro Machines to life. The new collection of Micro Machines is expected to hit store shelves in the fall of 2020. Micro Machines has provided children everywhere with a sense of creativity and adventure for over three decades and is sure to reignite similar feelings in a new generation of kids with the updated 2020 automobile line. This summer Jazwares is launching Power Treads: an innovative new way to play from WowWee suitable for ages five plus. Power Treads are mighty machines that flip, rip and roam. Kids can build their own vehicle and then create their own custom course using the Power Treads track set. Track pieces are interchangeable and can be placed closer together for more control or expanded out for a harder route. Household items can be added for the Power Treads to power over, under and through. Power Treads comes with one Power Treads self-powered vehicle, 22 treads, a 14-piece modular track set, two performance boosters and a sticker sheet.

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk Tobar’s distribution relationship with Maisto and Bburago enables it to meet all die cast and RC needs with a range that features prestige brands including Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, Lamborghini, VW and Harley Davidson. 4x4s are well represented too, with a variety of tractors right up to the mighty Rockzilla, a huge monster truck designed to cope with all terrains. This year, the Rock Crawler Pro delivers plenty of power for every pound. This pro-level off-road RC car features 4-wheel steering, and, like the other models in the series, excels at traversing off-road terrain thanks to its huge wheels and articulated spring suspension. Unlike other models, however, this vehicle features steering options; a switch on the controller lets drivers toggle between different modes. In addition to the standard front-wheel steering, the Rock Crawler can also use 4-wheel opposite direction steering to give itself a much tighter turning radius. The 4-wheel same direction mode also allows the car to move diagonally, which is useful for traversing tricky terrain. When paired with all the high-level features consumers have come to expect from the Maisto Rock Crawler series, this innovative tech results in an impressive RC machine. Model car collectors and motor enthusiasts will enjoy the 2020 range from Maisto and Bburago. The classic Ford Capri 2.8 Injection will appeal to all ages of petrol head and has been well received at this year’s shows, as has the latest Lewis Hamilton model collectible. Tobar also offers slot sets, with the My First Slot Set offering strong value for the box size. Attractively priced at around £15, the Tobar Radio Controlled Stunt Car is also new for 2020. This vehicle comes with its own USB charger and offers real pocket rocket power as it zooms and flips around.

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Action Vehicles

Siso Toys UK 01620 674 778 www.simba-dickie-group.de

Siso Toys has a wide array of best-selling Jada Toys including items from popular licences including Marvel, DC, Fast & Furious, Stranger Things and Harry Potter as part of the Hollywood Rides line. Jada Toys has developed a strong Fast & Furious die-cast range comprised of vehicles from across the film franchise. 2020 will see Siso introduce new additions from Hobbs & Shaw and Fast 9 as well as offering firm favourites like Domenic Torreto’s Dodge Charger and Brian’s Nissan Skyline. The die-cast cars come in 1:24 scale and are also available as 1:32 scale cars too. Fast 9 hits cinemas in May 2020 and the company will have new movie additions added to the range. Following Batman’s 80th birthday last year, Siso Toys will be offering a range of 1:32 scale Batmobile cars, across all Batman movies and the popular Batman animated series show. Fans will love the 1:24 scale Batmobiles which also comes with a mini Batman figure. The range includes the Batman mobiles from Batman 1989, Batman Forever and The Dark Knight. Other Hollywood Rides include the Harry Potter range which features the 1:24 scale 1995 Ford Anglia, which also comes with a Harry Potter mini figure, while 1:24 scale Marvel Avengers inspired Muscle Cars include Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and Captain Marvel. Joining the line-up, the Stranger Things 1979 Chevy Camaro Z28 and Chevy K5 Blaze are available in 1:24 die-cast form. Siso’s range of Hollywood Rides will be rolling out from February 2020, with additions including Transformers, Power Rangers and Back to The Future added to the line up later in the year. For more information contact sales@sisotoysuk.com.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Spin Master’s new 2-in-1 Batmobile is equipped with everything Batman needs to keep Gotham City safe and is joined by the Batboat. The new Paw Patrol Mobile Pit Stop Team Vehicle features race car-inspired details; authentic sounds, transforming action and a built-in vehicle launcher. The Charged Up Transforming Deluxe Vehicle can be loaded with the exclusive Charged Up Chase collectible figure. A button on the top will make the vehicle transform, with caster wheels which allow it to drift in any direction, just like in the TV show. Three launchable projectiles and a rescue net are also included. The 2-in-1 Split-Second Vehicle transforms into two rescue vehicles with the push of a button, plus two projectiles are included. The Monster Jam 1:64 scale Reveal the Steel 2-Pack has more details and graphics than ever before, and now the trucks change colour in warm or cold water. Complete with official BKT tyres, unique wheels and an authentic chassis, both trucks included in the 2-Pack include a driver moulded to the driver’s seat and are suitable for kids aged three and over. Also from the Monster Jam range are the all-new Spin Rippers, highly detailed 1:43 scale official Monster Jam trucks. When kids insert the included rip cord into the back, and then rip it out, the truck will unleash its power, spinning over and over.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options is set to unleash the next generation of RC innovation into the action vehicle market this summer with its launch of Laser Battle Hunters. Laser Battle Hunters introduces a multi-directional 4-wheel drive wheel design enabling impressive movement and control. Kids can watch their vehicle crab side-to-side, spin and slide around corners, all at high speeds. Each Laser Battle Hunters set includes two robust RC vehicles Reaper and Shadow - plus controllers, offering strong play appeal and value for money. The aim of the game is for players to defeat their Battle Hunter opponent using the built in infra-red cannon. With an impressive 100-foot range, the battle arena can really be opened-up; simply hunt, aim, fire and hit the opposition three times to win. A graphics pack allows for customisation of the tank, while dual modes allow for solo practice or two-player combat. Laser Battle Hunters will launch in July 2020 with a heavyweight TV and digital marketing campaign.

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Action Vehicles

Hyper Toy Company 07775 706 929 | www.hypertoys.com Hyper Toy Company is extending its portfolio with the launch of the Yamaha Nano Beast – which delivers hobby grade performance with a maximum speed of up to 16mph and comes complete with a launch ramp. The 1:10 scale Ford Velociraptor Hennessey comes complete with a lithium battery, 2.4GHz controller and six wheels for the ultimate traction. The top selling 1:18 scale Pavati RC Wakeboard boat comes with an industry first waterproof remote control and features a tight turning circle for increased play value. The Hyper Drift King is equipped with five motors that enable it to have 4-wheel drive including drift function, lifting and lowering chassis, LED lights, music and programable actions. For more information, please contact james@hypertoys.com or diane@hypertoys.com.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Ben Tennyson, the ultimate boy-hero who can transform into countless alien alter-egos, has his very own three wheeled action vehicle this spring with the launch of the Ben 10 Transforming Omni Cycle from Flair. With the new Transforming Omni-Cycle, Ben 10 can drive through any off-road terrain or zip through the skies, ready to take on the bad guys. Complete with a Rust Buggy Ben action figure, land to air adventures are a breeze; Ben 10 fans simply collapse the wheels to change the Omni-Cycle from cycle to flight mode. The Ben 10 Transforming Omni Cycle is compatible with other playsets and accessories in Flair’s Ben 10 collection. For more information please call, or email sales@flairplc.co.uk.

Alpha Animation 01293 804 599 | www.auldeytoys.us Alpha’s top pre-school property Super Wings sees the launch of Series Four on Cartoonito at the beginning of March, and the successful Super Wings Transforming Vehicles range is set to welcome new characters, Bucky and Crystal, alongside the favourite core characters of the hit animation - Jett, Astra, Dizzy and Paul. The TV-advertised fiveinch toys magically transform from plane to robot in three easy steps, doubling the play value and allowing little fans to easily re-create scenes from the programme. Speeding into the pre-school action vehicle category for 2020 is Alpha UK’s new innovation, UZoom Racers. This vehicle line offers an interactive play pattern to preschoolers thanks to the simple, all-new Rev it Up action. Children aged two plus will love getting hands on with these chunky vehicles, starting up the engine with the touch sensor technology and revving them up them up so they are ready for action. The more they rev, the further they travel. Rev once, and the vehicles will travel 10 feet, but rev three times and they will speed off for an impressive 75 feet. The vehicles include lights and sounds and are available in four colourful designs including a Police Racer, Sports Racer, Hot Rod Racer and Off-Road Racer. The packaging includes a try-me feature which turns the engine turn on and demonstrates the wheels spinning. The UZoom Racers are a perfect pocket money purchase or gift.

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fre FRESH THIS MONTH:

Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In March we have new releases from: IMC Toys, Panini and Amscan International.

The Shellies collectible range IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com

IMC Toys has unveiled new collectible range: the Shellies. The miniature mermaid collectibles were revealed at London Toy Fair in January and received a positive response from customers. Following on from the success of the Bloopies Mermaids, the Shellies join the well-established Bloopies brand, which IMC Toys is looking to strengthen and grow in 2020. IMC Toys continues to innovate with the Bloopies Shellies unique underwater unboxing. When placed under water, the shell magically opens to reveal a character inside. Each character has her own six personalised accessories and comes with a treasure map, which is used to release a pearl hidden inside the shell. There are 12 Shellies to collect, including one rare and one ultra-rare. The shell itself comes with a chain so, once opened, it can be used as a bag. Bloopies Divers, Mermaids and Shellies have kicked off an animated series on YouTube which follows the characters on their adventures. The first season consists of 13 five-minute episodes. The Shellies digital launch will be joined by paid influencer campaigns, giveaway collaborations and dedicated social media channels. This will all be supported by a strong digital campaign with 3.5m views in Q1 2020, reaching 43% of kids and broadcasted on Ketchup TV. The Shellies retail launch will be supported by extensive retail marketing activations and a strong TV campaign. TV is scheduled to run throughout the whole year.

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esh Licensed dress up collection Amscan International 01908 288500 | www.amscan.co.uk

Amscan International has expanded its dress up collection for 2020 to include several new licensed properties. In addition to the recently launched Warner Bros. costume range, Amscan is also welcoming the likes of Paddington Bear and Trolls World Tour to its portfolio, with styles for children. Doctor Who and Stranger Things are also joining the range, with both child and adult sizes, as well as Crash Bandicoot and Money Heist specifically for adults. Selected styles are in stock now with remaining costumes available to pre-order online.

Harry Potter sticker collection

Panini 01604 877 888 www.paninigroup.com Fans of the Harry Potter film franchise can relive all their favourite moments from the Harry Potter films with Panini’s brand-new sticker collection. Fans can test their knowledge of all things Harry Potter and guess from the captions what the stickers will reveal. The collection also includes 50 cards to collect and store inside the cardholder, which comes inside the album. There are 216 stickers to collect including 36 special effect versions. Collectors can get their collection going with a starter pack that includes an album, 22 stickers, four cards and a cardholder. Products include: Starter Packs, Multi-Box and Sticker Packets.

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SUSTAINABILITY

Spotlight

Welcome to our new monthly feature for 2020, in which we’ll be shining a light on those companies and products making strides in sustainability and environmental responsibility. From innovative outers to recycled stuffing, eco-friendly inks to biodegradable components, the toy sector is working hard to address global concerns affecting all corners of every market. In a few months we’ll be running a major sustainability feature with expert opinion from a range of contributors (contact us now if you’d like to get involved), but, here to kick off our first ever Sustainability Spotlight, we have Tomy, Interplay, Geomag and Posh Paws.

BBC Earth plush collection Posh Paws 01268 567317 www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk

Based upon the record-breaking wildlife programmes Planet Earth and Blue Planet, Posh Paws’ BBC Earth collection has been carefully handcrafted to bring each toy animal to life, using only the finest of fabrics and featuring the iconic BBC Earth emblem. From the plains of Africa to the freezing temperatures of the Arctic, there’s an animal for everyone in this range of soft toys. New to the line-up for 2020 is the BBC Earth Babies collection. This cute range of cuddly animal babies offers yet more nature for kids to explore. As part of this launch, Posh Paws will introduce stuffing made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste PET plastic (plastic bottles) to demonstrate a commitment to the environment, along with packaging made using 100% recycled FSC certified craft paper and soy-based inks.

FabLab range | Flower Bed Babies Interplay 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com

Interplay is launching new ranges that are kinder to the environment and integrate packaging into play. Young stylists can look fabulous while caring for the environment in 2020 with the FabLab cosmetics activity kits. FabLab enables girls to explore, play and experiment with their style in a fun and safe way with amazing activity kits such as Glitter Tattoos, Style Lab and Tie Dye. The FabLab range now includes eco-friendly and sustainable cosmetic bioglitter. Bioglitter is the world’s first 100% plastic free, certified biodegradable and verified microplastic free glitter. Interplay is also introducing innovative new beauty box style packaging, which is reusable, reducing waste. Products will offer a new unboxing experience that is user-friendly and eco-friendly. New beauty-box launches include the FabLab Nail Art set featuring the latest nail art tools to create inspiring designs and a built-in mobile phone holder to watch FabLab tutorials, while Hair Flair Deluxe contains everything to wow on social media with on-trend hair styles. The new Flower Bed Babies from the best-selling My Fairy Garden range is a unique new collectible with Grow & Play features. Home to baby fairies, the flower bed comes with plantable seed petals which will grow into a beautiful red plant with edible leaves, while the tub packaging doubles up as a flowerpot.

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Green Range

Geomag 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld. com For 2020, Geomag has announced the introduction of several eco-friendly products, manufactured almost entirely from recycled materials, and has taken necessary steps within its own factory and production process to help reduce the overall environmental impact of its products. The new Green Range includes nine Geomag Classic and Panel items. Each item has a different piece count, from a minimum of 24 to a maximum of 200 components. The Green Classic and Panels sets will incorporate the highest standard of environmentally sustainable components, with magnetic rods, panels and bases made of 100% recycled plastic. In addition, there are four Magicube items containing between eight and 64 cubes. All items in the range will be available from June 2020, with recommended retail prices covering multiple price points. The Green Range will feature prominently in the company’s marketing plans for this year, alongside regular TV advertising for the rest of the Geomag range.

Britains Farm in a Box Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com

Farm in a Box will launch in July at a sub-£30 price point, heralding Britains’ entry into the mass market and introducing farm toys to a whole new audience in a sustainable way. The product answers the need for high quality toys in packaging that provides more than just a plastic casing. Instead, the cardboard outer box cleverly unfolds to reveal a play set which will entertain young farm fans with hours of imaginative play. Every element of the packaging is designed and illustrated to transform it into a farmyard, opening up to reveal a cardboard tractor fitment that transforms into a pair of hay bales, a trailer fitment that turns into a grain silo, and other cardboard elements that double as a cattle feeder, weaning pens, stables, a milking parlour, or a farmhouse with doors that open. All the parts then fold away, dropping back in the box to safely store the toys. Farm in a Box includes the classic and high-quality 1:32 scale model John Deere tractor with front loader, trailer, three round bales and a fence, plus two cows and calves.

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Company Profile

Hunter Price

Updating and innovating Hunter Price has entered this year with ambitious plans for the toy category, bolstered by a raft of high-profile hires and a new partnership with Warner Bros. Toy World spoke to commercial director Jeremy Winburn to find out what lies in store.

How has 2020 started for Hunter Price? It’s ‘showtime’ in more ways than one for Hunter Price right now, not only in terms of the international trade shows we’ve been exhibiting at. 2020 is a huge step change year for us; one in which we can really start to show the world what we’re capable of when it comes to attractively priced, innovative and on-trend consumer products, as well as the added value service we offer. Q1 is all about engagement, bringing our product vision and brand plans to life. The team has been incredibly busy so far, travelling the globe to key shows and events across the US, Europe and Hong Kong. Both our own in-house design team and our partners, including Orb Toys, Warner Bros and Elf Mates (from the creators of The Elf on the Shelf) have got so much to shout about. What’s happening right now is the culmination of 18 solid months of brand planning and strategising. We’re really pleased to be working with Toy World to tell our story. In January, we teamed up with Orb Toys for our first show appearance at the London Toy Fair, which

was a great learning experience and a strong start to our year. We’ve taken away plenty that we can now build on and improve. Orb is a true innovator when it comes to creative play, and we had some hugely productive meetings at the show as a result. People recognise that we’re able to offer something tangibly different for the UK toy market, in the form of exclusive collections and product formats. Spring Fair gave attendees a chance to see the new-look Hunter Price come to life. The stand, our brand partners, the product collections and the new service and support offering were all new, and we were delighted with the reception from visitors and the feedback we received.

The company has brought in several high-profile hires in recent months – why is this investment in talent so important? We’ve grown quickly and had some great successes over the past few years, which is testament to all the hard work and dedication of the Hunter Price family. ‘Innovate or die’ is our motto. You can’t stand

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still for a second in this business, and if we want to become the No. 1 choice for retailers, we need to continue to expand both the team and our offering, by investing in the right people and infrastructure to support our ambitious objectives. Our existing team is fantastic; by expanding it, we’re simply adding even more experience, knowledge and talent. The market has become smaller and our customers have become bigger, and we’re a business which is continuously learning, evolving and adapting. We’ve evolved from a simplistic trading mentality to become a strategic retail expert which understands what our customers want and the internal and external pressures so many are under, especially in this current economic climate. Over 12 months ago, we started to lay the foundations for some huge developments in the industry, not only when it comes to product but also to our added value support service capabilities. One of the first significant hires was Chris Wall, our buying director. After 10 years as trading controller at Poundland, he’s brought a huge amount of experience


and insight to the business. His knowledge of process, pressures and complexities within retailers is unrivalled. Lyndsay Tock-Dooley is now at the helm of our talented in-house design team. As the head of design, Lyndsay joined us last year from Shop Direct, now known as The Very Group, where she took the lead on homewares and developed ranges for Ideal Home and Very, which included the launch of Michelle Keegan’s collections. Kayleigh Spruce, our hugely experienced licensed design manager, has designed the entire Elf Mates collection for us, and brings a real creative edge to the team. In buying, we brought in Nicola Dean, a talented forward-thinking buyer from Matalan, and more recently, trading manager Tim White, an expert in the toy sector, who joined us from Sambro. Last year also saw the launch of our new marketing department, led by Vicki Short. Building and managing our brand development is crucial. We’re now able to offer more support by working closely with our retail and brand partners, to maximise marketing opportunities for our lines.

of licensed product and we’ve had some brilliant feedback already from Warner, as we’re showing the team things it’s not seen before. We’re focusing on high-end design combining quality and a great price, which offers value for both the retailer and consumer. Admittedly, we’re a little behind the curve because of when we signed the agreement and the amount of time we’ve spent developing an outstanding product range, but there’s already a vast amount for retailers to tap into and huge potential for growth. Warner Bros.’ portfolio allows us to show off our creativity and capability to maximum effect.

How important are licensed ranges to your business model, and what do they offer retailers? In a word, very. We’ve been known for our licensed offering for some time, and our approach now is all about offering differentiation within the market.

What can we expect as a result of Hunter Price’s new partnership with Warner Bros.?

At Spring Fair, we unveiled the 2020 collection for Elf Mates, from the creators of The Elf on the Shelf. Hunter Price is the exclusive licensee for this new family-friendly brand, which promotes kindness and offers retailers and consumers a whole new story to tell. Elf Mates offers differentiation in the marketplace and is a value proposition with plenty of potential for success and longevity.

Our Warner Bros. partnership presents a huge amount of opportunity and excitement, and we’ve only just begun. We have great depth and scope within our agreement to explore many product categories, from toys, craft, stationery and pet, to bags, home accessories, outdoor play and inflatables.

As we’ve touched on, our licensed offering and partnerships with the likes of Warner Bros. enable us to create bespoke collections for individual retail partners, which are topical, relevant and in-demand. We want to be known for innovative, design-led products, at a great price.

From the classic portfolio, there’s the likes of Looney Tunes – 2020 marks Bugs Bunny’s 80th birthday – as well as new films for Scooby Doo and Tom & Jerry. In DC, there’s Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Super Hero Girls and Justice League, plus many more. Again, the movie calendar presents plenty of opportunities and our collections are looking strong. In addition, Friends continues to grow in popularity and we’re having lots of fun developing some great ranges.

It’s important to note that Hunter Price will never brand-slap. You can’t get a water blaster or frisbee and slap a sticker on it these days, it simply won’t work. You have to innovate, tool up, and really make a range your own, or you’ll be overlooked. Our in-house design team means we can develop tailored ranges to meet the needs of the retailer and consumer, whether that’s at a particular price point, design style or product category.

We’re really pushing the standards up in terms

What does the rest of the year hold for Hunter Price?

Continuous learning, evaluation and improvement. As a company, we’re always taking new approaches and challenging ourselves more every day. Ongoing NPD is of course crucial, as well as working closely with our brand and retail partners to develop activation plans which aid sell through. Key events and campaigns for the likes of Elf Mates, Orb Toys and Warner Bros. are on the calendar for 2020, offering our partners plenty of hooks. As well as product development, continuing to build on our strong retailer relationships is key. There are other special projects we’re working on, but our lips are sealed right now. All we can say is that we’re having some really exciting conversations with some really exciting people, about exclusive products that no-one else is doing right now. We’ll also be re-launching our showroom at our Manchester HQ. Renovating Devon Mill hasn’t been the easiest of projects, but it’s a hub that lets our visitors really see what we’re all about. The level of detail we go into when it comes to making our company home a truly unique environment is reflected on the faces of visitors when they walk through the doors. We live and breathe Hunter Price, and we’ve designed a creative environment around ourselves as a result. Our showroom is built in such a way that we can construct individual, portable bays which show retailers what a range will look like in-store, once product is on the shelf. Not only that, but we have a team of six full-time designers which is ready to and waiting to put pen to paper, develop and bring ranges to life for each retailer. The ability to visualise how something will look in shops before it’s even finished is something a lot of other companies are lacking; for us, it’s one of the biggest Hunter Price USPs. We’ve got a lot going on, but we’re focused, and we know what our strengths are. Retail engagement is key for us. We’re on an exciting journey right now. It’s a long road, but that’s what it’s all about; the more curves and bumps, the more we learn and the faster we develop. Spring Fair marked the start of our year in earnest, and if one thing is for sure, it’s that you’ll be hearing a lot more from Hunter Price this year.


Feature

Outdoor Toys

Back to the garden As we bid adieu to cold wintery spells and make way for milder days and the sunshine we’ve all been craving, Lisa Currie explores how outdoor toy specialists are feeling ahead of a pivotal season for the outdoor category.

T

he 29th March officially marks the start of British summertime, (which will hopefully bring with it a favourable climate for the summer period, meaning plenty of outdoor playtime to be had.) Outdoor toy suppliers are gearing up for spring/summer 2020. Dolu’s successful launch of its Pink Unicorn line last year resulted in an expansion across the range for 2020, along with the introduction of other new outdoor lines. Steve Richardson of SJR Associates, UK representative for Dolu, told Toy World: “The big new items for Dolu this year is the new Playhouse available in Unisex and the Pink Unicorn design. The new house comes complete with a full front door and working doorbell, as well as two holders for plants, new window shutters, a cat flap and an appealing IML Print on the outside. Another new item available, in both signature colour schemes, is our new Sand and Water Table, which had a fantastic response at the toy fairs.” Phil Ratcliffe, sales and marketing director, MV Sports & Leisure, also reflects on a successful toy fair

season for the company and shares what he is excited about moving forward: “The new uMoVe Sequin and Sparkle ranges are ones to look out for. In Nuremberg, it was great to see so many visitors stopping to try the flippable sequin stem on our new scooters. The new Nerf Blaster Scooter is also an exciting addition to the range, and is a real first, with the incorporation of an on-board Nerf blaster and darts.” Eolo Toys reported a strong 2019 for the company and feels positive moving forward, as it prepares for spring/summer 2020. “Entering a new year is always an exciting time for us,” comments founder and director, Alex Prieto. “For the last couple of months, we have been able to reflect on last year and make any necessary improvements, to make us stronger moving forward. For 2020, we are most excited about new brands like Slider Disc and Yummy Style, that have both been very well received so far. We think 2020 could be another record-breaking year.” Despite a strong range, Alex adds a note of caution ahead of the summer trading period: “We do of course need to see how things evolve in China following the recent

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coronavirus outbreak, since this might have an effect on some shipments for spring/summer. In any case, I think the category will remain stable.” Alex’s comments were echoed by several other suppliers we spoke to. Whilst there is still time to make up potential delays to autumn/winter shipments, the disruption caused by the recent coronavirus outbreak in China may well affect some deliveries in the short term. Many Chinese factories have lost up to four weeks’ production time, and even once production returns to full capacity, there will not only be a backlog of orders to fulfil, but also backlogs in terms of shipping and other modes of transport. The coronavirus may even prove to have an impact on the 2021 spring/summer season. Toy World has already learnt that one major UK retail buying team, which traditionally arranges spring/summer selection meetings in Hong Kong in May, has told suppliers that it won’t be flying out this year. Whilst meetings will still take place with the Asian team, it will be interesting to see if the UK team’s absence will



Feature

Outdoor Toys

have a bearing on selection timescales. Thankfully, there are other developments in the pipeline which could turn out to have a more positive effect on the outdoor category. With a UK law making it illegal to ride electric scooters on roads and pavements now under review, there is potentially good news for companies looking to expand their product offering in this sector. “We have a new range launching in June 2020 and are particularly excited about our array of adults and children’s electric scooters,” comments Emma Mitchell, marketing manager at Hy Pro. With the possibility of the laws changing around the use of electric and commuter scooters, we’re hoping our new range will be pivotal.” “There are a lot of new developments within the outdoor category and I think the electric scooter market will become a craze, should the law change on using them on public roads,” adds Phil, “Our new Li-Fe range of lithium powered commuter scooters has been exceptionally well received, and we will be rolling product out this spring, along with brand campaigns to raise awareness.” With electric scooters already proving popular in the outdoor category for the upcoming trading period, retailers reveal what other trends are predicted to make an impact this year. Alex Prieto says, “Kawaii designs, fashionable fruits - like avocado - and sloths are certainly still on the rise, but I think one of the top trends by far for 2020 is sustainability; we have seen a huge number of individuals talking about it and making plans towards new materials and more efficient production models.” Emma Mitchell agrees that animals will remain a strong trend this year, with unicorns, giraffes and sloths rising in popularity, but adds that sustainability is very much on the radar for Hy Pro. “The pressure for companies to go green is more

important than ever in today’s climate, that’s why we’re continually looking to expand our lithium range for greener travel.” With sustainability also very much a priority for Waboba, CEO Axel von Heland told Toy World: “There is definitely a push towards more sustainable packaging and products. Consumers are very ecominded and are looking for companies and products that align with their own values. We are very excited about our new eco-friendly line called REWILD, which consists of a football, volleyball, American football and beach paddle sets; all sustainably made from renewable, natural materials like jute, cork and plant-based rubber. The packaging is also made from recycled kraft paper.” Licensing looks set to continue to play a key role in the outdoor category this year, with new film releases and key brand partnerships making their way onto new product lines. For Gerald McKay, CEO at Geemac, choosing the right licence is essential. “If the licence does perform but the weather is poor, retailers are left with stock. Likewise, if the licence doesn’t perform but the weather is good, retailers are again still left with stock. Choosing the right property is key, and for 2020 we are launching a Fisher Price licensed Junior Trampoline. We believe this heritage brand, celebrating its 90th year in 2020, perfectly complements the play pattern we promote.” MV Sports has a whole host of new licences within its product ranges this year: “We have Trolls World Tour and Minions, both of which have attracted a lot of interest so far, due to the new film releases. In pre-school, we will be launching new ranges featuring Bing and Ricky Zoom, which we see lots of potential with,” explains Phil. “These join L.O.L Surprise!, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Disney Princess, Batman, Spiderman and Frozen II. We’re proud to offer innovation in our licensed ranges, which comes in the shape of the Dream Den, an innovative tent-to-

Geemac 01604 401719 | sales@geemac.biz Sportspower prides itself on being a brand committed to keeping kids active and aims to reinvent trampoline play for 2020. The company has engaged directly with consumers to find out what they want in their gardens and applied the findings to its product development. The brand has brought the trampoline park experience that kids love to the back garden, in a safe and affordable format, with the new 14’ Rebounder trampoline. After research in numerous trampoline parks, it was clear kids enjoy bouncing on and off various angles. The Rebounder has been designed to offer this, as well as a rectangular shape that caters for both large and smaller gardens by being able to fit in corners; another key factor presented in the research conducted with consumers. There is a full 360 marketing campaign in place to provide support at launch, with TV advertising also in place to drive awareness.

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sleepover pod concept and new Roll-a-Cases, which combine a travel case with a sturdy ride on.” Emma highlights the importance of outdoor play in a heavily digitalised environment: “Hy-Pro has always strived to be an aspirational brand, as well as creating product for any preference and ability. It’s part of our campaign to keep kids active by encouraging outdoor play, which is also a great opportunity to spend time as a family. The biggest challenge is that our category relies on good weather to drive sales, which is unpredictable in the UK; that being said, overall performance is up, and we are still seeing growth in the £100+ price point.” Alex also touches upon the inclusivity of outdoor toys, adding “Outdoor toys are a great opportunity to get kids active and create quality time as a family. Lots of products from this category are unisex with a huge variety of age ranges, making them suited to all. There is also a nostalgic element behind the traditional products still widely available today; adults can relate to the feeling of flying their first kites, playing with water toys, and other classic items like a diabolo and the flying disc.” “In a world where children spend more and more time on screens, outdoor products are becoming increasingly important,” echoes Gerald, “They get children active and create social interaction.” Axel from Waboba agrees: “Outdoor toys bring people together and help parents and kids socialize and bond with each other while they play. It’s an interaction you can’t mimic with technology behind a screen. “ Gerald concludes: “The outdoor toy category has its good summers and bad summers, but as of yet there is no app that replaces children enjoying outdoor active play - long may that last!” Over the next few pages, Toy World highlights the latest products in the outdoor category set to grace our gardens this summer.


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Easy to use tilt adjustment Ideal for beginners through to experienced riders

Braking

Responsive rear footbrake


Outdoor Toys

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 |

Hy Pro 01582 670100 | www.zincflyte.com

www.hasbro.co.uk

For the first time, Flyte is expanding across Europe and beyond, with a new ecommerce website which has been built to support the expansion into new markets. Spanning across both toy and luggage categories, Flyte is inclusive of adventure, practicality and activity. With the growth of the brand, comes growth of the range. Following popular trends, Luca the loveable Llama joined the Flyte Crew in January along with a range of accessories to match the best-selling Midi models. Featured amongst the new releases are matching backpacks, pencil cases and lunch boxes for bestselling Chloe the Unicorn. The category expansion means that children will be able to take Flyte with them wherever they go. Flyte is now not only for the realm of travel, and can be included in the journey to school, days out and even sleepovers. Additionally, ongoing product development will see the Mini range broaden in 2020 with new designs and a new direction is planned for the enigmatic Maxi Flyte, which will extend the adventure of travel for children aged 8+. Following the success of Flyte’s London Underground campaign throughout the summer and Black Friday period of 2019, a wide variety of out-of-home and digital brand campaigns have been planned for Flyte across the year.

New Nerf Ultra blasters and darts, available this spring, have advanced design and performance to deliver extreme distance, accuracy and speed. The range includes ground-breaking Nerf Ultra darts the farthest flying Nerf darts to date, featuring lightweight foam material, an innovative flight tip and Aerofin Technology. The Nerf Ultra blasters and darts will enable kids to Kids can take their game to the next level. The Nerf Ultra One motorised blaster has a high-capacity 25-dart drum and comes with 25 Nerf Ultra darts. Nerf Ultra blasters work only with Nerf Ultra darts, and kids can fire more than two dozen darts with the high-performance advantages of this Nerf Ultra blaster; darts can be sent flying through the air up to 120 feet (36 meters) and there's onboard dart storage for quick reloading. The product includes a blaster, drum, 25 darts and instructions. It requires batteries and is suitable for children aged eight years and above. Also new to Hasbro’s outdoor portfolio is The Nerf Ultra Two Motorized Blaster, which features fast-back reloading. The six-dart cylinder is open at the back, so kids can look inside to see how many darts are left to know when to reload. The blaster Includes six Nerf Ultra darts that are compatible only with Nerf Ultra blasters.

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com Wilton Bradley introduces the new Xootz electric wheeled toy range. The Typhoon Power Drifter with a striking design and an impressive run time of 40 minutes is ideal for kids speeding around and performing drifting stunts. With a max speed of 16km/h, caster wheels complete with LED lights and a twist grip thumb throttle, this unique drifter provides endless outdoor fun. The Electro & Evader electric scooters both boast high spec and always ensure a highperformance ride. With an impressive running time of 80 minutes, max speed of 18km/h and thumb throttle complete with an eye-catching, foldable design, these electric scooters are perfect for teenagers. With demand in the market for more electric scooters available for younger riders, The Xootz Elements Electric Scooter has been designed for children aged six plus with a smaller, lighter frame and child-friendly features. The combination of eye-catching colourways, foldable design and impressive spec, including a 60-minute run time, maximum speed of 8km/h and thumb throttle have already caught the attention of many. The new Xootz electric range delivers the full package with superb specification and features, competitive pricing, highly rated consumer reviews and multiple toy awards. The Xootz Elements Electric Scooter was also ranked as the bestseller within its category on Amazon in the UK.

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Outdoor Toys

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com

HTI 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk HTI offers a complete solution across scooters and battery-operated ride on toys with its brand Evo. The company has invested heavily in new tooling for the 2020 product range, allowing it to design and create exciting and bespoke product offerings. Unique designs and high-quality materials help create the core essence of the brand. The Evo brand flourished last season, with popular products including the Mini Cruisers and Cruisers in a variety of colourways. To help continue the success of these lines, HTI has added light up wheels as an optional feature; certain to be a hit with children who prefer this tilt-and-turn style of scooter. Evo’s new Electronic Rally Motorbike is supplied in a red colourway with detail inspired by real rally motorbikes and is perfect for young racing fans. Additional features include working headlights, footrests, easy grip handles and adjustable stabilisers. HTI’s Evo battery-operated ride on Fire Engine is new for this year and received a great reception when it was unveiled in recent previews. The ride-on emergency play vehicle features red and blue flashing lights, siren and horn sound effects, footrests and chunky wheels. Aspiring firefighters can roleplay attending to an emergency and extinguishing a fire with the pretend fire hose, for hours of fun. Hitting the shelves this spring are brand-new unicorn and dinosaur ranges from Evo, taking inspiration from increasingly popular current trends. The ranges include key lines such as Three Wheel Scooters, Inline Scooters and Balance Bikes, some supplied with light-up effects. Customers can choose from the pastel coloured Unicorn range or the vibrant Dinosaur range. HTI’s hero line for this season is the Evo Enchanted Carriage, an authentic regal ride-on complete with moulded ‘quilted’ seat and a unicorn. Sound effects and a light up horn help bring the unicorn character to life.

Little Tikes recognises the importance of encouraging children to play outdoors and has launched a wide range of toys for summer 2020 to introduce little ones to a fun way of learning. The Magic Flower Water Table is ideal for encouraging first years’ outdoor play. Offering a sense of surprise and delight, little ones can use the watering can to pour water into the tree and watch the flower bloom. The multiple layers and variety of accessories enable numerous children to play together and join in with the excitement. The water table also comes with adorable creatures including fish, turtles, frogs and ducks, for extended play value. The Island Wave Maker Water Table is a large-scale water table that is ideal for both imaginative and group play. Encouraging the development of key motor skills, children can turn the crank to generate waves, before pouring water from the top of skull island to turn it into a waterfall. The island themed characters include a shark, mermaid, narwhal, pirate, treasure and water bucket for endless fun. Children will have hours of amusement keeping the garden trim with the Gas ‘n Go Mower. With a removable gas can and mechanical sounds, it’s just like the real thing. Beads also pop as the mower is pushed along, encouraging mobility as well as role play scenarios. The Turtle Sandbox is ideal for outdoor play. The two seated sandbox allows children to dig, build and pour sand together, encouraging active play and social interaction. With added versality, it can either be used as a ball pit or sand pit. The turtle shell also comes with a removable lid to cover the sand. My First Slide is guaranteed to have children climbing up and sliding down again and again. The small, sturdy slide with great stability will help little ones build their confidence, whilst aiding their balance and coordination.

Casdon 01253 608 428 | www.casdon.com In 2020, Casdon continues to combine pretend play with renowned household names to bring replica appliances and role play accessories to the playroom. Whether children are Little Helpers, Little Cooks or even Little Shoppers, there’s something in the Casdon collection for retailers across multiple categories. For outdoor fun, kids can help mum and dad have that garden looking ship shape with the Flymo Lawn Mower; another replica from Casdon Toys. The Flymo features a foldable handle for easy storage and a mechanical click when the mower is on the move. It also features the iconic orange base. For more information email roger@casdon.com.

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Outdoor Toys

Rollplay 07986 971902 | www.rollplay.com Rollplay has announced a number of new and innovative launches for 2020 spanning pre-school, licensed and high-performance ranges. Summer will see the company substantially expand its pre-school line up with three new releases. First up will be the Flex eKart, the first folding electric car on the market. Aimed at children aged 3-5 years, the storable ride-on folds quickly and easily. Priced affordably to increase accessibility, the eKart will feature a durable metal frame and travel up to two mph. Also due to hit shelves this summer will be the Rollplay Footie Car. Based on the classic Bobby car aimed at toddlers aged one plus, the foot-to-floor car has a working steering wheel with multiple sounds, one button control front lights, a soft padded seat, and a handy storage space under the radiator grill. Pre-schoolers aged 3-5 years can look forward to the launch of the Pedalado - a pedal version of Rollplay’s popular Turnado. For older children aged eight plus, the Wave Catcher is a summer must-have. The e-scooter is a unique combination of skateboard and scooter inspired by the art of windsurfing. Riders simply turn the central height-adjustable handlebar the direction they want to go, shift their weight and hit the accelerator to zoom off at speeds of up to 10 mph. Autumn will see further high-profile launches. Having taken over the exclusive worldwide Mini licence, Rollplay will release a Mini Countryman in September. The premium all-terrain SUV with parental remote control will boast a host of realistic features including opening door, light-up dashboard, motor sounds, FM radio, folding mirrors, working front headlights and authentic soft wheels. Suitable for children aged three plus, it will be available in 6V and 12V variants, offering two different price points. A sporty M-Style BMW X5 luxury 12V two-seater ride will come complete with the iconic M-Style multi-coloured grill and packed with features including opening doors, radio, Bluetooth speakers, a lighted dashboard, motor sounds, clear windshield, folding mirrors and soft wheels that snap on for easy assembly. A smaller 6V version for children aged 18 months to four years will also be available. Launching to coincide with Back to School, the Nighthawk NxtGen is Rollplay’s follow up to the popular Nighthawk. Offering power, performance and portability, the lightweight model will require no assembly and has an innovative folding feature for easy storage and transportation. Suitable for children aged seven plus, it can reach speeds of up to 7 mph. Rollplay will release the 12V Tail Slide, a new, unique and high-powered driving experience for children aged eight plus. A spin-off of the Turnado, riders use their feet to steer and their rear to swing into wide, thrilling slides, while a hand throttle and brake provide precision control.

Tactic 01483 332 070 | www.tactic.net The highlight of Tactic’s outdoor games catalogue is the internationally famous Mölkky Original, where success is based on a combination of chance and skill. Beautifully made with real wood, Mölkky is a great quality, simple pin and skittle game with a difference, where players have to plan their throw on every go. The ingenious scoring system necessitates tactical play, with the first player to exactly 50 points winning the game. If they go over 50 points, however, they will see their score drop to 25. Mölkky comes in either a sturdy wooden crate or a new-look box with a carry handle, complete with a throwing pin and 12 number skittles. It is an ideal game for holidays, camping, beaches, parks, picnics or the back garden. Due to widespread popularity, Mölkky now has its own World Championship tournament. Players can also challenge each other to a game of Kubb, where the aim is to knock over all the skittles and the king to win. If a player knocks over the king before all the other skittles are down, they must then hand the game to their opponent. The king also stars in King of the Hill where players build castles with wooden blocks and then take aim and test their throwing and bowling accuracy to try and knock the king and his knights down. They only have two throws per turn and must leave the castle walls standing, or they won’t score high. For more outdoor fun, Tactic’s Treasure Hunt game has everything needed to encourage children to be active, as they go on the hunt for clues and problems to solve. The charming set comes with hessian bags, clue boards, marker and a real metal coin. Completing the summer outdoor games range from Tactic is the Classic Bean Bag Game, Banana Kick, for goal-scoring fun and the Giant Tower where one wrong move could see the bricks collapse. Contact phil@tacticgames.co.uk or sabrina@tacticgames.co.uk for more information.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 www.goldenbeartoys.com Golden Bear is the UK distributor for Smart Ball, the kick-up counting football with lights and sounds. One of the bestselling general football gifts in the UK for 2019, Smart Ball also proved to be one of this year’s most popular Christmas gifts for footie fans of all ages. Suitable for ages six and above, the new Smart Ball Speed Ball was unveiled at London Toy Fair by YouTuber Tekkerz Kid, aka 10-yearold Lorenzo Greer. Launching in July, Speed Ball includes innovative technology which measures the speed of each kick. Kids can simply switch on the in-built sensor and kick the ball as hard as they can; the speed will register on the ball in kilometres per hour. For added fun, kids can challenge their friends to see who’s the fastest, and adults can play too. No other football has speed measuring tech embedded, making this a unique proposition in the marketplace.

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Banish boredom in the great outdoors! ■ Tel: 01773 570444 ■ Email: sales@abgee.co.uk ■ www.abgee.co.uk


Outdoor Toys

Waboba 0046 735 016584 | www.waboba.com Waboba celebrates its 15th anniversary this year with the invention of the ball that bounces on water, also known as the Waboba Extreme. Founded and based in Sweden, the company has created an entire range of Waboba branded water bouncing balls such as the Pro, Surf, Tides (which changes colour in the water) and Sol (which changes colour in the sun). Waboba also offers a wide range of outdoor recreational toys and sporting goods beyond the water. In 2019 it obtained a licence from NASA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. The company also released its newest best-selling invention, Wingman – a foldable, silicone disc that flies over 40 meters. For 2020, Waboba has a vision for changing the way people play. With growing concerns over the global climate and protecting natural environments worldwide, Waboba is proud to take a stand and release a new eco-friendly product line powered by plants. The new Rewild range consists of a football, volleyball, American football, and beach paddle sets, all sustainably made from renewable, natural materials. The balls are made from jute and plant-based rubber, while the paddle set is made from pinewood and comes with a cork ball made from the skin of oak. The packaging is also made from recycled kraft paper. Waboba will donate 10% of proceeds from Rewild to the World Wildlife Fund, as part of their efforts to help protect the places where its consumers play, and restore environments to their natural state. In January, the company also donated $1000 USD to the Australian Bushfires Relief.

John Adams 01480 414361 | www.johnadams.co.uk John Adams Leisure continues to expand its successful Intex outdoor toys range, adding a selection of new products to its portfolio. The new play centres and inflatables will sit alongside Intex’s existing range of above ground pools, ride-on toys and games. New for this year, the Cupcake Mat has a realistic cupcake design and is the perfect accessory for the beach and pool. Nutty Chocolate and Sprinkle Donut Tubes are bright and vibrant options for pool use, while the Popsicle Float will help make a colourful impression with its bright design and realistic printing. The Candy Zone Play Centre continues the sweet theme, with a candyinspired land that includes a mini waterslide, two inflatable lollipops, six balls and rails to roll the balls down. A water sprayer can be attached to a garden hose to keep everyone cool. Little ones can also enjoy the cute Whale Spray Pool. The brightly coloured spray pool features a friendly whale design with a tail that sprays water. The Mystic Unicorn Spray Pool is also a great way to have fun in the sun – the water sprayer attaches to a garden hose to keep kids refreshed in the heat.

Eolo Toys 07772 482 255 | www.eolo.com Eolo Toys will be expanding its innovative outdoor toy portfolio in 2020 with the launch of Yummy Style, the company’s first beach and pool accessories brand. Combining toys and fashion, Yummy Style has been developed to respond to the needs of today’s kids and provides on trend accessories, perfect for summer fun. The range of swim masks, snorkel sets and swim goggles, made in silicone material, features the latest on-trend designs, inspired by the global inflatable craze which is so loved by kids. The collection is expected to be popular across the board. The new range will be supported with different touch points in the marketing mix, including influencer and PR activity which will promote Yummy Style in swimming pools and beaches across the world. Slider Disc is the first transforming flying disc that fits in a pocket. This latest innovative outdoor product from Eolo Toys is an engaging outdoor game that will be in the market in March. The aim is to catch, reset and throw the disc back before it transforms. The built-in timer converts the flying disc into a time game experience for endless outdoor fun. There are three play modes: Compact Mode; Free Flight Mode, for use as a regular flying disc any time; and Game Mode. Customers can place orders by getting in touch with uksales@eolohk.com (UK), usasales@eolohk.com (USA and Canada) and sales@eolohk.com for other territories.

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INSPIRING ACTIVE PLAY

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Peter Shaw Sales Manager UK Email: pshaw@bergtoys.com Mob: 07408 845154

& TWINSPRING

BERGTOYS.COM


Outdoor Toys

Berg 0161 2478377 | www.bergtoys.com The Berg Buzzy is now available as a 2in1 model, which can be used as a pedal go-kart and a push-along, suitable for children aged 2-5. The Berg Buzzy 2in1 remains safely on four wheels, even when on curves and slightly uneven ground. Unlike a tricycle, the pedals are not fixed to the handlebar, which means the Berg Buzzy always remains stable and secure on the ground. The direct drive system ensures that children can always pedal safely. The Buzzy 2in1 can also be quickly and easily turned into a push-along with the practical push bar. The Berg Buzzy’s freewheel mode can be changed. In pedal mode, as with a conventional Berg Buzzy, the child can ride around independently. If the freewheel mode is changed to push mode with a simple move to the right, parents can push the pedal go-kart without the pedals turning. A simple press of a button also activates the steering lock, so that parents can easily steer the go-kart by lifting the front wheels off the ground. The push bar can be used at three different heights and has a comfortable grip. If the child wants to pedal for themselves, the push bar is quick and easy to detach. An additional safety feature is the handbrake, which rapidly brings the Buzzy 2in1 to a stop. The four solid EVA tyres mean budding racing drivers can master even the sharpest curves and they are guaranteed to never get a puncture. The new Berg Buzzy 2in1 is available in two designs; The Berg Buzzy Bloom 2in1 has an enchanting, pretty flower design and a practical basket, whilst the Berg Buzzy Nitro 2in1 has a striking off-road design.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com Gazillion Bubbles has an extensive array of premium bubble solution, bubble toys and machines, with something for every young bubble fan. For 2020, the Gazillion range has expanded with innovative battery free blowers and new machines. The Gazillion Bubble Storm is the latest Gazillion machine that has forward-thinking solution dispensing technology. With this machine, the solution bottle functions as the ‘on/off’ button, just slide the bottle into the bottle holder until it clicks in place and flip the supplied 8oz bottle upside down onto the machine to start blowing bubbles. Also new for Gazillion are the battery free Bubble Buddies. Retailing at under £2, the pocket money collection of friendly looking animals can be “fed” Gazillion bubble solution; kids then just squeeze the animals’ bellies to produce bubbles from their mouths. For more information about Funrise’s Gazillion Bubbles range, email salesuk@funrise.com.

Hauck Toys 07770 608858 | www.hauck-toys.com Hauck ride-on toys have German design and quality built into every product, as well as competitive pricing, to ensure long-term customer satisfaction. The range features sturdy steel frames - powder coated to resist corrosion - convenient tool-free adjustable seats and where applicable patented non-stretch drive chains to ensure that the chain stays on its cogs, with no adjustment required. Every Hauck ride-on toy comes in a sturdy, eye catching full colour display box. Hauck’s range includes ride-on toys for ages 1 to 12 years and features go-karts, balance bikes, trikes, wagons, infant ride-ons and also electric cars. As a leading manufacturer of pedal go-karts, Hauck produces both licensed and non-licensed pedal karts in a line-up that boasts some of the hottest properties around today. This year sees the introduction of a Hot Wheels go-kart. Designed with iconic Hot Wheels styling, this go-kart is suitable for kids aged 4-8 years. The Hot Wheels go-kart joins an impressive stable including strong evergreen properties such as Nerf, Batmobile, Spiderman and Star Wars. There is also a range of pre-school go-karts which includes Paw Patrol, Hello Kitty, Minnie and Disney Princess. Haucks non-licensed go-karts cater for ages 4 to 8 years and 4 to 12 years of age. New for 2020 is the Real Heroes range of fire, police and SWAT go-karts. Two new balance bikes have been introduced this year. Eco Rider balance bikes offer great value for money and provide the best possible introduction to the world of cycling. Both have steel frames and fully adjustable seat and handlebars. The tyres are moulded EVA, so the bikes are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. On hard floors they are non-scratch and quiet. Hauck also has two electric vehicles – Paw Patrol and Batman. Both have 6v power, opening doors, realistic sounds and dramatic strobe lighting effects. For more information please contact Malcolm Cook at malcolm@mc-international.co.uk.

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All products available in unisex colours For UK sales contact Steve or Ria Richardson 07850779797 • sales@sjr-associates.co.uk


Outdoor Toys

Razor 01843 604448 | www.razor.com The Razor brand was founded in 2000 with the introduction of its now legendary kick scooter. The company combines cutting-edge technology, highquality materials and strict safety standards to deliver a product that is designed to suit riders’ evolving lifestyle. Cool products and great value have distinguished Razor as a trusted global brand and industry leader. Razor's innovative product lines are ideal for outdoor fun; whether it be on a RipStik casterboard or a Beast Stunt scooter at the local skate park, off-roading through the woods on a MX125 electric motocross bike, riding one its Classic A kick scooters to school, or last mile commute on an C25 adult eMobility scooter, Razor products are designed to put a smile on everyone’s faces. The Wild Ones range caters for younger children, aged 30 months plus, helping them learn to balance safely with wide wheels and a low deck to keep their feet closer to the ground. The Razor Electric Party Pop and Electric Tekno scooters allow riders to get their groove on with an electric-powered ride and DJ-inspired light show. Featuring a unique, foot-activated pressure sensor, a light up deck and front wheel, the scooter is capable of speeds up to 7.5 mph for up to 30 minutes of continuous ride time. The new Razor MX125 is the latest addition to the Razor MX range, featuring small-size moto power for younger riders. Its lightweight build and smaller size makes it ideal for off-roading, with a twist-grip throttle and 30cm pneumatic knobby tyres the MX125 can reach speeds of up to 8mph with a run time of up to 40 minutes. The Razor C25 is setting new standards in adult e-mobility – it is EU and EKFV compliant with front and rear lights, front and rear brakes and a smart display indicator on the handlebar. With three speed settings (4, 7.5 or 12.5 mph), the thumb-activated 250-watt silent hub motor provides up to 50 minutes continuous use. Razor USA has announced Robbie Toys as its UK and Republic of Ireland Distributor. Robbie Toys Ltd can be contacted on 01843 604448 and sales@robbietoys.co.uk.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Kids of all ages can bring footie action to their backyards with KickerBall, a football that Character Options says is like no other. KickerBall’s special panels channel air in ways standard footballs can’t; this unique design, along with revolutionary aerodynamic materials, allows each kick to swerve, bend and curve with ease. Kids can add a whole new raft of tricks to their portfolio with this size 4 football, taking their skills to a new level. Kick the side of the ball from the left to swerve the ball right. Kick the side of the ball from the right to curve the ball to the left. Strike the center with the laces on a shoe using just the right kicking power to bend it like a pro. Strike the ball gently from below to bump it to other players. Finally, players can send their KickerBall soaring to the sky with a highpowered kick from below. Alternatively, for good, clean outdoor fun, Funatic Foam is an indoor/ outdoor soap spray which offers the perfect solution to any foam party. Available in three scents, a press of the trigger will let loose a spray of bubbles that can reach up to three meters.

A.B.Gee 01773 570 444 | www.abgee.co.uk In an increasingly digital existence, A.B.Gee’s comprehensive ranges of outdoor, sand and water toys and ride on toys are sure to banish boredom, enticing little ones away from screens and outside playing, digging, splashing, scooting and bubble blowing. With buckets and spades in all sizes, colours and designs; sand rakes and moulds; fishing nets; water blasters; bats; balls and a whole host of pool inflatables, A.B.Gee offers everything needed for garden playtime or a fun day out. A.B.Gee also has a great choice of bubble tubs and battery-operated bubble blowers. The bubble mower will create hours of fun and thousands of bubbles whilst encouraging children in pretend play. It features realistic mower sounds and is built perfectly for little hands. Kids just pour the solution (included) into the front, push along and watch the bubbles flow. The full range can be viewed on the company website.

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Play with the Original. A rise above and always a step ahead, Waboba is proud to be the leader in outdoor toys and sporting goods. Explore our range of patented products invented in Sweden and played around the world. To order or learn more, contact info@waboba.com.


Outdoor Toys

Dolu 07850 779797 | www.dolu.com Last year Dolu launched a Pink Unicorn theme product range for the outdoor and girls’ categories, alongside its existing unisex range. After a successful 2019 with the new launch, the company has expanded the Unicorn range for the outdoor category this year. Adding the Pink Unicorn range of products to the catalogue in 2019 meant Dolu could give consumers more choice in terms of colour and design amongst products such as its Playhouses, Slides, Picnic Tables, Rockers, Trikes, a Pedal Tractor and Trailer, plus many more. For spring/summer 2020, Dolu has also launched a new Sand and Water Table that converts into a desk, as well as two new Water Slides and Trikes. Existing lines have also been refreshed with cosmetic improvements for this year. Many of Dolu’s outdoor lines are delivered in strong brown or white boxes, ideal for both in store display and online dispatch. The company, based in Istanbul, will have a new, purpose-built factory open before the end of the year. As the Brexit deal is being negotiated, Dolu has reassured customers that since Turkey is not a member of the EU, trading will continue as normal.

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk Toynamics has announced an expanded range of Hape outdoor toys for 2020, which includes the Nature Fun and Sand ranges. All of Hape’s Nature Fun toys are made with sustainable bamboo and all the plastic is made with plants. Featured in the range is the already popular hand powered flashlight. No batteries are required as kids simply need to pull the string repeatedly to generate the torch’s power and begin exploring the unknown in the dark. Also new is the Compass Set and Three Carabiner Set. Budding Bug Collectors can also start exploring the outdoors and building their collection with Hape’s new Butterfly Net and Explorers Bug Jar. Featured in the range already is the Hide and Seek Periscope and Nature Detective Set complete with a whistle, magnifying glass and pocket swing. Kids simply tie the swing to two sturdy branches to see how high they can go. Hape’s sand range features traditional sand toys such as drills, diggers and different sand building moulds. The range has been designed with durability in mind, as the products can be stood on and not broken.

Turborevs 07971 401127 | www.electricrideoncars.co.uk Turborevs is a wholesaler of Kids Electric Ride-on Cars and is based in the UK. Over the years the business has grown rapidly, having recently moved into bigger warehouses in Bolton and London. Supplying the latest kids ride-on Electric Cars, UTV’s, Quad Bikes, Dirt Bikes and scooters to its wholesale customers, the company’s Electric Ride on Cars website offers great quality products with competitive price points. Brands stocked include Audi, BMW, Bentley, Mercedes, Jaguar, Mclaren, Ford and Land Rover as well as Police Cars and Fire Engines, All vehicles come with parental remote and there are 12v and 24v options available, as well as single and two-seater cars in within the range. Other features include leather seats and rubber wheels for added luxury and traction. For enhanced entertainment value, all products come complete with an MP3 system, and some larger vehicles come with MP4 TV screens. Wholesale customers can purchase directly from the store in Bolton or Barking at trade prices, or send an email enquiry. Delivery can also be arranged, with most orders delivered the next day. The minimum trade order is a mixture of 10 cars.

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NEW Freebound trampoline designed and tested to be the safest and most thrill seeking

CURV

Revolutionising the traditional flat bed trampoline, transforming the jumping mat into a new curvilinear form. The BOWL has three cutting edge features: The CURV creates a new contour play pattern with a unique side bounce. Super soft FLX bungees are super silent, held by a secure clip. The unique BOWL shape experience inspires freestyle play in the ultimate safe space.


Outdoor Toys

Vivid 01483 449944 | vividtoysandgames.co.uk Vivid is launching Australia’s leading outdoor brand, Wahu, into the UK market. Kids can experience performance air slicing action with Ryzr, a new blade that not only flies impressive distances but also rises during flight thanks to its ingenious design. The range also consists of the Wingblade, a 10” flying ring, Wingblade Pro, a 13” flying ring and the Triblade, a three-sided flying ring. All are available in three different colourways: pink, green and yellow. Back for 2020 is Phlat Ball. The whole range benefits from a new, fresh look for this year, with new colours and a spider design. Transforming from a 9” flying disc to a 6” diameter ball when thrown, Phlat Ball is perfect for outdoor active play. The range includes the Phlat Ball V4, the Phlat Ball Flash, which lights up on impact and - new for this year - the Phlat Ball Whoosh, which whistles when flying through the air. Also available is the Phlat Ball Junior, which transforms from a 5.75” disc to a 4” ball. Super Wubble is a super squishy, squashy and lightweight bubble ball. Super Wubble is available without a pump or with a pump in either blue or pink. Kids can also choose from Wubble Fulla, filled either with Marbles or Slime. All brands are supported by TV advertising from March throughout the summer.

Mookie 01525 722769 | www.tptoys.com Mookie unveiled a multitude of new must-have outdoor toys from iconic British brand, TP Toys, at London Toy Fair. The new ranges include TP’s Compact Range and an addition to the iconic Infinity trampoline range. TP’s brand new Compact Range is the perfect solution for parents who are limited on outdoor space, encouraging those with smaller gardens to increase their children's outdoor play. The Compact Range offers quality TP products packed with play activities within a compact footprint of 4m₂ meaning fun in small gardens is guaranteed. The newly unveiled Ahoy Wooden Play Boat is perfect for imaginative sand and water play, and craft activity for children aged two and above. It’s packed with multi-play activity options, highlighting that group play needn’t be restricted where play space is limited. TP has also made design upgrades to its Mud Kitchen range for 2020. From the ability to pre-paint hobs and patterns, to several adjustments to improve ease of construction including pre-drilled holes and easier slot locations for assembling shelves, the upgrades will be welcomed by parents and muddy cooks alike. The Deluxe Wooden Mud Kitchen is the ultimate mud kitchen from TP, packed with great play features and with an extendable worktop, there’s plenty of room for up to three children to play. Following the successful launch of the world’s first two-level trampoline, Infinity Leap, TP has reinvented its classic octagonal trampoline for the premium Infinity range. The Infinity Octagonal Trampoline launches in March and is packed with great patent protected design features, from a YOYO enclosure that can be taken down in less than a minute to a zip free tunnel access. The new, updated octagonal trampoline is packed with the same premium components featured in the Infinity Leap and is expected to be a firm favourite with families this summer.

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Grossman 01416 132 525 | www.ozbozz.com The Ozbozz brand from H.Grossman is renowned for its outdoor products. Unicorns are still on-trend and the sell-out Ozbozz Unicorn scooter looks set to continue as a best-selling line for this year. HGL has a whole range of outdoor products with a Unicorn theme, from skateboards to pogo sticks. For 2020 there are two brand new balance bikes with adjustable handles, which are perfect for pre-schoolers. The colourful bikes come in two themes, dinosaur and unicorn, and are sturdy and safe. Scooters have always been a mainstay of the Ozbozz range, and this year sees the introduction of a brand-new light up scooter. The Poop Scoot is a colourful scooter with wheels that light up when moving. The fun ride-on is a creative extension on the theme of toilet-related toys that has been popular of late. The revamped Light Burst scooter has a light-up deck in flashing multi colours. Both sides of the age spectrum are catered for with My First Scooter, the Ozbozz classic for pre-schoolers. Three scooters in one makes this ideal for developing youngsters, as the unique design evolves from a sturdy four-wheeler to a trike and then to a two-wheeler. The Nebulus scooter comes in a choice of colours, with spoked wheels. This cost-effective scooter will retail at around £10, making it both a design led choice and a great gift. Scissor scooters are another best-selling item. The generic range of Ozbozz pogo sticks, play tents, scooters and skateboards offers a wide selection of colours, materials and design to choose from. The neon coloured skateboards are proving to be perennially popular.

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COMMITTED TO KEEPING KIDS ACTIVE!

TV ADVERTISED FOR

2020

20 Queensbridge, Bedford Road, Northampton, NN4 7BF tel: +44 (0) 1604 401719 email: sales@geemac.biz


Outdoor Toys

Zuru 01604 401 719 | sales@geemac.biz Zuru remains committed to the outdoor toy market for 2020 with a refresh for the popular Bunch-O-Balloons and extensive growth plans for the X-Shot range. Bunch-O-Balloons is a successful global brand that has been awarded Top Outdoor Selling Toy for the last four years. The innovative design allows users to fill and tie 100 water balloons in less than 60 seconds. Zuru has rejuvenated the brand for the 2020 summer season with refreshed packaging and merchandise displays, and a Terracycle recycling partnership. The product range consists of balloon packs - including the new Crazy Bunch-O-Balloons, where each Bunch-O-Balloons stem comes with a mix of multi-coloured balloons, water blasters and accessories. With the brand’s focus being to get more children active and playing outdoors, Zuru is implementing a campaign that encourages families to ‘take back summer’, which it will be rolling out across all planned marketing channels. Last year, Zuru announced a partnership with TerraCycle for the full Bunch-O-Balloons product range. Part of the company’s green initiative is to improve sustainability and to produce recyclable and reusable products. The partnership is currently operating throughout five of its largest markets – UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – with a view to expand the programme across all products worldwide. Since launch, Zuru’s X-Shot brand has experienced huge success and growth. Recent figures report that the X-Shot brand has grown globally by 35% YOY (2018:2019) and enters 2020 with two additional SKUs. Joining the Fast Fill stable, the Micro and Epic Fast-Fill lines will be available in the UK from March 2020, further boosting this robust range within the water blaster category. Due to its speed and ease of use, the Fast-Fill range offers consumers maximum performance. With a fill-time of just one second, children can refill their blasters quickly, thereby increasing valuable play time by getting back to the action long before their opponents. The blasters are designed to be filled anywhere and are equipped with a superior Rapid-Seal Technology that closes the blaster tanks instantly. The Micro Fast-Fill is a handy revolver-style water blaster which users simply dunk, fill and blast. The Epic Fast-Fill has been introduced as the ultimate blaster for water warfare. With a tank capacity of 1250ml, the Epic’s pump-action function allows users to reach targets up to distances of 15m. With four different nozzles included, children can choose how to blast opponents in one of four different ways. Both brands will be supported by PR and marketing campaigns, including global television commercials and social media content across all channels.

Plum Products 01522 737126 | Plumplay.co.uk/bowl Plum has developed a new type of trampoline set to enhance the way children bounce and play. The traditional trampoline still stands strong as a first choice for active outdoor play, however there is now more on offer than ever before, including varied shapes, colours and sizes, offering consumers differentiation in the market. The new offering is the result of research conducted by the company. Plum asked families what they look for when choosing a trampoline and found the look, play experience and safety to be at the forefront of customers’ priorities. The Bowl free bound trampoline has been designed and tested to be the safest and most thrill-seeking trampoline experience. The unique free bound environment revolutionises the traditional flat-bed trampoline, transforming the jumping mat into a new curvilinear form with three cutting edge features: Curv, Flex and Bowl. The Curv creates a new contour play pattern allowing kids to express themselves through dynamic movement in boundless directions. The jumping mat innovation changes the way kids play, opening up the space to vertical bouncing and jumping side to side using the trampoline walls. A track mat print has been designed to enhance freestyle movement and free bounding. Super soft FLX bungees are silent, held by a FLX secure clip. The bungees work in unison, powered by movement. The new iconic Bowl shape delivers on both form and function and inspires freestyle play in the ultimate safe space. The trampoline uses hi-tech materials for perfect performance power, taking inspiration from extreme sports and the urban landscape. This is the first product launch from Plum in 2020, and the company promises further exciting new innovation on the horizon. To find out more contact Rosie Gissing, account manager on rgissing@plumproducts.com or 01522737126.

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Outdoor Toys

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk MV Sports

01217 488 000 | www.mvsports.co.uk MV sports has an array of wheeled and outdoor toys across both own brand and licensed categories. Must have properties include L.O.L Surprise!, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Disney Princess, Batman, Spiderman and Frozen II, while new licences Bing and Ricky Zoom are set to strengthen the portfolio for 2020. Innovation in licences comes in the shape of the Dream Den, an innovative tentto-sleepover pod concept and new Roll-a-Cases, which combines a travel case with a sturdy ride on. Following a successful debut year for premium scooter range uMoVe, the company will be expanding the collection in 2020 to include sparkle, sequin and camo print models. uMoVe sparkle is a highly decorated scooter with a glitter finish on the anodised stem, glitter grip tape and glitter LED wheels. The new uMoVe camo range is emblazoned with on-trend camouflage prints in a range of colours. uMoVe sequin scooters feature reversible sequin stem wraps and glitter finish on the grip tape and wheels. MV Sports is also introducing entry level premium lithium scooters to the range with integrated flashing lights in the deck and wheels; the scooter has three modes for beginners, learner and advanced riders. The new Trike2Bike concept is a sturdy trike which converts to a mini balance bike in seconds. The Hedstrom collection features an array of metal play equipment including slides, swings, trampolines and multi-plays. The 3 in 1 Swing is a unique, versatile swing which grows with the child, from six months up to 10 years as the swing seat is easily converted from toddler to child to junior seat modes. Also new for 2020 is the Musical Folding Toddler Swing, with a comfort moulded seat, incorporating a selection of soothing songs, which can easily be switched to Bluetooth. Hedstrom is expanding its reach with the introduction of Hedstrom Play, featuring sustainably sourced wooden sandpits, ballpits and water tables. The Sandpit and Canopy model includes an adjustable height feature and tilting canopy to keep children shaded in the summer, whilst the Picnic Sand & Water Table has two integral play trays and the wooden top can be converted into a picnic table.

Tobar has a vast range of outdoor products for all ages including a wide selection of pogo sticks, pedal racers, stilts, hula hoops, bungee bouncers and a varied range of Hoppers. Hoppers are a great garden toy for the summer and come in all shapes and sizes, including a Giant Space Hopper to take adults back to fun filled childhood days. The collection also offers the bestselling Retro Space Hopper, Sally Space Hopper, Smiler, Junior and a Unicorn Hopper. The Hop for GOSH Hopper means that for every purple Hopper sold, Tobar will donate 10% to Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Rock n Hopper encourages balancing skills, with a balance shelf to stand on and keep upright, which is great training for skating or skateboarding. For summer nights, kids can use the Flashing Outdoor Range, a luminescent light show in eye-catching packaging. Kids can sparkle as they skip with the Flashing Skip Ball, or bounce on the Flashing Space Hopper which includes a pump. Also available is Flashing Hula Hoops; Flashing Pois to creates flashing circles; and the Flashing UFO Swing Seat, which attaches to any existing swing set or zipline. Tobar’s website gives full details of all the products in its outdoor range including a full collection of garden games, from rounders and golf, to quoits and a giant noughts and crosses game.

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Life is more fun on wheels

UK & Ireland Distributor

01843 604448

sales@robbietoys.co.uk www.robbietoys.co.uk


Brand Profile

Berg

Built to last Berg, a specialist supplier of go karts and trampolines, celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2020. Toy World spoke to Peter Shaw, sales manager UK, about what the company’s products offer and how it supports its retailers.

How do Berg’s go karts and trampolines differ from others on the market? As the market leader of steelframed go karts, Berg offers a comprehensive range of products suitable for all ages and all requirements. Our innovative in-house R&D teams regularly introduce quality new products to the market which utilise modern technology. Quality and safety are paramount, and everything is built to last. USPs include swing axles for ride comfort and stability, which is extremely important for the smaller rideons.; they’ll comfortably beat any tricycle on safety and performance. As far as Berg is concerned, the go karts of the future are already here.

5-adult pedal go kart and a 2-seater for the leisure market also made their debut. As trampolines are still a major growth area for Berg, several new trampolines will be added to complement our superb range, with additional shapes and sizes that have been carefully designed and created to meet demand.

How does Berg support retailers that may have limited shelf/floorspace when it comes to big-box products? We offer a good selection of POS solutions, including space saving display stands for both small and large ride-ons. The product packaging is truly eye catching and details numerous USPs, to help in-store sales staff better inform consumers about what our products offer.

Berg is also focused on quality trampolines and is now well-established in the market. Retailers have complete confidence in our extensive range and know that Berg leads the way in frame, spring and jump performance. Berg jumpmats perform so well that we now offer higher nets for ultimate fun. This is all backed up with the longest warranties available.

A major benefit is our drop-shipment service. This is much appreciated by our retailers, enabling them to offer our full range including larger/higher ticket items, giving more revenue potential.

What marketing plans are supporting the range this year? Berg has a significant advertising plan in the pipeline again for this year. In addition to our campaign with Toy World Magazine, we will invest in various regional/national online campaigns for both our ride-ons and trampolines.

Do you think this will be a good year for the Outdoor Toy sector? 2019 was a challenging year generally for both the UK and global Outdoor Toy sector, but we still felt it was positive for Berg. The UK is a young market for our company, so every year we increase our awareness and gain new retailers which drive business growth. The leisure market, which includes animal farm parks and theme parks, for example, provides consistent activity and revenue, but the bricks and mortar retail market is challenging, with dwindling outlets and very few remaining outdoor specialist display sites. However, we still see online growth for the main players, particularly our trampoline retailers. Over the last five years, Berg has focused on increasing the range of small ride-ons, given that this is the larger available market and of more relevance to bricks and mortar retailers. This is a positive growth area for us and a sustainable business for the future. Of course, the weather will play its part in determining the final outcome of our success for 2020, but plenty of children are being encouraged and inspired to try outdoor active play, and we’re confident of a good year.

What major new introductions can we expect for 2020? A number of new products launched at Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse and Spring Fair in Birmingham, including several small ride-ons; two new models of the award winning 10-30 month Go2 and two new 2-5 year Buzzy models. A large new

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www.electricrideoncars.co.uk For all sales enquiries contact Siddik on: m. 07971 401127 e. sales@turborevs.org.uk


Feature

Toy Fair Review

Latest and greatest Between 21st - 24th January, thousands of toy companies, toy buyers and independent retailers, as well as a smattering of bloggers, influencers and celebrities packed into London Olympia to see the latest toys, games and gadgets that kids (and kidults) will be clamouring to get their hands on this year. Toy World spoke to a range of people to find out how the annual trade fair went for them.

We’ve received some really great comments so far from both exhibitors and visitors about Toy Fair 2020, and we are continuing to seek more feedback in order to help us continually improve the show,” explains Majen Immink, director of Fairs & Special Events at the BTHA. “At the end of the day, it’s our job to create the platform and bring the industry together. If we can do that, and objectives are met by all parties, then we’ll have done what we set out to achieve. We had a typically strong exhibitor returnee rate again this year, but it was also great to see some new faces in the halls.” “There was a real sense of positivity throughout the three days at Toy Fair and we hope that continues for the industry throughout the rest of the year,” she adds. “It’s always so great to see the industry come together under one roof; nothing illustrates the sense of community more than to see the Toy Trust Media Auction raise an incredible £105,000 during Toy Fair, the second largest total ever achieved. We’d like to say a big thank you to all Toy Fair visitors and exhibitors involved.” As usual, the NPD Group announced the latest figures on the performance of the UK market on the opening day of the fair, revealing a not unexpected -6% drop in year on year sales. However, the UK market remains the biggest in Europe, though Germany is now a closer second than before. Despite the challenging trading conditions, the toy industry continued to innovate with over 32,000 new products launched in 2019, according to the data. Action figures achieved 9% growth, whilst board games and puzzles enjoyed a 1% increase. Collectibles also continued to dominate the market, with sales equivalent to 21% of all toys sold. These findings were reflected at the 2019 Toy of the Year and Supplier of the Year Awards, which saw MGA Entertainment’s behemoth collectible brand L.O.L. Surprise! 2-in-1 Glamper Fashion Camper take home the win for Toy of the Year. Global Supplier of the year went to Spin Master, which launched its new

DC Batman master toy collection on the opening day of the show with an appearance by Batman and his Batmobile in the custom-built Gotham Café, while UK Supplier of the Year went to Orchard Toys. Smyths was awarded the overall 2019 Toy Retailer of the Year, while Thomas Moore, Toy Barnhaus and W J Daniel were also recognised with individual awards. A full list of the retail winners appears below. For outstanding contributions to the toy industry, Generation Media’s Dean Weller and SMF Toytown’s Alan Simpson were also presented with special awards. Press Day, the opening day of Toy Fair, saw the announcement of the 2020 Hero Toys; 25 products judged by an independent panel of retailers, and the BTHA itself, to be the most exciting and creative toys unveiled at the event. The list of winners included big names such as Lego, Playmobil, Hasbro, Flair, Ravensburger and Character Options, which also took home a Toy of the Year award for Heroes of Goo Jit Zu Marvel Superheroes that same evening. Clementoni’s Dynamix My Flexible World Wearable 4-in-1 was also named a Hero Toy. Commenting on the award, and on the show as a whole, Shabhaz Kahn, country manager UK & Ireland, said: “We’ve had another good show, and it has been hugely productive to meet with our customers, especially after a significant year of growth for the Clementoni business. We have exciting launches this year, including our 100% recycled materials range Play for Future, our Netflix licensed products and innovative STEM toys including Toy Fair Hero award winner Dynamix - all of which were positively received by visitors to the stand.” Sustainability was high on the agenda for many companies, with exhibitors keen to highlight the strides being taken to address concerns surrounding single-use plastic packaging and virgin materials. Placards could be seen next to numerous ranges highlighting their environmental credentials, from 100% recycled PET filling in plush ranges to

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innovative packaging which becomes part of the play experience (and therefore doesn’t go straight in the bin). Tomy has developed the Britains Farm in a Box, for example; the packaging for the model tractor can be easily turned into a farmyard scene, with pens for animals and a holding yard complete with gates. “Britains’ unique play patterns and innovations have gone down well with customers, and we’re really pleased with how we’ve kicked off the year,” says Nicola Jenkins, head of global brands at Tomy. “On the back of being announced as one of the fastest growing toy & games companies in 2019, we’ve hit the ground running for the new decade by presenting clear and concise brand updates from our portfolio, and launching new business opportunities for the key autumn/winter season. We are excited about the year ahead and looking forward to translating these efforts at Toy Fair into sales for our customers.” Interplay is similarly excited, having overhauled its best-selling FabLab range. Each box has been redesigned to hold the products while they are being used, enhancing the experience and vastly reducing materials. The company has also reacted swiftly to criticism of traditional glitter, a micro-plastic – now, FabLab products only contain eco-friendly bio-glitter which is kind to the environment. “We had a really positive response to our new launches at London Toy Fair,” enthuses Meriç PekcanButcher, marketing manager at Interplay UK. “Our new on-trend FabLab products, with sustainable and environmentally friendly components and cosmetic grade Bio-glitter, were a big hit. Visitors also loved the new My Fairy Garden launches and plantable seed paper petals in the new Flower Bed Babies, with the range featuring in Toy Fair coverage. The new licensed Peppa Pig Grow & Play range, featuring Peppa and her friends in an adorable plant pot home, was also received with huge enthusiasm.” The annual Best Stand Awards were presented on day two of the show, with Moose Toys taking home the main prize for its bright, airy and colourful stand



Feature

Toy Fair Review THE TOY AND SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR WINNERS 2019: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

up on the gallery. “It’s the first time Moose Toys has exhibited at Toy Fair and we’ve had an incredibly positive reception,” says Neil Shinner, Moose Europe. “As one of the fastest growing toy companies in the UK, we’re investing heavily into our UK business for 2020 and Toy Fair has been the best platform to from which to showcase our innovative products. From Kindi Kids winning Hero Toy status, to our Oh My Gif brand being named ‘one to watch’, we’re excited for the year ahead. Winning the award for Best Stand Design is a testament to the huge effort of the team - bring on the rest of 2020.” As it does every year, the show provided a range of visitors with business opportunities, from bloggers to celebrity chefs. For Lesley Singleton, director of Playtime PR, it was all go at the fair, managing a team covering no less than seven stands across the three days. Lesley told Toy World: “London Toy Fair was an incredibly busy show for Playtime PR again this year, our team was liberally spread across seven client stands, taking care of media and influencers, and ensuring that clients were able to crack on, uninterrupted, with those all-important buyer meetings. Personally, I love the show because it’s often the first hands-on opportunity we have to see products we’ll be working hard on all year, trying to guess what the big hitters will be for Christmas 2020. It’s also the perfect chance to catch up with our partner agencies and media collaborators face to face.” Toymaster, the independent toy buying group, once again hosted the Toymaster Lounge, where group members and those interested in membership could go to get the low-down on the current indie retail state of play. “Toyfair was once again a busy and productive week for Toymaster,”

states Brian McLaughlin, retail manager. “As always, it was a great opportunity to catch up with our members and suppliers, and also to meet with new independent retailers. Despite the challenging trading conditions, the overall feeling was that there is still plenty to go for - although a playground craze for spring would be very welcome!” While talk on the show floor tended to focus on what everyone’s favourite toys were – a certain arts & crafts sloth kit captured the attention of the Toy World team – changes announced for next year’s Toy Fair, the result of a major investment plan scheduled for the venue, caused some chatter among attendees and exhibitors alike. We asked Majen what the work means for the show, and what we should expect for 2021. “Due to the redevelopment works at Olympia which will cement it as a world class venue, the Lower and Upper West Halls will be unavailable to us in 2021,” she says. “While this space undergoes works, Toy Fair 2021 will take place in the Grand Hall, Grand Gallery, National Hall and National Gallery, which will from the Lower and Upper West Halls, and we’re in close contact with the venue so that we can update exhibitors on any tweaks to operational processes. We’re confident that the new layout will look and feel great.” Applications for Toy Fair 2021 (19th21st January) are now open, with the BTHA already seeing a healthy number of bookings. Interested parties are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, and to pay a deposit by the end of March, to benefit from the early booking discount offered. For more information, visit www.toyfair.co.uk.

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Action Figure of the Year – Goo-Jit-Zu, Character Options Construction Toy of the Year – Harry Potter Knight Bus, Lego Imaginative Play Toy of the Year – Nerf Fortnite SP-L Elite Dart Blaster, Hasbro Collectible Range of the Year – Funko Pop!, Funko Novelty Toy of the Year – Pets Alive Boppi the Booty Shakin’ Llama, Zuru Game of the Year – Pictionary Air Family Drawing Game, Mattel Doll of the Year – L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Fashion Doll, MGA Play Set of The Year – L.O.L. Surprise! 2-in-1 Glamper Fashion Camper, MGA Plush Toy of the Year – Rainbocorns Series 2 Ultimate Surprise Egg, Zuru Pre-school Range of the Year (Joint) – Paw Patrol, Spin Master, Pre-school Range of the Year (Joint) - Peppa Pig, Character Options Movie Toy of the Year – Toy Story 4 True Talkers, Mattel TRA Special Recognition Award – Barbie Dreamtopia Royal Ball Princess Doll, Mattel Global Supplier of the Year – Spin Master UK Supplier of the Year – Orchard Toy Overall Toy of the Year - L.O.L. Surprise! 2-in-1 Glamper Fashion Camper, MGA

THE TOY RETAILER OF THE YEAR 2019 WINNERS: • • • • • • •

Independent Toy Retailer of the Year – Thomas Moore Toymaster Independent Multi-Store Toy Retailer of the Year (up to 10 stores) – Toy Barnhaus Department Store Toy Retailer of the Year – W J Daniel & Co, Windsor Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year – Smyths Toys Online Excellence Award – Shop Direct (The Very Group) Judges’ Special Recognition Award – B & M Stores Overall Toy Retailer of the Year – Smyths Toys

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AWARDS: • •

D ean Weller, Generation Media. Alan Simpson, SMF Toytown.


TO FIND OUT MORE, CONTACT TACTIC GAMES UK Phil O’nion +44 (0) 7970 779842 Sabrina Hayhoe +44 (0) 7826 844824

info@tacticgames.co.uk www.youtube.com/TacticBoardGames


Feature

Science & Nature

Wonders of the world Heading into 2020, science & nature toys and games are set to enjoy a strong year. Increased focus on STEM learning, climate chance, sustainability and wildlife, thanks to recent world events and headline news, is resulting in a generation of kids more aware than ever of the world around them and its scientific possibilities. Rachael Simpson-Jones looks at what’s in store for this year.

S

cience, as an interest or hobby, is increasingly cool. No longer the domain of so-called geeks or nerds, the world of science has been blown wide open, and now, more than ever, it’s vital that kids engage with it. Who could have missed the past year of climate catastrophe coverage, spearheaded by the teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg? Exhibitors at Toy Fair spoke of how their kids, some as young as eight, have been expressing an interest in science, sustainability and the natural world as a result. For manufacturers of science and nature toys, the potential here is clear.

spiking, and I really think that this is thanks to Greta Thunberg.”

Lab feature different experiments to further pique children’s curiosity.

“The Thames & Kosmos philosophy when developing our product is to ‘Let Knowledge Grow’,” Jo adds. “Our aim is to make fun products, which educate and intrigue a child enough to make them want to find out more about whichever subject matter the product addresses. We find that this appeals to parents, due to the educational value of what is, essentially, a toy. We get lots of compliments on our colourful and informative instruction manuals, as the kits cover relevant topics and the manuals show how they are pertinent to the world around us.”

“More and more, we find young children are seeking knowledge about certain aspects of science; for example, we’re having a surge in alternative energies products right now,” explains Joanna Drage, sales director, Thames & Kosmos. “Sales of kits such as Solar Mechanics, Wind Power and Hydropower are

Toynamics’ Junior Inventor range from Hape is perfect for getting children interested in and interacting with science at a young age, featuring Scientific Workbenches, a Toolbox and a Toolbelt, which include a variety of experiments to carry out. A new Magnet Science Lab and an Optical Science

Aiming to encourage an appreciation of the beauty of the planet, Guidecraft focuses on creating connections to nature from a young age, and believes that suppliers should be mindful of the materials they incorporate into their products. Lorna Smith, director of sales, EMEA , told Toy World, “Guidecraft incorporates nature-inspired materials, colours and concepts into its products to foster organic connections and an appreciation for nature. Responsibly-sourced materials further a child’s connection to conservation and the natural world around them.”

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Taking the beauty of coral reefs as inspiration, Guidecraft’s Coral Connections has been designed to highlight the natural wonder of the ocean. With pliable, recycled plastic pieces, children can create undersea environments, using a variety of


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Science & Nature

components. As children build creations in sand, water or on the tabletop using the brightly coloured organic shapes, teachers and parents can provide lessons about ocean life. The use of responsibly sourced, recycled materials will also inspire conversations about conservation and sustainability. Lorna added: “To further our impact and the bond children have with the natural world, Guidecraft has agreed to donate $2 from the sale of each Coral Connections set to the Coral Reef Alliance, in an effort to support its mission to protect and save the world’s coral reefs.” When asked to pick one product she is most excited about for this year, Jo highlights the new Thames + Kosmos Gumball Machine. The company offers plenty of kits that address physics, but this is the first physics kit it has produced that looks like a non-educational toy, despite still offering plenty of learning potential. “I’m really excited to see how this works out for us,” Jo enthuses. “The user has all sorts of different processes that they can build for the gumball to travel through before it eventually gets to the distribution place, where it can then be picked up and eaten. If the processes are not constructed properly, the gumball will not make it to the end; the child then needs to figure out why it’s not working, creating a physical learning ground.”

Getting kids outdoors, exploring and enjoying nature, remains an important part of play for parents. While screen time can be both educational and helpful, and appears to have cemented its place in modern kids’ lives, it’s hard to beat hands-on outdoor play, examining creepy-crawlies with a magnifying glass or learning to identify species of tree down at the local park. “Children are wonderfully curious about everything, especially the world around them,” says Debra at Brainstorm. “To reflect this, our products are designed in a way that helps them get to grips with understanding about different subjects in fun and engaging ways, so that they can understand, but also enjoy, the learning process. We love the term ‘learning through stealth’ and think this is apt for our Brainstorm Toys ranges. Children love to get up close and personal with the natural world, so our new 450 x Microscope joins out Outdoor Adventures collection for this year. It allows children to explore different

aspects of the world around them using tools that are powerful and sturdy, while remaining perfect for little hands to hold and carry. We have been asked by both retailers and parents if our Brainstorm Toys range includes microscopes and telescopes, so we are delighted to introduce them for 2020. We know they are going to be hugely popular.” As with all toys, what attracts the child may not necessarily attract the parent, and vice versa. With scientific toys, or those that aim to introduce kids to the natural world, this divide may become more apparent. Parents and grandparents are looking for educational emphasis, searching out products that clearly detail learning outcomes and Key Stage tie-ins, whereas kids are looking for toys (first and foremost) that are fun, exciting or impressive. At retail, the trick is to present both aspects in order to appeal to both target consumers, while also making use of additional marketing such as social media engagement and videos, as Jo explains. “I encourage retailers to display a sample of our product in store; free of charge, of course,” she says. “When consumers can see the quality of our products, it has a very positive effect on sales. Thames & Kosmos quality is one of the aspects of our product range that I am most proud of. We already have a YouTube channel with lots of video content for our products, and we have updated both of our websites in the last year. We regularly liaise with, and have a good following of, customers on our different social media channels.”

Last year’s big science event, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, resulted in a big spike in sales for space toys, and the renewed interest in space exploration doesn’t appear to be waning. Tobar has introduced the Solar System Planetarium to its portfolio for 2020, along with the Putty Planets Solar System, both of which have been very well-received so far. And Brainstorm, which already boasts a strong range of space products, is also currently riding the crest of the interplanetary wave.

The company has also taken on two new members of staff, Nicky and Julia, both with a background in PR, who will be overseeing Thames & Kosmos’ social media outreach programme. Jo adds: “I think that social media is the way forward for appealing to both children and parents – just on different platforms.”

“As a theme, space is definitely enjoying a resurgence,” says Debra Tiffany, marketing manager at Brainstorm. “As NASA and space agencies around the world make more discoveries, and space becomes more accessible, children are inspired to learn more. Last year saw the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and this year marks 50 years since the famous Apollo 13 mission, which will undoubtedly keep space front of mind with not only children but all adults. Because of this, we’re really looking forward to launching our new Light Up & Glow Astronaut which will complement our space toy range, as well as opening up new retail channels for us, as it doubles as a great nightlight. We also have a My First Telescope launching this year, which kids can use to observe the stars.”

Brainstorm works closely with retailers, creating bespoke POS to deliver impactful product displays in store. It also lends support with social media marketing, helping to promote in-store events, providing prizes for in-store competitions and other activities. Debra explains: “We always like to work with each customer to create campaigns that will ultimately drive their sales. In addition, we also support many of our ranges with TV advertising; throughout the year, My Very Own Solar System, with a call out for My Very Own Moon, will be TV advertised during key selling periods.” Over the following pages, Toy World looks at the toys making their way into the hands of the UK’s youngest scientists and naturalists this year.

Gumball Machine from Thames & Kosmos

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Eager young adventurers will find plenty of fascinating discoveries in our Junior Explorer range! Each item is beautifully packaged to match, giving you the perfect opportunity to create a truly eye catching collection of these popular educational lines.

Available to order today!

tel: 01603 397 105 email: sales@tobar.co.uk online: www.tobar.co.uk/discover

A World of Fun!


Science & Nature

Tobar 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk Tobar has a wide variety of products which are sure to interest any budding Einstein or Attenborough, at a wide range of attractive price points. New for 2020 is the Projector Torch; offering a combination of science and nature elements, each torch projects 24 full-colour images for kids to scroll through. Animal and Space themed Projector Torches are available, alongside the Ocean Projector Torch and the Unicorn Projector Torch. The Junior Explorer range offers everything budding scientists need to discover more about the natural world. Encompassing everything from butterfly nets to binoculars, the range includes bug collecting tubes, a bug catcher, magnifying glasses and a Bug Observation Dome for closer scrutiny of captured specimens. The green fingered brigade can grow a Venus Fly Trap, while Herb Heads allow kids to grow basil, parsley or chives in a fun character plant pot. The best-selling Mr. Grasshead and Owl Grasshead cultivate their own hair, which can be left to grow long or cut short. Magic Growing Crystals are a popular line. Young scientists can simply add a special liquid and watch as the crystals form. Sets include a Growing Garden, Mermaid, Penguin, Peacock or Unicorn. There are also special kits which let kids make their own slime. Tobar has geography covered with inflatable globes, while fans of more advanced scientific pursuits can choose from gyroscopes, magnets, a mirascope and kinetic wheels. A popular addition to the range has been the Solar System Planetarium; this self-assembly planetarium has glow in the dark planets which space fans can paint themselves. Kids can learn even more about the solar system with the new Putty Planets Solar System. Each planet opens to reveal a different coloured putty.

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 | www.learningresources.co.uk Learning Resources focuses on real-world, experiential play. The popular GeoSafari range is a family favourite for providing kids with age-appropriate toys that help them explore the world around them and are robust enough to survive their outdoor adventures. The GeoSafari Jr. range has been developed in partnership with scientists and parents to offer young children real working functional toys that introduce science discovery and encourage children’s natural desire to learn. All items are robust enough to survive even the toughest little adventurers. The range includes the well-known Kidnoculars, My First Microscope and My First Telescope, which are now available in a new bright pink colour. Each is a real working science tool and includes features like focus-free dual eyepieces designed for young children’s pupillary distance, and simple, chunky fittings that are easier for little hands to grasp and use. The unique product offering, and eye-catching packaging have instant shelf-appeal in a retail environment.

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en Schleich’s Wild Life theme brings children between the ages of three and eight closer to the varied world of wild animals. #Schleicharoundtheworld will be a core message for the Wild Life collection in 2020, with Rescue being the main theme for the new launches. At the heart of the action will be the Large Animal Rescue Truck complete with a rotating crane, flexible cable winch, ranger and animals, whilst the Animal Rescue Helicopter has movable rotor blades, a cable winch and comes complete with a pilot ranger. In addition, new animal figures from all over the world will be introduced to the lineup, with everything from an elegant Asian snow leopard to a cute Australian wombat and a Norwegian reindeer. Two marine animals are also joining the range – the hammerhead shark and a baby orca. In Farm World, kids can enjoy looking after their animals with the new veterinarian sets. The Veterinarian Practice with Pets Set is equipped with everything the vet needs to take care of animals. The Veterinarian Visit at the Farm set allows the vet to visit the patient, and includes includes a vet, his Labrador retriever and a cute kitten, while the vet’s case contains all the instruments he needs to examine and treat the animals. Adding to the play value of the set, the truck’s foldout loading ramp offers plenty of space for animal transportation.

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Science & Nature

Vivid 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk The award-winning National Geographic educational line continues to establish its position as an evergreen, go-to science range within the company’s portfolio. Bandai UK introduces a new Crystal Garden kit for spring/summer, while new Super Kits will also be added to the collection later in the year at price points that are perfect for Christmas. Core to the range are the Dig Kits, which feature a piece of the natural world and a full-colour learning guide. Sales are consistently high year-round and the new product lines aim to keep the brand fresh and appealing. With genuine specimens in each, sets are available at a range of price points starting from RRP £4.99 for Mini Kits up to RRP £29.99 for Super Kits. Two years since its acquisition of the Original Sea Monkeys, Bandai continues to report a strong performance from the heritage brand, which has contributed to early science learning and play for decades. Encouraging engagement with nature, nurture-play, and an opportunity for children to own their own aquatic pets, the Original Sea Monkeys line is compact and affordable at £9.99 RRP. With a reinvigorated range including an Ocean Zoo, Volcano Zoo, and Adventure Zoo, further themed tanks include a Magiquarium, Castle and Mars setting for housing the brine shrimp.

The Science4you range goes from strength to strength following its nomination at the recent Nuremberg Toy Fair Toy Awards for Green Science, the first environmentally friendly, plastic free, ecological and biodegradable scientific toy. The flagship Green Science product leverages an ecologically conscious approach and is set to be one of the brand’s main innovations of 2020. This scientific and educational toy invites kids to embark on a mission to help save the planet. Green Science kits aim to teach children to take advantage of materials that already exist by turning them into scientific toys. All Science4you sets offer a fun, creative and engaging way of inspiring kids to find out more about the world around them. Linking directly to the national curriculum for key stages 1-4, Science4you introduces a range of products to extend a child’s learning from school to home in a unique, stimulating and entertaining way. Each set contains an instructional booklet developed with teachers and is designed to help children learn and understand science via everyday concepts and materials. A full range of Science4you kits is available, priced from £4.99 - £39.99. These include Monster Factory, which lets kids grow a monster and create a cyclops eye whilst learning about polymers, fluids, viscosity and chemical reactions, while Unicorn Scientist allows them to send crystalline unicorn messages and create crystals, a crystal unicorn horn and unicorn-themed eggs whilst leaning about how crystals are formed in nature. Coding Lab teaches kids how to apply code functions without a computer, write in binary and send encrypted messages. Vivid will be supporting the product line this year with TV advertising, a digital campaign targeting YouTube Trueview, in-app adverts and an e-commerce campaign.

Interplay 01628 488 944 | www.interplayuk.com Created with naturalist and TV presenter Nick Baker, Interplay’s award-winning My Living World range enables kids to study animals, insects and flora in close-up detail, supporting science and STEM learning as well as exploration of the natural world. An evergreen property, the My Living World offers a unique peek into the secret world of bugs, insects and snails, ensuring its continuous popularity among children, parents and natural world enthusiasts. The best-selling My Living World Ant World invites kids into the fascinating world of ants by watching them as they build tunnels and establish a fully functioning colony, keep their home tidy and feed each other. Kids can try to decipher ants’ fascinating chemo-communication methods, as well as ant morse code. With My Living World Worm World, kids can discover the secret life of worms. The transparent wormery allows kids to observe the worms as they mix up differently coloured layers by tunnelling, and watch as they pull leaves into the ground for dinner. Worm World provides a great opportunity for children to learn more about the importance of worms in earth’s ecosystem. Children are encouraged to collect their own worms and care for them with a 20-page activity guide, written by Nick Baker.

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PowerClix® Frames Natural

Authentic and naturally-inspired children’s toys by Guidecraft, such as Coral Connections and PowerClix Solids Natural and PowerClix Frames Natural sets, expand the possibilities for hands-on, tactile STEM learning experiences while strengthening a child’s connection to the planet. New toys with fluid shapes and natural color schemes encourage children to create 2D patterns and build 3D forms. Through sensory exploration using loose parts, children can satisfy their innate curiosities about the natural world while building relationships with new ecosystems.

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Science & Nature

Thames and Kosmos 01580 212 000 | www.thamesandkosmos.co.uk Thames and Kosmos UK is harnessing the power of the gyroscope to teach kids eight years and above about physics and rotation. A gyroscope is a rapidly spinning wheel mounted in such a way that its axle can move in any direction. Because of the laws of physics, the gyroscope reacts to external forces differently than a non-spinning wheel would; it resists forces in certain directions meaning it can be used for all sorts of applications related to balance, rotation and orientation. The Amazing Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot kit has instructions to build seven motorised models, including a robot that can balance on two linear wheels and move along a tightrope. Kids will learn about the physical science principles that keep the robot balanced, making it appear to defy gravity. The models include the gyroscopic robot, a balancing personal vehicle, a gyro horizon (or artificial horizon), a gyrocompass, a balancing game, a tightrope walker and a flight simulator. Fun, hands-on experiments with the motorised gyroscope unit make these physical laws tangible and easier to comprehend A full-colour, 24page, illustrated experiment manual provides step-bystep assembly instructions and scientific explanations. With Super Sweet Stunts, kids can build their own gumball machine and learn physics lessons in the process. A turn of a handle dispenses one gumball at a time out of the clear storage globe and down the moveable track, performing stunts such as a pulley lift, pendulum, funnel, trampoline, variable-slope ramp, pinball launcher, and domino slide. Each segment of the track teaches a different lesson in mechanical physics, allowing users to explore topics including simple machines, force, motion, momentum, gravity, Newton’s laws, energy transfer and more. Trial-and-error experiments teach in a fun, hands-on way. The kit works with standard machine-size, 16-mm (5/8-inch) gumballs and includes a small supply of gumballs to get started.

Galt 01614 289 111 | www.galttoys.com The award-winning Explore and Discover range includes kits that are perfect for introducing basic scientific principles to young children. Complete with fun illustrated lab books containing simple experiments, as well as engaging and appealing components, the kits aim to build a buzz around the world of science from a young age. The new Giant Science Lab joins the range for 2020; this bumper science kit includes a lab coat and 30 experiments covering chemistry, biology and physics. For 2020, Galt Toys is revealing a range of new Horrible Science licensed kits, including Mighty Magnets and Ugly Bugs, plus a Horrible Science game, Germ Attack, in which Germs and Scientists battle it out around the body to be the first to the heart. Foul facts and questions guaranteed to turn the stomach and blow players’ minds add to the fun of the game, which is based on the best-selling Scholastic books written by Nick Arnold and illustrated by Tony De Saulles.

Clementoni 020 3206 1397 | www.clementoni.com Clementoni offers Science Museum-licensed robotic and mechanical engineering kits in its science category, which have been best-sellers throughout 2019. Joining the Mechanics Lab range for 2020 is Antarctic Vehicles, which comes with over 300 components and the ability to build up to 50 models, the Safari Jeep set and the Luna Park set, a fun fair kit in vibrant colours which lets kids build their favourite rides. In order to appeal to younger children, Clementoni is also launching a simpler 120-piece line of kits featuring animals such as Coco the Gorilla, Shak the Shark, Yuki the Seal and Leo the Lion. Toy Fair Hero Winner Dynamix is a unique concept which will be added to the current core STEM range. Dynamix is made up of flexible construction kits which teach through play. Inspired by living beings, all the movements and mechanisms in the sets are bionic applications and are split into four specific themes: Dinosaur, Marine, Wearable and Challenge. The core science range has had a facelift for 2020 with all-new packaging and branding. New introductions include the Beauty Mask kit; Pancake Lab, which gives children the chance to create fun shapes with the included batter mix; and, in a move to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, the Bio Cosmetics Set, a 100% raw materials eco-friendly kit which lets kids create shower gel, soap and body cream.

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Science & Nature

Guidecraft 07725 833 273 | www.guidecraft.com A creator of natural, educational children’s toys for over 50 years, Guidecraft emphasises the importance of open-ended play, the beauty of loose parts, and the significance of hands-on learning through children’s connections to nature. Through a range of toys that are inherently STEM based, Guidecraft aims to enrich children’s lives through inventive play and encourages them to use their imaginations in the classroom and beyond. In particular, Guidecraft’s line of open-ended, magnetic STEM toys, PowerClix, encourages children to think like engineers while building unlimited 2D patterns and 3D forms. PowerClix patented building systems expand the possibilities for tactile learning experiences while strengthening a child’s connection to the planet in ways that the company says standard magnetic toys don’t. The newest additions to the PowerClix collection, PowerClix Frames Natural and PowerClix Solids Natural, incorporate natureinspired colours, encouraging children to engage in natural play. Using familiar shapes in subdued hues, PowerClix Natural integrates organic, natural play, light and colour exploration, and loose parts theory within a STEM building platform. For children aged three and up, PowerClix Solids Natural come in a 70-piece set, while the 74-piece set of PowerClix Frames Natural is intended for children aged four and up. Each also comes with a built-in metal baseplate for easy organisation and storage as well as a convenient building base. Additionally, sets include 10 large, double-sided Inspiration Cards to fuel creative builds and advance STEM learning.

Trends UK 01295 768 078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk Budding scientists can experience a variety of chemistry experiments with the award-winning Science Mad Chemistry Lab or the Science Mad Crystal Growing Kit. The Science Mad Circuit Lab offers over 50 experiments teaching about electricity, electrical components and circuits, with easy to use spring connectors, pre-cut wires, resistors, transistors, diodes and more. An interactive Science Mad Pop Globe features AR technology with an app that scans the geo-political globe to reveal facts and pictures. Trends UK’s Discovery Adventures toy range is ideal for families that enjoy the great outdoors. Digital Walkie Talkies, Night Mission Goggles, Bug Barn, 100x Microscope and more provide plenty of exploration potential. The Machine Works Build your Own Kits can be used to create models of working engines with realistic sound effects and Haynes-style instruction booklets. The best-selling Machine Works V8 Engine also comes with an AR feature. Kids can download a free app and explore the machine’s functions with animated AR features and 11 engine components described in detail.

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk Toynamics has unveiled three new science and experiment kits for 2020. The Junior Inventor Range from Hape already features four Scientific Workbenches and Toolbox which include 15, 10, 6 or 3 experiments for children to build and test. The biggest set comes as a fully constructed workbench, whereas the Discovery Scientific Workbench and Science Experiment Toolbox are portable. New in the Junior Inventor range is the Magnet Science Lab which features seven different experiments. The Optical Science Lab is perfect for exploring the world of optical science and lights with eight experiments, as well as starter and deluxe experiment kits. Hape has also launched a Scientific Tool Belt which includes three experiments of its own, with a pocket for tools and pieces. The Junior Inventor range is perfect for getting children interested and interacting with science and discovery at a young age.

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Science & Nature

Brainstorm Toys 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Brainstorm has introduced several new additions to its portfolio for 2020, including the new Light Up and Glow Astronaut. The perfect addition to any space toy collection, this realistic-looking free-standing nightlight is 150mm (6”) tall and has a 60-minute automatic shut off. Even when switched off, the Astronaut still gives off a comforting glow and is suitable from ages three and upwards. Aimed at ages eight and above, the new My First Telescope looks just like an adult telescope. This junior version will allow children to magnify objects 20-40x using the high-quality 42mm lens. It can be handheld but also comes with a sturdy tripod, so children can position it to look out at the stars. Budding scientists will love the 450X Microscope. With three levels of magnification, the microscope benefits from over 40 pieces of kit including three prepared slides containing specimens to view. It also comes with blank slides, collection vials, a petri dish, magnifiers and more. The 450X Microscope perfectly complements Brainstorm’s Outdoor Adventure collection, which will also be expanded this year. The Outdoor Adventure Monocular has been designed for little hands to hold and is ideal for mini explorers and young birdwatchers. The monocular has a superb 7x magnification and the 20mm lens gives a clear, sharp view that is easy to focus. It also features a breakaway lanyard so children can easily carry their monocular. There’s also a Mini Monocular available; this compact pocket money purchase comes on a keychain that children can add to their school bags. The Original Glowstars Company brand has come a long way from the original glow in the dark star stickers. Dinosaur fans will delight in the brand-new Glow Dino Figures. There are three dinosaur skeletons to collect; T-Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The realistic looking figures come with between 10 to 12 dinosaur parts and assembly instructions, along with fun dinosaur facts. When assembled and with the lights off, each figure will give off the cool green glow synonymous with the brand. A great first pet for little ones, discovering nature through Aqua Dragons will teach children about the life cycles of these unique creatures. Around since prehistoric times, the aquatic creatures have lived on earth for millions of years. The Aqua Dragons Deluxe Set features an illuminated tank, food and eggs that can be hatched into real live Aqua Dragons. Children simply need to add water; the Aqua Dragons will hatch in just 2-3 days, and will grow up to 2cm long.

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Opinion

Jim Hawker

How to win on Amazon in 2020 Jim Hawker is co-founder of Threepipe agency: a team of PR, social, content, SEO and paid media experts, with a dedicated specialist Amazon division. He explores how companies should be aware of the need to adapt their retail strategies in today’s ever evolving retail environment.

I

don’t need to tell anyone reading this how much the retail landscape has changed in the last few years and as I write this article, I am also taking in the news that Debenhams is closing its toy departments. More than ever before, brands and manufacturers need an agile retail strategy and as a result, we have been seeing a reinvigorated interest in how to better work with Amazon. In the summer of 2019, Threepipe launched a dedicated Amazon team of specialists to help brands shape and manage both their UK and international strategies. We have enjoyed success across many different sectors, from healthcare to FMCG, but also in the toy sector, in both the UK and international markets. The UK toy and game market has one of the highest online penetrations of any retail category and Amazon is in prime position to take advantage of the struggles of the high street retailer – for lots of reasons, some fair and some unfair. Why do brands need to think differently about Amazon? For starters, the traditional competitor mix can be very different. Well known toy companies

are competing against a much wider range of unknown brands that enjoy better reviews and have a more thorough understanding of how the Amazon algorithm works. Amazon offers a low barrier to entry for smaller challenger brands who are building their business on Amazon and ‘stealing’ revenue away from better known legacy brands. Traditional toy companies often compete against re-sellers, which has a big impact on pricing and revenue. Not getting a grip on this doesn’t just cause lost revenue on Amazon, but also wider problems across other retail customers who are monitoring pricing. Amazon own label activity is limited to the US at the moment but we are convinced that will change. The company has access to a huge amount of data that it is using to fuel product development. Instead of moaning about this, brands must build a counteracting strategy, This requires building out an integrated Amazon strategy which is data led and drives improved product visibility through organic and paid media strategies, as well as better pricing and stock

toyworld toy world The business magazine with a passion for toys

management using AI and automated tools. Following successful trials in the UK for one of the best known toy companies, our work has rapidly expanded to France and German Amazon support. In a short space of time we have proven the value of having a dedicated Amazon strategy that has ensured less leaking of revenues to competitors which had been diverting revenue away from consumers actively searching for better known brands. Amazon is a search led online platform and knowing what customers are searching for and when they are searching for it is key to building a successful optimisation and marketing strategies. We are now helping toy clients consistently hold 1st page organic rankings through smarter techniques and keyword insight, and as a result they are consistently in the Top Five most sold toys on Amazon. Amazon will only get stronger. Relying on brand strength in other channels isn’t enough to succeed in this area. Jim can be contacted at jim@threepipe.co.uk

If you’d like to be part of our April issue please get in touch, features include:

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lisa@toyworldmag.co.uk or call 01442 502 406. Toy World 106


Lego

Brand Profile

Connecting the Dots

On 28th January, the Lego Group held an event in Kings Cross, London to unveil the latest addition to its brand-new arts and crafts portfolio: Lego Dots. In collaboration with artist Camille Walala, Lego opened the House of Dots, a temporary installation comprising five rooms made out of eight shipping containers to represent Dots in a creative space. At the event, Toy World sat down with senior design manager for the Lego Group, Amy Corbett, to discuss the creative process behind Dots and what Lego hopes to achieve from its launch.

shaped by working together with kids. One of the key findings was that kids want to be the designer and don’t need a big instruction booklet telling them what to do, although some welcome a few ideas to help them get started. The whole Dots experience has been refined based on this finding alone. We came up with various product lines which are all united by the creative language of the tiles themselves, or Dots, as we call them. We picked the most popular items that kids would like to decorate and show off: a jewellery holder, pencil pot, bracelets and animal photo holders; all items that kids might have in their rooms but conveyed in a way that makes them expressive, personal and relevant in an arts and crafts context.

What fundamental skills and play experience do you want kids to gain through using Lego Dots? As a long standing, tried and tested 3D construction toy company, what inspired the Lego Group to take a different approach and create a 2D tile-based play concept for the arts and crafts category? Often when kids are asked to describe themselves, they say they are creative. We were surprised to learn from our research that some children didn’t feel Lego was a creative tool that they could use to harness this personality trait. We saw an opportunity to make Lego more relevant and engaging to younger children that don’t see Lego in the way that we, as adults, see it – as a creative toy. It was this insight that inspired the Dots development process. We found that kids love doing arts and crafts projects, but many crave a toolbox or playground that can offer them inspiration and get them started. This main starting point led to the creation of Dots; we tried many ideas and saw early on that we could use 2D tiles to make patterns, allowing kids to express themselves through design.

What themes and products feature in the first launch, and how much of an impact did your research with children influence these creative decisions? The creation of the Lego Dots project has been

I think creativity is definitely our biggest aim. We want to nurture kids and show them that they can be creative and have the confidence to try different things. Having a way to express yourself is very important; we live in a world where everyone is encouraged to express themselves and their own personal style, and Dots is really applicable to that. But expressing who you are can be a daunting prospect for children, who don’t always have the right tools to be expressive creatively. Dots is an accessible method that kids can use to experiment with their personal style and identity and to show themselves off through unique designs. With Dots, they can make changes and re-work their designs again and again, to learn what works for them and what doesn’t.

What was it about Camille Walala and her work that made her ideal to collaborate with on the House of Dots installation? Lego Dots is a something very new from Lego and we wanted to do something different to introduce it to the world. As a new product for the arts and crafts category, it seemed fitting to collaborate with an artist who shared some of our own values and style. Like Lego, Camille is all about colour and pattern and we could see the energy and passion in her work and knew she would be an excellent fit. She also stands for bringing creativity to everyone and that’s really

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what Dots is all about – encouraging a creative confidence. The House of Dots was a perfect introduction to the new line; Camille created a great mash-up between her own colourful style and Dots to bring the product to life even more. Incorporating features like a disco room and ball pit in the House of Dots was exactly the kind of energy we wanted, to convey the new Dots line as a fun and creative tool, something that will make people smile.”

What is next for Lego Dots? Just like the Lego minifigure and the bricks, I think we are seeing a whole new language and way of working and building with the Lego System, and this is something that we see huge potential with across all categories in Lego. We are looking for more and more opportunities of how we can use the 2D tiles and bring them to life. This project has been over two years in the making, and Dots is something Lego is truly invested in. We are launching more products in the second half of the year, whilst we continue to look at what more we can do in the future. We see this as an evergreen line, it has won over everyone at Lego, and we hope it can win over the world as well. We look forward to seeing what consumers will do with it, since it is a very open-ended way of playing. As Lego Dots is creative, and compatible with existing Lego products, there are endless design possibilities. The new Lego Dots range, featuring wearables items, home décor sets and booster bags, launched on 1st March 2020 at a wide variety of price points, from an RRP of £3.99 to £17.99.


Special Feature

ICTI Ethical Toy Program

Family values

An integral part of the ICTI Ethical Toy Program’s (IETP) work, the Family Friendly Spaces Program creates factorybased childcare facilities that enable workers to spend more time with their children during the school summer holidays. Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Carmel Giblin, CEO and president of IETP, to find out how the scheme benefits parents, children and factories, and the expansion plans for 2020. an estimated 61m Left Behind Children; it’s a massive problem. Their parents are domestic migrants, who have moved from rural areas to find work while their children remain in the care of grandparents or other relatives. This is an issue that affects the whole of China, not just the toy industry. However, we see children as key stakeholders so we want to really understand the issue and respond to it as positively as we can.

Is this a China specific problem or are other countries affected? If so, how?

What is China’s ‘LBC’ issue and why is it relevant to the toy industry? LBC stands for Left Behind Children, and for obvious reasons, anything concerning children and their development is hugely important to the toy industry. We want to ensure that the children of workers involved in toy production are fully considered by suppliers and consumers, and that they see their parents working in a toy factory as a positive thing. We’re doing all we can to support childrens’ development, both with the end product and during its production.

LBC is most acute in China, largely because of a historical Government system called Hukou. This system dictated that a person’s access to stateprovided social benefits such as education and healthcare were offered within their own province. Consequently, if parents want to work outside their province these things have to be funded privately, and parents on relatively low wages can’t really afford to do this. The Hukou system is being reformed to address these issues, but due to the sheer scale of China, and the number of people the system affects, it’s going to take some time. It’s a key reason why parents don’t take their kids with them when they migrate for work. Even if a parent can afford private schooling and healthcare etc., moving the whole family from

In China, where most toys are produced, there are

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the home province is still a challenging option as quality, trusted childcare is not always available. This presents an added challenge for migrant workers. In 2016, the Ethical Toy Program began to understand the positive impact that improved contact with their children would have on the workforce. Beyond the basics we expect to be provided to workers – a fair wage, good living conditions, a safe place of work – the workers we spoke to told us that they wanted to see their kids more often; parents often only manage to return home around once a year, usually at Chinese New Year. They spoke of guilt from being separated from their children, and their concerns that they weren’t having a positive impact on their lives. We saw an opportunity to address this, and so the Family Friendly Spaces Program was born.

Does the average factory worker in this situation have access to technologies that allow them to communicate with their children long-distance? Most people in China have smartphones and use different media to communicate with friends and family, and many factories provide Wi-Fi to support this. This offers us another angle. Family Friendly Spaces allows children to spend some of their summer holidays within the factory campus, but we


When you present a child with quality development opportunities, this will have a significant positive impact on their future and prospects.

still need to tackle the remaining 51 or 52 weeks of the year. We’ve developed a programme called Migrant Parent Training, which helps parents use technology and develop their communication skills to enhance the relationship with their children. We want parents to engage in meaningful conservations with their kids that may historically have been restricted to matters of familial respect and educational excellence. Now, parents working with us feel that they can work their child’s friendships, hobbies and favourite foods into everyday discourse, and the children feel that their parents are genuinely interested in their wellbeing and development. This strengthens the bonds and understanding between the child and their mum and dad. We’re hoping soon to be working with a storybook-sharing initiative in China. The same book would be given to both the parent and the child, so that the parent can call at bedtime and read the story, while both look at the same words and pictures. Utilising technology in this way is so important to the work we do and really helps families feel closer even though many thousands of miles may separate them.

How is the toy industry getting involved? Toy companies want to make sure that they’re supporting their Corporate Social Responsibility commitments. This programme also supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Family Friendly Spaces ticks a lot of boxes, but it’s way more than just PR. It has such a measurable positive impact for children and their parents, helping to reinforce the toy industry’s reputation as a sector that takes human and worker’s rights seriously. With the right funding from the toy industry, we can achieve a huge amount. The toy industry is making a massive difference for society in areas where there’s a gap in equality or social standards. We’re not trying to be critical of places like China; instead, we’re identifying areas where there’s huge potential to improve standards, to the benefit of everyone involved.

What are your future plans for the programme?

How is IETP responding to the issue? We work with an organisation called CCR CSR, a not-for-profit organisation based in the region and local office of Save the Children. With its support we developed and launched the Family Friendly Spaces Program in 2016. Family Friendly Spaces provides a safe environment for the children to play, access learning opportunities, develop social skills, and spend time with their parents. The spaces enable migrant parent workers and their children to spend valuable time together during the summer school holiday period. There’s a whole curriculum of activities for the kids and parents to enjoy, including active play and learning opportunities which help develop social skills. Family Friendly Spaces has to be an enjoyable experience for the kids - it doesn’t work if they aren’t having fun.

How has your work on the issue grown over the last few years? In year one, two factories took part. In 2019, we had 30 factories operating Family Friendly Spaces, impacting 1,200 parents and 1,100 children ranging in age from 3-13. We also delivered 20 Migrant Parent Training sessions in 2019, with nine more to come in Q1 2020. These will reach around a further 1,000 workers. While lovely for the kids and parents, it’s also interesting to see the long-term sustainable impact these programmes have on the factories. Ultimately, Family Friendly Spaces improves bottom-line performance, which has meant the programme can scale up and sustain itself. The business benefits are so clear that, although we support the first year of participation, the factories go on to repeat the programme in subsequent years under their own steam with just a light touch support from us.

What are the business benefits for factories and toy brands? We carry out surveys before and after the programmes to really understand both the business and the personal impact they deliver. All participating factories report increased trust levels between management and workers, as well as improved retention and attraction of workers; worker retention, for example, increasing by 43%. This is critical in China, where labour shortages are more of a challenge than ever before. Being able to keep an existing workforce and recruit new workers is a key priority for factories; a stable team means far less rework, and this reduces the operating costs. Because of this, factories want to make Family Friendly Spaces part of what they do every summer.

How do these programmes deliver for workers, their children and the factories where they work? One of my favourite stories is that of a woman and her son, who’d previously had a tense and unhappy relationship due to her absence for work. The boy was able to take part in the Family Friendly Spaces programme, which allowed him to understand what his mum did for a living. Toy companies donate gifts for the kids, such as Lego bricks and Hot Wheels backpacks, and the child was given a toy his mother had made. He is so proud of her now; he thinks she has the best job in the world, and when he showed his new toy to his friends, they all agreed that she’s cool. They now have a wonderful relationship based on mutual pride and respect, whereas before he was angry at being left with his grandparents while she was away. Factories are often quite nervous to be involved in a programme that brings children to the place of work, but the Ethical Toy Program gives the factory confidence that it’s being supported by experts. When the children come to the Family Friendly Spaces Program, we see a dramatic increase in their social skills and confidence. We hold Family Friendly Spaces opening and closing ceremonies at each factory participating, and I try to attend as many as I can. The difference in the children at the start and the end is incredible; they’re boisterous, enthusiastic, confident, happy – all the things a kid should be.

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We want to continue to grow the programme, and we’re being asked if we can help other sectors to implement these programmes in their factories. The toy industry has taken a leadership position on this and the companies who have participated and supported us since 2016 should be very proud, I hope many more will get involved. The two factories we started with are both returning in 2020 for the fifth time. In 2019, 30 factories took part, and all have committed to return in 2020 alongside 20 new ones joining the programme for the first time, we’ll do more Migrant Parent Training too and for the first time have year-round After School Clubs launching at small number of factories. In 2020 many more children and their parents will benefit, and not just this summer but throughout their life’s, utilising their newly developed social skills and confidence. We’ll also be exploring opportunities to expand the programme outside of China. In Vietnam, there isn’t the same LBC issue, as parents work in their hometowns more often than not, but quality childcare is limited. We hear stories of children being locked in the house for the whole day, as it’s the only option for parents who are trying to to keep them safe. We’ll support the establishment of suitable childcare spaces within factory campus, and although it’s a bit of a leap at this stage we’re also looking at the logistics of setting up a childcare facility in an area that could support multiple factories. There’s huge demand for this sort of thing across SE Asia. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve gone from two factories and 60 children to 30 factories and over 1,000 children in just four years. We know we are reaching a tiny percentage of the 61m left behind children, but we’re growing exponentially and it’s really making a difference.

If Toy World readers want to get involved or find out more what should they do? Anyone wanting further information can contact me on carmel.giblin@ethicaltoyprogram.org or visit www.ethicaltoyprogram.org. The Family Friendly Spaces Program is accessible to any of size of company – deep pockets aren’t needed - so we urge anyone interesting in becoming involved to reach out. The Ethical Toy Program allows all toy companies, from one-man-bands to global giants, to play a part in helping kids have a great childhood and families to stay together.


Allegedly

It has emerged that next year will see the introduction of UK border checks as a result of Brexit. Yes, you know that thing which Boris Johnson and his team insisted during the election campaign wasn’t going to happen? Miraculously, it turns out he wasn’t telling the truth – Project Fear turned out to be Project Reality after all. One European supplier admitted: “This will affect our business, we won’t be able to ship the majority of orders to the UK because the cost of customs processing will be too high for the order to be worth it.” And if, like me, you have seen the statistic which suggests that in Switzerland - where similar border checks are in place - 20% of customs forms are filled in incorrectly, and you have looked into the resultant issues which this causes, it looks like next year isn’t going to be fun and games from a logistics perspective… The announcement that Debenhams would be closing all of its toy departments, with the inevitable consequence that all of its head office staff working in the toy category have been made redundant, was clearly very sad news, but not entirely unforeseen - the writing has been on the wall for months. Suppliers have found it almost impossible to get credit insurance for some while, while the buying team’s non-appearance at early year shows led many to speculate that the end may be nigh. I would even go a step further: when the new flagship Debenhams opened in Watford last year, the toy ‘department’ – if you can call four or five small fixtures a department per se – was hidden away in the corner of the basement, between much larger areas given to luggage and childrenswear. If this was the future of Debenhams (as the new store was trailed), it seemed pretty clear to me that toys were going to play little or no part in that future. And so it has come to pass. Several of the Debenhams toy buyers were highly regarded, so hopefully they will pick up new roles elsewhere. At least suppliers no longer have to wrestle with their conscience (or their accounts department) about whether to supply without credit insurance… Whether or not this year’s Spring Fair was a success was a question which certainly divided attendees and exhibitors. I think it is important to caveat that comment: Spring Fair is a Home and Gift Fair. It does what it says on the tin. I have little doubt that exhibitors in the halls frequented by gift retailers did well at the show – Hall 4 certainly seemed a lot busier than Hall 5 on the day I visited. It strikes me that therein lies the problem; creating a ‘toy ghetto’ in a gift show seems to have given many buyers an excuse NOT to visit it, rather than facilitating toy companies meeting gift retailers – surely their principal reason for attending? Hall 5 felt like a bit of a mish-mash, with Christmas and Party almost overshadowing what felt like a smaller ‘toy’ section than in previous years. There were numerous rumours circulating of free stands and additional space being offered to existing exhibitors at the last minute, while a stand selling Sky packages and a gigantic Mercedes truck promoting van sales were hardly the sort of thing that would have taken up valuable floor space in the show’s heyday. A press release we subsequently received, talking about next year’s event, mentions ceiling mouldings and flooring - but not toys. For those companies who sit at the intersection of toys and gifts – plush companies, general wholesale suppliers – the Spring Fair may yet continue to offer a credible route to meet customers, but as each year passes, I find fewer mainstream toy companies seem to feel at home there. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out…

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My old friends at Amazon have been back in the news; the fact that its global sales rose by 20% in Q4 2019 to hit an eye-watering £67b vividly illustrates what a huge impact Amazon must be having on bricks and mortar retail across the world. Yet even as turnover goes through the roof, concerns persist about certain of Amazon’s strategies: a recent Which? report called into question the authenticity of the ‘Amazon Choice’ badge, suggesting that unscrupulous sellers can easily game the system. Meanwhile, several suppliers have contacted us to register their frustration and bewilderment at the way negotiations over new terms are being conducted, while it seems that suppliers also have to watch out for Amazon suddenly reducing the price of their lines and sending them a bill to cover the entire cost of the reduction. Refusal to cough up appears to place the supplier at risk of having the line - or indeed, the entire range - suspended. People used to complain about the unyielding way in which certain major toy retailers handled sensitive negotiations, but from what I am hearing, Amazon is taking the art of ‘intransigence’ to a whole new level… As we know from the NPD presentation at the London Toy Fair, the UK toy market continues to change – and the same is true of the European market. Someone told me that for the first time ever, Christmas sales exceeded Kings Week sales in Spain, leaving the market flooded with stock… The annual NPD presentation at Toy Fair was sobering on a number of levels, offering a balanced post mortem on the events of last year. A 6% drop in both volume and value – the third consecutive year of decline in a row – was expected; the concentration of sales at the very end of the year offered major food for thought. £1 in every £10 spent across the whole year came in weeks 51 / 52. Looking at the calendar, that trend could reasonably be expected to continue this year; many people will break up for Christmas on Friday 18th, giving them a full week of shopping before the big day. Many consumers will believe that gives them plenty of time to make their festive purchases, so may feel comfortable leaving it until the last minute again. Whether suppliers and retailers feel equally comfortable about such a huge volume of sales going through so late in the season is another matter entirely, while logistics managers and teams will already be planning for a frantic end to the year… The news that Ryanair will be cancelling its direct flights to Nuremberg before next year’s show was not what many of us wanted to hear, especially as it has been one of the few options for those who like to fly directly to Nuremberg, and not have to go round the houses via Munich or Frankfurt. It’s not just the UK which is affected; for other countries such as Hungary, Ryanair was also the only direct flight option. I guess we’ll all have to find a new way of getting to Nuremberg next year. Mass toy trade road trip anyone? If anyone from the toy community has a coach driver’s licence, now is the time to come forward.


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