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May 2021 Volume 10 Issue 10


Available

June 2021

70711 SCOOBY-DOO! Collectible Pilot Figure

70712 SCOOBY-DOO! Collectible Firefighter Figure

70708 SCOOBY-DOO! Adventure with Ghost of Captain Cutler

70706 SCOOBY-DOO! Adventure with Snow Ghost

70713 SCOOBY-DOO! Collectible Lifeguard Figure

70714 SCOOBY-DOO! Collectible Police Figure

70710 SCOOBY-DOO! Adventure with Ghost Clown

70707 SCOOBY-DOO! Adventure with Witch Doctor

www.playmobil.co.uk

70715 SCOOBY-DOO! Collectible Vampire Figure

70716 SCOOBY-DOO! Collectible Samurai Figure

70717 SCOOBY-DOO! Mystery Figures (Series 2)

70709 SCOOBY-DOO! Adventure with Black Knight


The Team...

CONTENTS May 2021 Volume 10 Issue 10

John Baulch

40 Feature: Dolls and Girls Collectibles

28 Company Profile: Magic Box

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

Mark Austin

Sales Director mark@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 405 07710 532 952

Anita Baulch

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

News

Regulars

Features

07 From the Publisher 08 News 20 Industry Moves 24 Marketing World 152 Allegedly

26 Company Profile: KidsKnowBest 30 NPD column 33 Talking Shop 76 Touching Base 126 Letter from America

28 38 40 44 48 70 74 98

Contributors

Company Profile: Magic Box Company Profile: Dimian Feature: Dolls and Girls Collectibles Company Profile: Zapf Company Profile: Mattel Feature: Showoff - Toymaster Retail Profile: Midco Section:

The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes Rick Derr | Jonathan Chambers

Rachael Simpson-Jones

licensing

world

74 Retail Profile: Midco

70 Feature: Toymaster

Published By

FOR KIDS, FANS...

EVERYONE

Editor rachael@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

FOR LICENSING OPPORTUNITIES get in touch – consumerproducts@nickelodeon.co.uk

©2017 Viacom. SpongeBob SquarePants created by Stephen Hillenburg. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, Shimmer and Shine, Blaze and the Monster Machines © 2017 Viacom Overseas Holdings C.V. All Rights Reserved. PAW PATROL ©2017 Spin Master PAW Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sam Giltrow

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

Alakat Published by

Mark Crowford

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

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

toyworldmag

Toy World 5

Toy World Magazine

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


I

t’s great to be able to start this month’s column with the news that toy stores are once again open in England and Wales. Even better, the toy retailers we spoke to during the days that followed 12th April gave re-opening week a resounding thumbs up. There was never any guarantee that this would prove to be the case: indeed, some retailers were anticipating a modest return to trading, while others seemed genuinely nervous.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

However, according to those store owners who managed to carve out the time to speak to us, there was no need to be worried: one retailer held the phone away from him so we could hear the hubbub in his store. “Do you hear that…kids, back in the store. What a great sound.” He was clearly thrilled. Another succinctly summed up the week’s proceedings in just three words: “Beyond all expectations.” All the retailers spoke of being busy, and of a positive atmosphere in-store. They told us that customers were not just browsing or window-shopping (or worse, showrooming), but spending decent sums of money on high ticket items – there does appear to be a healthy amount of cash floating around. Parents were also happy to bring kids into stores with them, rather than shopping alone with a list – I always feel it’s better for toy shops when the family shops together. Retailers also mentioned the support they had received from suppliers to help with displays and generally freshening up the store, with Playmobil being singled out for particular praise by several happy retail retailers. And consumers were clearly delighted that toy stores have opened their doors once more– one retailer told us that on opening morning, some customers even turned up with flowers and chocolates to welcome them back. While we weren’t able to speak to every single shop owner, I do hope that other toy retailers experienced a similar response. We had reports of children spending pocket month which they had been saving up for months, as well as Christmas, birthday and Easter money and vouchers, so it’s reassuring to hear that the idea of pent-up demand was real and not just something we wanted to be true. You can read more feedback from specialist toy retailers about their experience of re-opening week in the special, extended Talking Shop section of this issue, which starts on page 33.

Toy World 7

We also spoke to the Toymaster head office team, to find out how they had been supporting their members ahead of the big day – physically, in some cases, as you can see from the photo of Paul Reader breaking up cardboard boxes, while assisting Midco Toys’ Dave Middleton ahead of the opening of his new Burton store (which we also offer you an exclusive sneak peek into, on page 74). This month would traditionally see the Toymaster Show take place in Harrogate – unfortunately, despite the significant progress the UK has made in recent months, we’re not yet ready for trade shows and events to return. So, instead, we’ve dedicated part of this month’s edition to focusing on a selection of companies who are launching new ranges aimed at the specialist toy sector over the coming weeks. Our Toymaster ‘Show Off’ feature starts on page 70 – and I genuinely hope that this will be the last time we need to use that particular branding. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, hopefully our future show previews will be able to focus on events that are actually taking place, rather than ones which have had to be postponed. This month also sees us highlighting the Dolls and Girls’ Collectibles category, which continues to perform incredibly well and provide a host of the UK toy market’s best-selling ranges. It was great to catch up with both Mattel and Zapf to find out what these leading players will be doing to drive the category this year, while there are plenty of other companies launching new introductions and extending successful ranges. For retailers looking for inspiration to freshen up their product selections in this area, our extensive look at the category starts on page 40. Finally, this month’s other major feature covers the licensing sector, including a look at some of the key properties that are making waves in the kids’ space, as well as an exhaustive round-up of the new licensed ranges which will be hitting shelves in the coming months. Our guide to all the latest developments in the licensing world starts on page 98. I hope you enjoy this issue and let’s hope that the positive nature of the first week’s post-lockdown trading continues. I’s been a long wait, but it’s great that we can finally move on to the next phase – onwards and upwards.


News Booking for Toy Fair 2022 is now open The BTHA has announced that the application process for Toy Fair 2022 is now open. Having been extremely disappointed not to be able to host the industry this past January, the organisers are now working hard towards preparing for the 2022 event. The dates have been confirmed as the 25th-27th January 2022, at Olympia, London. In a statement, the BTHA added: “The safety of all participants is extremely important to us, so we will be following government guidance to ensure we conform with all regulations and safety measures. We expect further guidance in the coming weeks and will update participants accordingly.” In the unfortunate event of the show not being able to go ahead (at the discretion of the BTHA Board), the organisers have assured exhibitors that it will issue full refunds. The BTHA also reported that redevelopments at Olympia are in full swing, predominantly affecting the West and Central Hall areas, and said that any exhibitors likely to be impacted by minor changes affecting parts of the Grand and National Halls will be contacted in due course. Exhibitors will also be updated with any changes to venue operations, such as. traffic marshalling, parking, catering, etc, as soon as further details from Olympia are confirmed. Full show details can be found on the website www.toyfair.co.uk and any questions regarding Toy Fair should be addressed to either Majen@btha.co.uk or Rebecca@btha.co.uk.

Brian Simpson moves on from Toytown Brian Simpson, head of buying at successful toy retail chain SMF Toytown for just under a decade, has decided the time is right to take on a new challenge outside the toy industry. Speaking with Toy World, Alan Simpson, Toytown’s managing director and Brian’s father, commented: “I, as well as Brian’s older brothers Kris and Mark, who oversee accounts and logistics respectively, am obviously very sad to see Brian go, but I will never make decisions on behalf of any of my children,” said Alan. “It’s clear to me that he’s thought this through, and his reasoning is sound; he simply wants to challenge himself with something new and gain more experience in a totally different industry. He has my full support.” Brian will now head up buying for a large food manufacturer based in Ireland. Brian’s announcement comes as Toytown is celebrating its strongest ever year, Alan told us, with the retail chain more than doubling its profit on 2019. Toytown operates on a turnover-rent basis, which has meant that during the pandemic, with its stores closed, it hasn’t owed landlords rent on locations not generating income. A decision Alan made 10 years ago, the operating model has resulted in Toytown boasting an exceptionally strong balance sheet. That position of strength, and the stability that comes with it, has reassured Brian that the time was right for him to move on. “Brian came into the company as my shadow while I was in charge of buying, and within a year I had handed all responsibility over to him completely,” continued Alan. “As a buyer, his performance has been nothing short of exemplary, and, as my son, I am incredibly proud of what he’s achieved and will continue to achieve in the future.” Brian leaves such big shoes to fill that Alan is reluctant to appoint a new head of buying, telling Toy World that the role will instead be covered by himself and another buyer already within the business. The business will continue to expand, with four or five new store openings on the cards for this year. May will see a new Toytown open on the outskirts of Birmingham, while Edinburgh will welcome a store in June; the other locations are yet to be announced. “Toytown has never been stronger,” finishes Alan. “We’re obviously going to miss Brian and his influence on the business, but he leaves it poised for another superb year. We’re looking forward to our upcoming store openings, welcoming customers back, and returning to doing what we do best; selling toys - and selling them well.”

Toy World 8


News Hornby reports encouraging group sales Hornby has issued a trading statement updating shareholders on the 4th quarter ending 31st March 2021. The company reported that group sales for Q4 were very encouraging, both ahead of budget and showing a significant increase on the same period last year. Cumulative group sales for the financial year ended 31st March 2021 were 28% ahead of the previous year. In January, Hornby had warned of a slow start to the year due to Brexit hold-ups on products sent to Europe and the effects of the pandemic. Now, the better-than-expected results have prompted the board to comment: “Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues to present uncertainty, both Hornby and our suppliers have been able to operate more effectively through the current restrictions than was the case in the first lockdown, as evidenced by the resilient levels of activity seen in the fourth quarter.” In terms of the company’s financial position, net cash as at 31st March 2021 was £4.7m compared to net cash of £5.4m at the end of March 2020. The company saw its shares accelerate following the upbeat trading statement. Full year earnings are anticipated to be well ahead of expectations and the £4m reported in the previous year. More information will be included in the full year results announcement, which Hornby is planning to release in June.

B&M plans move into online B&M has appointed Jens Sorensen, as its new digital director. Jens served as the head of multichannel & eCommerce at The Range until 2019, when he was promoted to chief digital and & omnichannel officer. B&M had initially planned to move into eCommerce at the start of last year, and the appointment is thought to indicate that a move towards a multi-channel strategy is now underway. B&M does not currently sell online, although it has been considering doing so. Although the company has focused efforts on its stores during the pandemic, which have been permitted to trade as they have ‘essential retail’ status, it has faced stiff competition from a host of online rivals. It has also seen value rival Poundland successfully launch an online delivery service due to customer demand. It is expected that B&M will only offer selected categories online, with smaller and lower-margin items continuing to be available only in B&M stores. It has been suggested that this would include the company’s toy range, as well as groceries and some homewares. B&M executives have reportedly expressed concern that selling such categories online would not necessarily improve the company’s business model, firstly because it may impact sales made in B&M stores, and also because it would create a greater margin challenge. With this in mind, the company is carefully fine tuning this balance, in order to offer greater choice and convenience for customers while continuing to maximise profitability.

Entries open for 2021 Play for Change Awards Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) has announced that entries for its 2021 Play for Change Awards are now open, building on last year’s well-received first edition. The Play for Change Awards celebrate toy makers developing toys and company practices that help kids confidently navigate the world around them, in ways that show respect for themselves, for others and the planet. Director general of TIE, Catherine Van Reeth, said: “Toy companies today are innovating beyond the product and thinking about the impact their company has on kids’ futures and the planet. TIE’s Play for Change Awards celebrate inspirational companies of all sizes who are leading the way for the toy sector”. Companies can submit entries in the categories of Sustainability, Empowerment and Future Skills. This year, as well as these main categories, a Covid-19 Special Commendation will be awarded. The commendation will recognise toy companies who responded to the pandemic with actions to support children and the wider community. Sanjay Luthra, chairman of Toy Industries of Europe and managing director EMEA at Mattel, added: “I’m delighted to see the return of #playforchangeawards this year. If your company is doing inspirational things in empowerment, future skills or sustainability, I’d encourage you to enter.” Entries are open until May 19th, and the winners will be announced in September. The awards are open to toy companies of all sizes, and smaller companies are especially encouraged to take part. Companies can enter at www.playforchangeawards.eu, where full details of how to take part are available.

Toy World 10


01626 835400

sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk

www.wiltonbradley.co.uk


News Playmobil announces independent retailer loyalty card scheme With the new loyalty scheme, Playmobil has demonstrated the company’s commitment to its support of independent retailers. Marketing & communications manager at Playmobil, Adam Moore, commented: “We are really excited to bring back the loyalty scheme to independent retailers, and reward customers for their love of the brand. The take-up in the past has been fantastic and it helps drive brand and store loyalty.” Customers will collect one sticker per £10 spent on Playmobil playsets. Once the customer has collected five stickers, they will receive two free Playmo-Friends figures. The loyalty scheme, which began in April this year, will run right up until 31st December for all independent retailers with bricks and mortar stores. For details on how retailers can opt-in and for further information, readers are advised to contact their sales representative. The company offers striking in-store point of sale available across a number of themes, including a range of window displays that draw attention to new themes available in store. A dedicated display and merchandising team is able to create fantastic looking areas that are eye-catching and enticing, helping to drive sales. Large figure Playmobil characters also make great in-store theatre and are a fan favourite for taking selfies.

SES Creative offsets CO2 footprint with purchase of European forests A family run company that has been producing arts & crafts, pre-school and outdoor products since 1972, SES Creative develops, designs and manufactures all products in its bespoke 20,000m2 site in Holland. With the strength of soaring demand behind it, the company is set for further growth. This year sees the company unveil its biggest range yet with over 380 products in its portfolio, 100 of those new, and launch a new role-play category called Petits Pretenders. In order to make its entire business operations CO2-neutral, the company is undertaking the purchase and management of European forests. By doing so, SES Creative can offset its full CO2 consumption and supply 100% CO2-neutral toys including gluten-free play dough and paint, and PVC free plastic, much of which is suitable for kids aged 0+. The company said: “Though we take measures to reduce CO2 emissions, when we manufacture toys or travel, we produce CO2 . We now compensate 100% of these CO2 emissions by purchasing and managing healthy forests in Europe. These forests more than compensate for the CO2 emissions our company is responsible for producing. The CO2 footprint of an SES product is therefore 100% CO2 neutral.” So far, SES Creative has purchased various threatened or neglected forests in Central Germany, which are then being improved and managed using natural methods. This forest management also creates jobs and ensures the recovery of nature and various animal species. The project is implemented in accordance with the principles of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which is currently the most commonly used standard for CO2 compensation projects, while the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standard ensures projects support the local community and maintain or even improve biodiversity. With a wide range of store displays and product support available, SES Creative is poised to help independent toy retailers as they re-open and welcome customers back. The company benefits from a UK & Ireland sales team; readers wanting to find out more or book an appointment are advised to email sales@ses-creative.co.uk or call 01304 746 030.

VR Distribution introduces Kids Against Maturity VR Distribution, the company that brought huge hits like Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme and Beat That to the UK, has signed an exclusive distribution deal for a game the VR team predicts will be the next big thing: Kids Against Maturity. Already enjoying impressive sales in the US, Kids Against Maturity is designed to bring the whole family together and amuse kids and adults alike. Kids Against Maturity is a hilarious game that fills a multi-generational gap with age-appropriate toilet humour and is suitable for the whole family. As well as being packed with humour for kids, there’s plenty of layered innuendo for adults to enjoy. Offering the best of both worlds, Kids Against Maturity will bring all generations of the family together for a massively entertaining game that will have kids and adults alike rolling with laughter. A fun group party game, players will discover that being the worst is actually the best. VR Distribution saw great success with its family and party games portfolio throughout 2019 and 2020, as interest in games that bring people around the table, are quick to play and encourage quality time saw huge growth. Reflecting these trends, VR’s Cards Against Humanity and What Do You Meme brands, boasting 60 titles across both ranges, have both experienced soaring sales. Joining the family-friendly line-up for 2021, Kids Against Maturity will sit alongside new introductions Incohearent Family Edition, Beat That! The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges and Wilder Games Hot Ones Truth or Dab game. Having seen the game win many awards in the US, VR Distribiution is excited to bring Kids Against Maturity to the UK. Stock will arrive in June, and retailers should get in touch as soon as possible to secure orders. Contact VR on 0330 088 0941 or visit www. vrdist.co.uk to find out more about the company’s portfolio.

Toy World 12


01626 835400

sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk

www.wiltonbradley.co.uk


News Kids International Marketing and Cuckoo join forces

Nigel Deacon

Kids International Marketing (KIM) is pleased to announce that the company has reached an agreement with Cuckoo (www. cuckoo.ltd.uk) to provide its customers with an enhanced supply chain. Cuckoo will act as KIM’s exclusive UK partner for four of its direct-to-retail brands – Quercetti, GeoPuzzles, Chameleon Kidz, and Bubabloon. Kim Carter of KIM told Toy World: “This agreement enables us to maintain great pricing for our customers, with prices now based on delivery from Cuckoo’s UK warehouse rather than shipping from Europe. We are delighted that agreement allows us to maintain attractive prices for our customers and consumers. The addition of three new ranges also means that the average MOQ per line will be reduced, making all brands more accessible.” Cuckoo has confirmed that terms have been agreed with both Toymaster and Play-room for all these ranges. Deliveries will start this month. This agreement provides Cuckoo with a completely fresh and compelling offering for its customer base, which the company has served for over 30 years. Kids International Marketing (KIM) has also confirmed that sales manager Wendy Wood (formerly Yarwood) has decided to retire early. “We would like to thank Wendy for all her efforts on our behalf in recent years,” said Kim. “We will miss working with her, and we know she’ll be missed by the many friends she has made in the 35 years she has worked in our industry. While we know it was a difficult decision for Wendy to take, she is looking forward to the time it will afford her with her family in her new home back in the west country.” KIM’s Nigel Deacon, who returned to the industry by joining Kids International Marketing last year, assumes the role of sales manager. UK based customers can reach Nigel by phone on 07307 404 600 or email at nd101sales@gmail.com. McCabe Marketing & Sales will continue to service retailers in Ireland; contact liam.mmsales@gmail.com for more information. For international sales of Geotoys, Chameleon Kidz and Bubabloon, contact Kim or Corrinne Carter by email at: kidsinternationalmarketing@gmail.com or call +44 (0)7770 661 461.

Exploding Kittens launches its first tabletop word game, A Little Wordy Hit tabletop game creator Exploding Kittens has announced the launch of its new game A Little Wordy, a sneaky, tileunscrambling word game for would-be word wizards. The game is a thoughtful, strategic, highly-replayable game that’s not about having the mightiest vocabulary, but about making clever choices. A Little Wordy can be enjoyed by players of all ages as either a two person or two team game. “You either love word games or you hate them, and I’ve always loved them,” said Matthew Inman, co-creator of Exploding Kittens and creator of The Oatmeal. “A Little Wordy combines the best of Scrabble and Cluedo into a portable game that only takes a few minutes to set up and get going. We also wanted to make word games more accessible for different vocabulary levels and not just encyclopedists.” To play, each person assembles a word from a set of tiles and keeps that secret word to themselves. Players then take turns trying to decipher their opponent’s secret word by paying for clues and hints using Berry Tokens. For every word guessed correctly, the player will earn Berry Tokens; the player with the most tokens wins. A Little Wordy levels the playing field against veteran word wizards. The nature of the game means that using smaller, more common words may be better than using longer, more difficult words because the opponent may overthink things and blaze right past it. At the same time, attempting to figure out the opponent’s secret word can be both hilarious and delightfully maddening. A Little Wordy is suitable for players aged seven years and over. For more information on the Exploding Kittens portfolio, contact Joeri Hoste: Joeri@explodingkittens.com.

DKB Toys & Distribution announces acquisition of Mightymast Leisure DKB says the acquisition of Mightymast will bridge the gap between traditional toy sales and larger game table and leisure product opportunities at retail. With over 25 years’ experience in the supply and manufacture of games and sports equipment, Mightymast Leisure has become recognised as an industry leader in providing products to a global customer base. A UK company with global opportunities, its ranges can be found in high street stores, through online retailers and in specialist catalogues. “Mightymast is another fantastic addition to the DKB family,” commented Chris Lohmeyer, MD of DKB Toys & Distribution. “Having established years of successful trading history in the UK, it sells some of the best multi games tables out there. The 3 in 1 Revolver, an evergreen best seller, will be back in stock this Autumn with new versions coming in 2022 and beyond. Bringing Mightymast into the fold of DKB Toys & Distribution means we can now offer an exciting bridge between our traditional toy side and the larger game table opportunities that Mightymast brings. All customers of DKB Toys & Distribution will be able to buy into the MightyMast range in addition to our other lines.” With new products and innovation coming through from design teams in both the UK and US later in the year and into 2022, plus a new website design, DKB is looking to stock around 20-30 key Mightymast lines including garden games, pool tables, 3-in-1 tables, air hockey and football tables to a variety of industry sectors. Sara Nunn at Mightymast, commented “Myself and the team were thrilled to find out that Mightymast has been purchased by DKB Toys & Distribution. We are very much looking forward to an exciting future and being a part of seeing Mightymast evolving to the company we know it can be.” For more information, Chris Lohmeyer can be contacted on 07813 725480 or at Chris@dkbtoys.com. Customers interested in opening new accounts should contact: Info@ mightymast.com.

Toy World 14


New

for AW21

Junior Evalite Twin Pushchair

Double the fun! 9 play patterns

@HTIGroup1952

@HTIToys

sales@htigroup.co.uk

Adjustable handle height

HTIGroupMedia

Removable carry cots


News Obituary: Barry Walker

New date confirmed for The Fence Club Charity Golf Day Toy industry charity organisation The Fence Club has announced the date for the 48th Teddy Simmonds Fence Club Charity Golf Day, which is now due to take place at the Oakdale Golf Club in Harrogate on Wednesday 23rd June, just two days after current Covid restrictions are due to end. The Fence Club hopes this will be its first social event for 17 months, and an open invitation has been extended to all toy industry golfers to attend the event, with organiser Simon Anslow confirming: “You do not need to be invited by a member of the Fence Club. Bookings can be from single players and allocated to a team, or you can enter your own team. The golf day is open to all types of golfer, from those who only play a couple of times a year to others that play on a regular basis. The day is all about having fun and raising money for disadvantaged children.” Players will meet at the club after 8.00 am, with tee slots from 9.3012.20, although any golfers who wish to travel on the day can have a later tee time. There will be prizes on the day for the Winning Team, Individual Stableford, Best Gross and Best Nett, as well as the Best and Worst Fence Club Members. The cost of entry is £95 per person, which includes golf, refreshments and an evening meal. Non-players are also welcome to attend the 3-course evening meal, which starts at 7.15 pm, for £35 per person. According to Simon, the evening event will see “fundraising, prizes and joviality and we’ll be back into the bar by 22:00.” An accommodation deal of £89 per night is available to players and spectators at the White Hart Hotel in Harrogate, while Harrogate has many other nearby hotels should that become fully booked. For further details or to book accommodation, email Simon Anslow simon@harrogatefair.com

Barry Walker, owner of Conways toy stores and a former member, director and chairman of the Toymaster buying group, has sadly passed away after a long battle with cancer. Toymaster’s Yogi Parmar sent out an email to the trade over the weekend, which stated: “Barry was instrumental in the formation of the Toymaster buying group and a driving force for the Toymaster brand. He also served for many years in a variety of roles on the board of the British Association of Toy Retailers (BATR), the forerunner of the TRA. Barry was a larger-thanlife character who was well respected in the toy community - he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his wife Brenda, son Gordon, daughter Elaine and all the family members at this very sad time.” A forthright character, Barry leaves behind a significant professional legacy, having played a key role in several key developments which laid the foundations for the modern independent buying group structure. He was one of the founder members of the White Rose buying group, which ultimately joined with other groups to form Toymaster. He also broke the mould in the way he ran his toy store, which eventually saw Conways grow from a single store into a chain which spanned Yorkshire and the North of England. The Entertainer’s Gary Grant told Toy World: “I was new to the toy business when Barry was pioneering with computers and IT, which was all the more impressive when you consider he was a single branch retailer at the time. I learnt a lot from Barry. He loved the toy trade and threw himself into the Retailers’ Association, to help other specialist toy retailers grow their businesses. I spoke to him just after Christmas and he was in good spirits, so I was sad to hear that he had passed away. He will be missed.”

Obituary: Terry Stephens The popular toy stalwart has sadly passed away at the age of 85. Terry spent many years in the toy retail business, where he rose to become a director of C.T.S., Upper Thames Wholesalers and retail buying group Youngsters. Later in his career, Terry switched to the other side of the fence, where he spent his twilight toy trade years working on the sales side for Gibsons Games. Former Youngsters colleague Keith Elmer had this to say about Terry: “He was highly popular with retailers and suppliers alike and was the archetypal charming gentleman. He also had a reputation for being a smart - even natty - dresser, whether for business or casual. His love of Arsenal football club was legendary, but he was also a huge supporter of non-league football, holding administrative positions with the likes of Dulwich Hamlet.” A strong family man, Terry will be missed by his many friends and former colleagues across the toy community and our condolences go to his son Glynn and the rest of his family.

Toy World 16


FROM EXPLODING KITTENS

A LITTLE WORDY HOW IT WORKS

1.

You and your opponent ARE each given a pile of letters.

N N

W

W S O F A P

D

A S

E

R

Y

H

U

L

X M

O

U

D

1

caterpigeon

BUSINESS BIRD

1

hum reaper

How long is the word?

i’d like to BUY A VOWEL

what’s the last letter?

3

Use clue cards to try and figure out each other’s secret words.

A

P

D

J

dry erase markers & sheets included

Be sneaky and choose a word your opponent won’t easily guess.

4

F

A

3. Write it down and keep it a secret.

Rearrange your letters until you come up with a word.

E

W

K

O

1

permed eagle

Does it contain Z, J, Q, X, or K?

a delightfully clever

tile-unscrambling game.

A Little Wordy is a fresh take on the genre of tile-based word guessing games. It’s a thoughtful, strategic, highly-replayable game but it is not about having the mightiest vocabulary, it’s a game about making clever choices.

Available now! sales@explodingkittens.com

gameofkittens

explodingkittens


News Beware scammers targeting the toy market A fresh attempt to defraud toy companies has been brought to Toy World’s attention by Brainstorm Toys. Nick Saunders contacted us to detail the new approach that scammers are taking, so that other toy companies can be vigilant against similar attempts. Nick takes up the tale: “We were recently the target of fraudulent activity, which also involved one of our suppliers in the Far East, so there were potentially big sums of money involved. We found out that emails between us and the supplier had been intercepted; the scammers had managed to hack into one of the email accounts, which meant that they could insert themselves into an existing email chain. It obviously makes it easier to hide attempted fraudulent activity if it comes from a supplier’s genuine email address and is part of an ongoing conversation.” Pretending to be the Far East supplier, the perpetrators of the scam told Brainstorm that they had changed their bank details and asked if they could amend the details on their account. Thankfully, Nick felt that something wasn’t quite right and requested a zoom meeting to discuss the situation further. Naturally, the crooks weren’t keen to appear on a video call, as Nick knew the factory bosses by sight. On this occasion, that simple push back averted any potential problems, but as Nick points out, not every supplier will know their factory contacts by sight, and scammers are aware that time can sometimes be of the essence. “It seems that this strategy often involves the scammers claiming that a container is docking, and payment is required immediately in order to facilitate the delivery,” he explained. “In this instance, that didn’t apply to us, so we had time to question the request. However, I hate to think what might happen if the scammers timed it right with another company which was awaiting a container delivery, and assumed the request to change bank details was genuine.”

Toy Trust launches Around the World in 80 Hours The Toy Trust is excited to share a brand-new initiative for 2021 – Around the World in 80 Hours. Starting at 9am on Friday 11th June 2021, the fundraising event will see the toy industry take on the challenge, by any nonmotorised means, of attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 80 hours. This amounts to a massive 40,075km. The event will be hosted on popular exercise tracking app Strava and is free of charge to join. The industry is encouraged to use its creativity and initiative in getting involved with fancy-dress or unusual means of transport (no motors allowed), for example on tandem bike or by horseback. Traditional methods, including walking, running, cycling and swimming, are also encouraged. All ideas for completing the task are welcomed and participants can complete distances by a mixture of disciplines over the 80-hour period. The Toy Trust event will be in support of two UK based children’s charities which provide essential mobility to children who would otherwise not have access due to long NHS waiting lists: myAFK and Handclapped Children’s Action Group (HCAG). All funds raised through the event will be used to purchase bespoke mobility equipment including specialised trikes, bikes, wheelchairs and walking aids as well as other important mobility apparatus for children. The Toy Trust is looking for as many people as possible to get involved in this unique event and you can sign up on the Toy Trust website. Once registered, participants will be emailed a link to join the Strava event group and are also encouraged to set up an individual or team fundraising page via the Toy Trust’s Around the World in 80 Hours campaign. The event will be open to sponsors who will receive a range of elements in return, including association with the Toy Trust charity event hosted on Strava and a company logo on all event advertising and promotion as well as other inclusions. Companies or brands who may wish to get involved can discuss creating a bespoke package for sponsors. Please contact Matt@btha.co.uk to find out more.

Toy stalwart Dave Howard announces retirement Dave Howard, sales director for Tomy and Drumond Park Games, retired on 30th April, following 34 years in the UK toy industry. Mary Wood, general manager UK & Ireland at Tomy, said: “Dave is a much-loved character in the industry and has always been hugely dedicated to the company for which he works. A true professional, Dave is known for his sharp-wit, wicked sense of humour and longstanding integrity.” Starting his toy career at Hasbro, Dave was with the company for 12 years before joining Character Options in 1999. Here, he was head of the Licensed Stationery and Toiletries division for two years. Dave then moved to Marvin’s Magic for four years, prior to joining Drumond Park as sales director. In total, Dave has worked with Drumond Park brands for 17 years, including four years at Vivid, enjoying his final two years at Tomy. In 2004, Drumond Park’s turnover was £2.9m and Dave was instrumental in building the brand to its peak of £15m in 2016. He has been an integral member of the team throughout his time with Drumond Park, supporting a number of successful game launches including Deal or No Deal, which won Game of the Year in 2007. Under Dave’s direction at Tomy, in 2020, Drumond Park Games achieved lead-position in the adult games category, with Drumond Park products accounting for 50% of adult game purchases. Dave also played a key part in helping to grow Tomy’s overall games business by 59%, three times faster than market standard. Mary Wood added: “Dave has an inherent skill for putting not only the company’s best interest at heart, but also those of his customers. His strong work ethic has earnt him a huge amount of respect from both his customers, colleagues and competitors, with whom he has strong and lasting friendships - which will continue long into his retirement.”

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Industry Moves Toy World welcomes new assistant editor Sam Giltrow Sam trained at the renowned National Council for the Training of Journalists’ Harlow College, and brings with her extensive knowledge of the publishing sector and many years’ experience, from starting out as a newspaper reporter to most recently working at a B2B magazine for the maritime sector. Commenting on her new role as assistant editor, Sam said: “I am looking forward to bringing my skills to Toy World and covering the latest news from across the toy industry.” Publisher John Baulch added: “We are delighted to welcome Sam to the team. Her writing skills and experience in working with the trade press are sure to be huge assets to the company, and her positive demeanour and meticulous work ethic mean she will fit in well here at Toy World. We look forward to introducing her to the toy industry over the coming months.” Many readers will be hearing from Sam over the coming weeks as we work on forthcoming issues, and she can be contacted on email at sam@ toyworldmag.co.uk. Team Toy World is now back in the office, and can be contacted on the usual numbers: 01442 502406 for editorial and 01442 502405 for sales/ads.

Richard Hollis joins HTI as licensing manager HTI Toys has announced that Michelle Dalziel, senior licensing and marketing manager, will be leaving the company this spring to pursue a career in her family business. Michelle joined HTI in 2014 and originally worked with the sales team before moving to take on the licensing and marketing categories. Over the years Michelle has been hugely instrumental in helping to structure HTI’s licensed portfolio, resulting in the company now having a strong, focused portfolio of key brands and partners. Ahead of Michelle’s departure, HTI is delighted to announce the appointment of Richard Hollis, who will be working with the company on a part-time basis as a licensing manager alongside Lucy Warren, licensing and marketing executive. Richard brings with him a wealth of experience gained from working in the licensing industry over the past 31 years, having enjoyed senior roles working with major names including Hallmark, DreamWorks and the BBC. The team at HTI told Toy World it is looking forward to welcoming Richard aboard, and that Michelle will be working closely with him over the next few months until her departure in May.

Kidicraft welcomes new sales agent Kidicraft is delighted to appoint Graham Burnett to the role of sales agent for Scotland to meet the demands of rapid growth at the company. Graham brings with him a wealth of industry experience as he has been working in the toy, craft and stationery industry for the last 15 years in Scotland and the North of England. A well-known figure to retailers, he has a well-established network of customers that will now be able to benefit from stocking Kidicraft’s growing portfolio of products. Speaking of his appointment, Graham said: “ I am very excited to be on board with Kidicraft; the company has a vast range of products that will fit in well with my customer base, and I look forward to introducing the portfolio to them.” Roy Greenwood, director at Kidicraft, commented: ‘We are really pleased to have secured the services of Graham as a new sales agent; as an expert in his field, he is a welcome addition to our expanding team, and we are delighted to have him on board.” Graham can be contacted on 07922 416 082 or on email at Grahamburnett@kidicraft.com.

Asmodee national sales team strengthened by promotions Asmodee UK has announced the promotions of Christina and Barry into new roles as national accounts controllers, jointly managing the national sales team. Having held responsibility for partnerships with suppliers and retailers including the likes of The Pokémon Company International, Tesco and John Lewis, the pair will now take on a broader remit to drive the team forwards and further expand its customer and supplier bases. Christina and Barry have both played important parts in Asmodee’s rise to be the UK’s leading distributor of tabletop games and accessories and both will aim to build on that success. “Both Christina and Barry have performed sensationally for many years as key figures in Asmodee’s sustained growth and success in the national market,” said Anil Boodhoo, the company’s national channel director. “I have no doubt that they will both excel in their new positions as they help us to take the next steps in our development.” “I’m excited and honoured by this opportunity to step up and build upon the National Sales team’s great successes of recent years,” said Christina. “Barry and I enjoy a fantastic working relationship and I’m looking forward to continuing that with a fruitful partnership in this position.” “I couldn’t agree more,” added Barry. “I’m proud to be working alongside Christina and excited at the continuing opportunities to break new boundaries for Asmodee in the coming months and years.”

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Marketing World Asmodee launches Love Your Game Store campaign Asmodee stepped up its efforts to support independent retailers upon the reopening of non-essential retail in the UK, with a nationwide Love Your Game Store campaign aimed at encouraging consumers back through the doors of their local games and hobby stores. From 12th April to 31st May, anyone who makes an in-person purchase in a participating independent retailer can enter themselves into a random draw, from which one lucky winner will receive a £1,000 cash prize. In addition, 10 further names will be randomly drawn from across the nation to win £50 of store credit for the retailer from which they made their purchase. A further draw will also be made for each participating retailer, offering one customer from each store a selection of free board games. “Independent hobby retailers have always been and always will be vital to our business, and we are determined to help them hit the ground running as non-essential retail reopens,” said Roger Martin, Asmodee’s Hobby & Independent Channel director. “They are also beloved community hubs for their customers, who we know will be just as pleased as we are by the opportunity to show their support after the challenges of multiple lockdowns.” The campaign will be supported by online advertising and a heavy social-media backing using the dedicated hashtag #loveyourgamestore, with printable POS materials and social assets to be distributed to participating retailers.

Studio.co.uk unveiled as lead sponsor for ITV’s In for a Penny Following the partnership with ITV on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, the online retailer will now be lead sponsor for the game show. In for a Penny returned to Saturday night television on 17th April, with host Stephen Mulhern surprising members of the public who then partake in silly games and challenges. Chris Chalmers, marketing director of Studio.co.uk, said: “ITV’s In for a Penny is a much-needed dose of fun and escapism for families across the UK on a Saturday evening.” Paul Cooper, COO at MediaCom North, which brokered the sponsorship, said: “We are thrilled to see our strategy come to life. This has been a true collaboration between Studio, MediaCom, Cheetham Bell and ITV and is a perfect example of our partnership approach. Aligning our brands to the content we know audiences love is key, but at MediaCom we believe in optimising the full system, marrying brand building activity with performance driving elements, especially within online retail. In for a Penny is the perfect partner to convey Studio’s family-focused, relatable and value-loving tone of voice and we are proud to be working on this campaign with Studio.” Chris Chalmers added: “Given our strong heritage in family-focused value products, this sponsorship is a great opportunity to increase consumer engagement with our brand. As with Studio.co.uk, the show has something for the whole family and with much of it taking place live, it really is a fun show for families to enjoy together.” Studio.co.uk has launched a prize draw, to give away £1,000 to spend with the company online. Dedicated In for a Penny content will also take centre stage across Studio.co.uk’s own digital and social platforms.

L.O.L. Surprise! joins the world of Roblox L.O.L .Surprise! is moving into the Roblox world, bringing the dolls’ fashions, surprises and personalities to game play. L.O.L. Surprise! Official Party is a kid-safe digital game that marks the first doll collection to bring renowned global gaming influencers into the experience of playing directly with fans. MGA worked in conjunction with SuperAwesome to reveal this one-of-a-kind, global game play experience to select fans before it opened to the general public. “L.O.L. Surprise! is a global phenomenon that continues to surprise and amaze fans with product innovations and novel ways to play,” commented Isaac Larian, CEO and founder of MGA Entertainment. “Newness and creativity are the driving forces behind the growth of the brand, and this gaming initiative will expand the L.O.L. Surprise! universe into a completely new world for our fans; one that will bring them together while reinforcing our efforts to keep kids and parents safe.” Leading up to the public launch at the start of April, the campaign offered kids a once in a lifetime chance to play online with popular gaming influencers, in a secure experience powered by SuperAwesome’s Game With Me tool for a limited time. Developed by SuperAwesome’s gaming solutions team, Game With Me offers kids the moneycan’t-buy opportunity to play live with their favourite creators on secure, moderated servers. Fans had the chance to provide feedback on how to enhance and improve the game play, giving them a sense of pride and a platform to freely express their thoughts and opinions. “Games is the next creative frontier for safe, authentic engagement with young audiences,” said SuperAwesome CEO, Dylan Collins. “The campaign brings together a great game experience, the right creators, amazing co-play opportunities, and kid-safe amplification all delivered through our global platform. We’re delighted to partner with MGAE on this project from strategy to execution and we couldn’t be more excited about the future for projects such as this.”

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Opinion

Gaming: the untapped

advertising frontier

As advertising is seen as a more fundamental part of game development, Jonathan looks at the possibilities for toy companies.

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hen deciding how best to invest advertising budgets, much of the debate is focused on viewing behaviour. Has YouTube overtaken TV? Is TikTok a viable platform brand? Will Netflix and Disney+ ever offer commercial opportunities? However, when it comes to children’s media behaviours (as well as adults’), gaming remains an under-utilised means of reaching target audiences. 52% of UK parents of 4–9-year-olds allow their children to game for more than one hour per day on weekdays (Giraffe Insights, Little Voices). For comparison, the same aged children spent an average of 80 minutes per day watching Linear TV, 48 minutes per day viewing online videos (i.e. YouTube) and 59 minutes watching SVOD (i.e. Netflix) in 2020 (Giraffe Insights, Little Voices¸ September 2020). The potential is clearly huge, yet gaming has perhaps been overlooked due to historically not offering advertisers many cost-effective routes to market. Certainly, huge proportions of children’s gaming time is spent with non-commercial titles on consoles, but increasingly advertising is being seen as a more fundamental part of game development. This has steadily been changing over recent years, and 2021 is set to be the breakthrough year for gaming as a medium, for the advertising industry as whole. The IPA established gaming as one of the core focuses for the year at the annual presidential address, whilst Campaign’s recent Gaming Summit provided advertisers and agencies a full day experience

designed to develop a deeper understanding of what can be achieved. What does this mean for toy advertisers? Firstly, when assessing the media mix for the second half of 2021, make sure your multimedia approach is not limited to viewing platforms only. For the right brands and audiences, simply placing your TVC in apps and games can arguably offer as much impact as linear TV or YouTube. Although these opportunities are often at a premium compared to more established formats, there is an argument that they can offer greater engagement due to the lean in nature of the medium. This is particularly true when buying incentivised formats whereby the gamer is rewarded with in-game currency for completing the video. As such, expect to see players such as SuperAwesome, Playwire and Venatus feature more heavily on second half plans than ever before. Beyond simply placing existing TVCs into a new environment, there are more and more formats emerging all the time, and many of these are extremely accessible. In fact, some are even available to be served programmatically. The best thing is that the ads are becoming less intrusive. Rather than plastering a banner ad over the top of a game, dynamic in-game advertising offers brands the opportunity to seamlessly integrate into gaming environments with their display activity, for example, on billboards within the game. Best of all, unlike many forms of online advertising, these dynamic formats evade ad blocking technology as they are controlled by the developers and

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

essentially sit within a walled garden. There are also few brand-safety concerns (outside of game selection) as all apps/games we utilise need to pass checks in order to gain their PEGI rating (or equivalent) before publication. To make the most of these formats in H2, make sure that you keep imagery bold, keep any call to action soft (hashtags are a good idea), and keep text to a minimum. Making use of the wide array of custom formats with clear messaging will also help to build frequency and brand awareness. However, perhaps you feel more ambitious and want to create a truly bespoke experience for your target audience. Advances in development capabilities mean that is now a reality for brands, as evidenced by L.O.L. Surprise!’s recent integration into Roblox, developed with SuperAwesome. L.O.L. Surprise! Official Party brings the OMG house to life, allowing players to dress their character, learn official dance moves and unlock rewards in an area where they can safely socialise with other online players (monitored by moderators). If you are keen to replicate this process for your brand, you should act now. Whilst development times have increased exponentially in recent years, building a bespoke game of this magnitude can take months, although there are some shortcuts and templates available if you’re willing to have a more “off-the-shelf” experience. Above all, be prepared to give up some control over your brand (within reason). Without compromising brand integrity, it is important to remember that in order to truly engage the audience, then the game needs to function well as a game above all else. 2021 will see the greatest diversification of media investment from the toy industry in history and there are many compelling reasons to make gaming a part of your media mix. To find out how best to integrate gaming into your campaign strategy, get in touch with Generation Media.


Company Profile

KidsKnowBest

The kids are alright

The data-led creative media agency KidsKnowBest enters 2021 off the back of strong growth, leaving it poised for further expansion into major new territories that Joel Silverman, co-founder and CEO, and Rob Lough, co-founder and chief brand officer, say will place the agency right at the heart of the kids’ digital space. Toy World finds out more. for the kids’ sector, and providing solutions for underserved areas. Research underpinned by Youth Trend Spotting (YTS), an intelligence arm of KidsKnowBest, has shown the agency’s co-founders exactly where kids are - on-demand streaming services and social media platforms – and that data is used to help companies move their messaging into these spaces in a way that resonates with the target audience.

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idsKnowBest is focused on giving kids a voice. The idea for the agency was partly borne from an eye-opening cinema experience; Rob and his two twin girls had gone to see an animated kids’ film which had been panned by critics. As a result, the cinema was empty - but Rob’s girls had absolutely loved the film. This begged the question: why were adults reviewing movies for six-year-olds? “When we started KidsKnowBest, we felt that kids weren’t able to express themselves in the public media,” Joel says. “There wasn’t a platform where kids could voice their opinions on things. While developing such a platform, we soon realised that while honesty is great, brands don’t necessarily want it in the public domain. Instead, the power of a child’s voice is best used to drive an understanding of kids’ products and content, helping brands redefine their offering or develop something totally new. We realised we could be a full-service advertising agency, and that we could use our GDPR-compliant research to leverage the online space by creating branded media content. And that is how KidsKnowBest came into being.” Neither Rob nor Joel has a background in media or data, but that hasn’t stopped the pair taking the agency from strength to strength by identifying and exploiting gaps in digital marketing strategies

“What kids now think of as TV, streaming YouTube or SVOD on a set for example, is not what us grownups would define it as at all,” says Rob. “But because platforms like YouTube don’t release viewing demographics for under-13s, we actually have to speak to kids – over 200 a month in the UK alone - to find out what they’re watching. We then quantify that data using tools including interactive polls, ready for use in developing creative. We’ve started expanding YTS globally, in the US as well as the G5/G6 regions. We know that a child in the UK may not behave the same way as a child elsewhere in the world, so we cross-reference that data with other regions. We’re working a lot more with partners in EMEA, to understand the points of difference in the likes of Spain, France, Benelux, Poland and so on.” The agency lives or dies by the quality of its firstparty data, which dictates where media is placed, ensuring research is grounded and trustworthy. While KidsKnowBest was born four years ago in the digital age, other agencies may still storyboard based on how a campaign looks in 16:9 as a 30 second TVC. However, with KidsKnowBest data showing that traditional TVCs lose out on social platforms, effective user engagement may mean opting for a six or 10 second advert instead. Rob adds: “We’re not locked down by those old-school ways of thinking like some others; we’ve moved way past the belief that a 30 second TVC is the only or best way of marketing something.” When it comes to the most important element of a marketing campaign, both Rob and Joel agree content is king. While so much else depends on the product itself, and whether you’re brand-building a new IP or looking for sell-though, content must be optimised for each platform it is to appear on. In the same way you wouldn’t put a billboard ad on TV, Rob says, you shouldn’t be putting a 30 second

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TVC on social media. He adds: “Social media platforms tend to get lumped under one umbrella, but they aren’t one and the same and shouldn’t be treated as such.” During the pandemic. the use of influencers, as well as family and friend content creators, made sense when production studios were temporarily closed, and resulting campaigns such as #UnoWhoYouAre, developed on behalf of Mattel, were hugely successful. Other recent partnerships include WowWee’s North American Baby Shark toy line launch, Wow! Stuff’s Wow! Pods, PJ Masks episodic content on behalf of Hasbro, and an influencer campaign for Trolls with Flair. The agency also did a global research study on SpongeBob Squarepants last year, to help Nickelodeon’s CP team understand youth perception of the property. KidsKnowBest saw some exceptional results in 2020 - +300% revenue growth and a team expansion from 10 to 35 – and off the back of this success, Joel is now exploring the opportunities on offer across the pond, with a view to making a move this year. When KidsKnowBest was founded, the goal was to make the agency the best, and this means being in the best territories. The US has been on the agency’s radar from early on, and conversations about who will be brought onboard in the region are proceeding apace. At the same time, Joel’s firm belief that the best creative comes out of the UK means the KidsKnowBest UK office will remain key to all future plans. Personal development is as important to KidsKnowBest as business development is. Joel is clearly proud to have experts embedded in every part of the agency, be that research, creative or distribution, and all are given their own voice to add to that of the kids being consulted. Paid internships help youngsters get a foot on the digital media ladder, and professional development is at the heart of daily working life. “You’re nothing without a great team,” says Joel. “We’ve got one of the best.” For further information on working with KidsKnowBest, including taking advantage of its Breakfast Briefings programme, contact the KidsKnowBest team: info@kidsknowbest.co.uk.


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Company Profile

Magic Box

25 Years of Magic Box International Toys is a pioneer in the creation of collectible toys and play sets, and this year marks its 25th anniversary. Still a family-run business based in Barcelona, overseen by chief executive David Bella (whose two sons are also an integral part of the business), Magic Box has had much to celebrate over the years, and has big plans for future growth. Rachael SimpsonJones spoke to David to find out more.

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agic Box’s 25-year history has seen the company transform itself from a stickers and trading cards publisher, kicking things off in 1992 with a collection of trading cards exclusively based on F.C. Barcelona, to a toy company with multiple best-selling ranges in its portfolio. Driven by a formula of innovation and creativity, David shares with me what he feels to be Magic Box’s biggest achievements. Among them are the invention of the concept of

collectibles in photography form in 1997, with the company’s first launch in this format featuring the now-iconic UK pop group, the Spice Girls. A huge success, this collection went on to sell 80m units. In 2003, Shoot Out then introduced kids to the joy of collecting and playing with football trading cards, beginning with the FA Premier League. Over five years, 90m Shoot Out packs were sold. But while Magic Box has racked up numerous wins with licensed collectibles, including with properties such as Pokémon, Digimon and Dragon Ball, as well as The Simpsons and Disney, it’s the company’s own IPs that have catapulted it into the spotlight; the 1996 launch of Gogo’s Crazy Bones is considered by Magic Box to be the start of the collectible figures trend, a phenomenon that has lasted several decades. More than 250m first-generation Crazy Bones units sold between launching and 2000, when the second-generation hit shelves and went on to ultimately sell 100m more, a total of 350m units in eight years. Like its predecessor, the third-generation surpassed expectations yet again, with 400m of the colourful collectible characters making their way into the hands of kids. Magic Box’s second

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own IP, Zomlings In The Town, then arrived in 2014, introducing blister packs and play sets as a wider part of the collectible play pattern, and Star Monsters launched two years after that. Then came SuperZings. The hero versus villain format, featuring ordinary everyday food items and household objects, became an overnight hit, with soaring demand for the figures further fuelled by the introduction of larger toys and play sets. To date, SuperThings has sold over 200m units, resulting in the brand becoming the UK’s No.1 Action Figure brand in terms of Share of Units and No.2 in value, and recently achieved the status of No. 1 Toy Property in Spain. “Retail has been key to our success over the years, as our partners have believed in and supported us from day one,” notes David. “Likewise, we have always made it an important part of our marketing strategy to support our retailers with point of sale, marketing assets and more, which has led to fantastic relationships and mass distribution of our products. SuperThings is


currently the leading brand in Spain and Poland, our subsidiaries in the UK, Germany and Italy continue to grow despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, and we have agreements with distributors in France and Mexico, where our brands will be launched this year. Moving forward, we’ll carry on supporting our partners by continuing to launch products that offer a point of difference for our consumers and added value for our customers, increasing traffic to the point of sale and guaranteeing profitability.” To date, Magic Box has sold over 2b units in 30 countries and is continuously developing new concepts and products in order to keep the offering fresh and exciting. The company aims for two launches per year to allow for full year distribution and brand awareness, and marketing investment remains high. TV support is upweighted every year and Magic Box has dedicated YouTube channels featuring brand webisodes to bring characters to life. Testament to its proven reputation in toy development and innovation, 2017 and 2018 saw Magic Box selected as an Innovative Company by the ‘Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness’, part of the Spanish Government. “The future of Magic Box is to plant itself firmly in the European toy market,” explains David, when asked what’s next for the company. “New property T-Racers sees Magic Box enter the vehicle category for the first time. With a different product offering, a month after launching, the range is ranked No.2 in the domestic Spanish market, and we are excited to roll this out to other territories in early summer. In addition, we are working

on a new launch in the Minidolls category, again another first for the business, and the response has been extremely positive from the retail buyers that have seen it so far.” Bringing mix & match play to the vehicles category, each T-Racers car is made of five different interchangeable parts. With over 500 possible combinations to discover, the range lets kids build their cars the way they want. Collectability is driven by the promise of ultra-rares to discover featuring chrome paint finishes, while YouTube webisode content will bring T-Racers to life online. In-pack guides included with each car also take collectors deeper into the experience, revealing the four race teams and their unique powers and abilities. The launch, which will be supported by a heavyweight television campaign, YouTube advertising and impactful point of sale

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material, is just the latest way Magic Box is shaking up the collectibles aisle – and David says more is to come as the company reflects on its landmark year. “We’re hoping to see the continuing return of normality so that, in time, we can really celebrate our 25th anniversary milestone in style,” says David. “This year, Magic Box will be opening a brand-new HQ in Barcelona which is inspirational in design – at least that’s what the architect says – and the plan is to bring the Magic Box Family together to raise a glass to the next 25 years later this year. We are built on passion and, with this, we will continue to design toys that excite children. We want to be known as a company whose priority is to offer new and fresh products, and to ultimately become a leading brand in the toy industry.”


NPD Insight

Are licensed toys boosting sales? Melissa looks at the latest data for the UK toy market, with a closer look at the contribution of licensed toys to overall sales.

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year-ago, we were in the middle of the first national lockdown in the UK and the global toy market was worrying about what the future held. Twelve months later, we know that spending on toys increased, at least in the UK, even if there were fewer pocket money and impulse items sold. As the nation started to come out of the third national lock down in twelve months in March, we reached the anniversary of the value sales uplift we saw during the first lockdown. In March 2020, the UK toy market grew +12% vs. 2019 so it wouldn’t have been entirely unexpected to see that growth stall, especially with children returning to schools. Surprisingly, however, March 2021 saw the growth continue, although it did slow, with value sales up +3% vs. 2020 and volume up +3%. Overall, there were nine Supercatgeories out of eleven that were in growth or flat for the month, with only Games & Puzzles and Arts & Crafts seeing some value decline after their stellar performance in 2020. Despite this decline, both categories’ sales remain well above their 2019 performance. Outdoor and Sports Toys was the largest supercategory for the month, accounting for 17% of all sales, with volume sales increasing +24% vs. 20. This was heavily driven by Bubble Toys and Water/Sand toys, as the weather started to improve. Overall, Building Sets remains the fastest growing supercategory, while Plush was the second fastest growing with Squishmallow, Ty and Rainbocorns properties all helping to drive the growth.

Minecraft has seen a resurgence driven by Lego Building Sets, there has also been growth for the licence from Mattel’s Action Figures and Panini’s Stickers, leading to sales of over £3m so far this year. Nearly three quarters of all Action Figures sales are for licensed product; this is the category most reliant on licenses, although licensed action figures are down -1% YTD. Fortnite is the number one licence so far this year, but Batman is the fastest growing YTD, up +75% vs. last year. Batman isn’t the only growing licence in Action Figures: there has also been strong double-digit growth from Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Pokémon and Roblox, showing that the category isn’t just about the latest cinema releases. Looking at the pre-school area, characters remain key. Peppa Pig is up +11%, while Paw Patrol has grown +16%. Both Bing and Hey Duggee also had a strong start to the year, with Bing up +59% and Hey Duggee more than doubling sales from 2020, with Plush being a key category for both licences. Plush is the second fastest growing category for licences, up +38% this year, with CoComelon Musical Bedtime JJ 10” the number one licensed plush item sold this year. CoComelon is actually the number one new licence across total toys, as it continues to perform well since its launch at

Building Sets growth in March was heavily driven by licences, which now account for 56% of all Building Sets sales. Building Sets in turn accounts for a third of all licensed toys and is only behind Action Figures in terms of licence strength within a supercategory. Within Building Sets, Star Wars remains the number one licence, but the fastest growing licence in the first quarter of 2021 is Harry Potter, up +70%. Harry Potter is also the number one licence across total toys, with Games & Puzzles also contributing to growth. While

Toy World 30

Melissa Symonds

Director UK Toys, EuroToys NPD the end of 2020, not only in Plush but also in Toddler Figures, where it has three of the top five best-selling lines this year. Licensed Toys has grown across the total toy market up +15% for March, growing four times faster than total toys and up +16% YTD March 21 vs. 20. With licensed toys growing for the second year in a row, even without traditional cinema releases, 2021 looks like it could be an outstanding year for licensed toys with Video Games, TV, YouTube and Movie licences all growing. At the time of writing, we’re waiting for the sales for the first week of non-essential stores reopening in the UK to see what that brings to the toy market. Based on spirit of optimism that we’ve seen from consumers and retailers since the stores reopened on 12th April, there is hope that the rest of the year for total toys can continue to build on the strong performance we’ve seen in the last year.


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.

Item Progression:

Item Description Pokémon Kanto Power Mini

Climbing 93 places this month is Asmodee’s Pokémon Kanto Power Tin Display 101 8 Mini Tin Display, with a value of over £335k just for March 21 alone. With only 20% distribution, this item has sold over 39k units and increased its value velocity by +60%. Overall, Strategic Trading Card Games had a great month, growing by +83% YOY and selling just under £4m, but this is due to the increase in the average price rather than units sold. In fact, for the month of March, STCG units are down by -9% YOY but have become more expensive, with the average price now at £9.92.

Fastest Growing Subclasses

Standard Building Sets continues to be the fastest growing subclass across total toys with Star Wars driving growth, up +58% as well as Lego Technic, Lego Harry Potter and Lego Super Mario all adding over £2m each so far this year. Playground Equipment is the second fastest growing category this year, driven by Trampoline growth +51% YTD as well as Play Houses and Sand and Water Boxes. Fashion Dolls continues its strong growth from 2020 into Q1 2021 with Barbie up +70%, L.O.L Surprise up +26% and Rainbow High adding sales to the category. Fashion Accessories has also grown this year, with Barbie nearly doubling sales in the category, driven by the 3-in-1 Dreamcamper and growth from both the Dreamplane and Dreamhouse this year. Strategic Trading Cards growth has been driven by Pokémon which has grown +73% so far this year. Traditional Plush growth has been driven by Rainbocorns, Ty and Squishmallow, as well the continued success of The Mandalorian and growth with Petootsie Stackable Plush. Non-Strategic Trading Cards & Collectible Stickers has had a strong start to year, driven by football licences, with over £1m sold on the Premier League Football 2021 Sticker Single Pack despite an average price of just 70p. With UEFA Euro 2020/21 championship stickers celebrating the upcoming tournament and England, Scotland and Wales all competing, this category could see growth for Q2 as well.

Dreamworks Spirit Untamed © Dreamworks Animation LLC. All rights reserved

An Exciting New Toy Range for Preschoolers!

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Talking Shop Reunited and it feels so good Toy World catches up with indies to hear how the first days of trading after lockdown went. In a week when the sun came out, so did the customers; we hear what items were top of their wish lists and how retailers have found the general mood in store.

Paul Carpenter - Totally Toys, Bristol or multiple toys, you’d expect them to grimace a bit, but there’s been none of that. It’s been incredible; they’re so happy to spend with us. It’s been better than Christmas!

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Schleich has been selling really strongly, as have books from our large book department. We’ve been selling a lot of Lego; it’s our No. 1 supplier, but recent sales have easily surpassed what we would usually see. Ty and other plush have also been popular. What we’re seeing is that our top performers are very much what the kids themselves are choosing, with parents happy to stand back and let them just enjoy the experience.

he Monday we opened back up, we didn’t want to go home at the end of the day – it was so exciting to have customers in the store. We’re open from 9.30-5pm each day, and we’ve been extremely busy. On the 12th we had customers queuing outside the door to get in, and that kept up all day. The average spend has been really high and there is a lot more cash around too. Cash payments had all but disappeared off the face of the earth for us, but since we reopened, we’ve certainly seen plenty of it. The atmosphere has been so warm and friendly, with customers thanking us for opening back up. We’re the ones that should be thanking them for remembering we’re still here.

Gloucester Road, where we’re located, is allegedly the longest independent high street in Europe, and it opened very nervously after the first major lockdown. A lot of shops didn’t reopen immediately, none of the charity shops opened back up, and those shops that did open did so mostly only three days a week. This time, we’ve all embraced the sense of normality. Of course, we’re still using face masks, sanitiser and limiting numbers that can come into the shop. Controlling numbers means we’re never swamped at the till, which works really well for us when we’re so busy. We’ve also noticed that people are shopping with purpose, rather than just coming in and browsing.

making the very best of things. Our ethos is to work hard when you can take the money, not when you can’t. People want to spend, so we’ll be putting on extra hours to cater for that demand. We’re really optimistic about the weeks ahead.

The customers, kids and parents alike, have just been so excited to visit us. Normally, when someone has to part with £70 of hard-earned money for a toy

We’ve accepted everything that’s been thrown at us in terms of restrictions, and we’ve all been in it together, but now we’re out of lockdown it’s a case of

Finally, we just want to say that we are thinking of our friends and colleagues in areas still under restrictions. Stay positive – good times are coming.

Maggie Tibbenham - Imagine Toy Shop, Holmfirth

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hings have been amazing since the 12th, really amazing. As you can imagine, it has been a worrying time for small shops. We spent a large amount of our government business grant on stock. I ordered so much; it was a gamble, but I wanted to be well prepared for reopening by making sure I had everything my customers could possibly want - every

corner refreshed, every shelf packed. Then the worry set in; would customers actually turn up to buy all these toys? But at 9am on Monday 12th, people were queuing outside the door. Some people had bought me flowers and chocolates to welcome me back. I wanted to hug everyone, but I didn’t! Honestly, it was just unbelievable.

plenty of money for them to spend too; I had a couple of kids visit the other day, maybe three or four years old, and they had little money pouches with £40 in each, saved up for months. For such young children to have that kind of money is quite remarkable. It won’t last forever, of course, but I expect the coming weeks to follow a similar pattern.

I bought my shop from the previous owner two and a half years ago and I have changed the whole thing. My approach is to view my customers as my friends. They come here for a chat and a good browse round. I never push them towards making a purchase if they don’t want to, and they really appreciate that. My customers visit for the amazing atmosphere, bring their children and have a good time. That boosts future business, as customers know they can return time and again without being hassled to part with their money.

Big Lego sets seem to be what most kids are craving getting their hands on, as well as trend items like HGL’s Pushpoppers. In terms of the toys making up most baskets, it’s often a combination of those two brands, as well as large Ty plush. I sell a range of joke items, little pranks and things, and they’re always popular. The kids visiting my shop are treating themselves to one or two big-box toys, and then an assortment of smaller treats.

Holmfirth is a little village, and customer number are therefore at a level where keeping everything wiped down and sanitised is easy. This means parents are more than happy to bring their kids in, and the kids are so excited to be back. To be able to walk into a shop is a novelty for them now. There’s

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In Holmfirth, there’s been a special campaign in preparation for the shops reopening to encourage people to shop local, called “It’s blooming marvellous to welcome you back”. The village is filled with flowers and bunting, and everything looks so beautiful. Customers find it so inviting, and I’m delighted to be taking part. After all the worry and uncertainty, I’m buzzing right now.


Talking Shop Dave Tree - All The Cool Stuff, Fordingbridge to the anniversary and TCG releases, making it a nice strong line to have. The big surprise seller has been Airfix kits. I don’t know whether there was something on telly in the days before we reopened, one of these James May hobby documentaries or something? Don’t get me wrong, Airfix is a great line and very consistent for us - but we’re not known as a model shop. On the Monday alone, we sold a raft of kits to different customers. We stock primarily the Airfix Starter Kits for WW2 aircraft and tanks, and we sell VW Beetle and Campervan kits too. Lego is a core range for us, our bread and butter if you like, so strong sales of this didn’t come as a surprise. Down here, it’s still the Easter holidays, and we’re seeing a lot of daytrippers. We can tell instantly when people walk in whether they’ve ever been in the shop before; it’s a tiny, pokey little place in the middle of nowhere, but it’s nonetheless a destination for families on a day out and kids love coming in here for the first time. Bear in mind that for months now, kids have been seeing adverts and watching content for toys and games, but they’ve seen so little of it in the flesh. For those kids, toy stores are just wall-to-wall exciting new stuff. If I’m excited by it all, I can’t begin to imagine how awesome that is for a kid.

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t’s been positive across the board since reopening our shop. It was pretty rotten here weather-wise on the morning of the 12th, which kept people away until the sun broke through in the afternoon and customers came out of the woodwork. Since then, it’s really picked up. What initially felt like an anti-climax soon went the other way as the day brightened up, which goes to show how much that affects customer habits.

During lockdown, plush toys had been dead in the water. You need to see these toys, and – dare I say it in these times – get hands on with them to find what you really want. They are tactile and somewhat impulsive; you often don’t know what plush you want until you spot it and fall in love with it, and then you just have to have it. On reopening, plush sales soared, which was amazing. Ty is always a big one, and Pokémon plush from Character Options and Tomy have been popular too. Demand for Pokémon is high at the moment due

So much toy marketing seems to come down to social media these days, but I would urge brand managers not to forget the conversion power of an amazing in-store display. In the UK, I think this is an under-served area. Playmobil is great at it; there’s a chap that goes into stores and sorts out displays for retail partners that really help to draw people in. Think about it this way – when you do your Talking Shop features, how many of the stores you include have a Playmobil figure outside them, or a Playmobil display in the window? Please suppliers, don’t forget to help out us indies with display material. It’s such a useful tool.

Dee Mellor - Salter Street Toys and Models, Stafford

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e were really busy on reopening day, but everyone was courteous and polite, not crowding each other or being impatient. A lot of parents were keen to let us know that their kids had saved money from birthdays or Christmas;

some kids have arrived at the till and proudly tipped out moneyboxes or piggybanks full to bursting with change. We’re delighted to have loyal customers so keen to come back to us. People seem to be spending more, and on bigger items. We’ve been selling quite a few of the larger Lego

Toy World 34

sets, and lots of Pokémon cards too. Craft Buddy’s Crystal Art range has sold well for us since reopening. It’s one of those lines that needs to be on display as the finished scenes are so eye-catching. We have a big revolving stand in-store, full of options for around £5-6, and it’s a consistent seller. Although a lot of the Crystal


Art products we stock are cards, many of our customers like to frame them and use them as art or a decoration. With a line like that, customers like to browse what’s on offer and choose something on impulse. We’re also doing well with Schleich, across the entire range. We found some adorable Toby Toymaster teddies in the back room the other day, and we’ve been giving those away free with spends over £20 while stocks last. The kids love them. Toymaster membership means there’s a whole group of independent retailers we can be in contact with, as well as Toymaster representatives themselves. We work closely with other members, such as Bill Bulstrode at Framlinghams, to exchange stock. At the moment, Bill has a Lego Millennium Falcon to one side for me, ready

for one of my customers, and I need to ring him about a few pieces of Minecraft Lego he has said he can help me with too. We’ve also been collaborating on which of us have what Pokémon SKUs, and we’ve been posting them back and forth to make sure our respective customers are kept happy. We’re not competitors, we’re colleagues. My nearest ‘competitor’ is The Entertainer, and the stock there is quite different to mine here at Salter Street. In that way, you can run alongside each other. And I have to say, the staff there always tell customers about us if they haven’t got something in stock, which is very good of them. In turn, I’ll tell my customers where they are located. There’s no point denying other toy shops exist when the likes of Google makes looking them up so easy.

Adam from Playmobil came to visit us recently, installing a new display for Playmobil Zoo in our window. That’s been great for us and really helps attract customers in from the street. Kids love the new lines; animals and zoos is always a strong theme. I know there are challenges ahead with imports and container rates – but maybe there is the opportunity for more UK-manufactured toys and games? We stock Orchard Toys, which is made here. Who knows, perhaps over the next decade or so we’ll see more of that. Things seem very promising at the moment and I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead.

Jon Scrivens - Hamlins Toys, Berkhamstead

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t’s been madness here, very busy indeed. Locally, schools in the area had an inset day, so even those kids due to go back after the Easter Holidays had an extra day of freedom to enjoy. We therefore had lots of families visiting us, with plenty of kids eager to spend their saved-up pocket money with us. It’s also nice to see that kids have been waiting to buy toys from us, rather than seeking them elsewhere. We feel good about that. It seems to me that customers are aware of what they’ve been missing, and they appreciate getting it back. We had a lot of little faces at the window in the weeks before reopening, desperate to see which toys were going on the shelves and making a mental note of what they wanted to buy. Nee Doh Balls went bonkers in the first few days, along with other tactile, sensory, squidgy fidget toys. It’s a bit out of the blue with these things; one child buys one, and the next thing you know you’ve got three or four of their friends in the shop wanting the same thing. With pocket money, birthday money and gift vouchers all having been saved up, we’re seeing big-box items such as Lego and Sylvanian Families sell through well. We have large bays for each, including licensed Lego such as Super Mario and Star Wars, plus a wide selection of Ravensburger puzzles and games, which are always popular. Playmobil is another best-seller, from Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Scooby-Doo to generic lines such as 1.2.3. There’s a prominent Schleich display in-store too; these models make a great pocket money pick-up or a small treat purchase from a parent or grandparent. We’re taking part in Asmodee’s ‘Love Your Game

Store’ campaign. It’s nice that suppliers are doing these sorts of things to help indies by engaging consumers and driving them to stores. Anything that might help, does help. We’re still planning ahead, but I would say we’re being cautiously optimistic. We had a big delivery of paddling pools arrive yesterday, ready for summer heatwaves. On the flip side, we still have sledges in case of more surprise snow. Being a Toymaster member, we can access the

support network and member’s forum to exchange information and ask questions of other members to see how things are performing. We also get lots of communication from the Toymaster team; the way the group works with suppliers is really useful. It gives us someone to speak to toy companies on our behalf. With Toymaster, we don’t feel alone. Although you could argue that all toy shops are competitors, we look after each other.

Philip Baldwin

Crookilley Toys Emporium, Bramhall Customers turned up at our shop pretty much straight away on the Monday when we opened, and they’ve kept up a steady stream since then. During lockdown, plenty of people had said they were looking forward to visiting us once restrictions were lifted, and we’re delighted they’ve followed through on that – and to welcome them back. Progress so far has been very pleasing. We’re seeing plenty of kids coming in with their parents and grandparents as they’re still on Easter break here. Lots of people appear to be making a visit to us as part of a nice family day out, even if it’s not been particularly warm. Warmer weather lies ahead, so this is a positive sign.


Talking Shop

indie viewpoint

We’re seeing sales across a wide range of categories, from pocket money right up to bigger box games. The usual upper spend for us is around £30, but we’re seeing customers buying multiples and spending a fair bit more than that in some cases. They’re also telling us about upcoming birthdays for kids and grandkids too, so it sounds like people are already keen to come back again and buy more toys. There’s a general feeling of confidence in the shopping experience, and people are clearly taking pleasure in heading back to their favourite local shops. We’re very encouraged by what we’ve seen since reopening. Behind the scenes, we took pains to welcome customers back to a fully stocked shop, and that investment has paid off for us. Here’s hoping for as quick a return to normal as possible, and plenty more customers in the meantime.

Lisa Clay - Armadillo Toys, Leeds It has been extremely busy in the first few days since we re-opened, and we are really pleased with how things have gone. We had lots of children coming in, as it was still the school holidays, and they all have lots of cash saved up from Easter, pocket money and reward money for doing well with home-schooling. We have been selling a great deal of Schleich, especially the Eldrador range, which has been popular. Sales of Pushpoppers from HGL have been very strong, along with soft toys and Squishmallows. Plush sales in general have been good, and I think this is because children are choosing their own presents – kids always want more soft toys – and Ty is one of the brands that has been in high demand, along with mermaid plush toys. The mainstay of our trade before the pandemic started was birthday parties, and people’s budgets for these varied. Typically, under £10 was what most people wanted to spend on a child’s birthday party, but those sales have completely disappeared for over a year now. What is happening more now is people treating their own children, so that is a bigger spend, and relatives are treating their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Customers have been very excited to be coming back to the shop and on the first day I took photographs of as many people as would let me, so I could post on social media. It was really nice to welcome everyone back, and basket spend is definitely up overall. Although I am not too sure about what will happen over the next couple of years, as we will ultimately have to pay for the costs incurred during the pandemic, I am optimistic about the short-term. Fortunately, we are in a good location, not located in a city centre where large shops and department stores have closed down.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Back in business We write this having finally opened our doors to customers after what has felt like a very long four months. The last lockdown has definitely been the most challenging of those we have had over the past year, and to be finally taking steps out of it feels like a release. Hopefully the government’s more cautious approach this time will pay off, so we don’t have any further lockdowns.

The good news is that for our first few days, business has been great. It is difficult to compare, as this time last year we were closed, but compared to two years ago when it was also the Easter holidays, we have traded up. There was clearly pent-up demand, and our customers tell us they are glad to be out and about again. We have had children spending their Christmas vouchers with us, along with Easter money, which has been great. Unlike last June when we came out of the first lockdown, people are now used to shopping with masks, and we have screens and hand sanitiser available and in place in-store. With a significant proportion of people having had at least one vaccination, that gives an added layer of comfort. It will be interesting to see how trade pans out after the Easter holidays are finished, and the kids return to school, to see how much demand there is then. However, we are reasonably positive for the next few months. With people staying at home for holidays this year, demand for outdoor and summer toys is expected to be strong, and there are many new lines coming out from suppliers, so we can make sure we have plenty of fresh items to tempt customers. Early reads show that Pokémon trading cards are still absolutely flying out across all price points and show no signs of slowing down. Push Poppers has started off really strongly and looks as though it may be a bit of a playground craze. We sourced these from Grossman and sold 300 in the first two days of being open. It’s a good pocket money line, and great for driving footfall in the store - exactly what we need upon re-opening. Dolls and Girls Collectibles have been dominated by L.O.L Surprise! for the last few years, which looks like it is still going strong even after lockdown. The new L.O.L Dance Surprise Ball looks to be the key line. We are also seeing good sales on Rainbow High Dolls, also from MGA, and this is a range which really stands out on shelf. Barbie continues to be very popular; sales have more than doubled over the last few years and we have doubled the shelf space accordingly. Barbie is now a far more inclusive range with such a variety of dolls available. This has been a popular move with customers and one of our bestsellers is the Wheelchair Barbie. Character licensed merchandise makes up a strong part of our product mix in store. It has been a challenge to select new licences over the past year, with global cinema in a sort of limbo, and films being pushed back constantly. It has made buying lines for movie-related product more cautious in the current market, as it’s often better to wait and see if the film actually releases, and then if there is any demand. Our established core licences such as Peppa, Marvel Superheroes, Thomas and Paw Patrol, where there is existing content or it is based on a TV series, continue to be very popular. We were sad to see the Toymaster show being cancelled again for this year, but feel it is the correct decision. The Toymaster team attempted to reschedule and, although we would have been happy to go, the timing was not ideal. However, it would have been worth it just to see people in the trade again after so long. We will be quick to sign up for 2022, and have our fingers crossed for that.

Toy World 36


For more information please visit www.drivewhatyoulove.co.uk

LEGO, the LEGO logo and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2020 The LEGO Group. Produced under license of Ferrari S.p.A. The name FERRARI, the PRANCING HORSE device, all associated logos and distinctive designs are property of Ferrari S.p.A. The body designs of the Ferrari cars are protected as Ferrari S.p.A. property under design, trademark and trade dress regulations.


Company Profile

Dimian

Dimian keeping

family it in the

Originating in Milan in 1959, Dimian specialises in the production of dolls, doll’s accessories and interactive plush. Vice president Michele Röthling spoke to Toy World about the company and its move into the UK market with newly appointed distributor SJR Associates. Can you give us an overview of how the company came about? I joined Dimian as the third generation of my family to do so, and now hold the role of vice president. The company origins date back to 1959, when the Besana Family founded Mebetoys, specialising in the production of diecast items. The company was so successful that in 1969, it was bought by Mattel, and the Hot Wheels brand was produced in the Milan facility. In 1972, the company changed its name to Bburago. Then in 1976, my grandfather, Ugo Besana, decided to leave and establish Dimian, which began to produce metal items such as toy ironing board and prams.

How did the company’s portfolio develop into what it is today? My mother, Antonella, started working for the company and met my father Dirk Roethling at Nuremberg Toy Fair, while he was working for Zapf. They decided to combine their expertise, and Dimian increased its product portfolio to include both dolls and prams. Once Ugo retired in 1996, Dirk and Antonella moved the company headquarters to Germany and production from Italy to Hong Kong, to support the strong and steady growth of the company.

So, Dimian has become a truly international company? Indeed, we now have offices in Italy, Germany and Hong Kong, where there is a fantastic 4.500 sq ft showroom. We are proud to have a team of experienced staff across the world. Many have worked for us for over 20 years, but all of them are dynamic and innovative and very attentive to customer needs.

Can you tell us about the Dimian product range? We offer an extensive selection of dolls; within our portfolio, customers can find dolls for a wide

variety of ages and price points, all of them designed in Italy with beautiful outfits and packaging. The dolls have different features, with everything from a basic doll with a simple sound feature to dolls that can walk, or speak, or dance. We are also proud to produce a range of localized dolls, which can speak in the language that the customer prefers. We have more than 30 different languages to choose from. Dimian’s range of prams and strollers is also wide ranging and impressive: there are many different sizes, shapes and styles to satisfy the needs of all customers. We ensure an up to date offering thanks to regularly refreshed fabrics and accessories. Our mission is to create toys that make children happy. Our designers and marketing experts constantly research and study the market to ensure we create new and innovative products each season.

Is dolls and dolls’ prams still at the heart of the company’s core offering? We have expanded our portfolio with an interactive plush line, which launched four years ago. This began with the Luna the Unicorn which has been one of our greatest successes; it is

Toy World 38

sold all over the world and we regularly receive repeat orders, because kids really love it. Following the success of Luna, we invested in the development of the interactive plush range, which now comprises Hugo the Bear, Lola the Elephant, Betty the Cat and Tino the Dinosaur. For Christmas 2021, we are introducing a beautiful Daisy the Fawn.

How has the company addressed the sustainability issues that are so important to today’s consumer? When we create products, respect for the environment is a top priority. We pay maximum attention to the raw material selected, and to the production process. We are proud that our packaging is made from 85% of recycled material, and we hope to make that 99% in the next few years.

How can UK retailers find out more about stocking your range? To take the business forward, we have appointed Ria and Steve Richardson of SJR Associates to handle all UK and ROI sales. For more information, I invite your readers to contact them by emailing sales@sjr-associates.co.uk or by telephoning 07877443733 or 07850779797.


Feature

Dolls and Girls Collectibles

Hello dolly One of the more traditional toy categories, dolls and doll play continues to evolve along with the needs and wants of kids increasingly connected to the fast-paced world around them. Rachael Simpson-Jones finds out how animated content, social media and sustainability are shaping the Dolls category, and the latest innovations and trends breaking through for 2021.

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urture remains at the heart of the Dolls category, providing kids with classic play patterns that aid the development of social skills. While traditional features such as nappy wetting, sleeping, eating and crying are still seen across many leading brands, new technologies and innovation will this year be providing kids with an even more realistic experience. As revealed in our exclusive interview with Zapf’s Kasia Leskow (pages 44 and 46), leading brand Baby Annabell is launching a new Sweet Princess doll that blushes when she’s kissed, while Baby born Magic lets young mums and dads decide when their doll is asleep or awake using a special dummy. Mattel is poised for the July launch of its new large nurturing doll brand My Garden Baby, which introduces fantastical elements to this traditional category (find out more on pages 48 and 50), and in autumn/winter IMC Toys’ Cry Babies will unveil a more lifelike appearance for its best-selling dolls, featuring real rooted hair, glass crystal eyes and a soft-touch head. However, with kids constantly exposed to social media, and the influencers and content creators that call such platforms home, hair-play, fashion and makeover themes are becoming ever-increasing drivers behind best-selling doll brands. An enduring appeal of Barbie has been the ability to change her look by swapping her outfit, shoes and accessories. Barbie Extra

has taken this into new territory with eye-catching and over-the-top new looks, while Barbie Colour Reveal features an engaging water-reveal element and blind bagged clothing, pets and accessories to fashion-forward doll fans. MGA Entertainment’s doll range Rainbow High, which launched in autumn 2020, combines fashion with hair play, allowing kids to style their doll’s hair as well as their own, using safe hair chalks that easily wash out. Swiss doll brand I’m A Girly says it offers Gen Z a platform for self-expression with its diverse range of dolls, fashions, interchangeable wigs and more. To ensure its products accurately reflect what kids are seeking, the company involves them in the development process, as founder Theresia Le Battistini explains. “’Created by Kids4Kids’ isn’t just a slogan for us, but our guiding principle,” she says. “Inspired by our community, and always on a quest to create value and meaning that go beyond the products themselves, we’ve also started to collaborate with leaders from other consumer industries. For example, we’ve partnered with The R Collective for the first-of-its-kind sustainable and upcycled doll clothing line made of excess fabric from big fashion brands.” Accessories are also enhancing doll play. This is an area that Kasia at Zapf was keen to highlight during our interview when it came to Baby born’s 30th anniversary this year, telling me: “From the beginning kids could get

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their dolls any number of more imaginative accessories; we’re talking scooters and bikes, horses and dragons, camping and fishing gear. Each toy isn’t just a doll, it’s a friend with whom kids can go on adventures.” Speaking of adventures, the upcoming release of Spirit Untamed is also providing new opportunities in the dolls’ space, as Mattel has found with its new range of posable dolls and their equine companions. The excitement surrounding the launch of the new DreamWorks movie is likely to result in soaring demand for horse-themed doll sets. With Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess also benefitting from a noble steed of her own this year, retailers should be able to capitalise on this trend in the coming months. Mattel is also tapping into emerging trends with My Garden Baby, off the back of a year that saw consumers recognising the importance of nature and time outside arguably more than ever before. Zapf and IMC Toys, meanwhile, are catering to the increased demand for bath time doll play, the former with a new pretend bathing feature for Baby Annabell, the latter with its bath-time collectible dolls, Bloopies Fairies, which light up when put in water. IMC’s content, hosted on its YouTube channel, Kitoons, is a fundamental driver behind the success of its Cry Babies and Bloopies dolls. When Kitoons launched three years ago it was available in five languages, but huge growth means it’s now available in 25 languages and has racked up 3b views, 300m


Feature

Dolls and Girls Collectibles

hours of watch time and 3.5m downloads on the Cry Babies app. Sue Barratt, UK country manager at IMC, comments: “The animated adventures of Cry Babies and Bloopies on Kitoons are a massive hit with children. The doll range brings to life the characters children are already familiar with, so they can play out the adventures themselves. Our Nickelodeon content partnership boosted our Kitoons presence for Cry Babies Magic Tears, and a dedicated Cry Babies Magic Tears digital hub, which is linked to Nick Jr.co.uk and hosts content and videos, reinforces brand awareness and engagement.” MGA’s Rainbow High also benefits from its own content slate. The popular animated series, which depicts relevant themes of friendship and school life, has had over 40m views on YouTube so far and recently launched on Netflix, trending as the seventh most-popular series on the streaming service on its first weekend live. Barbie content also continues to roll out from Mattel. Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday is the first Barbie movie to feature Chelsea, Barbie’s younger sister, in a starring role. In anticipation of increased demand for dolls based on the new content, Mattel has made The Lost Birthday one of the main highlights of its Toymaster window display for May (more on this on pages 70 and 72). With more kids than ever watching content via VOD (video on demand) and SVOD (subscription video on demand), supporting toy properties with webisodes, specials, movies and more is becoming a powerful marketing tool in its own right, helping kids build a strong rapport with characters before the doll ranges hit shelves, and driving kids to stores when they do. The issue of sustainability also continues to be seen and felt in new doll launches. Zapf Creation has already announced a pledge for its packaging to be plasticfree across all its ranges by 2022, having revealed new packaging across core product ranges and new lines back in January. As mentioned earlier, I’m A Girly is developing a doll clothing line made from surplus fabric from the fashion industry, and Italian company Dimian, which is set to break into the UK dolls arena in the coming months after recently appointing SJR Associates as its UK distributor, aims to increase the amount of recycled material used in its packaging from the current 85% to 99% over the next few years. At the same time, we’re also seeing clever use of packaging in the collectibles space that will not only

cut down on the amount going to landfill, but also enhance play. Spin Master’s Hatchimals Pixie Riders come in new multi-use packaging which transforms into a backdrop, and Funrise’s BFF Bright Fairy Friends come packaged in a jar that doubles as the fairy’s home. Plenty of eyes remain on efforts to reduce plastic packaging and throwaway elements, so this kind of innovation will be very welcome indeed. MGA must get a mention for the ongoing impressive performance of its L.O.L. Surprise! and Na! Na! Na! Surprise! collectible dolls. However, while the company very much remains the leader in the collectibles space, plenty more brands are carving out a name for themselves too. IMC’s Cry Babies brand, with its wide range of appealing characters, has translated seamlessly into the hugely popular collectible dolls range Cry Babies Magic Tears, which carries through the impressive crying function seen in the bigger counterparts. Later this year, Cry Babies Magic Tears Dress Me Up will launch, combining collectability with outfit swap-ability, in what is sure to be yet another best-selling range for IMC.

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“We’re supporting all our launches with a full 360 approach that covers content broadcast on air, new series across all of our brands on our YouTube channel Kitoons, plus TV advertising, influencer campaigns, and eCommerce retail targeting,” says Sue Barratt. “Plus, later in the year there’ll be some exciting news as we take our content to a new platform.” MGA is placing substantial investment behind Rainbow High, with extensive TV, PR, influencer and digital campaigns set to promote the brand’s ethos of empowering children and celebrating individuality. The campaigns follow on from the success of last year, with 2021 partnerships including UK TikTok star Gabi Faye, fashion and make up influencer Honey Rose Loves and activations with a well-known UK girl band to be announced soon. “The Rainbow High academy campaign will also launch this summer,” adds Neil Bandtock, MD UK & Ireland, MGA Entertainment. “This will offer a series of influencer and celebrity partnerships, creative content and engaging and interactive activities for fans to get involved with across the UK Instagram account. Alongside the TV, digital and PR campaigns, the animated Rainbow High series is also set to continue, reflecting the characters’ school lives alongside a special double episode launching on Netflix in the summer.” As a fashion-conscious brand, I’m A Girly produces plenty of high-quality product content as well as campaign images and video content, not only for its social media channels, but also for its retail partners. The company regularly receives unexpected celebrity endorsements too, most recently from Madonna and Chrissy Teigen. In pre-pandemic times, I’m A Girly organised doll styling events for kids together with its retail partners, as well as Kids4Kids design sessions. Theresia says: “We have now taken these events to the digital world and regularly host online sessions for kids around crafting, designing and creating. These events keep kids entertained and help to spark their creativity in the unprecedented times we are experiencing now, in which children might find it difficult to simply go out and meet other kids like before.” Over the coming pages, Toy World takes a look at the latest dolls arriving on the market, as well as complementary collectible ranges.


Company Profile

Zapf

Moving with the times

Zapf Creation’s standout doll brand Baby born marks its 30th anniversary this year. To celebrate, the company is releasing a raft of new dolls that are leading the way in on-trend yet traditional play. Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Kasia Leskow, Zapf Creation marketing manager, about how else the company is marking this important year, and why the Baby born brand has stood the test of time.

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leader in the competitive Dolls category, Zapf Creation has entered 2021 on strong footing, seeing YOY growth despite the numerous challenges in the marketplace. Zapf currently holds the No. 1 and 2 positions in the Nurturing Doll subcategory, with the 43cm Baby Annabell topping the list, followed closely by Baby born. 2020 saw Zapf’s sales increase not only in Dolls but also in Dolls Clothing & Accessories, a result of the company’s ongoing strategy to increase its foothold in this area. Altered consumer habits accelerated

sales at a time when shoppers were keen to ensure both their existing and new dolls were outfitted in the latest fashions. Kasia says that this year the company expects consumers to continue seeking quality over quantity, with traditional screen-free play patterns, such as doll play, high on the agenda for parents and kids. This trend forecast appears to be reflected by the strong sales Zapf has seen during the first three months of this year across its doll ranges, as well as its growing clothes and accessories line. “We’re confident that we’re bringing through enough in the way of new and exciting product to cater to the ongoing high demand, and this should result in another excellent year for Zapf,” says Kasia. “We lead the Nurturing Dolls subcategory for a combination of reasons. Our innovative streak means we introduce new dolls with exciting functions into the marketplace every single year, and our clothing and accessory ranges are second to none. We follow fashion trends very closely to ensure doll fans can get their hands on the very latest looks, with colours, fabric types and patterns all reflecting the world kids see around them. My colleague Carmen Leutheuser, one of the heads of design, travels the world to follow the latest fashion developments from across the globe, and bring them back to Zapf’s doll ranges.” As Kasia explains, Zapf dolls also boast a rich heritage in the marketplace. As mentioned earlier, Baby born is 30 this year, while Baby Annabell is almost 25 years old. Today’s generation of parents are likely to have played with these dolls when they themselves were growing up, and as a result there’s a lot of love out there for both brands. Zapf dolls

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are also of the highest quality, and are made to last, and this has earned the trust of consumers of all ages. Playing with dolls aids child development by imparting key nurturing and social skills during those formative early years, while the Baby born brand in particular inspires rewarding, imaginative play experiences that last for hours. “When Baby born first made its appearance in 1991, other dolls on the market weren’t very interactive; they could maybe say a few words or had hair kids could play with,” says Kasia. “Baby born became incredibly popular very quickly, because the dolls could do things no other could. Kids could feed them, they cried, used a potty, slept – all without batteries. This was something really cutting edge in the doll market. The core Baby born range has always been complemented by a wide range of traditional doll-play accessories including changing bags, cribs, pushchairs, bottles and nappies, but from the beginning kids could also get their dolls any number of more imaginative accessories too; we’re talking scooters and bikes, horses and dragons, camping and fishing gear. This is unique to the Baby born brand. Each toy isn’t just a doll, it’s a friend with whom kids can go on adventures. Over the years, we’ve studied very closely the evolving needs of consumers to make sure we’ve moved with the times. Baby born’s wardrobe is also growing all the time, with outfits for any occasion, no matter the season. Kids love to emulate what’s going on around them, so providing a comprehensive assortment of on-trend outfits remains vital to the ongoing success of the range.” Zapf has major plans to celebrate Baby born’s big year. The pandemic has meant organising


Company Profile

retail activations has been tricky, and when I spoke to Kasia some plans were still being firmed up with the likes of Smyths, The Entertainer and several Toymaster members. However, the exciting new doll range is very much ready for launch. The three new Baby born Magic dolls let kids twist the dolls’ dummy to open or close its eyes, giving them complete control of deciding whether their Baby born is awake or asleep. The new feature means the best-selling dolls, available as boys and girls with a variety of outfit colours to choose from, now boast 10 lifelike functions including crying real tears, eating, drinking and needing nappy changes. A special Happy Birthday range will also be released this anniversary year, with three lines in spring/summer followed by new additions for autumn/winter. The Baby born Deluxe Happy Birthday Set comes with everything kids need to throw a birthday party for their dolls, from a party dress and pair of gold sandals to a purple and gold birthday crown. Even a birthday cake is included. Completing the range is the Baby born Deluxe Happy Birthday Outfit, a pretty dress decorated with purple sequins, while the new Baby born Happy Birthday Changing Bag is star-spangled in bright gold, with contrasting pink straps and handles, in keeping with the celebratory theme. TV advertising campaigns and digital marketing will highlight Baby born’s heritage in the marketplace as well as the extensive options for clothing and accessories, in order to drive footfall at retail and demand for product. To complement the advertising activity, competitions will encourage consumers to cast back on the previous 30 years of Baby born, and why they love the brand so much. In addition to the Magic and Happy Birthday launches, Baby born will also welcome four new fashion-led dolls for autumn/winter, each of which can eat and drink but also stand on their own and have bendable knees for easier dressing. The core 43cm Baby Annabell and Baby Alexander are joined by new sibling Baby Leah, while Zapf’s range of smaller, lighter dolls for younger kids aged 1+, Baby Annabell Little, is also expanding. This range saw strong growth in 2020, giving it momentum to launch a new functional doll in one of the most popular doll themes. The 36cm Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess, which comes dressed in a glittering princess gown and gold shoes, blushes when she is kissed and makes a range of cute sounds including sleeping noises when she is laid down. And as any princess needs a noble steed, Zapf is also launching the Baby Annabell Little Sweet Pony, which makes trotting and neighing sounds and wears a pink bridle and tiara. A major marketing campaign will support these new launches.

Zapf

“One of the big differences between Baby Annabell and Baby born is that Annabell is softbodied, and her functions require batteries, whereas Baby born is battery-free and can therefore be bathed and played with in water,” adds Kasia. “Our research has shown us how important the bath play pattern is to our consumers – it’s a vital part of looking after a real baby, after all – so this year we’re also unveiling Annabell with a pretend-bathing feature, which we’re sure kids are going to absolutely love.” Following the success of Baby born Surprise, Zapf is also introducing a new range, Mini Babies, to the Collectibles aisle this autumn. Children can unwrap their toy to reveal either twins or rare triplets and find out which new characters will be joining their Baby born Surprise family. The new line will be enhanced with a surprise play set that transforms from a moving bus into an impressive playground complete with swings, a seesaw and more, due to launch later in the year. As reported back in January, Zapf kicked off 2021 by revealing new plastic-free packaging across core product ranges and new lines, announcing a pledge to be plastic-free across all its ranges by 2022 at the same time. A company that cares deeply about both children and the planet, Zapf’s decision to move away from the use of plastics in its packaging coincided with a notable upswing in demand for more sustainable toy and packaging options from consumers. As the leading brand in the Nurturing Dolls category, Zapf felt strongly that it had to lead the way by being first to market with its innovative packaging overhaul.

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“As well as wanting to remain a sustainable and environmentally friendly company, when we set about redesigning our packaging there was also a strong focus on giving kids an exciting and frustration-free unboxing experience,” explains Kasia. “Any parent or gift-giver will know what it’s like to be asked to unpack a delighted child’s new doll, only to be faced with multiple plastic cable ties and other things that need to be snipped away with scissors. Our new boxes are nothing like that; kids can open the beautiful box to reveal their gorgeous doll, with all its accessories wrapped in soft tissue paper. The new boxes mean retailers can offer a heritage doll range with huge on-shelf presence and a really positive sustainability message to share.” Retailers stocking 2021’s new Zapf dolls will be provided with marketing assets to drive sales, both online and in-store. A new Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess POS display is available to support this major new launch, while heavyweight campaigns will run across TV, digital and social media, alongside retail competitions and ongoing fan engagement to raise awareness of Baby born’s 30th anniversary.” Kasia finishes: “We are very excited on behalf of our retail partners that their stores are starting to reopen, and that consumers now have the opportunity to return to the unbeatable physical shopping experience in search of the latest Baby born and Baby Annabell dolls.”

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Company Profile

Mattel

All dolled up Mattel is expanding its presence in the Dolls category for 2021, with the July launch of a new fantasy-themed large doll, My Garden Baby, additions to its licensed doll ranges including Spirit and Harry Potter, and expansions to Polly Pocket and Barbie. Kelly Philp, UK marketing director, tells Toy World what Mattel considers to the biggest opportunities in the Dolls category, and what its widereaching approach to product means for the retail sector.

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olls are very much at the heart of the Mattel business, as demonstrated by the past three years of innovative product development and range expansion. This is particularly noticeable within Mattel’s standout fashion doll brand Barbie. The relaunch and revitalisation of nostalgic 90s favourite Polly Pocket, meanwhile, has resulted in year on year double digit growth for this best-selling range of small dolls and collectible compacts. As summer 2021 approaches, the company has its sights on continuing to increase its presence across the entire Dolls category. Its heritage doll brands and own IPs

are complemented by new partnerships with licensors such as NBC Universal, which has seen engaging new proven thematics such as horse play introduced to Mattel’s doll portfolio, as well as existing partnerships with the likes of Harry Potter licensor Warner Bros. This year marks 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone movie adaptation landed in cinemas, but the property continues to stand the test of time. And Mattel’s Hello Kitty range, which launched earlier this year, is a heritage brand that offers the company points of difference in terms of looks and appeal and moves Mattel further into the collectible dolls arena. Marking the next stage in its expansion strategy, this year sees Mattel launch its new large nurturing doll , My Garden Baby. The company already has a global foothold in the large doll market and expects the new introduction to bring the UK market more into line with other regions. While the dolls category itself remains somewhat static, the growth of Mattel’s own dolls portfolio means the timing is optimal for what the company is calling an exciting new entrant into this market. With My Garden Baby joining Barbie, Spirit, Harry Potter, Polly Pocket and Hello Kitty, Mattel’s strategy in dolls seems to be paying off; there really is something for everyone. But what are the benefits to pursuing such a wide-ranging approach, as opposed to simply focusing on one or two areas? “Mattel views things through a consumer-first lens,” explains Kelly. “From a business perspective, we want to make sure there is a compelling product offering for each and every consumer segment, from age ranges to play patterns. During the product development stage, we ask ourselves the obvious questions - whether there’s enough

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demand, if the features are right for the age range and so on – but we also have to consider whether a product will enhance a category or detract from it. For example, role-play, and the ability to replicate scenes and situations from everyday life, is a large part of what kids seek from the Barbie brand; at the same time, kids also want a doll that can be cuddled and looked after, which is what My Garden Baby offers.” My Garden Baby introduces fantasy elements to classic doll play via a magical theme that includes butterflies, a decidedly different addition to a category rooted in tradition and classic play. By tapping into emerging or resurgent consumer trends, such as the importance of outdoor play and the natural world, My Garden Baby combines the very best nurturing doll play experiences – feeding, nappy changing, putting the baby to bed, changing their clothes – with popular themes that kids will love, as well as unique aesthetics. The focused launch range, arriving at retail from July, includes the My First Baby Butterfly Assortment, the Berry Hungry Baby Butterfly Assortment, and the My Garden Baby Feed and Change doll assortment. Mattel has recognised that (within the UK) My Garden Baby marks the company’s entry into a new space, so expect to see over-investment on the launch strategy, continuing from the day the dolls hit retailer’s shelves, to the peak Q4 selling period. Range expansion will follow in 2022, with plans in the pipeline as far out as 2023. “We feel My Garden Baby will appeal to a younger audience, so we’re taking our learnings from the Pre-School category on targeting parents with our messaging,” adds Kelly. “We want mums and dads to understand what My Garden Baby offers children, and why it should be a top


Company Profile

choice for any parent, grandparent or gift giver considering purchasing a doll for a loved one.” While My Garden Baby will evolve the Dolls space, the launch also reflects Mattel’s continuing evolution as a business. This can be seen elsewhere, too, with new lines such as Barbie Colour Reveal bringing exciting and innovative new features to fans of the brand. Toys that surprise and delight kids remain as popular as ever, so Colour Reveal, which lets kids swish Barbie around in water to reveal her look, has been a very welcome addition to the Barbie portfolio. Fashion also remains a strong trend. Social platforms and media content introduce kids to the world of fashion and styling, and Barbie Extra allows them to emulate what they see around them with distinctive looks and unique accessories. Fresh Barbie content continues to support the brand throughout each year; Mattel sees sales of content-related product excel following the content release, showing that media consumption translates directly into product sales if the offering is compelling enough. As mentioned earlier, Polly Pocket enjoyed a strong performance throughout 2020. This, says Kelly, reflects the demand for retro and classic toys that hold nostalgic appeal among parents and gift givers. Such brands, which offer points of connection, are surging in popularity across the toy sector, not just in dolls, but Polly is certainly one brand riding this wave. However, Kelly adds, these

Mattel

toys must still be compelling. While parents might spot a childhood favourite when out shopping and buy one for their child, success ultimately comes from high levels of brand engagement. Parents like to see their kids not just playing with that toy but actually enjoying it, because after all – enjoyment is what makes toys valuable. Child-led demand is a key driver of the toy industry, and Mattel is seeing the effect of this with Polly. The character ignites imaginative role-play in a quirky and adventurous fashion, setting her apart from other dolls within the small dolls arena. When it comes to adventure, Mattel is also delighted to have welcomed Spirit to its Dolls portfolio. The property gives the company access to incredibly strong equine themes that will appeal to doll lovers even if they don’t watch the animated series Spirit Riding Free, or haven’t seen either of the feature films. Horses and dolls are a great match, and with the release of Spirit Untamed, the standalone sequel to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron and a follow-on from the Riding Free series, demand for horse figures - and dolls to ride them - is likely to soar. An epic soundtrack by Taylor Swift will generate even more excitement for the movie, while the core messages of friendship, bravery and adventure will resonate with kids who have spent the previous year largely playing things safe. The Spirit range from Mattel also offers hair play, another key element within dolls, while the range of characters available will drive collectability. From a retail perspective, Mattel’s comprehensive dolls portfolio offers retailers a proposition that ticks a lot of boxes and covers a lot of bases.

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Regardless of whether consumers are arriving in store or seeking dolls online, Mattel’s range delivers what shoppers want, and strong marketing campaigns support these sales. Alongside its product development, the company invests in its brands with campaigns that heighten awareness among consumers and drive footfall to its retail partners. Mattel’s marketing tactics shifted more towards the online/eCommerce space during lockdown, but as physical retail now reopens the focus will also be on pushing shoppers back into bricks & mortar stores. Consumers are finding and purchasing product in more ways than ever before, and so Mattel’s omnichannel marketing mix aims to reach them regardless of the channel they are in. While the company of course continues to build upon its own growth and success, its ethos is also to grow and strengthen the toy categories it is in too, as Kelly explains. “It’s important that we continue to drive the entire Dolls category, and within that we needed to understand what the core drivers are - and how our product lines can support them,” Kelly says. “Working with Cardiff University, our research has shown us that playing with dolls activates regions of the brain associated with social information such as compassion and empathy. It’s also perfect for inspiring role-play based on real life situations, which helps kids develop social processing skills. Interestingly, these effects are seen even when kids play with dolls alone; they don’t have to be playing with a parent, sibling or friend to gain the social benefits. This research, which was published last year, has been made accessible for parents and caregivers via an online hub loaded with resources to help parents and kids on that journey. Our new spring campaign, ‘A Doll Can Help Change the World’, taps into our enhanced understanding of this space and follows on from the ‘You Can Be Anything’ hero content. The campaign takes this research to the next level, helping parents understand how doll play can prepare kids for the future. Deepening our knowledge base in this way remains vital to Mattel, and we’ll continue to invest in these campaigns, and to work with leading researchers and educational institutions. We hope to remind parents and caregivers that the simple act of playing with dolls has developmental benefits.


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Dolls and Girls Collectibles

Vivid 01483 449 944 www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Crayola is introducing a range of exciting new dolls to the arts & crafts aisle for 2021, which will let kids colour and style again and again. Combining the strength of a growing supercategory with evergreen colouring activities and on-trend customisation play, kids can have hours of creative fun colouring and restyling with Crayola Colour n Style Friends. Each doll has its own colourful personality and comes with their own set of accessories. The range launches with four sub-£10 Colour ‘n’ Style Friends - Sky, Jade, Lavender and Violet - each of whom come complete with their own clothing accessory to clip on and style up. Kids can use the dry erase markers to colour in the clothing, adding fun patterns and designs to give the doll a cool new look. They can even colour their hair and top things off with a custom make-up look by giving their Colour ‘n’ Style Friend a makeover. When they’re finished designing, kids can simply wipe off their designs and start again. The Colour ‘n’ Style Catwalk wardrobe play set transforms into a boutique catwalk that kids can colour and sticker to reflect their own unique style. The dolls can showcase their makeover looks down the runway and store all their accessories in the wardrobe. The Colour ‘n’ Style Colour Coupe, meanwhile, is a real working car that kids can colour in and personalise before the dolls travel in style. Vivid is also launching an all-encompassing product range based around the YouTube star Love, Diana, her family, and their adventures. Focusing on the positivity of friendship, family, creativity and the power of play, the line will include fashion dolls, collectibles and play sets.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com sales@charactergroup.plc.uk The second half will see Character Options continue to shake up the dolls category with extensions to the InstaGlam range and new characters from Dream Seekers. InstaGlam invites kids to glam their doll, themselves and their world. Entering the marketplace last year, Character Options will enhance the collectability of the range with the launch of the InstaGlam Glo-Up Girls this July. Based on the transformational ‘glow up’ social media trend, the Glo-Up Girls invite children to give them a complete top-totoe beauty transformation and come wearing PJs and a sleep mask. Kids can completely immerse themselves in the beautification process. Step one is a bath bomb that dissolves to reveal makeup and a brush which can be applied to the doll’s face to reveal her new look. Next, kids can dip the doll’s nails into cold water to take them from bare to manicured. There are also 25 fashion surprises to unbox along the way, including clothes, shoes and hair accessories, which kids can use to style their dolls and complete their transformation. A real face mask is also included, so kids can enjoy the glow up process for themselves. The collection launches with four characters to collect. The InstaGlam On the Glow Makeup Trolley, meanwhile, comes filled with 100+ pieces of content, with layers of makeup for lips, cheeks and eyes, as well as brushes, nail polishes and hair accessories. Following a strong spring launch, Character Options wwill be introducing new Dream Seekers characters for autumn. Waiting to take the spotlight in the second half is Light Up Stella, who comes wearing a removable rainbow gown that complements her long locks, woven through with a spectrum of pastel colours. Stella’s wings light-up and change colour, with each colour representing the quality that she’s inspiring. Also new to the core doll range is Zara, with her long lilac hair, whimsical glittery wings and butterflyembellished outfit.

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Adorable s n r o ic n U it u Fr and Special Gold Unicorn to collect!

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

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


Dolls and Girls Collectibles

Schleich 01279 870 000 www.schleich-s.com/en/GB orders@schleich-s.co.uk

From the magical world of bayala to Lakeside Horse Club’s grassy paddocks, Schleich welcomes a raft of new unicorns, horses and foals this year. The six bayala Collectible Unicorn Foals Florany, Lenuja, Olaria, Whalda, Elany and Rajana – feature flower tattoos and glittering manes and tails. An ideal line for existing collectors of Schleich unicorns, each pocket-money figure comes in a blind bag which retailers can display in a convenient CDU of 24 pieces. Series 2 launches in July, introducing 12 more Collectible Unicorns with bold colours and fruit tattoos, as well as a special Golden Unicorn. An elegant new unicorn family is also available. The Mandala Stallion, Mare and Foal enrich the world of bayala with plenty of glitter and magical mandala tattoos. Schleich’s TV-advertised Horse Club brand sees several new horse breeds added to the range, with the introduction of the Pura Raza Espanola, German Riding Pony and Hanoverian. The Horse Club range will then see a major upgrade in July, as the girl rider figures, Hannah, Sofia, Sarah and Lisa, become fully articulated. This will allow for even more authentic play with their four beloved horses, Cayenne, Blossom, Mystery and Storm. All new Horse Club sets will now feature these fully movable figures; the Friendship Horse Tournament and Sarah’s Camping Adventure will be followed by a new 4x4 Car and Horse Trailer. Horse Club will be supported by a full year’s schedule of TV and digital advertising, influencer and PR activity.

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Barbie’s momentum continues into 2021 with its mission to show girls ‘You Can Be Anything’ alongside an exciting new product range. Q1 kicks off with new diverse editions to the Barbie and Ken Fashionistas, including a wide variety of skin tones, eye colours, hair colours and textures, body types and fashions, all designed to reflect the world kids see around them today. Barbie continues to add even more unboxing fun with the Color Reveal Color Block Series. This series is inspired by bold patterns and bright colours, with six Barbie dolls to reveal and seven surprises to discover. New this year are Chelsea Color Reveal dolls, while Barbie Extra also sees two new dolls added to the collection. Inspired by the new Barbie special content are the Barbie & Chelsea Story set and the Chelsea Jungle River Playset. The Puppy Party play set brings pet play to life, while the Dreamtopia Colour Change Mermaid adds magic to the range plus a dramatic transformation to enjoy. Polly Pocket, the original micro doll collectible, welcomes all-new animal-themed compacts to the Pocket World Assortment. Horse Show, Hedgehog Café, Piglette Country and Corgi Hotel each include two dolls featuring new articulation, with five moveable joints for richer pose and play action. The compacts come with a strap so kids can wear them as a wristlet or purse for take anywhere, anytime Polly Pocket adventures. New to the Mattel Dolls portfolio is Spirit. The exciting new DreamWorks animated film, Spirit Untamed, is set for release this summer, and Mattel’s toy collection captures the magic of the highly anticipated movie. The Spirit Doll & Horse assortment offers fans a choice of Lucky and Spirit, Abigail and Boomerang, or Pru and Chica Linda. Each doll comes with a fabric top and features seven movable joints. Each horse has a movable head for realistic equine play possibilities, a long mane for hair styling fun, and a playful stance. The range also covers single horses, collectibles and play sets. The Sanrio Surprise Minis collectibles offer kids triple the fun. Each cute Hello Kitty figure is a self-stamper, penciltopper, and keychain in one, featuring fun food themes like watermelon, French fries, and smoothies. Collectors can attach the figures to backpacks, purses and more with the removable keychain ring. Harry Potter fans can travel back to Hogwarts with the Chamber of Secrets Assortment. Each doll boasts authentic trueto-movie looks and 11 points of articulation. Characters include Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood. New releases for later this year include Platform 9 ¾ and Dobby. Mattel will also be extending further into the Dolls category this summer with the launch of My Garden Baby into the nurturing dolls segment. My Garden Baby is blooming with possibilities, being filled with adorable butterfly babies and tiny woodland friends that will encourage kids to cultivate an appreciation for the world around them. The range includes the My First Baby Butterfly Assortment, the Berry Hungry Baby Butterfly Assortment, and the My Garden Baby Feed and Change doll assortment, all of which provide classic baby doll play with a fantastical twist.

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Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Baby Annabell has introduced Baby Annabell Leah, who joins her siblings Baby Annabell and Baby Alexander. These bestselling dolls drink from their bottles and suck on their dummies, with sounds and mouth movements adding to the realism. They giggle, yawn and can also be rocked to sleep. The brand has also expanded its range for younger children, launching the new Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess theme. Little Sweet Princess features an array of functions including kissing, blushing cheeks, and sleeping sounds. This doll is accompanied by a pony she can ride. Looking ahead to autumn, Baby Annabell has new accessories launching including the brand’s first ever bathtub for pretend play. Additionally, Baby Annabell will be expanding the Sweet Dreams range with a new rocker in the shape of a cloud. The company is also gearing up to celebrate 30 years of Baby born. To support its big birthday year, Baby born is launching its new Magic dolls. Featuring all the popular functions of the previous Soft Touch version, these dolls now have eyes controlled by their dummy, meaning the child decides when their Baby born is awake or asleep. The brand has also developed a new range to celebrate Baby born’s birthday, with a collection of birthday outfits and accessories launching throughout the year. A new wave of dolls and accessories, including a shower for extended water play and a refresh of the long-haired siblings, will continue to drive momentum. Zapf’s first collectible range, Baby born Surprise, brought nurturing play to the collectibles market with the best-selling Baby born Surprise Butterfly Babies. Building on its success in this category, the brand is launching its new Baby born Surprise Mini Babies this autumn. With nine sets to collect, kids can unwrap the swaddle to reveal either twins or rare triplets. Zapf will be working with influencers to establish the range in the market, as well as driving demand with a new commercial. The company will also continue to invest heavily in TV advertising and digital campaigns for the Baby Annabell and Baby born brands in 2021, alongside ramped-up PR campaigns in autumn with a series of influencer and brand partnerships in the pipeline.z

Zuru info@zuru.com Having acquired the Sparkle Girlz brand two years ago, Zuru has undertaken a refresh to create a streamlined and affordable collectible doll range. The Sparkle Girlz Super Sparkly Fairy comes in sustainable cone packaging for immediate on-shelf impact. Each of the four fairy dolls comes with long hair for styling and a colourful, sparkly outfit that can be swapped with those of other Sparkle Girlz dolls. For more styling opportunities, the Sparkle Girlz Princess Styling Head allows children to create endless styles with its long, soft hair. Kids can use the included styling and highlighting accessories on their own hair too. The Sparkle Girlz Pet Clinic includes a raft of features to encourage animal care role-play. Children can give the kitten and puppy a thorough check-up, pamper them using the medical and grooming tools, and pop them on the examination table for a weigh-in on the scales or a closer look under the removable lamp. When the animals are brushed, fed and ready to go, they can go into the pet carrier, ready for the journey home. The set also includes a pet hamster complete with a spinning hamster wheel. The Sparkle Girlz Princess Doll with Royal Horse is the perfect play set for building a fantasy world. The Winter Princess Doll includes a removeable outfit and tiara, plus long hair that can be styled, while the royal horse has a sparkly pearlised mane and tail. The Sparkle Girlz Cupcake Kingdom play set offers multiple floors of fun and interactive features including rotating towers, bridges and a lift. Brightly coloured backdrops, flooring and decor details are enhanced with accessories that can be used to create a dining room, dressing room and outdoor play area. The magical kingdom boasts ample dance floor space and secret balconies for the Sparkle Girlz to play, and the set closes and locks with a secret key for secure storage. A small Sparkle Girlz doll with removable princess outfit is also included. 5 Surprise Fairy Unicorn Squad is now available. There are 13 new unicorns to collect including a Super Rare golden Fairy Unicorn. Every unicorn comes with matching swappable fairy wings and a long tail to brush and style. Each unicorn capsule comes with magical sweet-scented unicorn poop compounds that can be mixed to create a surprise colour. Rainbocorns is set to welcome new wave introductions from summer, including Series 4: Fairycorn Surprise, Jelly Shake Surprise and the miniature Itzy Glitzy Surprise Series 2. The latest line extension is Rainbocorns: Puppycorn Surprise, which brings pocket money and impulse purchase opportunities to the portfolio. Puppycorns Surprise is a collection of seven cute and collectible mini plush puppies, including a Dachshund, Pug, Dalmation, Poodle, Labrador, Husky and rare ‘best in show’ Show Bulldog. Puppycorns come in a bright teal reusable egg, with on-theme puppy ears. Children simply hatch open the eggs to reveal seven surprises including all new Puppycorn plush characters, Scratch ‘N’ Reveal Hearts, Scratch ‘N’ Sniff Stickers, Boo-Boocorn Puppies and collectible eggs, Puppycorn Poop, and a collectors’ guide.

A.B.Gee 01773 570 444 | www.abgee.co.uk Time honoured, classic toys, ready to be a child’s friend for life, A.B.Gee’s Rag Doll collection offers exceptional quality and plenty of variety. Each of the 12 dolls on offer encourages creative and imaginative play. Larger than life and super-soft to the touch, Louise is a 30” ballerina dressed in a beautiful pink tutu, with matching ballet shoes and pretty blonde hair. Mermaid dolls are also available, each one featuring an authentic sparkly tail and brightly coloured body. A more traditional doll option, Chloe has woollen ponytails accessorised with bright pink bows, and wears a floral dress complemented by stripey tights. This large and cuddly doll has been designed to be loved and cherished for years to come. This extensive range of dolls is an ideal gifting option, made to a premium standard and offered at competitive price points. Readers should visit the A.B.Gee website to see the full range.

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I’m a Girly (41) 765 649 293 www.imagirly.com sales@imagirly.com This year, I’m a Girly is focusing on sustainability, co-creation, and educational values. The brand’s latest fashion doll line, I’m a Wow, enchants kids with amazing hair colours that instantly change when touched by sunlight. In addition, each 38cm (14”) doll’s body is made of recycled materials. The UVreactive features of I’m a Wow encourage kids to play outside to experience a surprise effect over and over again, without generating waste, while varying skin tones, different hair colours and outfits mean every child can find their ideal companion. Due to the popularity of this range, the line will be expanded this year from three to five dolls wearing cute pyjamas, ballerina outfits, and accessories such as catear hairbands and tiara headphones. In support of I’m a Wow, a global design contest held on social media earlier this year invited children to co-design a first-of-itskind sustainable and upcycled doll clothing collection, made of donated excess fabric from big fashion brands. The resulting kid-created clothing collection will be launched later this year. I’m a Girly’s new styling head I’m a Stylist has been co-created by children to meet the demands of today’s fashion savvy boys and girls. The 33cm (13”) styling head comes in different models with varying skin, hair and eye colours, interchangeable wigs in exciting colours, face gems and hair accessories. Additional wigs can be purchased separately; these also fit kids’ heads, expanding the styling and role-playing possibilities. Enhancing I’m a Girly’s sustainable and educational mission, the packaging of all products is reusable and is designed in a way that inspires children to be creative. Be it dollsized accessories, a wardrobe for their outfits, animal masks, or face painting templates, every piece of I’m a Girly packaging includes crafting patterns for additional fun.

Two in 1 Direct 07967 004 585 | www.catsvpickles.com Paul@allin1products.com Pocket money collectible line Cats vs. Pickles is inspired by Cepia LLC’s amusing property. Exclusively available in the UK through Two in 1 Direct, the Cats vs. Pickles line launched earlier this year with collectible plushies and has since welcomed all-new Jumbo Plush Character Pillows. Each irresistibly squishy, bean-filled collectible character features colourful and embroidered designs that reflect its individual personalitiy. Fans can collect different themes of Cats - Foodie Cats such as Paw-Purr-Oni, Scary Cats like Skelecat, Sweet Cats like Mint Chippie and Smarty Cats like Mew-sical Meow. Four sought-after rare plush Pickles are also available. These character-based toys can be bought as single packs, 2-packs and themed 4-packs, with 100 different styles driving repeat purchase and excitement among fans. Launching this autumn/winter, light-up, customisable Kitty Condos play sets stack together to create bright and cheerful neighbourhoods for kids’ plush pals. Kitty Condos will be available in two options - Core Habitats and Themed Habitats – both of which come with one container, accessories and an exclusive character. Those wanting to splash out on their collection that bit more can opt for the 22-piece Deluxe Habitat. The Cats vs. Pickles toy line benefits from a significant volume of bespoke YouTube content and extensive marketing and PR support, including a major TV launch in June this year.

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Skyrocket Toys 020 8643 0320 | salesuk@skyrockettoys.com Crystalina light-up fairy dolls combine the empowering energy of crystals with collectible doll play. Each character is unique, embodies a crystal element imbued with magical properties, and comes complete with a wearable amulet capable of passing crystal power between itself and the doll in the form of LED light patterns. There are eight 4” dolls available to collect in the first wave, each with beautiful rooted hair in a range of styles, and in colours that reflect the crystal element at work. A variety of skintones increases the diversity of inclusivity of the Crystalina brand. Kids can choose the energy they want to harness that day depending on their mood or the challenges that await them, whether it’s a presentation at school or competitive sports event. The dolls and amulets embody Love, Creativity, Confidence, Strength, Clarity, Truth, Courage and Optimism. Shaking the doll changes the colour and pattern effects; the more dolls a child collects, the more crystal power they can harness by accessing new lights and patterns. The wearable amulets can also be swapped with friends, while the dolls and amulets can be displayed in a Moon Stand that amplifies the magical powers of each character and crystal. New Crystalina waves will launch at intervals throughout the year to drive collectability and repeat purchases, with the next waves planned to hit shelves in August and October. The property will also be supported by a full 360 marketing campaign comprising TV, digital, influencers and PR.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk Spin Master’s Hatchimals brand is now offering a new range of Wilder Wings themed Pixies, CollEggtibles and more. The Hatchimals Wilder Wings Pixies each have their own unique fabric wings with bold patterns, and every character comes in a new style of egg with a different look and two themed accessories. Kids who enjoy the fun and mystery of collecting will also enjoy the new Wilder Wings CollEggtibles, featuring over 10 different styles including angel, flower, bat, cloud, split wings and more. In addition to the Pixies and CollEggtibles, the Wilder Wings line also includes brand-new Pixie Riders. Featuring large glittery wings with eye-catching colourful details, each one can be decorated and personalised with 16 new wing accessories. The Pixies feature poseable heads and legs and come with an adorable matching Glider they can ride. The Hatchimals Pixie Riders now also come in new multi-use packaging which can transform into a backdrop for imaginative and fun role-play. Spin Master is also offering something fresh from its Twisty Girlz brand with a new Girls Night Out theme. Each Twisty Girl transforms from a fashionable doll into an actual wearable bracelet and features a different stylish outfit and cool hairstyle. On top of this, they all come with a secret Twisty Pet which can turn into a blingy ring for added glam and style.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk | sales@flairplc.co.uk Flair introduces a host of new themes for Hairdorables, as well as fresh arrivals from Totally Tiny and Love, Diana. Spring/summer sees the popular Hairdorables range expand. Each Series 6 Blow Dry Besties doll comes styled with a ‘blown away’ hairdo. A mini hairdryer, hair gel and accessories are also included, as well as a doll stand for easy display. There’s also a colour change hair streak feature for kids to discover. New additions join the Totally Tiny range this year. Letting kids create treats their way, this collectible range of miniature pretend food treats has quickly become a must-have addition to doll play. The Totally Tiny Lunchbox collectibles offer kids a cute pocket money purchase option for spring/summer, while the introduction of the Totally Tiny Birthday Party set will give doll fans something to celebrate this autumn. Fans of the hugely popular YouTube Channel Kids Diana Show will enjoy the collectible role-play lines in Flair’s Love, Diana collection. Each Love, Diana Mini Mystery Trunks pack includes four surprise-filled trunks, and a bonus surprise trunk with a rare charm and a key. The Mystery Music Trunk is a deluxe music box full of surprises. Kids can also unlock the ultimate princess dress up set, which offers 17 hidden accessories to find, each one inspired by the Princess of Play herself.

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Epoch making toys 08435 574 062 | www.sylvanianfamilies.com Epoch making toys’ evergreen collectibles brand Sylvanian Families is to benefit from a pipeline of new SKUs that will introduce fresh characters and interactive features, delighting existing fans while also recruiting the next generation of kids aged four and over. New 2021 SKUs focus on connectability and expand the play potential offered by the products. Slated for a spring/summer release, the new Bakery Shop Starter Set reflects this focus, having been specifically created to be joined to other sets. When combined with the Red Roof Cosy Cottage it turns the house into a pretty bakery, while adding it to the new Family Picnic Van transforms the set into a mobile food van. Two new families have joined the Sylvanian Families range. The Midnight Cat Family replaces the existing Tuxedo Cat Family, whilst the Pookie Panda Family has undergone a facial redesign. The latter is reminiscent of the popular vintage Bamboo Panda Family released in 1992. The new Sylvanian Families Amusement Land range focuses on the fairground entertainment some of the younger Sylvanian Families members enjoy. Comprising fun, entry-level sets that come ready for play with a figure included, Epoch says these new SKUs are ideal for newcomers to the brand. The first hero product is the Baby Star Carousel, a pastelcoloured merry-go-round that moves. Kids can place the included Baby Panda figure in the seat, turn the handle, and watch as the seats spin. The second hero item is the Spooky Surprise House, which features a moving lift and new character, Spookie the ghost, who wobbles his way round the house. Midnight Cat Baby is also included, replete in a cute yet spooky costume.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com | info.uk@imctoys.com IMC’s best-selling dolls range, Cry Babies, has received an innovative refresh for its core range, complemented by inspired deluxe SKUs with pioneering interactive elements for autumn/winter. The dolls, including popular characters Cry Babies Coney, Lady and Dotty, now feature real rooted hair, glass crystal eyes and soft-touch heads, are lighter in weight and produce new sounds. Casual doll clothing reflects the looks and adventures seen in the Cry Babies animated series on IMC Toy’s YouTube channel, Kitoons. The series, which has over 5.5m subscribers, focuses on discovery, friendship and teamwork. In line with the new look, each doll comes complete with an on-trend removable outfit, and shoes to mix & match. As with the original Cry Babies, the all-new versions cry real tears and make realistic baby sounds. When they are given their dummy, they stop crying. Cry Babies Kiss Me introduces a new and exclusive feature for the ultimate nurturing role-play experience. Cry Baby Stella is dressed in a removable narwhal onesie, and, like her new Cry Baby counterparts, comes with all-new realistic features. Crying real tears and making realistic baby sounds, Stella stops crying once she is kissed on the cheek; her cheeks will blush too. She also stops crying when she’s given her dummy or fed using her personalised baby bottle. Cry Babies Magic Tears are smaller, collectible versions of the Cry Babies range. The line is currently celebrating substantial growth across its branded social platforms, including reaching 100K followers on TikTok. The new Cry Babies Magic Tears Dress Me Up collection features 12 new characters plus one rare character to collect, all of which come dressed in changeable outfits. The Cry Babies Magic Tears Dress Me Up characters come ‘hidden’ in their very own wardrobe packaging which doubles as a play set and includes eight surprise accessories. Special chaser packs, which include exclusive iridescent accessories, are also available to encourage repeat purchase. Kids can feed the dolls using the magic baby bottle and squeeze their bellies to see them cry real tears. Cry Babies Magic Tears Storyland brings classic fairytales to life with six new characters to collect, plus a rare collectible doll. Inspired by the likes of Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood, each character is dressed in its own changeable fabric outfit and comes with a matching pet. The dolls live in houses kids can unlock with the key to discover 10 surprise accessories, including a magic baby bottle, dummy, shoes, outfit, a personalised book, two personalised accessories, and a sticker sheet. Cry Babies Magic Tears Storyland dolls also cry real tears when their bellies are squeezed, once they’ve been fed from the bottle. The new Dress Me Up and Storyland characters will appear in an all-new Cry Baby Magic Tears Storyland series on Kitoons, while new content and videos will air across the Nickelodeon network and the dedicated digital hub linked to Nick Jr.co.uk.

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Funrise 01908 555 640 www.funrise.com SalesUK@Funrise.com

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Bandai UK continues to evolve its portfolio with the refreshed Miraculous range of dolls and collectibles suitable for children aged four and above. Based on the animated TV programme, Miraculous follows the adventures of Marinette and her crime-fighting teenage friends. Currently the No. 1 show on Pop!, it is broadcast in 120 countries where it has become the No. 1 animated show in Europe, The Middle East and Latin America. A feature-length animated film is due for release later this year, further heightening the excitement around the superhero aliases Ladybug and Cat Noir. The Small 12cm Dolls provide a perfect entry price-point for fans of the show. Each of the four collectible characters - Ladybug, Marinette, Cat Noir and Rena Rouge – feature 15 points of articulation and come complete with accessories that let kids play out key moments from the show. The Fashion Dolls stand 26cm tall and have 13 points of articulation, real-life rooted hair and an assortment of accessories. There are six characters to collect including Ladybug (classic), Cat Noir, Queen Bee, Rena Rouge and Marinette, plus an additional Ladybug doll that comes dressed in a revamped outfit. More characters will be added to the collection from summer onwards to further increase the range’s collectability. The Superhero Secret Fashion Doll allows kids to transform Marinette into her Ladybug alter-ego. This detailed set includes two outfits, miraculous earrings, the signature crossbody bag, Yo-Yo weapon, removable mask and the all-important Tikki Kwami. Perfect for gifting, the Cat Noir and Ladybug Deluxe 2-Pack includes Cat Noir and Ladybug Fashion Dolls, along with their signature Superhero outfits, shoes, Yo-Yo and staff weapons. The hero play set SKU is the Miraculous Balcony Fashion Doll Playset. This Parisian apartment replica stands at 60cm tall, with two stories of play areas and features including a bedroom, design desk and studio accessories. New for spring is the Kwami Surprise Miracle Box, which provides kids with a magical unboxing experience as they search for and collect the six precious Kwami and their jewels. All the pearlescent blind-packaged miracle boxes come with a miraculous map and a Kwami collectible.

Funrise’s Bright Fairy Friends range of collectible dolls remains in the spotlight this year, with a number of new dolls, and an unmissable launch for autumn/winter being supported by a substantial marketing campaign to help drive collectability. BFF Bright Fairy Friends Series 2, which launched this spring, introduced 12 new dolls for kids to collect. Offering an exciting blind-reveal experience with plenty of surprises to discover, each doll in Series 2 comes packaged in a pearlescent pink jar which doubles as her fairy home and becomes part of the play pattern, leaving no packaging waste. These cute BFF figures have colourchanging wings that glow when the doll’s necklace is pressed, and each fairy home offers two light modes to choose from. In Motion Sensor mode, the jar magically lights-up when movement is detected, while Room Light mode turns the jar into a comforting night light. In the second half, kids can look forward to a new direction for BFF with the introduction of the Bright Fairy Friends Bestie Pets. The line launches with 12 Bestie Pets to collect including Fiona Fox, Darcy Deer and Olivia Owl. Each Bestie Pet comes housed in a flower-shaped container. The motion activated light-up feature means children can wave their hand over the flower and watch it magically glow, before opening their flower to reveal which Bestie Pet is hidden inside. The flower petals can be peeled back again and again once opened the first time for repeat enjoyment. With digital pre-roll, YouTube advertising, global influencer activity and other PR plans in place for the year ahead, BFF with benefit from its largest ever support programme making it a collectible doll range that retailers can bank on.

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en sales@sisotoysuk.com Simba Smoby Toys UK’s master toy range for Masha and the Bear comprises a selection of Masha dolls as well as multiple other lines. A hero within the doll range, which benefits from TV promotion in 2021, is the 23cm Masha Doll. This soft-bodied doll comes styled just like the character from the show, giving it instant appeal among fans of the series. Feature dolls also come in the form of the four collectible Masha Mini Dolls, which meet the pocket money price point. Alternatively, kids can opt for the Masha Original Tricycle Fun and Masha Playground doll sets. Each pack comes with several fun accessories and a 12cm Masha doll. From autumn/winter, Masha fans can also look forward to the arrival of the Masha Shake & Sound Interactive Doll, which promises to engage and entertain kids as they sing and dance along with Masha.

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HTI Toys 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk Autumn/winter 2021 is set to be the most exciting season yet for the Dolls, Prams and Pushchairs category at HTI Toys. Significant planning and investment has seen the category grow to encompass a total of nine brands, with a mixture of own brands, popular licensed nursery brands and evergreen pre-school licence Peppa Pig. No brand within the category has been left untouched this season, with on-trend fabric refreshes as well as multiple new products introduced across the board. With over 50 items to choose from across different price points, there is something for every retailer. HTI’s licensed portfolio of dolls prams features some of the biggest names in the industry, including nursery brands Joie, Chicco, and Mamas & Papas. Items within these branded offerings include toy replicas of the real nursery products such as the Joie Junior Evalite. This twin pushchair, which transforms into a front- or parent-facing pram with detachable cot bodies, is based on the real Joie Evalite. Success in recent years with items such as the Chicco Junior Next 2 You and Joie Junior Excursion has led HTI Toys to add more nurturing products into the range. New for autumn/ winter 2021 is the Chicco Junior Lullaby Dream, a 3-in-1 sleep and play system, and the Joie Junior i-Gemm car seat. A firm favourite with toddlers, The Peppa Pig pram range has seen a fabric refresh and the addition of two new items, both based on items seen in the television programme. Investment in tooling has allowed the team to create Peppa Pig’s Pram and Highchair. These toyetic replicas from the show are certain to be a hit with fans of Peppa Pig, as well as encouraging nurturing role-play and imaginative play. In addition to licensed offerings, the company has developed several HTI-owned brands with different price points and unique features. The carriage pram should be a staple of any young doll lover’s collection, while the Bella Rosa range is perfect for those who want to feel like royalty. These vintage style carriage prams feature a sprung chassis as well as an adjustable canopy and removable apron. The Baby Boo range is ideal for those looking for a value offering, with most items being supplied with a matching doll. This pre-school line features blue fabric decorated with cute kittens across items such as the Nursery Play Set, which includes a doll, stroller, highchair, travel cot, play gym, changing bag, and feeding accessories. A new HTI-owned brand, Princess Mermaid features iridescent glitter fabric and had already proved popular with several retailers. This unique range is complete with the staple items stockists would expect to see, including a Stroller and traditional Junior Doll’s Pram, as well as several nurturing items such as the Feed & Play set, Car Seat and Nursery Play Centre.

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Jazwares continues to extend its footprint in the dolls category with an exciting and diverse portfolio that includes the global plush phenomena Squishmallows and its complementary line extension, Squishville by Squishmallows. The popularity of Squishmallows has soared recently. Collectors say the ‘soft as marshmallow’ plush toys have given them comfort during lockdown, and that being involved in the social media conversations surrounding them has fostered a much-needed sense of community. Squishmallows have now sold more than 73m units worldwide, with sales tripling in the past six months alone, and retailers are reporting craze-worthy sales as children, teenagers and adults alike compete to collect as many as possible. The Squishmallow’s craze is set to accelerate further this year as Jazwares expands the recently launched Squishville by Squishmallows line extension. The range offers fans the chance to immerse themselves in a world inhabited by irresistibly squeezable new 2” Mini-Squishmallows, as well as all-plush vehicles, accessories, play scenes and houses. New lines for autumn/winter include Squishville Mystery Mini-Squishmallows Series 2 and Squishville Vehicles Series 2, as well as the Mini-Squishmallows Bright Squad 4 Pack, Mini-Squishmallows Wildlife Squad 6-Pack, Squishville Beach Accessory Set, Squishville Cinema Deluxe Play Scene, and the Squishville Mall. Jazwares unveils new products inspired by the 7-year-old YouTube sensation Nastya Radzinskaya. Nastya has risen to fame having hit over 200m subscribers on YouTube, more than any other creator in the world. New for autumn/winter, the World of Nastya range includes the hero Nastya’s Fancy House Playset, Nastya’s Bedroom Playset, and Nastya’s Favourite Things 3” Blind Figures. The 8” Natya’s Surprise 8” Doll features a peel away wrap skirt and 50 surprises to discover, while the 8” My BFF Like Nastya Dolls are available in a variety of themes including Superstar, Fancy Princess, and Rise and Shine. Jazwares continues to develop the iconic Cabbage Patch Kids range. Fans of this nostalgic line will enjoy the fresh looks applied to the 14” Kids and 9” Cuties and Newborns, while the Giggle Time Deluxe Doll giggles and shakes just like a real baby. A new collectibles collection, Cutietown, comprises a range of 3” figures inspired by the popular range of Cuties. From the makers of Fingerlings, WowWee, My Squishy Little Dumplings will be available in the UK from May. Kids can collect four adorable interactive characters, each with a big personality and cute accessories. Perfect palm-sized pals, when kids squeeze their dumpling’s cheeks, a unique personality will pop out. There are also over 50 reactions to discover and enjoy; kids can dress them, tickle them, shake them and toss them to see them light up and hear their cute sounds. A shiny new limited-edition drop is coming for autumn.

DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk DKL-Beysal introduces Luna Babies, a nurturing brand focused on four dolls that travel from the moon to take care of children’s dreams while they are sleeping. There are four dolls to collect - Vela, Orion, Leo, and Ara - each with their own personality and style. Each features more than 10 functions and two modes, a day mode and a night mode, and plays a soothing lullaby. To add to the play value, the dolls come complete with a blanket, a feeding bottle, two bracelets - one for them and another one for the child - a comb, an extra nappy, and a Luna Babies tale to read. At night-time, each doll’s skin glows in the dark. The dolls also feature light-up tummy stars that change colour depending on their mood, while their nappy can be changed by pushing their tummy star with the star bracelet. The Luna Babies need to be fed and played with, and have their nappies changed, otherwise the tummy star will light up and they will begin to cry. At night, the tummy star light will turn off after 20 seconds inactivity, illuminating again only when the child hugs their doll for a restful night’s sleep.

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Whether it’s attending a tea party, strolling around the park or going to bed, Haba dolls are the perfect friend for every occasion. The company’s 30cm soft-bodied doll collection comprises several playmates for kids to choose from. Arne, Hedda and Freya join Milla, Mali, Cassie and Zoje for 2021. Each features printed face detailing, a soft and colourful body, and hair in a range of styles, while the outfits come with hook and loop fasteners for convenient dressing and undressing. Interchangeable looks let kids dress their dolls for sports, days out, or bedtime. Available as both boy and girl characters, just like the soft-bodied dolls, Haba’s Play Dolls collection offers a similarly traditional look and feel, with cuddly bodies and soft plastic heads complete with rooted fabric hair and appealing features. Accessories include swappable outfits, a doll buggy, dinner sets and a bike seat, while horse-lovers can enjoy the plush horse and foal, which are perfectly scaled to enhance Haba doll play. The City Villa Dollhouse is the latest addition to the world of Little Friends. This spacious modern villa comes with a large table for the Little Friends dolls to gather round, a cosy seating area to relax in, a playroom and a sleeping area. Made of beech and plywood, the house is quick and easy to assemble, with no tools required. The City Villa Dollhouse also includes a staircase, bed, play table with stool, rocking horse, a coffee table with two armchairs, and two chair pads. Little Friends doll characters include Mama Melanie and Baby Kilian, as part of a set that also comes complete with a stroller for parent-child role-play. Milla is dressed in a colourful outfit that reflects her playful personality, and Julius comes with a baby monkey, making him the ideal figure for use with the Zoo themed doll sets. Amaroni is the official distributor for Haba toys and games in the UK.

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Rainbow High encourages children to express their individuality and aspire to be whatever they want to be, and each doll represents a different colour of the rainbow and showcases their own talent, from journalism to video creation. After launching with a series of six colour-themed fashion dolls, Rainbow High welcomed the Cheer Dolls range, featuring all six characters with a cheerleading makeover, and the latest Series 2 launch introduces new characters Stella Monroe, Krystal Bailey, Karma Nichols, Amaya Raine, Bella Parker and the first boy in the series, River Kendall. Each doll features brushable hair, is fully moveable and comes complete with two on-trend outfits, a doll stand, a hair comb and two hangers. The animated content series also continues to be hugely successful on the Rainbow High Instagram and YouTube channels. With over 40 million views to date, the brand also recently launched a longer 40-minute feature on Netflix with a second feature to follow in August. L.O.L. Surprise! recently launched the follow-up to the Remix range, Dance Dance Dance. The new dance-themed collection comes with four original O.M.G. Dance Dance Dance fashion dolls: Miss Royale, Major Lady, B-Gurl and Virtuelle and 12 original Dance Dance Dance Dolls. Existing lines have been expanded, with the latest O.M.G. Fashion doll Series 4 collection featuring BFFs Sweets and Spicy Babe alongside the Boys Series 4 range and All Star B.Bs Football collection. The latest addition – the Big B.Bs ¬– will allow fans to add a bigger scale of doll to their L.O.L. Surprise! world. MGA Entertainment has continued to expand its Na! Na! Na! Surprise collection and the brand now has four series of collectibles, each offering an unboxing experience, soft posable fashion doll and wearable pom. Last year, it expanded the range with two new play sets, the 3-in-1 Bedroom Backpack and Ultimate Surprise. Na! Na! Na! Surprise started 2021 with the launch of the Na! Na! Na! Surprise Teens series, the larger 28cm soft fashion dolls, each inspired by their favourite animal and, in early spring, the brand introduced its first themed 2-in-1 dolls – the Sparkle Series – featuring a sequinned pom purse and two surprise accessories including fashions and scented shoes. Inside is a soft posable, marine-inspired fashion doll, and each doll comes with a tag including their name, birthday and motto so collectors can learn more about their new doll. As with previous series, the pom purse has a handy clip that can be attached to any bag. Na! Na! Na! Surprise also launched its Soft Plush Convertible Car, which is covered in cute cat-themed details, including nose and whiskers, and features a seat that fits the 2-in1 dolls as well as the larger Teens dolls, and wheels that roll. With a strong start to 2021, Na! Na! Na! Surprise is gearing up for even more launches, new characters and play sets to be announced from late summer.

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Behind the

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With retailers in some areas having been able to reopen at the start of April, Toymaster has been hard at work supporting its members in every way possible, from helping fit out the new Burton Midco store to overseeing the installation of window displays and the delivery of the group’s new spring/summer catalogue. Rachael SimpsonJones spoke to Toymaster’s retail manager Brian McLaughlin about the early feedback he’s received following 12th April, and what’s taking place behind the scenes at the buying group.

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t’s been a delight catching up with indie retailers for our Talking Shop feature this month, all of whom spoke of busy shops and excited children eager to spend saved up cash. Brian, too, had been hearing similar things, having spent a significant chunk of reopening week calling Toymaster members, offering advice where needed and gathering feedback. While the general atmosphere among the toy retailers that have been able to reopen is one of positivity and optimism, Brian and the rest of the Toymaster team haven’t forgotten those in regions lagging behind in the easing of their restrictions. Some members, such as those in the ROI, don’t even have a date to look forward to yet. “Hopefully there will be some good news for them soon, and in the meantime, we’ve been sharing the

hugely positive news from retailers that have opened to keep their spirits up,” he says. Toymaster had always been optimistic that the consumer response to the reopening of toy shops would be good, but there have still been some pleasant surprises. One member reported during reopening week – early April, don’t forget - that customers have already been asking how soon their Christmas Club would be starting up, allowing them to order and pay for gifts for the festive season. Brian also confirms what several our featured retailers have told us this month; that basket spend is significantly up, and highpriced items are selling through strongly. Pokémon and Squishmallows easily top the list of best-sellers, and Lego – a staple of the indie toy retailer – remains a strong, consistent line. The majority of purchases are

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child-led, with kids either selecting what they want and paying for it themselves or directing their parents/ grandparents as to what they want so they can buy it for them. And while many retailers have leftover Christmas stock, Brian tells me, shoppers are very much on the hunt for the new toys and games spotted during the months of lockdown. “Pushpoppers from HGL are seeing excellent numbers and are probably the item being mentioned the most when we’re talking to retailers,” Brian adds. “It’s too early to tell if Pushpoppers will turn into a true craze, but the potential is certainly there. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the schools go back; the playground is where crazes come to life. All you need is for one or two kids to turn up with them and show them to their friends on the first day back.”


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Sh w off Among indie toy retailers, leading licensed properties include CoComelon and Pokémon, names that have cropped up consistently for months now, while evergreen favourites Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig continue to drive sales in Pre-School. Barbie has enjoyed a strong 12 months too. While movie-related licences have had a tough year due to cinema closures and the postponement of numerous big releases, Brian notes that this sector will hopefully now be picking up in line with global efforts to slow the spread of the Covid-19, and the resulting lifting of restrictions. We’re certainly seeing a buzz regarding the upcoming Spirit Untamed movie from DreamWorks Animation, with multiple licensees on board including Playmobil, Rainbow Designs, Mattel and more. As we’ve reported throughout the pandemic, Toymaster’s major focus has always been on gathering and sharing information. Communication with its members is at the heart of everything the group does, and with most major trade shows postponed or cancelled, this has never been more important. Toymaster’s new Product Hub lets retailers access product and brand information on the latest lines from key suppliers, as well as order forms. Media assets can also be downloaded and used across social media, helping retailers convey important messaging about what they offer to their local customer base. Toymaster also recently launched its 16-page spring/ summer catalogue, perfect timing for those able to reopen on the 12th. An extension of the group’s ethos, the catalogues (an autumn/winter catalogue follows later in the year) take communication beyond retailers and into the local community. Many members opt for local catalogue distribution as well as keeping a supply in store, placing information about the latest toys and games from the biggest brands right into the hands of consumers, and telling them where to go and buy them. “At a time when other retailers are moving away from catalogues, the Toymaster catalogue is very welcome,” explains Brian. “Kids love browsing them, and they provide the impetus consumers need to go out and find their local Toymaster store. It also shows consumers that our members stock all the most sought-after, key brands. During opening week, we could see that consumers were looking for the brands they’d seen most heavily advertised on TV and social media; our catalogue helps them find those

brands in real toy shops. Additionally, our catalogue also highlights to non-members the access to top suppliers and brands that membership of Toymaster offers.” Toymaster’s popular window display programme started up again in April with Lego Vidiyo, a recent major launch, while Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher Price and Thomas and Friends, as well as an assortment of titles from the company’s games portfolio, take the stage this month (pictured). Plans are in place right through till Christmas, covering a wide assortment of other big names including Hasbro, Playmobil, Character Options, Spin Master, Asmodee and many more. Displays are refreshed roughly every four weeks to keep engagement high – and best of all, the programme is totally free to Toymaster members. All that the group asks for is a picture of the in-situ display once it’s installed. Members are given the choice of which displays to go for; if one month a display focuses on a range that member doesn’t stock, for example, they simply don’t take it. To make participation in the programme even easier, this year Toymaster is also looking at developing generic displays retailers can use to create their own bespoke windows, based on popular toy themes such as farm or dinosaurs. Toy World has spoken to several Toymaster members recently – Salter Street Toys and Models, Framlinghams, Beccles Toy Box and more - that work collaboratively on stock and exchange information between their stores. Doing so allows these retailers to service individual customers that may want big-ticket items, without having to buy a carton of three or six units that may take up valuable stockroom/shelf space or eat up a large chunk of purchasing budget. Far from unusual, this is a reflection of the buying group’s entire focus on communication and support. Brian and the rest of the Toymaster team actively encourage members to network and help each other out. It’s a core reason why the May Toymaster show as well as the twice-yearly regional meetings are so popular and well-attended; they allow retailers to meet and form relationships – friendships, more often than not – that benefit retailers and consumers alike. “While we obviously ask our members to talk to us about how they are doing, they’re on the frontline and need to talk to each other as well as the suppliers,” Brian comments. “We’re glad to hear that this is just what they are doing. Our members aren’t competing with each other – a classic example is that one of those you’ve mentioned is down in rural Suffolk, and another is in Stafford. Sharing information on what’s selling and what’s not is also key, either directly or through our internal Members’ Forum.” As readers will be aware, Toymaster’s May show has been cancelled for 2021, and will return in 2022 at its usual venue, The Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, from May 17-19th 2022. With the event over a year away it’s early days for revealing information, but Brian says exhibitors and attendees can expect the full May show experience. Toymaster is also planning to hold its traditional regional meeting later this year, following all relevant guidelines to ensure members are kept safe. Regional meetings are smaller affairs with numbers far lower than those seen at the May show, so as things stand, the group sees no reason why they won’t be able to go ahead as planned; great news for members who won’t have been able to network with their colleagues face-to-face for 18 months by the time the meeting rolls around. Keep an eye out for more details on these events over the coming months. Toymaster sees plenty of opportunities ahead for both the wider toy industry, and the independent toy retail community. It’s looking likely that domestic

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Every way possible? Paul Reader, Toymaster's marketing director, organises shelving at the new Midco Toys store on Burton. holidays in the UK will be the order of the day for many families either wary of travelling abroad, or uncertain of restrictions on international travel. Domestic holidays mean domestic tourism, with destination towns and seaside resorts in the perfect position to capitalise upon an influx of holidaymakers keen to make up for missed travel during a year of lockdowns and other restrictions. Toymaster has many members in areas braced for high numbers of tourists, and Brian is particularly looking forward to seeing what the summer months hold. “The ‘Shop Local’ message is one that we can really push as well,” he adds. “Domestic travel encourages people to explore the local shops in the areas they’re staying in, rather than sticking with nationals they know from back home. Shopping locally while on holiday is a retail trend we definitely expect to see this year. We’ll also continue to help members drive the shop local message among their own communities too.” Brian is hopeful Christmas 2021 will be a far more normal celebration than it was last year, when restrictions placed limits on travel and gatherings for families in affected tiers. With luck, consumers this year can really embrace the festive season, which should translate into bumper sales for toy retailers. Toymaster is already in talks regarding its Christmas window and POS displays for its members this year, with a different look and feel to those of Christmases gone by. The autumn/winter catalogue is already in development, and the Product Hub is continuously updated as new information about Q3/4 products begins to come out. Toymaster is nothing if not organised, and in the absence of shows, everything goes back to the provision of information and keeping up lines of communication. At the same time as opportunities present themselves, challenges remain. Issues with stock availability, already reported by some retailers, are likely to rumble on over the coming months, and cost increases are also forecast due to issues with Far East container prices and shipping disruption. Adaptability will be required – and this is where Toymaster’s members truly shine. Indie retailers have a finger on the pulse of their local communities, can react quickly to trends, as seen at Midco Toys, where sales of Pushpoppers and other fidget toys are through the roof, and very much make it their business to stay informed. “We support our members in every way, and in turn they support each other,” finishes Brian. “Factor in the support of leading toy suppliers across all categories, and the reopening of retail across the UK combined with great feedback on customer numbers, and you’ll understand why we believe this will be a good year for the group and its members.”


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Sh w off Retail Profile

A smart move Toymaster member Midco Toys recently announced that it would be moving its Burton-Upon-Trent store to the popular Octagon Shopping Centre. Enjoying a fabulous position right in the very middle of the retail destination, the new store is bigger than its predecessor and, despite a recent bereavement, owner Dave Middleton and his team (including some special guests) have worked exceptionally hard to ensure every inch of shelving was full to bursting, ready for 12th April. John Baulch and Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Dave shortly before the shop opened, to find out the reasons behind the move, and what the new store offers.

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urton’s Midco Toys had previously been situated on the high street, a location that served it well for several years, until investment into the area resulted in disruption that would have caused real headaches for the ongoing running of the business. The road outside the shop is being dug up and relaid - a process that won’t be completed until July at the earliest - and, once that’s done, numberplate recognition cameras will be installed that will limit delivery hours to between 4pm-10am. Anyone delivering outside those hours risks a fine. As both the Derby and Burton stores were being serviced via Burton, vans and trucks needed to be able to arrive to drop off goods at any time of the day, so the curtailed hours resulting from the high street revitalisation project left little flexibility. For Dave, this situation was the final nudge he needed to start looking for a new location. “There’s a lot of empty units in Burton, in good spots, and I knew there was a deal to be done,” he

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tells us. “I’d enquired about The Octagon a few years ago, but the numbers they came back with were unreasonable, in my eyes, so we put it on the back burner. Fast forward to a few months ago and I was walking through The Octagon one day, in a bad mood about the road outside our shop being dug up, when I passed our new unit, number 29, standing empty. I called the number on the sign, and by the time I’d made it to the other side of the centre the deal was practically done.” As you can see from the images accompanying this article, and the many pictures and videos Dave and his team have shared on social media in recent weeks, the new store sits on the corner of the main thoroughfare, near the lifts, and boasts a large wraparound window now filled with displays for Lego Vidiyo, Sylvanian Families, Pokémon, WWE and Playmobil. Interestingly, the new unit is also just a stone’s throw away from The Entertainer. For Dave, being so close to a leading toy store is no bad thing whatsoever. Each store’s proposition is different enough that overlap is low, and together they’ve turned their section of the shopping centre into a hub for toys, which families enjoying a day out will love. As Dave notes, anyone in Burton wanting to go toy shopping will surely be heading straight to The Octagon first, where the combination of Midco and The Entertainer will offer them probably the widest range of toys available anywhere in their area. Dave adds: “I haven’t come to this unit worried about it being so close; it’s an opportunity. We tailor our lines to offer things that are a bit weird or different, toys and games you wouldn’t necessarily find in a traditional toy store, so being practically side-by-side is great for consumers. On top of that, we also see the opportunities in events. If we want to hold a WWE Meet & Greet, for example, we can team up with The Entertainer, which could benefit us both. Any licensor considering events is far more likely to go for it if there are two successful toy shops interested.” Dave’s outlook when it comes to this sort of opportunity is testament to his knowledge and experience of running a toy store, and his confidence in Midco’s reputation and performance. The Burton Midco has always had competitors on its doorstep – at one point, he tells us, there was a Toys R Us, two B&Ms, The Entertainer, Home Bargains and Argos situated in the town – but his business has continued to go from strength to strength. Dave is always on the lookout for something new, which he refers to as the ‘thrill of the chase’, and this approach has clearly paid off. As well an improved location, the new store is bigger than its predecessor, coming in at around 2,200 square feet, and is more modern too. The extra space has given Midco the room to flesh out core lines to give them greater prominence compared to the high street store, with Lego now enjoying a huge, dedicated


for Midco Toys branded section, complete with floor stickers courtesy of the supplier. Dave estimates that 90% of the entire Lego range is now available at the new Burton store, including an enhanced selection of Architecture and licensed best-sellers including Harry Potter, Star Wars and Marvel. Other big brands that went into the new store first include Sylvanian Families, Playmobil and Ravensburger, with everything else worked in around these Midco mainstays. The Arts & Crafts section has been expanded, and a dazzling new American candy bay has also gone in, adding that little something extra to the toy shopping experience for those with a sweet tooth. And with demand for puzzles remaining as high as ever, Dave has also increased both the size of this section in-store, as well as the assortment on offer, from modern licences to traditional scenes. “It’s all about Squishmallows at the minute though, they’re on fire!” raves Dave. “We’ve got a pretty decent assortment near the front of the store in a range of sizes, and I expect them to fly when we reopen. Zuru’s 5 Surprise Mini Brands has been another big seller, while Pokémon has been phenomenal. I’ve never known anything like it during lockdown. I put together a video on the Shining Fates expansion, to let consumers know that they could order it by phone on the Friday it launched. The phone did not stop ringing from the minute the shop opened until 7pm that evening; as soon as I put it down, it rang again. We limited sales to one of each SKU per customer, so they just bought one of everything which added up to around £240. Honestly, it was staggering. And with 2021 being Pokémon’s 25th anniversary year, we expect the craze to carry on right through the year. Asmodee really looks after us, making sure we get the stock we need, and we’re grateful.” Many of these sales, Dave tells us, appeared to be from Kidult collectors that have been driving various toy categories over the past year or so. Where once collectors were passionate about Hornby or Star Wars (and arguably still are), the current Kidult generation is seeking toys and collectibles from the 90s – Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and the like – and are doing so in substantial numbers. With demand for present day trading cards at fever pitch, the price of originals has also gone through roof, as Dave explains. “An original

box of Base 1 Pokémon cards goes for £20,000. When I first became a toy retailer, I was offered a load by a clearance specialist for 15p a packet, and I told them Pokémon was dead…. If I’d have spent £5,000 then, I’d be a bloody millionaire now.” As many other retailers have found, the lack of trade shows has presented challenges when it comes to stocking up ready for reopening. Had the past 14 months been pandemic-free, Dave and his team would have attended the Toymaster previews for spring/summer and autumn/winter ranges, followed by a trip to Hong Kong, then London Toy Fair, and then New York, meaning that by February he’d have had a solid idea of which lines he was going for, and exactly what was coming through. Without the shows, it’s been a very different kettle of fish, despite the best efforts of suppliers to bridge the gap with digital presentations. Brexit has also caused disruption, with stock from European suppliers in France and Germany particularly impacted. Despite all this, Dave has managed to inject tangible newness into the store, alongside familiar favourites, to create a selection that offers something for all. When we spoke to Dave on the Friday before reopening, even Toymaster’s very own Paul Reader (marketing manager) and Brian McLaughlin (retail manager) were onsite, flattening cardboard boxes and moving shelves, testament to the buying group’s helpfulness, not to mention versatility as shop fitters. If the engagement from consumers on social media before the opening of the new store was anything to go by, shoppers will have been heading to Midco in their (socially distanced) droves for a couple of weeks now. In fact, Dave tells us that the security guards at The Octagon had gone so far as to put up crowd barriers ready for the reopening, which although self-confessed pessimist Dave found bemusing, was nonetheless suggestive of the anticipated demand from shoppers. Midco’s online performance over the past year has been very strong, but Dave was clearly looking forward to welcoming real-life customers through the doors of his shiny new store on Monday 12th – and what a treat they were in for. As some readers may be aware, Dave’s beloved mum, Carol Middleton, sadly and unexpectedly

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passed away the same day he picked up the keys to the new Burton store. This was obviously a massive blow to Dave, who reminisced with us about the sort of person Carol was, and her huge influence on his success as a toy retailer. “I really can’t mention anything about this shop without mentioning my mum,” says Dave. “I’ve been putting a brave face on while getting this place ready, but it’s been hard. My mum had a way of motivating me to do stuff like no one else could, and although she could be quite tough, it was always tough love - she was willing to do anything to help anyone. My mum was actually the one who found my first Burton shop, and behind the scenes she was constantly helping me to do more and work harder. Without her, I genuinely wouldn’t be where I am now. My mum and dad also instilled in me my love of toys, always making sure I had the latest collectible to go with whatever I was collecting at the time. I owe them both a lot. I know my mum was proud of everything I’ve done and achieved, and I think she’d really love this new Midco Toys shop.” Since reopening, Dave says the performance of both the new Burton store and his other store in Derby have been beyond all expectations, with huge levels of demand at both and customers forming queues to get in. Sales of Pokémon aren’t slowing down, Squishmallows are selling like hot cakes, and Pushpoppers are too. Feedback on the new store, Dave tells us, has been overwhelmingly positive, and there’s a tangible buzz from shoppers about being able to return to the physical shopping experience. “After all that hard work, stress and heartache, it’s just great to be open and cracking on with things,” says Dave. “It couldn’t be going better. I’m chuffed.”


touchingbase

Supplier

support Toy World asked suppliers how they are backing up Toymaster members and other retailers as they reopen their stores and welcome customers back instore.

Nigel Deacon, Sales manager, Kids International Marketing

Ross Bradley, Sales director, Wilton Bradley As you would expect, there has been a big shift towards online retail, and we are trying our best to support our partners who are having to adapt their business during such an uncertain time. Key to our ongoing relationships is ensuring our retailers receive stock in a timely manner to help meet the uplift in consumer demand. We have a range of options for customers to view our new 2021 ranges including live video conferencing and video presentations. We are offering live video conference presentations from our showroom, allowing buyers to meet their salesman from the comfort of their own home, to review the products and ask questions. We can then send photo-quotes of the selected lines and samples when required. We have also created new recorded video presentations for every new product, which customers can watch at their own convenience. The videos were created by the WB buying team, who share their detailed knowledge and explain the specifications of each product line. While we are encouraging customers to meet virtually, the WB showroom is still open for customers to visit in person if they feel they cannot effectively review the products virtually. The showroom can be accessed directly without coming into contact with other areas of the business and is kept safe with increased cleaning and PPE. We would like to take this opportunity to send our well wishes to the industry and a great return to trading.

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We have taken an exceptional step to support independent retailers throughout 2021, and beyond. In 2020 we started supply of the Quercetti brand direct from the factory in Turin, Italy. This reflected our desire to make products available to the independent trade at the best possible price and, as a result, maximise retailers’ margins and minimise consumers’ costs. Brexit has made this more complex, so we sought a solution which would maintain great prices but avoid unnecessary logistical headaches. The solution has been to team up with Cuckoo, a long-established UK distributor, whom many of you will know. Our clients now supply Cuckoo on a consignment basis which enables Cuckoo and us to operate very leanly, keeping our delivered prices very attractive, and ensuring availability on quick turnaround at all times. This arrangement has also enabled us to add three new brands to our portfolio: Blendy Pens, Bubabloon & GeoPuzzles. The added advantage is that this wider offering brings down the MOQ per line significantly, making it easier for retailers to buy ‘little & often’. With many retail price points under £10, the majority focused under £20, along with great margins, we feel we and Cuckoo have an unbeatable offering for 2021 and beyond.


The fun is building!

A55001

A55002

The new Airfix Starter Sets

• Even easier to build, but even more to enjoy!

A00503

Manufactured under license from Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. F-14A TOMC AT™ is a trademark of Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation.

A00504

Produced under license. Boeing, F/A-18 Hornet, the distinctive logos, product markings and trade dress are trademarks of The Boeing Company.

A00505 TM & © 2021 PARAMOUNT PICTURES ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

- Stickers Included - Rolling Wheels - Movable Parts - Pre-Coloured - Push Fit J6017

J6037

J6040

®

LOCKHEED MARTIN®, F-35®, Lightning II®, associated emblems and logos, and body designs of vehicles are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Lockheed Martin Corporation in the USA and/or other jurisdictions, used under license by Hornby Hobbies Ltd.

Contact the sales office now!

Airfix.com

01843 233525 sales@hornby.com

Official Product


touchingbase

Jordan Sullivan, Director of Fun, Waboba

Vijay Advani, MD, Amaroni Independent retail partner support is at the very heart of the principles that Haba embraced when it began trading 80 years ago, and our ongoing priority and focus is to sustain this ethos. With the challenges that the start of 2021 has presented, we understand that independent retailers need to be reassured they have the ongoing support to help them successfully get through to the end of the year and beyond. To this end, we are working tirelessly to ensure retail partners have access to a steady, continuous flow of stock arriving in the UK as we understand this is essential to independent business sustainability. We also recognise that the purchase process needs to be user friendly, straightforward and easy to implement. As a result, we have been working hard to streamline and simplify the whole buying process. In a quest to bring the UK product range to life for retailers, we are very proud of the online and interactive catalogues we have created. These showcase Haba toys and games with eye catching colour and design, using vibrant images, entertaining product videos, essential product information and independent customer reviews. These catalogues can also be used as sales tools and they complement the other marketing assets which we are providing to help retailers. These include POS display stands, imagery, videos and links to independent reviews. Our new ‘product focus’ videos ensure we are also delivering regular and relevant ‘real world’ toy and game features for the benefit of both consumers and retail partners. These are now broadcast on a weekly basis and posted on our YouTube channel ‘Amaroni Today’ as well as other social media channels. While product availability, marketing tools and a robust purchase process are all vitally important, disparity of pricing and other inconsistencies between online retailers and bricks and mortar retailers can be a real challenge for our partners. We are taking multiple measures to level that playing field and this is reflected in our terms and conditions of supply and also in our endeavours to curtail the activities of online European sellers in the UK. Since January, we have removed over 3,000 listings by European sellers on Amazon UK. We also encourage our partners to try and maintain the RRP, and no third party sales websites are permitted.

We recently launched all of our new 2021 spring/summer impulse items, with an exciting range to get everyone excited to play outside together again. We are also planning special Q4 product launches, stocking filler promotions, and limited releases to keep the momentum going and help retailers end the year strongly.

Simon Prest, Sales director, Orchard Toys We know that it has been an incredibly hard year for independent retailers, so we will be running a number of promotions throughout the year to support them. For example, we’ll be sending out free gifts that shop owners can give away with each purchase, as well as a show deal for all qualifying orders at the AIS Show later in the year.

Simon Willott, National retail manager, Hornby Hobbies We have been very fortunate during the recent difficult times that our supply chains have remained fully operational, allowing us to continue servicing our independent retailers with the high-quality products that they expect from us. The sales team has remained in constant contact with all of its independent customers and is currently focused on those who have been unable to trade so far this year, offering support and assistance as they prepare for re-opening. Part of this support has been ensuring a timely flow of product and relevant POS, so consumers can once again enjoy the magical experience of their chosen hobby.

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/officialscalextric

@scalextric

For more information please call

01843 233525 or email us at /scalextric

sales@hornby.com

/officialscalextric

BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC . (s20) Formula E is a trademark of Formula E Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. Under licence by TSBA Group. Ford Motor Company Trademarks and Trade Dress used under license to Hornby Hobbies. Manufactured by Hornby Hobbies Ltd. © Universal City Studios LLC and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TV and Film Favourites

Hornby Hobbies Toys Catalogue available May 2021


touchingbase Clive Wooster, MD, Geomagworld We are looking forward to working with, and seeing, our independent retailers again soon. We appreciate they will be opening stores and will not quite know what the consumers will be looking for, so we need to be flexible. Our low carriage paid terms mean ordering little and often is easy. We always supply a POS kit so retailers can highlight our range in store, and also provide a play tray with loose stock so customers can play with the product. The key element is a promotional package that features our bestsellers at great prices which will run through the next quarter and be augmented by a pre-Christmas version a little later on, which will be perfect for getting back into stock.

Adam Moore,

Rob Eatwell, Sales director, Cheatwell At Cheatwell Games we have invested heavily in existing and new pocket money ranges, specifically designed with our independent customers in mind. With staycation the holiday buzzword, there will be a need for travel games like never before, and our new children’s and family card games fit the bill perfectly. Additionally, we have introduced an extensive range of value-for-money 500 piece and 1,000 piece jigsaws. The World’s Smallest Puzzle range has been extended by eight new styles while the Selfie and DoubleTrouble double-sided jigsaws have increased by 100%. We have lowered our carriage paid order value for the remainder of the year to help with restocking and we can offer a rapid delivery service. We will do anything that helps our customers out.

Marketing communications manager, Playmobil We will continue to support our independent retail partners in a number of ways throughout the remainder of 2021. This includes striking in-store point of sale available across a number of themes, including a range of window displays that really highlight and draw attention to new themes available in store. We are lucky that we have a dedicated display and merchandising team that are able to make a Playmobil area look fantastic and really help drive sales. Their years of experience and knowledge means they can create fantastic looking areas in our retail partners that are eye-catching and enticing for the consumer, not forgetting our large figure characters which make great theatre, and are a fan favourite for taking selfies. We are also really excited to announce the Playmobil Loyalty Card programme is back again this year. Consumers have really got behind this programme, which is available to all independent bricks and mortar stores. The take-up in the past has been fantastic and helps drive brand and store loyalty. Speak to your territory manager to find out how you can get involved with the programme this year.

Chris Lohmeyer, MD, DKB Toys & Distribution Independent retailers are at the heart of what we do as a business here at DKB Toys & Distribution, and our new website and registration portal reflects this as it is designed to make it easy for them to get everything they need, all in one place. We have a newly created field sales team, whose primary focus is to work with and support indies while ensuring a good supply of stock from some of the biggest US toy companies bringing new toy lines into the UK. Margin-rich lines will form an integral part of our business strategy going forward, including across our new Alex Brands ranges which we are bringing back to the UK this summer.

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BREAKING NEWS

Bringing back Classic lines to celebrate 100 Year Anniversary

Since 1921 Britains First ever Tractor The FORDSON Major was the first ever Britains tractor and makes a comeback for the 100 Years Celebration. This Limited Edition blue version pays tribute to

the original tractor and is fully diecast with rubber tyres and a lookalike toy driver. Its packaging is a twist on the original. Hidden amongst the 7500 units will Gold finished tractors!

John Deere 4020 with dual rear wheels

Ford 6600 Out in July

Originally available in the 1960's, the John Deere 4020 offered a number of improvements over the previous model including more horsepower, heavier rear axles, and a differential lock. As part of the centenary celebration, this new model is being brought back as 2WD with dual wheels. A must-have item for any Britains collector.

Thank you to all of our loyal farm retailers for being part of 100 Years of Britains Farm Toys success! Contact us today to find out more Phone 01392 281928 Email ukcustomerservices@tomy.com

@britainsfarmtoys Facebook.com/BritainsFarmToys


Sh w off Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com Wheeled toys have long been a specialism of the Wilton Bradley team, which boasts many years of experience in developing premium products. Now in over 20 countries around the world, the company has established itself as a serious and credible contender in the Wheeled Toy market. Since 2014, the Xootz brand’s mission has been to encourage kids to get out and explore in style. With this in mind, the brand has developed a multi-awardwinning range of go-karts, electrified drift trikes and ride-ons to offer hours of thrills for kids. Xootz also offers a range of premium officially licensed vehicles, from BMW to McLaren. A complete refresh was undertaken in 2020, centred around attitude and breaking boundaries. Since then, Wilton Bradley has been creating a buzz around its new Xootz Ride-On electric wheeled toy range. The company is not only working closely with the best possible factories to create officially licensed products exclusive to the UK market, but also closely with its customers to provide them with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The Xootz BMW X5 M Electric Ride-On makes a powerful statement. This officially licensed BMW ride-on features all the details of the fullscale powerhouse; a kidney grille, sculptured bonnet, opening doors and unmistakeably BMW front lights give this ride-on real presence for young car fans. A 3-speed gearbox and handy reverse gear mean youngsters can practise their driving skills, while those too young to drive alone can be assisted by their parents thanks to the included remote control. Ideal for use both indoors and out, the Xootz BMW X5 M Electric Ride-On makes light work of carpet, garden terrain or smooth tarmac thanks to its 4-wheel independent suspension. Beneath the bonnet are two motors powered by the rechargeable 12V battery, and an MP3 player with AUX input means kids can listen to their favourite tunes while they drive. The Xootz Elements Electric Scooter comes in either green or blue colourways and is ideal for kids looking to scoot instead of drive. The 12V battery gives this foldable scooter an impressive top speed of 8km an hour, and a range of 10km. LED wheels heighten visibility for even safer riding for kids aged six and over. Wilton Bradley’s Academy of Music range has benefitted from a makeover for 2021. The perfect starting point for any budding young musician, Academy of Music offers a premium introduction to the world of music for children wanting to take their first musical steps and has been designed to help kids overcome the difficulties of learning music on instruments designed for adults. Each instrument is specifically tailored to smaller hands, making them accessible to musicians as young as three years of age. The AOM T100 61-Key Keyboard features 200 tones and rhythms, five percussion settings (including animal sounds) and the ability to record musical creations. Learning is enhanced with a digital display and MP3 play feature, alongside volume/tempo controls. Power can be supplied via a cabled connection or batteries, for music on the go.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com | info.uk@imctoys.com IMC Toys unveils exciting new ranges and lines, plus extensions to some of its biggest brands, all ideally suited to the shelves of the UK’s independent toy retailers The bath-time doll range Bloopies introduces a new dimension to water play with Bloopies Fairies. There are 10 Fairy characters to collect, including a rare, limited edition doll. Each lives in a flower house and is only unveiled once children locate the butterfly key needed to open the petals. Once opened, the petals also reveal a play set for the fairy plus nine surprise accessories such as wings and wands. Kids can position the fairy in the middle of the flower or pop her into water to see her body light up. Following 2020’s successful UK launch of IMC’s new pet collectibles brand VIP Pets, autumn/winter will see the launch of new core lines and exclusive waves. VIP Pets and VIP Pets Mini Fans Colour Boost all share a passion for hair and have long rainbow coloured locks on which children can unleash their creativity and create the perfect looks. The Colour Boost VIP Pets and smaller Mini Fans doll ranges welcome new characters and looks for this year, while a refresh to the VIP Pets shampoo packaging introduces an easy-to-use character reveal function - an interactive tap that controls an iridescent curtain for repeat unveiling. The Mini Fans continue the unique water reveal feature. Both lines include hair salon play set features and accessories, plus hair colour chalks suitable for use on both the dolls and on kids themselves. Encouraging creativity and role-play, the dolls reflect the animated characters seen in the VIP Pets series on Kitoons. CelebriPets bring celebrity and bling to the VIP Pets stable with six exclusive characters to collect, based on some of the world’s most popular singers, plus a rare CelebriPet. Each is housed in a gold shampoo bottle play set. The characters, including Kelly Cherry, Madame Lala and Taylor Gift, are revealed by pressing the bottle pump to release the ‘shampoo’, which also unveils their hair salon play set. Like VIP Pets, each CelebriPet has 30cm long hair perfect for creating inspiring styles. They also come with gold-adorned accessories befitting their celebrity status. The Mega Pet Colour Boost styling head offers independent retailers a hero gifting option for the autumn/winter period. With 40cm of hair to style and fashion, children can also look forward to discovering 15 surprises perfect for inspiring their own creations. Once children have styled their Mega Pet, they can use the accessories to style their own hair.

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The Most Famous Magnetic Construction Toy in the World!

FOR AGES

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Sh w off Special Focus

Hornby A new range of characterised toy trains is hitting the market this summer. Playtrains, the latest toy creation from Hornby, allows children to start a special model railway adventure that they can develop, build, interact with and, ultimately, have bundles of fun with. Not just any toy train, each Playtrain has a name, face and personality, plus stories to tell, adventures to go on and friends to make. Kids can learn about Flash, Bolt and Thunder, the hero characters, via the Playtrains Portal. A one stop shop for all things Playtrains, the portal includes a Kids Zone featuring fun games and puzzles, character stories, personality profiles, educational activities, videos and much more. The core offering comprises a train set which comes complete with Flash the train, an oval track and TrakMat, a remote control, and a cardboard station and tunnel. Available alongside the set are train, coach and wagon packs as well as track packs which allow various track designs to be created. The accessories feature working lights and multiple sounds, while the trains have three speeds for both forward and reverse motion. Within each product pack is a collectible Playtrains token; once all are collected, kids can discover surprise prizes. All the details can be found via the Playtrains Portal, an ever-growing hub of toy train excitement.

Corgi 2021 is set to be an exciting year for Corgi, with new releases expected across a multitude of ranges and subcategories. Introduced at the end of 2020, Corgi Mascot Mumbles has wasted no time getting to work as an ambassador for young collectors. Originally released under the name Showcase, Corgi announced the introduction of Flying Aces, a range of fit-the-box die cast aircraft, in January. Perfect as a pocket money present, or as a gift for young aviation enthusiasts, each model comes with a display stand and decorated packaging featuring Mumbles. From WWII aircraft to modern jets, all models within the Flying Aces range make a great addition to playtime whilst also educating children and beginner collectors about historic aircraft and modern aviation. Later this year, Top Gun Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 hit Top Gun, is being released. Set over thirty years after the original, the movie follows Tom Cruise’s famous character, who is now a flying instructor training a new generation of pilots. Corgi is releasing a die cast twin set portraying the striking blue and black liveried F18 Hornet to mark the release of the movie, as well as Maverick’s personal P51D Mustang. Suitable for children age five and over, the twin set is an ideal way to introduce the younger generation to this iconic piece of film history. It also holds its own as a film and pop-culture collectible. New for 2021, the Smithsonian range of aircraft and space vehicles has breathed new life into the Corgi range with models such as Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega and the Wright Flyer. Modelled upon artifacts currently displayed by the Smithsonian institution, the range successfully combines education and discovery within each fit-the-box die cast replica, whilst remaining detailed and accurate in design. Although suitable for children aged 5+, the Smithsonian range of models would be a worthy addition to any collection and is an ideal introduction to the world of die cast

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Award Winner Get outside and explore with our best-selling and award winning outdoor toys!

5-in-1 Outdoor Measure-Mate™ Learn, explore and experiment with measurements in a new and exciting way! LSP 0339-UK

Award Winner GeoSafari® Jr. My First Microscope View anything at up to 8x magnification with this real working microscope, designed specifically for pre-schoolers. EI-5112

To order contact your Learning Resources Sales Manager call 01553 819380 email sales@learning-resources.co.uk www.learningresources.co.uk ©2021 Learning Resources Ltd.

GeoSafari® Jr. Kidnoculars® Explore the outdoors with our best-selling kid tough binoculars. EI-5260

Best Seller


Sh w off Special Focus Scalextric New for 2021 is the Micro Scalextric James Bond Race set, which offers endless racing fun with nine track layouts, an Aston Martin DB5 and a V8, plus the all-new lap counter which adds another dimension to the race. Kids can set the length of the race, up to a maximum of 50 laps; once the winner crosses the finish line, the ejector is triggered to make their opponent fly off the track. The Micro Scalextric range also includes a No Time to Die James Bond race set, as well as Batman vs. Joker and Batman vs. The Riddler sets. Also new for this year is the Drift 360 race set, which has a figure-of-eight track that allows racers to take on their opponents in a full-on, door-bashing side-by-side duel. Racers should take care at the crossroads, as the cars can make a 180 or 360 turn to confuse adversaries, or impress spectators by drifting into the bend and power-sliding out. This race set is ideal for those who love the thrill of a car chase that ends with a collision. The new Scalextric Formula E Spark Plug Race Set is controllable by iOS or Android smart device and features the next generation of Spark Plug. Billed as ‘Scalextric, but not as fans know it’, the Scalextric Spark Plug Formula E set can accommodate up to 12 players – two drivers and a team of five additional pit crew. Assigned an in-app pit crew position, including chief mechanic and lollipop, each pit crew member can deploy power ups by completing team mini games to win the pit crew challenge. This set will be available this summer and will benefit from a digital media campaign. Expanding on the success of the new Film and TV category introduced in 2020, Scalextric will also be producing the classic 1960s Batmobile, the DeLorean from Back to the Future 2, KITT from Knight Rider, the classic Reliant Robin from Only Fools and Horses, and iconic 007 vehicles.

Airfix & Quickbuild For 2021, Airfix welcomes its improved and simplified Starter Sets. Exactly what they say they are, and perfect for beginners, these improved models are easy to build thanks to fewer parts and easy-fit pieces. All Airfix Starter Sets come with everything kids need to complete the kit: pre-coloured plastic parts for easy coverage, paints, glue, a brush, and a painting guide. The guide does not have to be followed – creative free painting is encouraged. All planes have a bespoke stand for ‘in-flight’ display, so kids can show off their models with pride. The four new Starter Sets mark the beginning of a broader range to come. New to the Airfix Quickbuild range is the exciting F-35B Lightning II. For the first time in Quickbuild, this model comes with moving parts. The pre-coloured pieces simply push together, allowing kids to build an impressive model which can then be decorated with the included self-adhesive stickers. No paint or glue is needed to make these models look like the real thing, and once completed the joins are totally concealed. The possibilities offered by Quickbuild are endless, and the range is continually expanding with cars, aircraft, tanks, and helicopters. This year sees the release of Top Gun Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 hit Top Gun. The new movie picks up the story of pilot Maverick, played by Tom Cruise. To mark the event, Airfix has produced model kits of the F/A-18 Hornet as flown by Maverick’s pilots-in-training, as well as his very own P-51D Mustang. In addition to this, Airfix is also releasing Maverick’s F-14A Tomcat, the F5-E Tiger II, and the A-4 Skyhawk from the original Top Gun movie, creating a full collection of aircraft models for fans of the franchise to collect and build. All are 1:72 scale replicas of the real aircraft and are suitable for kids aged eight and over, making them an ideal project for Top Gun parents to build with their children.

Hornby Hobbies has produced a toy catalogue which features hero toy lines from its portfolio of brands. To get your copy, call 01843 233525 or email sales@hornby.com. Toy World 86


+44 (0)1253 766411 CasdonToysUK

CasdonToysUK

www.casdon.com

toys@casdon.com Casdon1946

Casdon Toys Ltd


Sh w off Learning Resources 01553 762 276 | www.learningresources.co.uk | sales@learning-resources.co.uk The new Big Feelings Pineapple from Learning Resources is a fun, hands-on way for young children to learn how people express emotions through facial expressions. Ideal for children aged 3-7, the pineapple comes with 26 changeable expression pieces including eyes, eyebrows, mouths and hands. Children use these pieces to create a variety of facial expressions on the pineapple, from happy to sad, and silly to serious. The pineapple is double-sided, allowing kids to create two expressions at once as they learn about opposites through playful learning activities. Once playtime is over, the pieces store inside the pineapple. The new PaperCraft range is ideal for kids who enjoy colouring and expressing their creativity through crafts. PaperCraft Fashion Parade is a spiral-bound notebook with 24 dolls and 160 outfits ready to colour in and style. The large, easy-to-colour dolls and outfit stickers stick (and unstick) for frustration-free design and display. Children can mix & match fashions and design their own custom combinations. PaperCraft Sweet Boutique combines crafting and pretend play as children colour and create outfits and model them on the set’s three double-sided paper dolls. Sweet Boutique comes with 100 colour-in, re-stickable stick-on clothing pieces and 40 reusable accessory stickers; kids simply colour a piece of clothing on one of 10 fashion pads, peel it off, and place it on one of the paper dolls. The box converts into a boutique play set ideal for pretend play, and the dolls and fashions store inside the box when playtime is over. This year, Learning Resources is launching over 100 new toys and games to support the company’s ongoing brand campaign, Building Someone Amazing. The aim of the campaign is to recognise the vital role parents and teachers play in helping children learn and grow, and to instil the message that toys from Learning Resources provide children with some of the blocks needed to build who they will become. All new product launches are being supported with an ongoing integrated awareness campaign, to include digital and print advertising, social media activity, collaborations with parenting and craft bloggers, a teacher-focused product seeding campaign, and PR activity. To support stockists, updated retail marketing material is available for download on the Learning Resources global Marketing Resource Centre.

Ravensburger 01869 363 830 | www.ravensburger.com New for spring/summer from the Swedish wooden railway brand Brio is the Battery-Operated Steaming Train. With its realistic yet safe-to-touch steam, this beautiful product is perfect for young train fans. Once it runs out of water, kids can simply fill the engine back up via the filling chimney, ready to take to the track once more. The popular falling marble logic game Gravity Maze, from ThinkFun, offers kids a marble and maze game in one. This gravity-powered logic game enhances reasoning skills and visual perception. Using the challenge cards provided, builders place towers strategically to build a path via which the marble can reach the target. Gravity Maze is a great way to empower minds through play. New additions in the Adult Puzzle range include the 99-piece puzzle moments. This gift line appeals to new puzzlers as well as more experienced consumers looking for a quick puzzling fix as they can be completed in as little as 30 minutes. Larger piece counts will see puzzlers enjoying Quirky Circus, a European map dating from 1841 with a contemporary circus twist, Puffinry, by Scottish artist Ailsa Black, and Matt Sewell’s Amazing birds. All these titles are UK commissions by Ravensburger’s Oxfordshire-based product development team. More exciting new additions come in the form of 1,500-piece+ ranges, including the 1,500-piece Hogwarts Map and Coastal Collage. Set to turn the gaming world upside down, the #UpsideDownChallenge game will launch in autumn. This brilliant and very different game makes even the easiest of challenges almost totally impossible, as players discover just how difficult writing names or pouring one cup of water into another can be. Guaranteed to bring the wow-factor to parties, #UpsideDownChallenge will keep families and friends entertained for hours. New launches from award-winning GraviTrax will expand the GraviTrax universe for 2021. Three exciting new extensions - Balls & Spinner, FlexTube and Dipper – will be joined in autumn by further product launches, all fully supported by a 360-degree marketing campaign. Launched in spring CreArt is a beautiful range of painting by numbers products based on a combination of traditional and modern styles. The range focuses on a selection of different animals, from cuddly bunnies and a striking Royal Horse to the most unusual of Best Friends. The range will suit children aged seven years and over.

Toy World 88


SAY HOLLOW TO AIRLYFT! Airlyft is a new indoor/outdoor glider that flies over 30 m! Its revolutionary, hollow shape is engineered for maximum lift as air shoots through the tunnel. SEE IT IN ACTION! Scan to watch video.

TO LEARN MORE Contact info@waboba.com. FOR ALL TRADE ENQUIRES Contact: sales@tkcsales.co.uk 01380 872950

VIRTUAL SHOWROOM Scan the QR code to get a closer look!


Sh w off Waboba 01380 872950 | www.waboba.com

Playmobil 01268 548 111

sales@tkcsales.co.uk

www.playmobil.co.uk

The latest addition to Waboba’s growing range of backyard games for 2021, Airlyft is a new gliding toy that offers impressive (and surprising) flight capabilities thanks to its hollow shape and lightweight fabric. Airlyft’s cylindrical shape has been tested and engineered for a maximum flight trajectory, resulting in flights of over 30 meters. Players will find the glider easy to throw far and launch high, with many ways to throw adding to the accessibility of this fun toy; anyone can throw it overhand or underhand by its ring or by its tail. As wind passes through its tunnel, Airlyft sometimes curves in the air – players should prepare for crazy catches as they throw it back and forth. Being soft to catch and easy to throw, Airlyft is a perfect outdoor toy for kids developing their hand-eye coordination. Waboba plans to introduce more items to the Airlyft range as it develops. Airlyft comes packed in a counter display with four assorted designs, while a handy QR code, printed on the display, links to the product’s YouTube video to show consumers how the product flies. Retailers are encouraged to offer a demo sample in-store, as Airlyft is safe and lightweight enough to throw indoors. Similar to Airlyft, the new Waboba Heads gliders, suitable for younger kids, come in an assortment of funny faces and look hilarious when flying. Waboba is known for putting a spin on classic games or finding new ways to get people outside to play all day without over-engineering its products. In 2005, the company invented balls that bounce on water, such as the Waboba Extreme and Waboba Surf, both of which remain a perfect pick-up line for the upcoming summer season. The balls skip on water just like a stone but are a much safer to play with and catch. In addition, new Moon Ball colours, Mini Moon Balls, and the new Wingman Pro silicone disk have already hit shelves and are taking the outdoor market by storm.

Playmobil’s highly anticipated Dino Rise range will be available online and in stores from this month. The new Playmobil-owned property takes dinosaur play to a whole new level. Children will be able to experience dinosaurs in full armour, working alongside their human friends to battle the Comet Corporation and its evil robots for possession of the mystical energy crystals. With an exciting animation on its way for later in the year and full media support throughout the year, this is a launch not to be missed. The Dino Rise toy range will be supported by several striking POS solutions to drive consumers to displays and engage kids in-store. Following the success of the first series, Novelmore is back with two fresh toy launches and a new world for the heroic knights to explore. From July, the ancient Sal’ahari Sands, home to the Skeleton Army and sworn enemy of the Wizards of the Violet Vale, will be available. The Playmobil Novelmore Knights Sal’ahari Sands - Skeleton Army Temple will include new features for the Playmobil universe; when placed inside the temple, the three special characters can be charged so they emit an eerie glow from their eyes, adding an exciting element to the world of Novelmore. The second series of the popular Novelmore animation will premiere on YouTube later in the year, further driving awareness of the brand and demand for product. Finally, Playmobil will be unveiling a new theme this October. Kids can journey to a magical world full of fairies, mythical trees and exciting characters with this engaging and adventurous addition to the Playmobil portfolio. The play world breaks from the classic notions of fairies and establishes a captivating story universe. Whether kids choose Forest Fairies, Crystal Fairies or Knight Fairies, they can begin a heroic journey side by side with their best fairy friends and powerful soul animals, all enhanced by innovative product features.

Kids International Marketing 07307 404600 / (+353) 86 023 0233 | www.cuckoo.ltd.uk Having focused on Quercetti in 2020 for UK retailers, Kids International Marketing (KIM) has now joined forces with Cuckoo to provide its customers with an enhanced supply chain. As a result, KIM is now able to offer GeoPuzzles, Chameleon Kidz Blendy Pens and Bubabloon, in addition to the Quercetti range. The GeoPuzzles range includes puzzles of the continents, as well as one of the world. The pieces are in the shapes of countries, making GeoPuzzles a proven product line that makes learning geography fun. Chameleon Kidz Blendy Pens are back. This fun toy, with its patented design, enables kids to blend two different coloured pens together to create a third colour. Six different pack sizes are available at RRPs from pocket money to sub-£20. Available in varying colours, Bubabloon balloons come inside a cotton cover, delivering a safe and unique sensory play experience for babies and infants. The product is also ideal for holidays since it takes up minimal space and is very lightweight. KIM continues to offer the Quercetti range. Italian manufacture keeps the product’s carbon footprint low and minimises incoming freight costs and lead-times. With demand for eco-friendly toys at an all-time high, PlayBio was a star line from Quercetti in 2020 and will continue into 2021. Quercetti also welcomes a raft of new introductions, notably its new Creativo range, which brings a new twist to some classic craft concepts. An impressive 90% of KIM’s spring/summer range retails below £20, keeping the company focused on delivering quality, affordable and educational toys. Cuckoo will commence deliveries for all these ranges this month. Finally, customers looking to import product direct for even better prices and margins can look forward to KIM’s Pugs at Play range of animated plush. This line consists of 23 different designs, from dogs that walk and bark to penguins and dinosaurs that sing and dance. There are even monkeys that play peek-a-boo, to bring smiles back to retail this year. For more information, UK based customers should contact KIM’s UK sales manager Nigel Deacon: nd101sales@gmail. com. McCabe Marketing & Sales (liam. mmsales@gmail.com) will continue to service retailers in Ireland.

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Sh w off Posh Paws 01268 567 317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk |sales@poshpawsinternational.co.uk Posh Paws Ragtales collection offers a high-quality range of toys that have been specially designed for the youngest of children to treasure forever. There is something for every child, from baby ranges that include rattles and teddy bears, to high quality wooden pull-along toys and beautiful Ragtag animals and elegant Ragdoll characters which toddlers and young children can snuggle up with and carry on their adventures. Every toy in this elegant and timeless collection is made with gorgeous, handpicked fabrics, the softest velour, handknitted clothing and using precision sewing techniques to ensure each companion lasts a lifetime. The entire Ragtales collection has been carefully created to accompany children on the journey through their early years, making sure each lovable character has been lovingly made and is full of charm, so little ones can draw inspiration from the heritage of English life.

H Grossman 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk | |sales@tobar.com Geomagworld 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld.com Geomag’s new Supercolor Line has welcomed three new 100% recycled items in piece counts ranging from 35 to 78, all at attractive price points. Made in Geomagworld’s Swiss hydro-powered factory, each of the new sets introduces an extra explosion of colour to the magnetic construction range. Recycled plastics lend themselves perfectly to the use of bold primary colours, with rods and panels in red, yellow, orange, blue and green offering a sustainable and eco-friendly option for retailers to add to their toy aisles. The 35-piece Supercolor Panels set contains 12 rods, 12 spheres and 11 plastic panels, while the 52-piece set comes with 16 rods and spheres, and 20 panels. The largest of the new sets, the bumper 78-piece Supercolor Panels set provides young builders with 28 rods, 20 spheres and 30 plastic panels, allowing plenty of experimental construction play. Geomag has also announced the addition of the Geomag Always With You boxes, which allow magnetic construction fans to take their Geomag rods and spheres with them, and keep everything neat after playing. The new boxes, produced with 100% recycled plastics, are available in all the new Classic, Panels and Mechanics recycled sets. Transparent so kids can see the colours of the rods inside, each box is pocketsized and sturdy enough for travel anywhere kids go.

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HGL is bringing its Pogo Ball, which allows kids to bounce on a ball rather than the traditional spring, under the Tobar brand. Other outdoor innovations include a full Sports Day Set, a new Rainbow Space Hopper, a Pirate Pop up play ball pit, and new outdoor play tents in Unicorn, Dinosaur and Colour Your Own themes. All pack away in a handy zipped bag. The Canadian traditional style tent offers more play space and is joined by a light-up play tent. HGL also introduces a new pop-out caterpillar shaped tunnel, the Bug Tunnel, which debuts alongside two new pop-up tents with tunnels in Unicorn and Dinosaur designs. More HGL branded outdoor lines will include a selection of outdoor games, from table tennis and bowling to dodge ball and beanbag throwing. Ozbozz introduces new scooters including the Tie Dye and the Rainbow folding scooters, both with light-up wheels. Torq Viper and Torq Ruff are designed for older kids, whilst the Light Up Twist scooter, in two colourways, is ideal for younger children. Ozbozz’s skateboarding range includes neon plastic skateboards in three sizes: 17.5”, 22” and 27”. Attractively priced quality wooden skateboards come in sizes 24”, 28” and 31”. Tobar Tie Dye kits of various sizes will be joined by Aqua Jelly. This innovative set allows kids to make squishy characters and comes complete with brightly coloured jelly and shaped moulds in Under the Sea and Unicorn themes. In the science category, Tobar is introducing more magic crystal sets including a light-up Crystal Set and an Extreme Science Set featuring seven fun experiments. Best-selling pocket money items include new additions to the Megasaurs range. The Dinosaur Head Shaped Tubs contain a collection of mini dinosaurs and are available in two sizes, alongside hand puppet dinosaurs and latex figures plus a new 22-piece gift set. HGL Pushpoppers is the craze to watch this year; demand has been phenomenal and new designs arrive in the coming weeks. Tangle Pets and Tangle Charms also welcome new characters to the range including Sea Life Pets. New lines from Zuru are also on the way including Robo Alive Dino Wars, Poppy the Booty Shaking Pug, Pet Shop Surprise, Itty Bitty Prettys Hair Angel Surprise, and Vlad and Niki Superhero Surprise.


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Sh w off Cheatwell Games 02392 524098 | www.cheatwell.com | sales@cheatwell.com Cheatwell’s successful range of value-for-money family card games has been strengthened this year with six new titles. Joining the popular Snap and Pairs series, Go Nuts and Go Oink, are Flip-Pix, Snap Fit, Dino Dash, Hand Jive, Extreme Trumps and Silly Safari. All these card games are available as solids or assortments and if retailers order three styles, they will receive a free display. Flip-Pix is a ‘twist ‘n’ shout’ rapid reaction category game for all the family. Players pair a letter with a picture then flip, before pairing a picture with a letter and flipping again. Snap Fit, meanwhile, is an all-action card game that gets kids up and active. When a player spots the matching cards and shouts ‘Snap Fit!’, everyone else must do the action shown on the cards for a count of 10 seconds. Whether it’s jumping, hopping or running on the spot, if players can name it, they’ll be doing it. A cretaceous card game that’s simply ‘prehysterical’, Dino Dash challenges players to think quick and react fast as they attempt to play out all their dinosaur cards and win the game. Falling meteors will slow each player down in this hilarious matching game guaranteed to ensure the survival of the fittest. Hand Jive is a manic miming game. Just like in charades, players must act out a wacky mix of words and actions, but there’s a twist – they can only use their hands and nothing else. To win this game, mimers must button their lips and let their fingers do the talking. Extreme Trumps is jam-packed with cards that compare and contrast anything with everything. Intriguing questions such as ‘Does the air in a hot air balloon weigh more than an oak tree?’ and ‘Does a jumbo jet cost more than a bullet train?’ are joined by fascinating facts, figures, and stats for some truly scintillating gameplay fun. In Silly Safari, a fun family game of matching and observation, players will discover that one of the animals on their safari is missing. It’s up to them to spot what is and what’s not where it should be. Cheatwell’s collectible World’s Smallest Jigsaw Puzzle series has grown exponentially, meaning there are now 21 styles to choose from. These impressive 1,000-piece puzzles are just A3 in size once completed, making them a tough challenge for even the most seasoned puzzlers. Retailers can pick and mix to assemble their own assorted cartons; according to Cheatwell, more choice means more sales.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | www.goldenbeartoys.com | customerservices@ goldenbeartoys.co.uk

Tomy 01392 281927 | www.tomy.com As Europe’s oldest specialist in agricultural toys and collectibles, Britains is celebrating a major milestone in 2021, marking 100 years since the launch of its first ever farming model in 1921. The brand’s celebrations are set to make 2021 its most exciting year yet, with a host of new toys and farm replicas to excite farming enthusiasts and kids alike. Kicking-off the 2021 celebrations, the brand has expanded its global licensed offering with the introduction of Claas, one of the biggest licensees in the world. This new partnership is key for Britains and will see the launch of Claas Xerion 5000 this spring, followed by the launch of Class Jaguar 980 Forage Harvester this autumn/winter. The harvester comes with an Orbis 900 header featuring authentic details. To further mark Britains’ 100th anniversary, the brand will also be launching two new additions to its Heritage collection this autumn/ winter: the John Deere 4020 with dual rear wheels, and the Ford 6600. Britains is also set to relaunch the Fordson Major Tractor, the very first tractor model introduced to the brand’s portfolio in 1948. One of only 7,500 units, this exciting new addition will be available from this July. To help drive demand for the product, Britains will be hiding 100 gold-finished tractors within the 7,500 range for avid fans and collectors to find. These engaging and nostalgic additions to the Britains range will help the brand continue to grow throughout 2021 and beyond.

Golden Bear has launched a new pre-school range which is sure to provide plenty of fun and giggles for children and adults alike. Windy Bums are cuddly plush characters that wiggle across the floor while giggling and making hilarious trumping sounds as they move, and are perfect to help preschoolers with movement and exploration. There are three different Windy Bums characters to collect – Panda, Monkey and Unicorn – and each has friendly oversized features and their own personality with cheeky facial expressions and their own unique trumping and giggling sounds. Windy Bums are suitable for ages 10 months plus. Another new range recently launched by Golden Bear is Zipstas; fashionable and collectible mini backpacks, which provide double the fun as they transform into cute, cuddly plush toys. Developed from the mini backpack catwalk trend, the first series of Zipstas offers six different backpack designs for kids to choose from. Each bag unzips and turns inside out to reveal a cute plush unicorn, panda, koala, narwhal, watermelon or cupcake and the design on the front of the bag gives clues as to which character will be revealed once the backpack is unzipped. With high quality design, Zipstas are small, compact, and lightweight with sturdy straps and are perfect to take on holidays, day trips or to school. Zipstas are available now and are also suitable for ages 10 months plus. Both are Golden Bear’s own IP and were set to be showcased at the ToyMaster show this May.

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by d l o

UK Customers contact Nigel Deacon on:

07307 404600 nd101sales@gmail.com

S

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Customers in Ireland contact McCabe Marketing & Sales on:

00 44 (0)7770 661461

00 353 86 023 0233 liam.mmsales@gmail.com

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Sh w off Orchard Toys 01953 859539 | www.orchardtoys.com This spring, Orchard Toys adds three new lines to its range. The two new games and activity jigsaw puzzles champion the company’s values of education and fun, and offer the usual Orchard twist. Whilst the team is disappointed that it can’t showcase these lines at the Toymaster show, Orchard is confident that these additions are a great way to add newness to the shelves of indie retailers. Wiggly Words is a brainteasing dominoes-style word game for children aged six and over. Kids race to play all their wiggly worm cards by joining heads with tails to spell words. Doublesided cards mean there are multiple ways to make different words in a wiggly domino line, with hilarious Orchard Toys characters including a worm wearing a sombrero, a David Bowie lookalike and even a superhero. This fun and educational game lets kids practise spelling words they already know while also learning new ones, making it a sure-fire hit with Orchard fans. Dinosaur Opposites features 20 two-piece puzzles with friendly dinosaur characters to match. The chunky pieces show opposites such as ‘slow/fast’, ‘first/last, ‘smooth/bumpy’. Once the puzzles are complete, they can be used to encourage conversation with young children. Jumble Jungle is a wild introduction to early game play, turn taking, matching and memory, all with an exciting twist. In this simple pairs game, players race to collect the most animals while watching out for the Cheeky Cheetahs who could pinch their cards. Suitable for children aged between two and five, Jumble Jungle is the perfect first game for pre-schoolers.

Theo Klein (49) 6345 4080 | www.klein-toys.de | S.Staerz@klein-toys.com

DKB Toys & Distribution 07813 725 480 | www.dkbtoys.com Independent retailers are a key area of focus for DKB Toys & Distribution. The company has dedicated field sales personnel in place to build on existing strong retailer relationships as the company expands its range offerings for 2021. With competitive margins across the board, the opportunity to request the design of specific toys made exclusively for the UK market, and the help of the DKB global contact network - plus FOB opportunities available across the range - DKB’s offering should not be missed. Feedback from independent customers on the re-launch of Alex Global Products and the introduction of Crazy Forts into the UK has been very positive, highlighting the competitive pricing structure and product offering. Stock of key Alex Global Products bath toy lines will be available in the UK this summer, with some refreshed classic favourites seeing a welcome comeback this year. ABC Stickers in the Tub comes with 26 colourful over-sized stickon letters that encourage children to develop their knowledge of letters and spelling while in the bath. A drip-dry mesh hanging bag, which affixes via suction cups, offers a handy storage solution. A variation on the sticker theme, the Beep Beep Stickers in the Tub pack allows children to create a stick-on roadway using the multiple foam pieces. Various vehicles enhance the imaginative bath play, including an ice cream truck, bus, motorbike, school bus and racing car. Finally, creating watery works of art on tiles has never been easier with Draw in the Tub Crayons, complete with six washable bathtub crayons and a duckshaped sponge for wiping clean.

Theo Klein’s portfolio covers almost all toy categories including outdoor, dolls and role-play, with themes such as professions, household, kitchens, shopping and DIY providing a raft of rewarding play experiences for kids. New for summer from Theo Klein is the Bosch Tool Truck Set with Ixolino Screwdriver. In a 1:24 scale, this impressive truck set offers kids a variety of play patterns with different assembly options thanks to its multiple parts. Young builders can create a compact truck for take-along play, a heavy-duty transporter, or an extra-long lorry up to 70 cm in length for the ultimate construction experience. The removable toolbox, a trailer, a crane and a forklift with pallets provide additional options for building and playing with the truck, while the included Bosch Ixolino screwdriver is the perfect tool for assembling and disassembling the parts. Adding to Theo Klein’s portfolio for vehicle play fans, the Bosch Car Service Helix Parking Garage features an innovative helix-lift. Kids can move the toy cars up to the individual parking levels by manually turning the helix, while engaging light and sound effects make the downhill drive even more exciting. The two cars included in the set can be directed along different routes via several points. For a realistic driving experience, the Helix Parking Garage also includes a petrol station with two standard petrol pumps and two e-charging stations for the cars to visit.

Toy World 96


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licensing

world

CONTENTS

May 2021

101 Introduction

104 Licensing World

112 Feature: Hot Properties

122 Q&A: Pokemon

FOR KIDS

EVERY

FOR LICENSING O get in touch – consumerprod

124 Q&A: Pocketwatch

128 Feature: Character Licensed Merchandise

Toy World 98


Licensing World

The (licensing) times are Publisher John Baulch explores the evolving licensing landscape and looks at what is driving the current increase in sales of licensed toys.

F

or the introduction to our previous Hot Properties feature, which appeared in the January issue of Toy World, I wrote about how the pandemic had impacted the licensed merchandise market in 2020. Five months on from writing that article, many of the same challenges and opportunities remain, while a picture is beginning to emerge as to what might lie ahead for the remainder of the year. On the plus side, just as we experienced in 2020, toy sales have continued to be robust in the first quarter of 2021 – year to date, sales are up 7%, while licensed sales have increased by a healthy 16%, accounting for 29% of toy sales, the largest percentage we’ve seen for some time. So, while some licensors are grappling

a changin’

with challenging sales through certain retail channels (I can’t imagine the past year has been a vintage one for apparel sales), and while others have had to cope with the loss of revenue via the box office, at least the toy retail market remains strong, delivering healthy numbers for those licensors with properties in the kids’ space. Drilling into the detail gives us a clearer picture of what is currently driving the increase. For example, according to NPD data, licensed toys accounted for £37m of sales in March, 27% of the total UK toy market. Pokémon was the top-performing property, which is no great surprise, based on recent conversations with retailers both here in the UK and across the globe. The launch of the new Shining Fates expansion has exceeded sky-high expectations, as Midco Toys’ Dave Middleton explains in this month’s article on the opening of his new store in Burton: “Pokémon has been phenomenal. I released a video on the Shining Fates expansion, to let consumers know that they could order it by phone on the Friday it launched. The phone did not stop ringing from the minute the shop opened until 7pm that evening. We limited sales to one of each SKU per customer, so they just bought one of everything which added up to around £240. Honestly, it was staggering.” We caught up with Pokémon EMEA licensing director Mathieu Galante to hear more about the company’s plans for 2021, the brand’s 25th anniversary. You can read what he had to say on page 122. Evergreen classics Star Wars and Barbie have also continued to perform exceptionally well during the first quarter of 2021. It’s also worth noting that four of the top 10 properties are either proprietary Lego brands (Friends, City, Star Wars) or brands largely driven by Lego ranges (Harry Potter), while the top 10 gaining properties – with the exception of Barbie and Pokémon – all revolve around the brickbuilding behemoth. As such, it could be reasonably construed

Toy World 101

that the increase in sales of licensed merchandise in the toy space so far in 2021 is being heavily driven by Lego. Great for Lego, great for retailers of Lego and great for those licensors who have licensed ranges being developed by Lego – but what is happening in the rest of the licensing space across the kids’ market? We have yet to see many new movies being launched, and while the cinema release schedule remains fluid and a little lighter than it would be in a traditional year, there are still a number of new films which could make a decent impact as the year progresses. I am excited to see the reaction to Space Jam, Tom & Jerry, Spirit Untamed, Paw Patrol The Movie and several other new movies when they finally reach the big and/or small screen over the coming months.


Licensing World

However, as we saw in 2020, the reduction in major movie events has created an opportunity for other brands to grow their share or gain a strong foothold in the market. Licenced ranges based on classic toy lines such as Barbie, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Nerf and My Little Pony have seen sales increase significantly over the past year, while the L.O.L. Surprise! phenomenon has translated perfectly into a broad and successful licensing programme. With each of these properties, licensed merchandise perfectly complements the core toy range, providing retailers with valuable incremental sales opportunities. In addition, brand new toy hits such as CoComelon and Love, Diana have been swiftly followed by a broad selection of licensed merchandise, capitalising on the huge viewing numbers being delivered by YouTube and other streaming platforms. No longer is a major movie or linear TV the only way to generate buzz and excitement - as pocketwatch’s Danny Spronz points out in our excusive interview on page 124: “We believe that YouTube has absolutely become the best way to get content and messaging in front of kids. At best, the linear model was creating 26 half hour episodes a year, and kids had to tune in at a specific time to watch. The Kids Diana Show YouTube channel releases content three times a week, which kids can watch whenever they want. We looked at Nielsen data in the US during Q1 of 2020 and were amazed by the results. Ryan’s World drew more unique viewers in the US than any

linear TV channel, and Diana’s channels were almost as big as Disney and Nickelodeon – and the US isn’t even her biggest market.” Elsewhere, gaming licences are once again coming to the fore: Among Us has generated a huge buzz since it was announced earlier this year that Toikido, Darran Garnham’s new toy venture, had secured global master toy rights to the property, while Moose has just been unveiled as the master toy partner for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. Both games appeal to a younger demographic than many other video games, and so align perfectly with the toy market – suffice to say that expectations for both ranges are high, and I’m looking forward to seeing the games brought to life in toy form. And while the times really are “a changin’” in so many ways, naturally, some things never change. During unpredictable times, licensors, licensees and retailers often fall back on tried and tested properties. Enduring classics such as Batman, Harry Potter and Beano are safe havens for all concerned, with a multi-generational fanbase and instant recognition amongst consumers. Indeed, evergreen brands are well-represented over the following pages: this issue showcases exciting new launches based on Thunderbirds, Thomas and Friends, Fireman Sam, Sonic and many others. The toy market has always been a pivotal one for the

Toy World 102

licensing community, and that isn’t changing either. Indeed, we continue to see toy companies which haven’t previously been active in the licensing sector deciding to get involved and launching new ranges - notably Melissa and Doug, which recently signed a deal with Viacom to launch ranges based on Paw Patrol and Blue’s Clues. Toy retailers are also looking to suppliers outside the traditional toy market when they put together their licensed merchandise offering: this issue features leading suppliers of dress up costumes, greeting cards, stationery, fashion jewellery and homewares amongst others. These suppliers not only give toy retailers the ability to broaden their selection and offer their customers something a little different, but crucially they also often deliver higher margins, which allows retailers to achieve that all-important margin balance across their licensed product selection. So, while challenges remain when dealing with elements of the licensing community (the notoriously labyrinthine approval process employed by certain licensing companies – ‘marketing prevention’ as we sometimes refer to it – has given us a few sleepless nights as we put this issue together), the fortunes of the licensing and toy communities will always be inextricably linked. It’s a truly symbiotic relationship, and long may it prosper.


BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics. (s21)


Licensing World Moose Toys signs master toy deal for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout The hugely popular game Fall Guys:Ultimate Knockout is to be brought to life with a collection of toys and collectibles from Moose Toys in partnership with Mediatonic and Devolver Digital. Moose is the master toy licensee and will create a collection that supports the multiplayer game. A breakout success upon its initial release, Fall Guys launched in August 2020 where it attracted 11m players on Steam platform (PC) and, according to PlayStation Europe, became the most downloaded PlayStation Plus game of all time on a global basis. Fall Guys will also be releasing on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. In the game, dozens of contestants compete as colourful jelly beans playing together online in a mad dash through rounds of escalating chaos until one victor remains. “We are honoured that Moose was chosen to feed the desire of the game’s worldwide fans to have the game brought to life in the form of toys and collectibles,” said Joe Smith, senior director of global marketing, licensed brands, Moose Toys. As part of the deal, Moose Toys will create a full range of Fall Guys toys including figures, collectibles, premium plush and more. Additional elements about the range will be released closer to the launch. “We’re delighted to see Fall Guys come to life in a physical form,” commented Dave Bailey, co-founder, Mediatonic. “We’re honoured that Moose Toys is helping us to create a fantastic range of toys and we hope our fans will love these real-life jelly beans just as much as we do.” “Moose is a pioneer in collectibles and its track record of bringing to life popular properties makes the company the ideal partner to bring the world of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout to fans everywhere,” said Fée Heyer, head of global licensing, Devolver Digital. “We’re excited to collaborate on a range of Fall Guys with Moose and its talented team.” Fall Guys joins an impressive list of recent licensing partnerships for Moose Toys including Space Jam: A New Legacy, Heroes of Goo Jit Zu DC and Fortnite.

Rubies secures dress-up rights for Oddbods One Animation has secured a deal with Rubies Masquerade UK for its animated pre-school series Oddbods. Under the partnership, Rubies has the dress-up rights for Oddbods characters across the UK, EMEA and South East Asia. Set to launch in AW21, Rubies will create a range of children’s costumes which is aligned with the latest Oddbods content and brings in key elements of the popular series, including both a Fuse and Pogo costume. Rob Spindley, SVP Commercial Development USA & EMEA at One Animation, said: “Rubies is internationally renowned for its high-quality costumes. We know the talented team will capture the quirks and individuality of the Oddbods’ characters and bring them to life through a colourful dress-up collection. Whether dressing up to play with friends, for a fun occasion or simply to watch their favourite episodes at home, we look forward to giving fans a chance to become one of the Oddbods gang.” Tracey Devine-Tyley, head of Licensing & Portfolio at Rubies, added: “We are excited to be bringing these fun and quirky characters to life.” Oddbods is a global, non-dialogue comedy featuring seven quirky but charming characters. The series has 28b views across digital platforms, and 25m subscribers on YouTube. In the last five years, it has been nominated for more than 20 international awards, including three Emmy nominations for Best Kids’ Animation. The property has an extensive footprint across retail, gaming and theme parks that include strategic partnerships with Amazon, Walmart, Google, SEGA and China Media Capital.

Character Options signed as master toy partner for Morphle in EMEA and Australia With over 300 episodes broadcast via YouTube and Netflix globally, as well as other platforms, My Magic Pet Morphle is said to have built a following of over 18m subscribers. Moonbug Entertainment is an entertainment company providing educational programming for children. Its popular kids’ line-up includes CoComelon, Blippi, Little Baby Bum and My Magic Pet Morphle. In My Magic Pet Morphle, the titular Morphle is an energetic red creature who can morph into anything: a puppy, a giant truck, a dinosaur or anything that Mila’s mind can imagine. Mila’s father runs a magic pet store, filled with quirky pets who each has their own unique magic powers, and he has gifted Mila the most magic pet of all, Morphle. She shows him everything she knows about the world, and in particular how to have fun. The signing of Character Options as master toy partner will see the company produce Morphle branded playsets, plush, vehicles, figures and bath toys, as well as dough. Commenting on the new partnership, Jon Diver, Joint MD of The Character Group plc, said: “As the nature of the lead character, Morphle, is to morph into many different things, it gave us so much scope for toy development. As a result, we’re investing heavily in the brand.” Product development and marketing plans are already underway, and the range will launch in Q4 2021 with a full EMEA roll out in 2022.

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Licensing World Sutikki welcomes trio of new hires to leadership team Sutikki has announced the appointment of three seasoned executives, Jo Redfern, Anthea Morrisey and Danielle Davies, to further bolster its dynamic leadership team. Following the new hires, the company is now looking to significantly accelerate the growth of its brand portfolio and says it will also make substantial investment in new acquisitions and creative opportunities throughout 2021 and beyond. “I am delighted to welcome Jo, Anthea and Danielle to the Sutikki leadership team,” commented CEO, Hannah Mungo. “They are all hugely accomplished professionals who bring a wealth of knowledge based upon their experience of shaping the success of some of the most prolific entertainment franchises of all time. I look forward to combining all of our respective talents to drive the company forward to what I’m sure will be a very bright future.” Jo Redfern joins as Sutikki’s global brand director and will be charged with leading the brand development function across the globe, creating and delivering franchise strategies that support the significant growth of Sutikki’s portfolio of IP. Jo has more than two decades of experience in kids’ TV and entertainment properties and has a keen eye for brand planning honed through past experience with BBC Children’s & Education, The Walt Disney Company and WWE. Danielle Davies has been named new global content strategy and partnerships director. Danielle brings a wealth of experience including working at Discovery Kids, along with positions at the BBC and Viacom and has a firm grasp on international territories and established and emerging platforms. Meanwhile, Anthea Morrissey has been named the company’s new global creative and product development director, responsible for defining the creative and product development strategy across the globe for each Sutikki IP. Anthea’s career includes roles at Walker Books, HIT Entertainment, Warner Bros, NBC Universal and eOne, where she set up the creative function and worked globally across Consumer Products, Publishing, Live Events and Themed Attractions. This news follows the announcement late last year regarding the appointment of Hannah Mungo as CEO and Simon Philips as Sutikki’s newest board member, alongside Frank Patterson, Brett Coker, Jim Garrett and Scott Greenberg.

Two in 1 Direct unveils new licensed segment from Kangaru Having recently confirmed that he would be managing and distributing Kangaru Toys’ UK business, Two in 1 Direct’s Paul Fogarty has announced a new licensed segment from the company. Kangaru, which produces scented stationery products, toys and activities, is making its UK debut at an exciting stage of the company’s development. Kangaru has confirmed a new licensing programme, with a host of iconic food and confectionery brands already on-board in North America, including Chupa Chups, Mentos and Kelloggs cereals. With this series of licensing partnerships, Kangaru hopes to tap into the current food licensing trend and, in doing so, reinvigorate the craft and stationery categories. Key characteristics of these instantly recognisable brands - the shapes, scents and colours- will be used to bring the collection to life. Joe DiPalma, Kangaru’s founder and CEO, has spent the last year applying a licensed strategy to this new product development in order to capitalise on top selling brands. Speaking of the company’s plans for its licensing programme, he said: “Over the coming year, we plan to expand the licensed products into the UK and Europe, South America and Asia. Where the UK is concerned, we’ve been working with Paul at Two in 1 to better understand the opportunities within the local market. He’s been drawing on his vast experience in toys and the children’s entertainment business, as well as his impressive ability to customise products and licensing for customers, to really help tailor our licensed offering for the UK.” Paul added: “We’ve seen the foodie craze hit the toy aisle, and now we are able to introduce it to the stationery and craft aisle. Something we’re particularly excited about is the opportunity to customise this line of products to suit our retailers’ unique requirements. We’re going to be working closely with our retail partners over the coming months to deliver a collection that both appeals to customers and meets their individual needs.” To find out more, contact Paul directly at Paul@allin1products.com.

Wow! Stuff signs global rights for Love, Diana Continuing its top tier pre-school licence acquisitions, Wow! Stuff has acquired the global rights for the Love, Diana brand. With over 4.4b monthly views on YouTube and over 180m active subscribers, Love, Diana licensed merchandise is already selling fast at retail. In keeping with its guiding mantra of ‘Great Brands Brought to Life’, Wow! Stuff will be adding its own Wow factor to key items used by Diana in her series, for fans of the hit show to enjoy at home. The range will launch in the summer. Kenny McAndrew, director of Product Development at Wow! Stuff explained: “Kids Diana Show and the Love, Diana brand perfectly complement our leading tier 1 pre-school brands. We’ve added our Wow point of difference to Diana’s favourite key props, utilising our product development team which has scientists and engineers at its core, all of whom love creating that magical Wow factor in toys.” Wow! Stuff will be embedding its Magic-Light Technology into the Love, Diana brand’s flagship item, the Magical Wand Hairbrush, as used by Diana in the series to transform into her animated persona, the Princess of Play. This will allow children to re-enact what they see Diana doing during her magical on-screen adventures. Other flagship props have been developed into products by Wow! Stuff’s tech team, including the Light Up Hair Bows featured on every Love, Diana Adventures episode, plus Diana’s Secret Password Journal, a voice activated electronic journal with its own secret compartment. Danny Spronz, managing director EMEA, pocket.watch, who co-led the deal alongside Stone Newman, chief revenue officer, was delighted with the signing and said: “Wow! Stuff never ceases to amaze the industry with its ability to create wholly bespoke products that deliver a real ‘Wow!’ to kids. The team’s innovation and ability to engineer really fantastic products, on brand and in universe, aligns with our aim to ensure Love, Diana brand merchandise stands out from a crowded market sector”.

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Licensing World BLE opens applications for 2021 Retail Mentoring Programme Retailers are invited to apply for a place on Brand Licensing Europe’s 2021 Retail Mentoring Programme. Thanks to the organisers offering a fully virtual as well as hybrid option this year, invitations to take part in the free-to-attend, CPDaccredited course are being extended to retailers from Europe as well as the UK for the first time. Applications will remain open until Friday 28th May. Anna Knight, VP of Licensing, Informa Markets, said: “The Retail Mentoring Programme offers European retailers the chance to better understand every aspect of brand licensing and provides them with all the tools needed to successfully get branded consumer products onto store shelves.” The BLE Retail Mentoring Programme is now in its 11th year and retailers from Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Selfridges, Halfords, Asda George, Ann Summers, River Island, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Toymaster, The Entertainer and Morrisons are among hundreds of alumni. The programme is delivered through a series of seminars, workshops and 1-2-1 consultancy sessions. Anna added: “With the growing importance for retailers to stand-out, the programme covers everything from identifying new trends, finding and securing the right partners and suppliers, and driving a great customer experience through branded products. It means so much to us that we’ve been able to support over 400 retailers on the programme over the last 11 years, and we’re really excited we can now welcome European retailers to join us for 2021.” Detailed information on the schedule of events and the benefits that delegates will derive from the programme are available at www.brandlicensing.eu (click on ‘Learn’), where retailers can also apply for a free delegate place on the programme.

eOne announces new content plans for Peppa Pig Hasbro’s global content studio, eOne, has outlined a new content plan for Peppa Pig which confirms that 104 x 5” episodes have been greenlit for production, ensuring a continuous pipeline of fresh content through to 2027. The addition of this new animated content will take the total number of episodes in the Peppa Pig catalogue to an incredible 485. “As demand for Peppa Pig remains as strong now as it’s ever been, we couldn’t be more excited to announce that additional new episodes are underway,” said eOne’s Rebecca Harvey, EVP Global Brand and Marketing at eOne Family & Brands. Animation studio Astley Baker Davies (ABD), the original creators of Peppa Pig, will work closely with eOne to transition creative production duties to British animation studio Karrot. The animation style, music and voice talent will remai uncged. eOne says it remains committed to producing fresh Peppa Pig content that will continue to resonate with each new generation and that will underpin the long-term future of the property. Key talent from ABD has been tapped to join Karrot, maintaining continuity and bringing valuable knowledge and experience of making the show over many years. Jamie Badminton, series producer at Karrot said, “It’s a giant honour to be continuing the legacy that Astley Baker Davies has created. We will remain faithful to its vision and look forward to being part of Peppa Pig’s future, enduring success.” eOne continues to drive growth for Peppa Pig with investment in new content, fresh consumer product lines and wide-reaching brand marketing plans. Series 9 kicks off this spring with a brand-new four-part US special, followed by a further 22 new episodes that will roll out globally throughout 2021. Inspired by these new episodes, the theme of ‘Peppa Adventures’ will extend into the retail debut of the first ever global toy line from Hasbro. The brand’s impressive digital footprint also continues to expand this year with the release of a second music album in July, new content on the official YouTube channel and new Audio Stories for families to enjoy on-the-go. In the UK, a partnership between Peppa Pig and Team GB will leverage excitement around the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. More recently, plans for a brand new Peppa Pig theme park in Florida’s Legoland have just been announced, and the attraction is set to open its doors in 2022.

Merger with Abysse Corp brings new opportunities for GB eye GB eye says it is looking forward to the opportunities brought by its merger into the Abysse Corp on 1st March. The global presence of Abysse Corp combined with GB eye’s extensive experience and market knowledge within the UK will, it says, strengthen the common goal to create the best licensed fan focused products and gifts in the market. Licensing and innovation is at the heart of what GB eye does and it will continue to develop and launch many new lines over the coming months and grow the portfolio of licences it offers in the UK, throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The introduction of many ABYstyle products into its ranges will have instant impact and will provide customers with an opportunity to purchase a huge selection of products through one established supplier. GB eye says although it has been a strange 12 months, as the world starts to open up again, it is ready to rise to the challenge of a changing retail landscape. Bricks and mortar retaiclers, online stores or niche markets are all looking for a point of difference or the next big thing and GB eye says it is able to offer trend driven ranges, often sourced or manufactured locally for speed to market and supporting its commitment to sustainable business. Emily Aldridge, global head of licensing at Abysse, said: “There is such a buzz internally, at GB eye and at the Abysse offices, as the news has sunk in and the teams are realising the potential of the combined ranges and resources. We can’t wait to see what we can achieve together.”

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Hot Properties

ViacomCBS Blue’s Clues & You! A remake of the ground-breaking, curriculum-driven interactive series Blue’s Clues, Blue’s Clues & You! has invited a new generation of pre-schoolers to search for clues with beloved puppy Blue and new live-action host Josh Dela Cruz. The series, which launched last year on Nick Jr. in the UK, features new CG-animation for Blue and Magenta, brand-new elements and refreshed iconic items from the original series including an updated Handy Dandy Notebook equipped with smartphone technology, plus the return of fanfavourite characters. Blue’s Clues & You! is the No.4 show in the UK. The second season of the show launched in November 2020 and a third season will be coming to Nick Jr. UK in October this year. Blue’s Clues and You! also launched on Channel 5’s kids’ block, Milkshake! in Q4 2020 and has got off to a strong start. The consumer products roll-out of Blue’s Clues and You! in the UK is scheduled for July. Just Play is confirmed to be the master toy partner for the brand, working alongside its distribution partner Flair, and will develop an exciting line including plush and interactive toys aimed at pre-schoolers aged 2-5 years old. Additional partners for the pre-school brand in the UK include Amscan on costumes and dress up, Melissa & Doug with arts & crafts, Kid Designs for consumer electronics, Imagine8 on accessories, and Kimm & Miller for novelty food gifting. Fashion UK and Blues will cover daywear, with Aykroyd TPD on nightwear, while Character World will focus on bedding. In the publishing space, Egmont has acquired the UK rights for Blue’s Clues & You! themed magazines, while Signature Gifts has picked up the rights for personalised books.

Paw Patrol: The Movie Co-produced by Paramount Pictures, Spin Master Entertainment and Nickelodeon Movies, the highly anticipated Paw Patrol: The Movie is scheduled to hit cinemas internationally in August. The action and adventure movie, based on the award-winning pre-school series Paw Patrol, will follow Ryder and the pups when they are called to Adventure City to stop Mayor Humdinger from turning the bustling metropolis into a state of chaos. The movie will include exciting missions, high-stake rescues, new pups and amazing never-before-seen vehicles. Directed by Cal Brunker, the movie’s star-studded voice cast will include Kim Kardashian, Iain Armitage, Will Brisbin, Jimmy Kimmel, Marsai Martin, Randall Park, Tyler Perry, Yara Shahidi and Dax Shepard. In the UK, Paw Patrol is now in its seventh season on Nick Jr. and is also available on Milkshake! as well as all key UK VOD platforms. The show is the No. 1 boys’ pre-school show in the UK and has been the No. 1 pre-school property in the UK since its launch in 2016. To support the release of Paw Patrol: The Movie in the UK, Spin Master Entertainment, producer of the show and the movie, and the master toy partner for the franchise, will lead the consumer product roll-out by unveiling a specially developed toy line comprised of figures, plush, role-play, vehicles and play sets as well as a new range of True Metal vehicles. Other licensees including Mega Bloks, Moose Toys, Play by Play, Crayola, VTech, Kid Designs, Sambro, Jakks Pacific, Kiddieland and more have delved into the look of the movie to create fun toys and games for all Paw Patrol fans to enjoy. The new CP programme will also include home and apparel, daywear (Blues and Fashion UK/Global Licensing), nightwear (Aykroyd TDP), bedding and textiles (Character World), and footwear (William Lamb and Brand International Group) as well as FMCG (Seabrook, Yoplait, Unilever and more), and arts & crafts (Sambro, BTS and Dine (DNC)). In total, more than 20 partners in the UK across a wide range of categories have joined ViacomCBS Consumer Products to create Paw Patrol movie lines.

Baby Shark’s Big Show! Baby Shark launched on YouTube in November 2015 and has since amassed billions of views, becoming the most-watched video in the platform’s history. With its combination of upbeat music, characters, story and dance, the song has been recognised as the only diamond-awarded children’s single in the history of the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) Gold & Platinum Program. The catchy tune has also spawned the viral phenomenon #BabySharkChallenge, generating over 1m cover videos around the globe. In the UK, the animated TV series Baby Shark’s Big Show! will be released on Nick Jr. in May. The pre-school show follows Baby Shark and his best friend, William the fish, on their comedic adventures in Carnivore Cove. Now an established brand, and named the No. 3 licence in infant and toddler toys in January this year, Pinkfong’s Baby Shark has experienced overnight success across multiple touchpoints including UK retail aisles. Through a partnership with SmartStudy, the global entertainment company behind the beloved children’s brand Pinkfong, ViacomCBS Consumer Products has been managing Baby Shark’s licensing globally outside of Asia since October 2019 as well as in the UK. A wide range of products is now available at all major retail stores. For the spring/summer season 2021, a WowWee infant range will be available through Jazwares, while Clementoni and Ravensburger will launch new Baby Shark branded puzzles and games. An expanded range of toys will also be coming this summer from Spin Master. Spring saw Sambro release an exciting range of children’s arts & craft, novelty and outdoor products including painting sets, doughs and inflatable play products, while MV Sports’ colourful line will include a scooter, bikes, a horn and helmet. In addition, ViacomCBS Consumer Products UK partnered with Kellogg’s earlier this year to launch Baby Shark multigrain cereal, babywear specialist Dennicci has enjoyed success with its Baby Shark collection, and Lexibook has developed a strong line of consumer electronics.

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From the company that brought you Ryan's World… an all new international sensation with over

3.5B VIEWS A MONTH!


Hot Properties

Larkshead Licensing

HOME OF THE PRESCHOOL POWERHOUSES!

Numberblocks BAFTA award-winning animated show Numberblocks will be releasing new toys and publishing titles later this year as the popular show continues to delight its fan base. With content available to view on CBeebies, YouTube, Netflix, Kidoodle and Kabillion, it also has other content platforms coming on board later this year, with further new episodes arriving soon. Numberblocks uses humour, music, inventive animation, delightful characters and engaging storylines to show children, aged 3-6 years, how numbers really work. Every day, 15m minutes of Numberblocks are watched on YouTube with annual viewing figures now in excess of 1.5b. YouTube subscriptions have recently hit 2m and the apps consistently rank in the top 10 of all pre-school paid for apps (5 years and under). The show has also proved to be a top performing favourite with its CBeebies audience and now has a highly engaged social media audience too. Learning Resources is currently enjoying strong sales with its Numberblocks Mathlink Cubes set 1-10, and this partnership marks a first foray into licensing for Learning Resources and one that has received an enthusiastic consumer reaction. Further expansion includes broader international product distribution and additional Numberblocks Mathlink Cube ranges. Trends UK is offering its first Numberblocks SKU to the market with a maths-based ELA that leads fans through an array of interactive maths games with fun and music along the way. Immediate Media has enjoyed huge success with the Numberblocks magazine programme and is expanding its offering to include toy and card games. Sweet Cherry has further new publishing titles planned for the second half of this year including its ever-popular Numberblocks Annual plus new novelty and seasonal formats, and lunch bags and drinks bottles are available from Zak! UK. Softline partners, including Aykroyds TDP, Fashion UK and Texco are enjoying strong initial sales.

TOYS ARRIVING JULY!

MOVIE COMING TO THEATRES AUGUST!

NEW CONTENT THIS MAY! ©2021 VIACOM

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Hot Properties

Hasbro eOne My Little Pony For more than 35 years, the My Little Pony franchise has been a significant part of pop culture with presence in more than 197 markets worldwide, including omni-screen entertainment and all major Consumer Product categories from more than 600 licensees globally. Since 1983, more than 400m ponies have been sold. In 2021, Hasbro is introducing a new generation of ponies to a new generation of fans, with an all-new computer animated feature film based on the My Little Pony franchise premiering on Netflix this autumn. The beloved pony world of Equestria is expanding following a decade of heart-warming friendships, daring adventures, and endless laughs. Featuring even more humour, heart and adventure, the new movie will sweep audiences away to a contemporary and immersive pony universe brought to life like never before. In the movie, the pony world of Equestria has lost its magic, friendship and harmony have been replaced by paranoia and mistrust, and the ponies now live separated by species. Sunny – a feisty and idealistic young Earth Pony – is convinced there’s still hope for this divided world, but her slightly misguided and often hilarious efforts to change hearts and minds have led to her being branded a misfit. When Sunny befriends a lost unicorn named Izzy, who wanders innocently into the Earth Pony town of Maretime Bay, the town has had enough. Izzy and Sunny must embark on an epic adventure that will include a daring jewel heist, outrageous conspiracy theories, elaborate musical numbers and the world’s cutest flying Pomeranian. Their adventures take them to faraway lands and force them to challenge the status quo by facing their fears and making new friends out of old enemies. The world Sunny has dreamed of her entire life could finally become a reality as she and her newfound friends fight to prove that even little ponies can make a big difference. The movie will be supported by a full theatrical-scale marketing campaign. The adventures of Sunny Starscout and her friends will also continue with an all-new computer-animated series making its way to Netflix. The My Little Pony entertainment releases will be accompanied by a new toy collection, created with today’s modern child firmly in mind. From collectibles to play sets and stunning feature Ponies, the toys will reflect the updated animation style seen in the content. These will be in addition to a robust portfolio of licensed products across adjacent toy, puzzles, fashion & home, arts & crafts, publishing and lifestyle categories rolling out from autumn/winter 2021 and spring/summer 2022. Fans can also enjoy a full movie soundtrack set to transport them back to the land of Equestria.

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Get in touch join the celebrations, which include new product, partnerships, experiential, special edition comic, and year-long marketing and PR support.


Hot Properties

Universal Universal Brand Development (UBD) is looking to capitalise on the release of not one, but two, family box office blockbusters in summer 2022. First up is Illumination’s Minions which holds the title of the world’s most successful animation franchise of all time and, with over $6b in retail sales and counting, is a global powerhouse brand. The much-anticipated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru is set to debut in cinemas in July 2022, supported by global master toy partner Mattel and The Lego Group, among others. Jurassic World continues to be the definitive dinosaur brand, delivering on wonder, thrills, discovery, and epic adventure and in 2020 it proved its dominance once again with the debut of its first-ever animated TV series - Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous created in partnership with DreamWorks Animation and Netflix. A Top 10 show for multiple weeks around the world in Q4 2021, the series added energy and excitement in a non-film year, especially as families were at home looking for new content to consume and more Jurassic World products to purchase. In 2021, fans can look forward to more new products from partners like Mattel and Lego, inspired by seasons two and three of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, as well as characters and storylines familiar from the franchise’s 28-year history; a new pre-school line of toys from Tomy, the debut of the Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Studios Orlando, the opening of Universal Beijing Resort - including Jurassic World Isla Nublar themed area, and much more. The third installment in the Jurassic World film series - Jurassic World: Dominion - will be released in June 2022. DreamWorks Animation has a rich portfolio that includes many of the world’s most beloved characters, stories and franchises including Trolls and How to Train Your Dragon. UBD’s DreamWorks’ Trolls brand has one of the largest global franchise eco-systems, fuelled by its content portfolio and consumer products programme, as well as activations across Universal Studios theme parks. In 2020, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour set digital download records as the first theatrical film to be released on PVOD. UBD also launched new ways to both watch and shop in response to the pandemic. This summer, UBD is continuing the global expansion of its beloved DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit franchise. What began with the 2002 Oscar-nominated film Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron (and includes the Emmy-winning TV series, Spirit Riding Free), an all-new feature film, Spirit Untamed, will continue to inspire girls to be fearless, wild and free. The film’s launch will be supported with a cross-category programme, anchored by all-new master toy partner Mattel, alongside returning partners Playmobil and Just Play. Universal will also continue to leverage the resurgent interest in nostalgia and iconic movie properties by delving deeper into its Vault which spans more than 100 years of studio history. 2020 saw the 35th anniversary of the iconic time travel adventure film Back the Future, which was celebrated by a variety of licensees, including first-time partner Playmobil, which won a TOTY award for its DeLorean Time Machine set. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022, is a key priority.

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Hot Properties

Beano Studios Dennis Beano Studios continues to celebrate 70 years since the first appearance of Dennis in the iconic Beano comic with a full year of brand activity and a raft of new licensed deals and partners. To mark the occasion, March saw Beano release a commemorative limited-edition comic, guest edited by Joe Sugg. As well as penning several strips for the special issue, Joe shared his own childhood Beanoinspired comic strip creations. Kew, meanwhile, partnered with Beano Studios in a deal brokered by Rocket Licensing for a Big Bonanza at Easter. Taking place at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, visitors enjoyed a new, giant, 3D comic strip created especially for the milestone occasion. A full year of brand activity including a national marketing campaign launched on 17th March, Dennis’ birthday, and will continue throughout the rest of 2021. Beano has joined forces with Rachel Lowe to produce a collection of Beano licensed puzzles, board games, and card games. Rubies has renewed its licensing deal for the next three years to continue to bring Dennis dress-up to fans, and a partnership with game developer and distributor GameBake will see a suite of Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed! gaming titles released. Britain’s Funniest Class, a nationwide competition for primary schools, started last month. The 70th anniversary will also be honoured by Tower Mint, which has released a commemorative 50p coin, while Royal Mail is to unveil a special collaboration in July. A bespoke red and black Dennis tartan has been developed by Scottish mill Prickly Thistle for a birthday collection of scarves, braces and jumpers, while Harrogate Water is launching a specially branded pack for kids. Other partners include Bonnier Books, Egmont Books and Arthouse for home decor. A highly anticipated exhibition at Somerset House will take place this autumn and more activity is to be announced soon. To find out more about the 70th anniversary celebrations for the brand, visit beanostudios.com.


Company Profile

Truly legendary

It’s a major year for Pokémon, with the franchise celebrating its 25th anniversary as retailers report record sales of its trading card games and consumer products. Mathieu Galante, licensing director (EMEA) for The Pokémon Company International, told Toy World what there is to look forward to in the months ahead for fans and retailers alike. What does the brand offer licensees?

What is behind the enduring appeal of the Pokémon franchise? Pokémon is a multi-generational, evergreen brand with an enormous and loyal global fanbase. With four key pillars – video games and apps, trading card games, animation and consumer product – there is something that appeals to everyone. By constantly innovating and releasing a continuous pipeline of exciting new content, Pokémon remains vibrant, relevant and at the forefront of entertainment.

As it’s very important for us to support our partners, we decided to work with a limited number of best-in-class companies in the Toy & Games category. Key licensees include our master toy partner Jazwares (distributed by Character Options in the UK), Funko (vinyl figures), Mattel/Mega Construx (construction toys), Ravensburger (puzzles), and Zanzoon (electronic games). Offering complementary product to our Trading Card Game (TCG) and VG pillars are Ultrapro (TCG Accessories), Power A and Hori (VG Accessories), The Wand Company (replica Poké Ball), OTL (headphones) and Teknofun (lights). The Pokémon Company works closely with its key partners to offer 360˚ activations and develop unique in-store experience to increase footfall and maintain strong sell-out. These include successful cross-category activations at prestigious stores such as Harrods and Selfridges, and specialist toy retailers like Smyths and Hamleys.

How are your licensees benefiting from the anniversary celebrations and launches taking place this year? In our most dynamic and ambitious programme yet, we’re teaming up with other iconic brands and global superstars to help fans celebrate Pokémon’s journey throughout the year. An increased profile, combined with a dedicated website, unique promotions and special merchandise, will have a halo effect on licensees – much as we saw from the huge awareness and excitement around our first live action film, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. Licensees including Jazwares, Mattel, Scholastic, Funko, PowerA and The Wand Company are all releasing exclusive anniversary merchandise, supported by strong promotion and fashion collaboration programmes including Levi’s and Casio BabyG.

How important have Pokémon’s retail and licensing partnerships been to the success of the franchise? Consumer products are one of the four core pillars of the Pokémon franchise. The Pokémon community, from young to old, has very high expectations and wants products that are high quality and true to the brand, hence why we are very protective with our IP. We care about

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our fans, customers and partners, so we seek out collaborators who can meet and exceed these expectations.

Celebrations are already under way, with many more activations promised; can you tell us more about what’s to come? Our first music venture, P25 Music, is a year-long global celebration of Pokémon through the power of music. Headlined by pop icon Katy Perry, it also features some of the world’s biggest artists who will create new songs, styles and pop-culture moments through the lens of Pokémon. A partnership with Universal Music Group will see the celebration culminate in a special year-end digital release, Pokémon 25: The Album. Following the release of all-new Nintendo Switch adventure New Pokémon Snap at the end of April, video games Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl will launch exclusively on Nintendo Switch in late 2021. These are faithful revitalisations of two iconic Pokémon games from 2006 which first introduced trainers to the Sinnoh region. A pan-European retail TCG giveaway promotion is ongoing until October, with another treat for TCG fans coming later this year in a special 25th anniversary themed collection. Starting in March and running through to October, we are also celebrating one of the eight Pokémon regions each month, highlighting key characters and moments plus products launching within that month.

What does the future hold for Pokémon? We have a thrilling start to 2022 with the release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Introducing fans to the long-gone Sinnoh region of old, it promises an experience unlike anything Trainers have experienced before as they embark to create the region’s first Pokédex. We aim to continue to surprise and delight our fans with more exciting content and partnerships too. Watch this space for more information.


SAFE T HELM Y ET

RAMP HELMET WITH 5 X DARTS RAMP HELMET WITH 5 X DARTS

MY FIXED IN-LINE SCOOTER FIRST WITH MINI BLASTER IN-LINE SCOOTER WITH MINI BLASTER, DARTS RIDE AND HOLSTER -ON

16” BIKE WITH BLASTERS AND DARTS 16” BIKE WITH 2 X MINI BLASTERS AND 10 X DARTS

EASILY CONVERTS

TRI SCOOT ER

2-INTRAIN 1 ING B IKE GO KART WITH BLASTERS AND DARTS ©2019 Marvel © 2021 Moonbug™ Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

GO-KART WITH 2 X MINI BLASTERS AND 10 X DARTS

Ready for adventure


Company Profile

Love, Diana heading across

the globe

Danny Spronz, managing director, EMEA, Pocket.watch, tells Toy World what the standout new girls’ property Love, Diana offers licensees and retailers, its plans to develop and expand the franchise, and why YouTube is reaching more kids than ever before.

Middle East, which is why we looked at that region as a key territory in which to launch at nearly the same time as the US. In every key territory, we have been able to secure the best content and product distribution partners - Goliath, Giochi Preziosi, Planeta Jr, Spacetoon, etc. - all because the Love, Diana brand is already a kids’ favourite across the globe. Second, Diana is very much a girl’s brand. This means we are putting more focus on role-play, dress up and accessories right from the start. Ryan’s egg hatched into a massive product line, but Diana started wide and is getting broader every month.

How is the new Love, Diana brand developing? From its rapid growth on YouTube to its retail product launch, the Love, Diana brand has enjoyed an incredible six months since its launch in October 2020. Now the No.3 most viewed YouTube channel in the world according to Tubefilter, Diana and her family know how to create success on the platform. Diana’s imaginative pretend play videos created a perfect launchpad for the new series Love, Diana Adventures, a hybrid live-action and animated series whose first episode received over 10m views within five days of its premiere. Within three months the series had garnered over 150m views, exciting her pre-school fans and driving demand for the newly launched product line.

What do you see as the key strengths of Love, Diana for licensees and retail partners? Becoming the No.1 new licensed doll line in the US with less than three months of sales was an impressive feat in a highly competitive category. This took an incredibly rare combination of brand awareness, quality product, and retailer support. Diana’s YouTube audience is unparalleled; no other YouTube personality draws in an audience of such scale. This means that her audience is active, engaged, and all over the globe, and that licensing

The Love, Diana brand features a diverse product line that helps kids to seamlessly move from watching her on YouTube to creating their own adventures with lifestyle products including toys, apparel, accessories, beauty, and role-play. With a limited launch late in 2020, Love, Diana product sales made a big impact at Walmart and Claire’s stores. The product line is expanding rapidly, and with more retailers across the US and internationally Diana’s growth isn’t slowing down.

and retail partners come in with immediate access to a truly worldwide audience.

Do you feel that YouTube is now as effective as a channel for developing and sustaining a licensed brand as more established media such as linear TV and movies? We believe that YouTube has absolutely become the best way to get content and messaging in front of kids. At best, the linear model was creating 26 half hour episodes a year, and kids had to tune in at a specific time to watch. The Kids Diana Show YouTube channel releases content three times a week, which kids can watch whenever they want. We looked at Nielsen data in the US during Q1 of 2020 and were amazed by the results. Ryan’s World drew more unique viewers in the US than any linear TV channel, and Diana’s channels were almost as big as Disney and Nickelodeon – and the US isn’t even her biggest market. Even without all the support, marketing and PR that we put behind our brands, we get our message in front of more kids more often than any other brand in the market.

What plans do you have to develop the Love, Diana franchise in the UK and across the globe in ’21 and beyond? Pocket.watch has really focused on its international expansion over the past year, with new offices opened in Europe and Asia-Pacific. We’re launching new brands with a broad spectrum of content and products to ensure we are providing fans the best possible experience for fans. By keeping fans first, and embracing emerging technology and platforms, we are confident that we will continue to bring fans more of what they love, wherever they choose to play.

Have you approached Love, Diana differently to the way you handled Ryan’s World? With nearly 5b views a month on her channels, the global audience is consuming content voraciously, and that is the biggest difference - we are looking at Diana as much more of a global player from day one. For example, she has a very strong following in the

What are your aspirations for the property? Diana is already the biggest girls’ YouTube star in the world, and we would love to extend that success to CPG, OTT, and anywhere else girls are.

Toy World 124


Opinion

Licensing

for indies

Letter from America

T

wo questions I often get asked are why we don’t stock more licensed product and whether we see huge sales based on the latest hit YouTube, TV or movie-based property. My answers often surprise people. With a few notable exceptions, licensed properties don’t always necessarily work that way for indies. At times, when a new licence hits and we are able to get hold of the product, we see great success. CoComelon is prime example. But stocking licensed lines is an area we need to consider carefully. The economics must be worked so that we can be competitive with the mass market and online rivals, but still offer our in-store customers fair value. It is a delicate balancing act. These were the top toy licensing brands nominated by The Toy Association for a TOTY award last year:

• • • •

Star Wars: The Mandalorian Baby Shark Blue’s Clues & You L.O.L. Surprise!

• Marvel • PAW Patrol: Dino Rescue • Pokémon • Ryan’s World

And the winner was…Star Wars. Do such licences really propel sales in the indie toy market? Examining the top nominated licenses above, only two really stand out as having generated notable sales for Learning Express: Pokémon, which saw a big surge in trading cards and L.O.L. collectibles. In my thinking there are several reasons for this. As an indie retailer, our core customer base often chooses to shop with us for unique, not generally seen items as well as hot viral toys. They are seeking something other than the latest mass-market top property. Here in the US, many of the top selling toys within these properties are geared to the Big Box stores in terms of their packaging, size, pricing and promotions. Smaller, independent stores may have difficulty in securing stock of some of these high-profile lines, and I, for one, am not willing to settle for the second-tier toys within that property. The other issue is that at holiday time, these lines are often low-margin loss leaders or promo drivers. While we carry these for our customers, they are not the key focus of our range and are not heavily promoted. We want to be known as a destination for the different and maintain the surprise element in our offering that our customers love.

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

I have noticed that top movie properties and licensed items are not guaranteed to achieve the kind of impact that they used to. Star Wars Lego is still a good seller, but no longer matches the numbers achieved in its heyday, and it will be interesting to see how refreshed licences like Blue’s Clues, which was a phenomenal success when first introduced and a tremendous seller for us, will perform today, and what longevity it will have this time round. Some licensed ranges can grow stale over time, or the brand is expanded too far away from the initial core range, which everyone loved. It’s hard to say how much the pandemic has affected the licensed category itself, because of the strong growth in toys overall in 2020 and the new fad crazes that have marked the start of 2021, especially for independents. Holding personalized events like Pokémon Training and Trading Days have always been successful drivers of sales and promote loyalty to our stores. Such events have been severely restricted lately, but we hope to return to that model in 2022. However, there are bright spots. The perfect partner example is Cepia’s Cats vs.Pickles franchise. Released to us on 11th July 2020 (during the pandemic), we worked with Cepia to fine tune a display, introduce the fun characters and promote it on our social channels. In turn, Cepia kept us in stock and ran local Facebook ads driving customers and prospects to our location. As a result, the 4” plush was a top seller in 2020 and has accelerated in sales in 2021, ranking in our Top 5 SKU dollar ranking. Pokémon was strong last year but really took off in January this year, with new releases and hype building for the 25th year of the brand. I started 25 years ago, so have grown along with this property! Bluey from Moose Toys was a strong seller late last year, even before it achieved widespread popularity online, so we have been able to capitalize on its second-year trend here in the States. Bluey’s message fits our stores very well. I am also looking forward to Melissa & Doug launching an exciting new Viacom partnership this year for two licences: Blue’s Clues and Paw Patrol. The company has told me there are significant ad dollars behind the launch, so let’s see if this will help drive traffic and ultimately sales of these properties in our stores. I know the best way for us to compete in the licensed market is to identify trends early and work with vendor partners that can provide quality licensed toys to us at a fair price. These sit alongside the many other unlicensed toys that we carry, to continue to surprise customers and delight kids. Don’t forget, if kids want a certain toy line, it is our responsibility to stock it. Licensed or unlicensed, both are needed for the indie channel.

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

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Jazwares 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Jazwares recently announced the extension of its Fortnite deal with Epic Games, under which more than 350 lines have been released to date. Starting January 2022, Jazwares will be the exclusive toy partner for Fortnite 4” and under action figures and their compatible vehicles, play sets, accessories and more. Jazwares will also continue to produce new RC vehicles. A new miniature Fortnite range of 2” articulated action figures, play sets, vehicles and accessories is also expected next year. Roblox fans can look forward to upcoming Wave 10 refreshes to the Mystery Figures, 3” Figures, 3.75” Imagination Figures and Game Packs. New launches include vehicles and play sets inspired by the hottest games on the world’s largest user-generated universe - Adopt me: Backyard BBQ, Car Crusher 2 Feature Vehicle, Tower Defence Simulator Environmental Set, Dungeon Quest Environment Set and Ninja legends Deluxe Playset - all launching later this year. The successful AEW Unrivalled Collection sees new wrestlers brought to life with articulated figures, play sets and more. New waves of figures will be hitting shelves every few weeks. New items in the Jazwares Nerf range include a Digital Flip Target and Skeet Shoot Disc Launcher, while new Micro Machines SKUs include a Corvette Raceway City set. Inspired by the highly anticipated Halo Infinite release, fans can expect refreshes to the World of Halo figure lines, game packs, environment sets and role-play items. Jazwares will debut a line of vehicles and plush inspired by Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends, an upcoming Disney+ series for pre-schoolers. Jazwares’ toy line will include vehicles such as the 2-in-1 Stealth Strike Vehicle and the Spidey Vehicle Transporter. As global master toy partner for Dino Ranch, Jazwares will also launch a wide range of toys across categories including figures, plush, play sets, role-play, vehicles and musical instruments. New lines are on the way for Blippi. This autumn/winter will see big ticket launches including the Get Ready and Play Deluxe Feature Plush, a 20” interactive Plush Blippi that teaches kids how to get dressed. Key lines from the existing range will also be refreshed. Jazwares’ sensitively refreshed and evolved Cabbage Patch Kids range offers fresh looks for the 14” Kids and 9” Cuties and Newborns, plus the addition of the Giggle Time Deluxe Doll. A new collectibles range called Cutietown completes the range.

Danilo 01992 702 900 | www.danilo.com | sales@danilo.com For the past two years, Danilo has offered a range of eye-catching interactive advent calendars featuring the likes of Liverpool FC, The Gruffalo’s Child, Frozen, The Snowman, and The Snowdog. These advent calendars feature pop-up scenery, and behind each door kids will find fun cardboard characters and cool stickers to add to the scene. The magnetic characters included can be placed on the base’s moving mechanism, so it appears as though they are gliding on ice to music. For 2021, the company is adding several new additions from some of its most popular licences including Peppa Pig and Star Wars. Aimed at kids aged 1-4 years, Danilo is set to launch a new range of official CoComelon greetings cards, gift wrap and bags this year, all of which will appeal to fans of the hugely popular YouTube channel. The channel currently boasts 98m subscribers, giving stockists of this new range a large fanbase to tap into. Danilo’s licensed offering will reflect core themes and characters from the property, with colourful artwork representative of the animated content style. Super Mario, the classic video game first launched in 1985 by Nintendo, celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, with over 300m games sold since launch. Targeted at kids aged 6-12 years and at families, Danilo will be creating an official range of Super Mario greetings cards, gift wrap, bags and calendars in 2021. Danilo is also launching an official new range of Animal Crossing greetings cards, gift wrap, bags, calendars and diaries for the social simulation video game Animal Crossing. The game first launched in 2001 but has soared in popularity since March 2020. Available across several platforms including mobile devices, the franchise has sold over 60m units. Danilo’s range will appeal to Animal Crossing fans aged 6-12 years as well as secondary audience of teens and adults, with charming artwork based upon the cute characters. Mr Men and Little Miss celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2021, and Danilo will be launching a new official range of greetings cards based on the strong nostalgic appeal for adults who remember the books and TV show. The new range will feature of host of new captions, from relational to special occasion. The range will also include gift wrap, bags, calendars, and diaries. Written and illustrated by celebrated children’s author and artist David McKee, the Elmer books have been translated into more than 50 languages and now new greeting cards, gift wrap and bags will add to the world of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant in 2021. Danilo is also producing a new greetings card, gift wrap, bag and calendar range for Animal Planet. Owned and broadcast by the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet Animal Planet enjoys an 81% global brand awareness level, with 60% of 4–11-year-olds watching it with adults. As a show linked to sustainability, Animal Planet is also a Top 6 most trusted brand.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Wow! Stuff 01902 390 428 | www.wowstuff.com Wow! Stuff announces a record year of Tier 1 licensed brand launches. Spanning multiple categories with innovative product development, Wow! Stuff has announced a summer 2021 launch for its The Gruffalo master toy range, to be joined later in the year by action figures, play sets and animatronic plush for another of Julia Donaldson’s popular characters, Zog. In the pre-school category, new licences have been signed for CoComelon, as well as pocket.watch’s online sensation Love, Diana. The company is increasing its range of Marvel toys and, in June, is introducing flying toys and surprise-reveal collectibles for the blockbuster Jurassic World franchise. These, plus much more, accompany a long list of new products from existing brands Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal. Fresh from a sell-out success with its first foray into pre-school with Peppa Pig’s Clever Car, Wow! Stuff is increasing its foothold in this competitive category. In 2021, Peppa Pig’s Clever Car is joined by two new toddler tech innovations, Grandpa Pig’s Clever Train and Peppa’s Muddy Puddle Boots. The Boots react when kids jump in virtual muddy puddles. CoComelon is also benefiting from the company’s tech prowess. Wow’s in-house scientist team has been working to create a range of tech-based musical learning toys with a strong focus on child development. The Musical Clever Blocks is the star of the range, combining an attractive price point with educational fun; a nursery rhyme rewards the child when they build the blocks and complete one of six CoComelon pictures. Wow! Pods, dubbed ‘the collectible for fans of character brands’, make the most of top-performing licences in a uniquely connectable way. The product range proved its appeal when it sold out during Christmas 2020, reaching the No. 1 spot in two collectibles categories on Amazon. New for summer, each Jurassic World and Fall Guys Wow! Pod features the innovative ‘Swipe to Light’ and mystery reveal feature, and now includes sounds too. This comprehensive line up sits alongside established best sellers from Wow’s portfolio including the dynamic Harry Potter range of highly innovative tech-based products such as the TOTY award-winning Invisibility Cloak, the Lumos Light Painting Wands, Light Up Potion Bottle mood lamps and an all-new Voice Activated Secret Journal. For sales enquiries, contact Leanne.royce@wowstuff.com (UK), ladi@wowstuff.com (Europe), or alice.yung@wowstuff.com (Middle East, LATAM).

MV Sports 01217 488 000 | www.mvsports.co.uk MV Sports offers an impressive array of licenced wheeled toys, including 10 new properties for 2021. These include major newcomers such as Kindi Kids, Hey Duggee, Baby Shark, Pixar and CoComelon, and evergreen must-haves like Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Disney Princess, Batman, Spiderman and Frozen II. CoComelon is the No. 1 kid’s channel in the world on YouTube, with the top five videos boasting a combined 10b+ views. Tapping into the rising demand for product, MV has created a range of CoComelon wheeled toys including bikes, scooters, ride-ons and tepees, all emblazoned with bold colours and featuring the main character, JJ. For 2021, MV has refreshed its entire Paw Patrol range with new bright colourways, exciting patterns and all kids’ favourite pups. Innovative new products include the Bobble ride-on as well as 6V Plush ride-ons featuring Chase, Marshall, and Sky, complete with authentic Paw Patrol features and sounds. The Peppa Pig Bobble ride-on also features stunning graphics and bright colours and is perfect for building key motor skills. Baby Shark, the most watched You Tube video ever, has also joined MV portfolio as part of a new range of wheeled and outdoor toys that the company sales will keep sales ‘swimming along’. One of the many new and exciting products in this range, the innovative Music & Lights Scooter features flashing lights and the authentic Baby Shark song to keep young riders singing along for days. MV’s all-new ultimate Nerf Blaster Go Kart includes a removable wrap with loops and holsters for the 10 Nerf darts and two mini blasters mounted on the kart. Forward and reverse manoeuvrability and a chain driven gearbox are combined with a responsive handbrake and robust steel frame for maximum protection. Kids can drive and blast in style with an ergonomic moulded seat and high backrest offering extra comfort and an optimal sitting position. The solid frame and sturdy, wide pneumatic tyres provide a smooth and fast ride that’s ready for action. MV Sports is also introducing to the market a hot new licence, as Brandalised presents Banksy’s Graffiti. Encapsulating inspiring works by the iconic street artist, this range features stunt scooters, a lithium scooter, skateboards, a BMX bike, ramp and helmet, with bright colour pops to provide a unique edge and plenty of appeal with teens. MV’s personal favourite model features the iconic barcode robot with blue accents and an underdeck print, plus a pro-grade triple clamp, aluminium metal core wheels, and a BMX-style handlebar and stem.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Bachmann Europe 07739 200 153 | www.bachmann.co.uk | sales@toyway.co.uk As part of its spring 2021 MCC Announcements, Bachmann Europe unveiled its Dinosaur Collection. Produced in conjunction with the Natural History Museum, and now available with new packaging which incorporates a fun and educational fact sheet, these authentic toys are safe for dinosaur fans aged three and over. Developed under the guidance of the Natural History Museum’s researcher, Dr. Paul Barrett, each 1:40 scale creature has been painstakingly modelled and hand finished with authentic decoration, reflecting the latest data available from fossil records. With eight to collect, these authentic Dinosaurs are sure to inspire the next generation of palaeontologists. Varied and attractive RRPs allow for good retail margins, and all are available for immediate delivery.  Bachmann has also unveiled a range of Thunderbirds plastic kits from its Adventures in Plastic (AiP) brand, produced under licence from ITV. Comprising 11 different kits across several scales, fans can construct detailed models of the vehicles from the original Thunderbirds TV series including all five Thunderbird crafts plus Fireflash, The Mole, and Lady Penelope’s iconic car, FAB 1. Debuting in the UK in 1965, Thunderbirds has subsequently been watched by millions of viewers around the world and is currently airing on Britbox to the delight of fans both new and old. The kits come in retro style packaging for on-shelf nostalgic appeal. The Thomas & Friends collection of OO scale model railway products is now available from Bachmann for the UK market. Available as a Thomas with Annie and Clarabel electric train set, various locomotives and rolling stock are also available. The products are suitable for ages three and over.

Bruder 00353 676 3800 | www.bruder.de

Zuru info@zuru.com The adventures of Vlad & Niki arrive in the toy aisle from this month, as Zuru launches Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise. One of the largest YouTube channels in the world, Vlad & Niki is ranked the No. 1 Boys Show and No. 2 Family Show with over 56b views and more than 90m subscribers across 12 languages. Capturing the joy and excitement that Vlad and Niki have brought to pre-schoolers in a complete unboxing experience, Vlad & Niki’s Superhero Surprise is available in a Dino Attack and Robot Battle theme. An action-packed comic book adventure sets the stage for the playtime experience. Each Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise capsule contains over 20 surprises including a mask and cape, Super-Hero Vlad and Niki figurines, a Baby Christian figurine, a dinosaur or robot figurine, two die cast cars, a slime egg, light-up skateboard, wrist snap-band, stickers, tattoos and more.

Building on its reputation for providing toys and models that are ‘just like the real thing’, Bruder introduces its new bworld UPS Store. Like all bworld sets, the 1:16 scale UPS Store offers kids an immersive play experience, coming complete with everything kids need for role-playing as one of the world’s leading shipping service providers. A counter and cash register give the included figure somewhere to assist customers, while the wall shelving unit with shelves and brackets gives them somewhere to place parcels ready for shipping. A parcel scale, mesh box and authentic UPS parcels complete the look and feel of the store. Suitable for kids aged four years and over, and for both indoor and outdoor play, the MB Sprinter UPS with Driver and Accessories set adds to the play potential offered by the UPS range. The brown MB Sprinter Van features opening doors, including 2-part rear doors with opening angles of up to 270°, folding steps, windows made from transparent shatter-proof plastic, and sturdy tyres. The set also includes a manual pallet jack with height-adjustable forks and a rotating handle for easy steering, plus two pallets to load or unload heavy and/ or bulky goods. This set is rounded off by with a UPS driver wearing the company’s typical uniform, and UPS shipping boxes in different sizes. Bruder has also developed the Scania R-Series UPS Logistics Truck with Forklift set. The lorry has three axles and features swing doors at the rear. Expanding the play possibilities even further, the lorry features an interchangeable container unit that can be automatically released from the vehicle by pulling it out and extending the outriggers to jack it up. The truck cab and wheelbase can then be moved away. The cab follows Scania’s typical, dynamic design, with folding outside mirrors and glazing made of high-quality plastic, plus opening doors and the option to install a Light & Sound Module. Finally, Bruder has unveiled the Mack Granite UPS Logistics Truck with Forklift set. Just like the original, the truck can be loaded or unloaded using the swing doors at the rear. The cab doors and bonnet also open. The included forklift’s double hoist mast can be operated with one hand while the steering enables manoeuvring in confined spaces.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

8th Wonder 01942 829 811 | www.8thwonder.co.uk This year is 8th Wonder’s most ambitious to date, with new licences such as Peppa Pig, L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Fisher Price and Little Tikes joining the company’s everexpanding portfolio. Barbie is a particularly exciting new licence for autumn/winter 2021. Standing at an impressive 115cm high, the Campervan is beautifully crafted from sustainable wood and features additional authentic camping accessories such as a BBQ, Campfire and Picnic Box, making it ideal for role-play and interactive play with friends. 8th Wonder is also releasing a range of Barbie Plush, to include heatable cuddly toys as well as comfy chairs. 8th Wonder’s L.O.L Surprise! range will launch with a selection of heatable plush toys in popular characters such as Queen Bee and MC Swag. There will also be a Wooden Vanity Unit & Stool, plus a Wooden Tabletop Vanity Unit. The perfect accessory to add to any L.O.L fan’s collection, the vanity features a built-in podium for displaying L.O.L dolls, graffiti sticks for use on the mirrors, hidden compartments, and much more. The popular Peppa Pig range features creative lines such as George’s Dinosaur Rocker. Featuring a comfy plush seat design with an exposed wooden base, this product is on track to be one of the range’s best-sellers. Wooden lines such as a Peppa Pig Ride-On and an interactive Mini Golf Set will also make an appearance in the autumn/winter selection. 8th Wonder has recently launched its Little Tikes wooden role-play range. This new selection comprises wooden kitchens, a shopping trolley and cash register, and a range of accessories to complement play. With exposed wood highlighting the quality of each product, the lines have a deluxe feel and are made to be durable and long lasting. Children can enjoy a range of features offered by the kitchens including light and sound hobs, turning taps, clicking oven dials and more. Last but not least, the company’s licensed Fisher Price range boasts beautiful wooden lines, from a stunning wooden trike to wooden instruments for young musicians in the making. Featuring classic Fisher Price animals such as giraffes and crocodiles, these traditional yet on-trend toys are destined to become playroom favourites. All wooden toys within 8th Wonder’s ranges are FSC approved and have passed rigorous quality and testing before reaching the toy market, ensuring peace of mind for retailers and consumers alike.

Moose Toys 01637 882200 | www.moosetoys.com Moose Toys, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, has announced an all-star line-up of products to celebrate the summer theatrical release of Warner Bros. Pictures’ Space Jam: A New Legacy. The movie features basketball star LeBron James alongside a host of Looney Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Tazmanian Devil and Marvin the Martian. The first wave of products will support the release of Warner Bros.’ Space Jam: A New Legacy this summer, with more to follow. The range is set to include action figures, playsets, collectibles, plush characters and more, including Goo Heroes, which are inspired by Moose Toys’ Heroes of Goo Jit Zu brand. The collection also includes the Super Shoot and Dunk LeBron James; the first ever action figure that really jumps, dunks and hangs-on-the-rim just like LeBron’s character in the film. The initial range will be followed up with regular refreshes and new introductions throughout autumn and Q4. Moose Toys has made sure that every attention to detail was paid, so that the authentic replicas will bring big screen action straight into the hands of fans and inspire fresh new ways to play. The range of Space Jam: A New Legacy toys includes the Super Shoot and Dunk LeBron James, which comes with a figure of the film’s star designed with large hands that can palm the basketball. Kids can load the LeBron James figure on the launcher to see him hit a three-pointer or send him soaring for his signature slam dunk and rim hang. Also available are Ballers Action Figures, Tune Squad “good guys” which are poseable and come with accessories; On Court Rivals Two-Pack Action Figures of the Goon Squad; 22 different Mini Figures and the Gametime Playset. These will be joined by Space Jam: A New Legacy Goo Heroes, which share the stretchy, bendy and gooey characteristics of Moose’s popular Heroes of Goo Jit Zu; the LeBron James Ultimate Tune Squad Action Figure, a 12” figure that speaks, and Plush B-Ball Buddies, dressed ready for play in their basketball kit. Following a spring US launch, the range will be available in the UK from June.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Lego 01753 495 000 | www.lego.com Produced in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the new collection of Lego Harry Potter sets explores the adventures of Harry’s second year at Hogwarts. Many also interconnect to extend the play into different areas of Hogwarts, and a number of the new sets come with an exclusive golden minifigure to mark the 20th Anniversary of Lego Harry Potter. Recognised as one of the world’s best-loved franchises, the Wizarding World franchise encompasses seven novels, eight Harry Potter films, the stage show Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, state-of-the-art videogames, live entertainment (including theme parks, exhibitions and the popular Warner Bros. Studio Tour London) and the first two of the epic Fantastic Beasts film series. With the Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts: Polyjuice Potion Mistake, builders can join Harry, Ron and Hermione as they brew Polyjuice potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom and transform. There’s even a hidden tunnel beneath the sink. Comprised of 217 pieces, the full model connects easily to the Hogwarts Chamber of Secrets set to double the play value and is one of many modular sets that combine to create a complete Hogwarts Castle. Three minifigures are included: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, plus an exclusive golden anniversary Harry Potter minifigure. The Hogwarts: Fluffy Encounter lets young witches and wizards try to sneak past the giant, three-headed dog and reach the trapdoor before Fluffy wakes, while the Hogsmeade Village Visits set includes Honeydukes sweet shop and The Three Broomsticks inn. Boasting 851 pieces, the Hogsmeade model measures over 8.5” x 11.5” x 3.5” and includes six minifigures plus an exclusive, golden Ron Weasley. These sets are joined by the Chamber of Secrets, which contains ten minifigures and sees Harry battle against Tom Riddle and the Giant Basilisk; Hogwarts Wizard’s Chess, where fans can try to save the Philosopher’s Stone as well as master the art of Muggle chess with 32 buildable chess pieces based on the iconic scene; Harry Potter & Hermione Granger models, which stand 10” tall; an impressive display model of Fawkes, Dumbledore’s Phoenix with moving mechanical wings and a wingspan of over 14”; and Hogwarts: First Flying Lesson set, depicting a flying class with Madam Hooch and containing 264 pieces and three minifigures. The new sets will be available from Lego.com, Lego Stores and selected retailers from 1st June and more widely from 1st August. A selection of the sets will also be available to pre-order from 16th of April at Lego.com and other retailers globally.

HTI Toys 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk HTI Toys has a strong portfolio of licensed products, including top pre-school character brands Peppa Pig, Hey Duggee and Paw Patrol. The company has invested heavily into the development of its character licensed ranges, and as a result, multiple new additions are set to launch this autumn. Evergreen pre-school brand Peppa Pig has been a huge success over the years and continues to be a key player in the toy industry. HTI Toys’ Peppa Pig role-play range has again benefitted from significant investment for the upcoming season, with the introduction of wooden role-play toys. Joining the already popular Peppa Pig Mud Kitchen, which launched in autumn 2020, are Peppa’s Wooden Market Shop and Peppa’s Wooden Family Kitchen, both made with FSC approved wood The hero line for autumn/winter is the Mini Driver, shaped just like the famous car from the TV series. Instantly recognisable, this interactive car dashboard toy features a 3D Peppa speedometer, working Peppa tail indicator and a Peppa snout horn. With multiple light and sound effects, this item is sure to be a hit with young fans of the show. With the recent success of HTI’s Hey Duggee range of bubbles at retail, the company is looking forward to seeing its Hey Duggee range of role-play toys hit shelves this autumn. These bright toys feature Duggee, the friendly leader of the squirrels. Toy instruments such as the Hey Duggee character keyboard will encourage the development of musical skills. This keyboard features four of the main characters as 3D figures. Children can create their own music in piano mode, or switch to ‘Woof’ mode to make a tune from Duggee’s woofs. Also new for this year, the two Hey Duggee character cases are shaped just like Duggee himself and each feature a carry handle for portable play. Children can choose from the Doctor Case, which lets them role-play working in the medical field, or get creative with the Squirrel Club Case, which is supplied with several stampers in the shape of Squirrel characters.

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NEW FOR 2021! Make It Real is proud to announce a new Juicy Couture x Disney jewelry collaboration now available in addition to our new Juicy Couture Mini and Large Box ranges.

©DISNEY Juicy Couture™ is a trademark of ABG Juicy Couture, LLC. ©ABG Juicy Couture, LLC. juicycouture.com

For Sales Queries in the UK, please contact Peter Thomson: pthomson@makeitrealplay.com For Global Sales Queries, please contact Dave Williams: dwilliams@makeitrealplay.com

makeitrealplay.com © 2021 MAKE IT REAL, LLC.


Character Licensed Merchandise

Melissa & Doug 020 3911 7508 / 020 3911 7519 | www.melissaanddoug.com Melissa & Doug and ViacomCBS Consumer Products have signed an exclusive licensing partnership to deliver Paw Patrol and Blue’s Clues & You! co-branded toy lines in 2021. The toys will be designed to educate and empower pre-schoolers through active engagement, with a focus on problem solving and creative thinking. From its inception, Melissa & Doug has been committed to providing a launch pad to ignite imagination and a sense of wonder in all children so they can discover themselves, their passions and their purpose, with the company championing the benefits of open-ended play. The product ranges for both properties draw on the company’s 30+ years’ experience of producing quality, predominantly wooden pretend play sets, developmental toys, puzzles, arts & craft items, and activity pads including the popular Water Wow, Scratch Art and Reusable Stickers items. Key items include the Paw Patrol Wooden ABC Block Truck, which features wooden blocks with letters, numbers, shapes and scenes. The three wooden Paw Patrol play figures fit onto dowels attached to the back of a sturdy wooden hauler vehicle and add plenty of pretend play opportunities. The jumbo vehicle and block play helps kids aged three and above with fine motor development, letter and number recognition, problem-solving and storytelling skills. The Blue’s Clues & You! Wooden Rainbow Stacking Puzzle helps kids piece together Blue’s colourful world, with its innovative stacking and chunky puzzle combinations. The six colourful rainbow pieces and three play figures (Blue, Magenta and Blue’s House) can be placed in the sturdy wooden puzzle board. Artwork under the pieces makes for easy matching. Alternatively, they can stack the pieces in countless combinations or stand them upright for pretend play. This puzzle is an engaging way to encourage kids 18 months and older to develop fine motor skills and colour recognition. Blue’s Clues & You! promotes kindergarten-readiness, inspiring confidence, empowerment and kindness in preschoolers as they develop their problem-solving, social and developmental skills through play. Products will become available from July and the launches will be supported by significant marketing activity through Q3 and Q4.

Vivid 01483 449 944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Ryan’s World continues to go from strength to strength, with the YouTube star’s channels racking up over 4.3b UK lifetime views. Reflecting this, Vivid’s retail sales are up 15% YTD, while the brand is holding its own as the No. 3 property in the Pre-School Toys category. Ryan’s World Tour is a key new brand initiative, with a product range based around Ryan and his adventures as he learns about different countries. The line includes new collectible figures and play sets from all four corners of the globe. The core product range will be bolstered with a new series for all key collectible ranges including Series 7 of Mystery Figures, Mystery Putty and Mystery Squishy Figures, which sold over 600k pieces combined in 2020 YTD. Vivid is launching the Love, Diana range for 2021. The star of YouTube’s Kids Diana Show is a global top creator with over 5b views a month globally, and her growth and popularity continue to rise. Vivid is working with industry leading suppliers to launch an all-encompassing product range based around Diana, her family and their adventures, all focused on the positivity of friendship, family and creativity, as well as the power of play. A key part of the Love, Diana line up is collectibles. A range of articulated mini figures of Diana, her brother Roma, and myriad other characters from her channel, along with a selection of play sets, will deliver entry and mid-level price points. Autumn/winter will see Love, Diana fans discover a whole raft of new characters, outfits and accessories. The range will also welcome a larger-scale play set with multiple levels of play, inviting children to create their own pretend play in their homes and integrate their Love, Diana collectibles too. Based on popular themes from the Kids Diana Show YouTube channel, such as family play and music, each set will include exclusive figures and accessories that match its theme. Crayola Color Wonder inks don’t colour on skin, clothing, or furniture, but instead turn to colour on the special colouring pages so creative kids can have all the fun of colouring in without any of the mess. In 2021, the licensed Color Wonder range is expanding further, introducing colourful adventures from favourite kids’ properties including Love Diana, CoComelon and Paw Patrol: The Movie.

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© 2021 ABD Ltd/Ent. One UK Ltd/ Hasbro.

©2021 Pokémon. TM, ® Nintendo.

Be a Hero and help save the planet with these sustainable licensed costumes!

NEW Licensed costumes for 2021!

Co-ordinating partyware & foil balloons also available.

©Amscan 2021, ©Anagram 2021. All Rights Reserved. ©Amscan 2021, ©Anagram 2021. All Rights Reserved.


Character Licensed Merchandise

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com sales@charactergroup.plc.uk Offering licensed pre-school toys produced with future generations in mind, Character Options’ World of Wooden Toys range is made from FSC certified wood and includes a raft of popular licences including Disney Princess, Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam. Spring saw Character Options welcome Fireman Sam to its World of Wooden Toys. Since its launch, the Fireman Sam Wooden Toy collection has been igniting young imaginations by putting kids at the centre of the action. The Four-Figure Character Set features double-sided figures on individual drop ‘n’ play bases, making them ideal for imaginative play and storytelling. The wooden Jupiter Fire Engine features free-moving wheels, a double-sided Fireman Sam and Penny figure, removeable equipment panels and a poseable rescue platform. The feature-packed Fire Station play set is scaled for play with the other figures and the wooden Jupiter Fire Engine. It includes a double-sided Fireman Sam and Penny figure and features a working firefighter’s pole and water cannon, plus firefighting accessories.

DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk Hama Beads is the original bead brand for arts & crafts, exclusively distributed in the UK by DKL-Beysal. For years, this brand has been inspiring imagination and creativity in kids; with a few Hama pegboards and a variety of colourful Hama beads, model making possibilities are endless. For 2021, Peppa Pig has joined the Hama Beads range. Several options are available. The impressive gift box contains over 4,000 beads while the hanging box contains over 2,000 beads, allowing children to create their favourite characters with ease. The Maxi Beads Peppa Pig themed set comes with approximately 900 beads. The Maxi beads are larger than the popular Midi bead, making it easier for little fingers to create wonderful permanent designs.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk | sales@flairplc.co.uk Flair’s Just Play Mickey & Minnie collection lets kids take the on-screen Disney fun into the playroom. Adding to Flair’s existing collection of Minnie Mouse role-play toys, the second half will introduce some engaging extensions to the range including articulated figures, vehicles, play sets and feature plush. Coming through for autumn/winter, the Minnie Mouse Bow-tel Hotel stands almost two-feet tall and features light and sound effects, a kid-powered elevator and 20 play pieces to discover, offering great value for money. The Minnie Mouse Party Play Pup Feature Plush includes a Minnie toy that talks and sings, as well as her pet dog. Kids can enjoy two modes of play: training or walking. Both these items will benefit from TV and digital marketing support in the second half. Mickey Mouse will also welcome a new collection for autumn/winter. The Mickey Mouse Farm Fun Playset features two-sided play, a swinging bell, a working pulley system to reel-up hay bales and a chicken that lays eggs. This fun, modestly priced play set will be front of mind with Flair’s TV and digital marketing plan. Continuing the farm theme, and also benefiting from TV support, is the Mickey Mouse Feature Plush. Mickey wears a farmer’s outfit, sings the Old McDonald song and performs a chicken dance. Mickey even plays a game: What’s that animal sound? Kids can also add to the farm fun with the Mickey Mouse Farm Fun Tractor. When the tractor moves, the animals bob up and down. New role-play lines and a Singing Fun Plush are also on the way.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Amscan 01908 288500 | www.amscan.co.uk

Rainbow Designs 01329 227 300 www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk Rainbow Designs, the ‘Home of Classic Characters’, has a portfolio featuring some of the most beloved kids’ licensed characters including Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, Elmer, Miffy and the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Two long-awaited movies are due to hit the big screen this summer. The first is the Peter Rabbit: The Runaway movie, the sequel to the original film. Rainbow’s Peter Rabbit Movie range includes the best-selling Talking Peter Rabbit as well as the new Giant Peter Rabbit Soft Toy and a soft toy trio comprising Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and Mopsy. In July, just in time for the summer holidays, the new Spirit Untamed movie will also arrive in cinemas. The animated stand-alone sequel to the movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and the highly successful TV series, is being celebrated with the launch of a new Dreamworks’ Spirit collection including 18cm and extra-large 45cm Spirit soft toy horses. There will also be new additions to the successful Adventures of Paddington toy range for pre-schoolers. The range features a soft Deluxe Paddington Plush, 22cm soft toys of Paddington wearing his famous coat and hat and Paddington in his pyjamas, and collectible Paddington figures in outfits from the series. These items, as well as the Play Bus, will be joined by new play sets this autumn. Classic licences are proving popular, as consumers seek well-known character products that they and their kids love and trust. Rainbow Designs is therefore pleased to have welcomed back the iconic Peanuts brand along with the coolest Beagle on the planet, Snoopy. The new Everybody Loves Snoopy range features Charles Schulz’ iconic characters including a Snoopy Soft Toy, a cuddly lying down Snoopy, and the Cuddly Snoopy and Woodstock Soft Toy. Further new licensed additions for this year include a series of beautiful new wooden toys set to join the popular Guess How Much I Love You and Fun with Spot collections. Two innovative infant Unfold and Discover Activity Toys, meanwhile, will join the Once Upon a Time Peter Rabbit and Classic Winnie the Pooh Hundred Acre Wood ranges.

Amscan’s Peppa Pig range has welcomed several additions in recent months, with new items across the company’s Party, Balloon and Costume lines giving fans even more to look forward to. Perfect for a variety of special occasions, Amscan’s colourful and whimsical Peppa range features images of Peppa and her friends. From core tableware to room decorations, the assortment offers everything party planners need to create the ultimate celebration. The Take-Home Favour Pack also includes colouring paper, crayons, icon stamps and character stickers, meaning the fun can continue for guests even when they head home. Launching shortly is the Peppa Pig Halloween Party in a Box. Suitable for eight guests, the box contains all the party basics needed for a themed Halloween celebration. Amscan’s extensive balloon range covers coordinating standard foils to match the party range, as well as other everyday designs and Happy Birthday captions. The Anagram range also includes Supershape characters and a larger-than-life Peppa Airwalker. The company has now launched new costumes, with classic, adventure and seasonal styles making up the assortment. Kids can become Peppa thanks to the new Classic, Fairy and Rainbow dress styles or accessory kits. There’s also a George capelet as well as a George’s Dino Jumpsuit, perfect for George fans and younger siblings alike. Also available are Peppa Chef, Peppa Explorer and Peppa Pirate costumes, as well as seasonal Halloween and Christmas styles, available for kids aged from one to six years.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk Hasbro’s new Ghostbusters Mini-Pufts Surprise figures are detailed to look like the characters from the 2021 Ghostbusters: Afterlife Film. Each series of 1.5” Mini-Puft figures is inspired by the original Stay Puft Marshmallow Man but comes equipped with a new mischievous personality from the movie. Kids and collectors alike can open the Stay Puft Marshmallow can and dig into the goopy marshmallow-like compound to see which Mini-Puft figure is inside.  With multiple blind waves to look forward to, each comprising six new and unique figures, the Ghostbusters Mini-Pufts Surprise figures are sure to drive repeat purchase at retail.

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LICENSED SOFT TOYS & PLUSH GIFTS!

TM and © 2021 Sesame Workshop. © Universal City Studios LLC. All Rights Reserved. © UCS LLC and Amblin. Swizzels and Love Hearts are registered trade marks of Swizzels Matlow Limited. Sunny Bunnies © 2021 Digital Light Studios LLC. Swizzels and Rainbow Drops are registered trade marks of Swizzels Matlow Limited. BBC logo © and TM BBC 1996. BBC Earth logo © and TM BBC 2008. Licensed by BBC Studios.

+44 (0) 1268 567317

sales@poshpawsinternational.co.uk

Gloucester House Basildon Essex SS14 3BX UK


Character Licensed Merchandise

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk New to Spin Master’s Paw Patrol range are the Moto Pups Mini Figures. Each 5.1cm tall collectible figure comes in an Adventure Bay Tower container that keeps the identity of the character inside a surprise. There are seven pups to collect, including the newest addition to the team, Wildcat. The main highlight from the range is the new Moto Pups HQ Play Set which features sounds, a motorcycle launch ramp and looks just like the Paw Patrol’s actionpacked headquarters from the show. The extensive collection also includes the Rocky Reuse It Truck, which launched at the start of the year. Equipped with rolling wheels and moving arms, the unique recycling-themed truck makes it easy to play out imaginative missions with Rocky and the rest of the Paw Patrol team. Nick Jr’s Paw Patrol Moto Pups hit screens in mid-March, and TV advertising, digital support and an influencer-led PR campaign will be launched to promote the new range of toys. Younger kids will also enjoy Paw Patrol’s wide range of metal 1:44 scale vehicles. With a raft of die cast vehicles to collect, from classic models to super rares, kids can use all their favourite vehicles from the show to create their very own action-packed adventures.

Steamforged Games 07960 653 922 | www.steamforged.com | toby@steamforged.com Steamforged Games is passionate about delivering premium tabletop experiences and accessories, inspired by modern gaming philosophy and technology. Founded in 2014, the company has been responsible for licensed games such as Dark Souls: The Card Game, Devil May Cry: The Bloody Palace and Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game, Pac-Man The Card Game, and original IPs such as Godtear, Animal Adventures, Epic Encounters and Bardsung. The company has now released Sonic: The Card Game, which hits stores in September. Fast paced and simple to pick up and play, the new game features colourful graphics and a racing theme for families and Sonic fans aged six and up to enjoy. The game allows 2-6 people to race through a new level every time they play. Players select their favourite character — Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Amy, Blaze, or Shadow — and shuffle the deck. As the dealer places down cards, they build a randomly generated level for players to race through. Each time a new card is placed, the players must decide whether to keep racing to try and grab a bigger pot of rings, or to retire and collect their share of the rings and bonus cards on the table. If players keep racing, they risk running into enemies and losing lives, but the chance to win more rings and bonus cards could be tempting enough to keep racing on. To win, they must collect rings, grab bonus cards and dodge enemies. The person with the most ring tokens and lives remaining wins.

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk The CoComelon licensed toy range, manufactured by Jazwares and distributed in the UK, France and Spain by Bandai, launched in autumn/winter 2020 and has developed into spring/summer 2021 with an exciting collection of new SKUs including First Act Instruments, a Musical Tractor and a new wave of plush. CoComelon, which boasts the largest kids’ channel on YouTube with over 107m subscribers, teaches children how to take on everyday activities and highlights positive behaviour with a sense of enthusiasm. Kids can easily relate to the universal themes and everyday narratives such as eating your vegetables, learning to tie your shoes, and getting ready for bed. With its bright and bold colours and cheerful nursery rhymes and phrases, CoComelon encourages children aged one to four to sing and dance along with JJ and his siblings as they learn letters, numbers, animal sounds, colours and more.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Sinco Creations 07793 121778 | Sales@Sincotoys.com Sinco Creations is fast approaching retail launch dates for its new range of CoComelon products, which includes pop up play, ride ons and playmats with vehicles, all with an educational, yet fun, slant at their core. The pop up play range will launch with the iconic school bus, which will see toddlers able to interact with one another just like baby JJ and his friends. This can be for use both indoors and outdoors and is aimed at encouraging physical development and socialisation skills as the kids learn to sing along to their favourite nursery rhymes. Following on from the school bus comes the ice cream van and themed play such as astronauts. Crawl tunnels will also be available, so that different pop up centres can connect to build an exciting, ever-growing world of play. The playmats with vehicles allow toddlers to join Baby JJ, family and friends, and travel through different scenes on a range of four different sized mats, each of which comes with at least one vehicle. There is also a range of stacking toys including stacking walls and stacking vehicles, with more in development. Other categories include four-wheeled ride ons and foot to floor vehicles, both of which will come with lights and sounds, clocks and watches, and more. Products are planned to be in store from late July with a phased roll throughout the rest of the year.

Make It Real 01613 024 100 | www.makeitrealplay.com Make It Real is pleased to be adding beloved Disney properties to its popular range of creative sets. The jewellery sets allow kids aged 8-11 to make and keep beautiful bracelets replete with beads, charms and colourful cord. Some even include real Swarovski elements for added sparkle. Adding to the play possibilities, new sets will also invite kids to get creative with fashion design. The Princess line offers jewellery making sets for fans of Disney’s most iconic heroines including Mulan, Jasmine, Cinderella and Belle. Each includes themed charms depicting either the characters themselves, or iconography that ties into their story. The bestselling Disney Princess Crystal Dreams Jewelry kit is now joined by the Disney Princess Fashion Design Deluxe Set Watercolor. Complete with 16 watercolour paints, nine watercolour pencils, sponges, brushes, a palette and much more, kids can design their own dresses and outfits for Rapunzel and Belle. The Disney Mulan Bold Spirit Jewelry Kit and Disney Descendants 3 Fierce Fashion Bracelets also join the line-up for 2021, both of which let kids make unique bracelets that reflect each property. Crystal Dreams Jewelry, meanwhile, is available in Disney Princess or Frozen II themes. Embellished with real Swarovski crystals, these sets also come with an eye-catching collectors’ book for kids to treasure once their bracelets are complete. Make It Real’s partnership with Juicy Couture is expanding for this year with the addition of new formats and innovation. The new Mini range offers 3-6 bracelets, depending on the format, providing retailers a lower entry price point with which to tempt new Make It Real crafters. Further bolstering the range, a new deal will see Disney x Juicy Couture sets added to the line-up for 2021. From July, Disney fans will be able to get their hands on the Disney x Juicy Couture: Frozen Fashion Fantasy set as well as the Disney x Juicy Couture: Hearts of Fashion set. The company’s wider range of Juicy Couture sets also continues for 2021, with options covering everything from Chains and Charms to Pink and Precious Bracelets, plus much more.

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Fast family fun you’ll race through again and again

Co m in g

Au tu mn

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Wi nte r2 02 1!

Find out more at STEAMFORGED.com For all trade enquiries contact Toby Davies (toby@steamforged.com) Copyright © Steamforged Games Ltd. No part of this product may be reproduced without specific permission. Steamforged Games is a trademark of Steamforged Games Ltd.

®


Character Licensed Merchandise

Bladez Toyz 02392 658 255 | www.bladeztoyz.co.uk Bladez Toyz has successfully transformed its business model over the past 18 months to focus on licensed arts and crafts activities for boys and girls, and now holds several key character licences including Barbie, Batman, Harry Potter and Hot Wheels. With Barbie seeing 24% YTD growth and the top girls’ licence for 7-9 year olds, Bladez has witnessed the brand’s success first hand with the Barbie Arts and Craft range which launched for SS21 with key partners such as Asda and Morrisons. Products include classic craft items such as the Make Your Own Dreamcatcher, DIY Fairy Lanterns, Cross Stitch Door Hanger and MakerKitz colour-in Barbie Super Camper Van. Launching this autumn is the Creative MakerKitz Barbie Dreamhouse - a twist on the classic play set - which allows children to use their imagination and design the house’s interior how they wish with repositionable stickers. The Dreamhouse stands at 78cm tall and includes buildable furniture for each of the four themed rooms. The furniture has dual-use so, by day, Barbie can entertain friends around the dining room table and at night reverse the tabletop to reveal a DJ mixing desk to get the party started. The sofa converts into a bed for Barbie once the day is done. The Creative Maker Kitz Dreamhouse comes flat-packed in the box and is made from recyclable board, just like the original Dreamhouse which launched in 1962. Available on both FOB and domestic programmes, please contact Bladez as production is limited for 2021.

Kidicraft 01282 500 899 | www.kidicraft.com | Sales@kidicraft.com Over the past year, Kidicraft has released more than 30 new puzzle designs across various brands including the ever-popular Harry Potter range. The Harry Potter range was first released in autumn 2019 and continues to be the company’s most successful line. Kidicraft has now followed this up by launching six new designs from this magical range including Buckbeak, Hermione Granger, Fawkes, Ron Weasley, Ford Anglia over Hogwarts and, finally, the hero puzzle of Harry Potter. These stunning 300-piece puzzles recapture the magic of the Harry Potter stories with dramatic 3D designs and are aimed at children of at least five years of age. Kidicraft’s new Prime 3D lens lends depth and motion to the image, providing superb clarify which really stands out on-shelf. Striking images and packaging are complemented with a new branded Harry Potter 3D Floor display stand which is available free with an order of 48 puzzles from this range. A new addition to Kidicraft’s portfolio, the Plush and 3D Puzzle range includes four plush characters that each accompany a 300-piece Prime 3D puzzle. The Plush and 3D Puzzle range includes four characters that are sure to be popular: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Batman and Superman. Each Plush & Puzzle SKU has an appealing plush character which stands approximately 18cm tall, accompanied by a 300-piece puzzle. The puzzles have been manufactured using new Prime 3D lens technology, to give great depth and motion to the images. Once completed, each puzzle measures 46 x 31cm. The range is suitable for children of at least six years and is available now. Kidicraft is constantly adding new designs and ranges throughout the year. To stay up to date, readers are advised to follow the company on its social media platforms.

Simba Smoby Toys UK

01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en | sales@sisotoysuk.com Following another successful year as master toy partner for Masha and the Bear, Simba Smoby Toys UK is set to take its collection from strength to strength this year. The company’s Masha and the Bear range, which now comprises a wide selection of Masha dolls, Bear plush, feature-packed play sets and collectibles, remains a popular choice thanks to regular refreshes across the range and an always-on marketing campaign. The perfect complement to any Masha doll, Simba Smoby’s Bear Plush comes in a variety of sizes: 25cm, 40cm, 50cm and 70cm. Alternatively, there are packs that offer both characters together. A popular choice is the Masha 23cm Doll and 40cm Bear, and the characters also come together in their smaller 12cm and 25cm formats. A set that combines both characters as well as some animal friends is also available. The Bear House Playset opens to reveals Bear’s cosy cottage, while the Big Bear House Playset features two levels of play, multiple interactive features and sound effects, and comes with figures and furniture pieces ready for play straight out of the box. Simba Smoby’s full licensed portfolio, includes Smoby, Disney Plush, Jada, Ryan’s World, and Masha and the Bear, all of which benefit from full marketing support.

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Sambro International 08458 739 380 | www.sambro.co.uk Sambro International will launch its Paw Patrol Movie ranges to tie in with the big screen film release this August and is also working on new franchises Peppa Pig and Teletubbies for 2021. The company, which, this year, will continue to expand its other core franchises including Disney Frozen and Princesses, Trolls, Minions, Barbie, Fisher Price, Care Bears Baby and Baby Shark, will deliver a range of arts and craft, plush and outdoor play in Peppa Pig for selected territories as well as plush in Teletubbies for the Benelux region. Sambro continues to develop a portfolio of own-brand ranges such as its hugely successful XOXO range which combines aspirational and fashion-forward styles with fun and exciting ways to discover both cosmetics and arts and craft. The XOXO range includes fixed cosmetics, DIY bath and body products, nail stations, nail art and hair chalks. Sambro’s Samby range is designed for early years play and Sambro’s Tie-Dye Maker enables young consumers to discover this current hot trend. The team will also launch its own-brand creative range later this year. The Puzzle Palz range continues to be a firm favourite with children across the globe with new Puzzle Palz Vehicles launching shortly. Puzzle Palz are character-based erasers that can be taken apart and rebuilt and have already sold over 19m units worldwide. The range includes characters from Paw Patrol, Avengers, Barbie, Trolls, Mickey Mouse and Friends, Baby Shark, Minions, Disney Princess, Frozen, Spiderman, Toy Story and Disney Classics. The standard Puzzle Palz capsule is supplied in a convenient counter display unit giving retailers maximum flexibility. In addition to the standard capsule, Puzzle Palz are also available as a gift pack and in giant format for maximum fun and collectability. The range is already enjoying a strong following online with fans of the franchises.

Character Licensed Merchandise

KAP Toys 01423 368888 www.kids-at-play.com orders@kaptoys.com KAP Toys is pleased to confirm its distribution of a selection of official Among Us merchandise, based on the hit game. The line is developed by YuMe Toys and Toikido, with product set to launch in two parts. Phase 1 sees plush and dress-up sets hit the market from May, allowing fans to play, display and even dress up in Among Us character costume, while Phase 2 will introduce YuMe’s mystery capsule programme. Attractive price points catering for a range of budgets means the range offers stockists a highly-sought after assortment of licensed product ideally suited to the toy and collectibles market. KAP considers this to be one of the most anticipated launches of 2021 and is urging stockists not to miss out on the opportunities it offers. The team is working around the clock to get orders processed and stock out to customers as quickly as possible.


Character Licensed Merchandise

Posh Paws 01268 567 317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk sales@poshpawsinternational.co.uk New dinosaurs will be joining the Posh Paws Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous soft toys collection to meet demand from fans when Season 3 of the Netflix show airs this month. The range, which has already proved to be an instant hit, providing ideal companions for kids to cuddle up to while watching the show, currently includes the iconic T-Rex and Blue Raptor, both with super-soft, chunky heads and high-quality detailing, in small 7” and larger 10” sizes. Also new for summer, Posh Paws will launch its Sesame Street licensed range, featuring soft toys with special features and a range of basic plush characters. Focusing on the show’s most iconic characters, Elmo and Cookie Monster, the new range will include the popular ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ toy that features over 20 fun voice effects and wiggling features, as well as a brand-new feature plush Cookie Monster toy. The range will also include 8” beanie toys, 10” and 18” larger plush Elmo and Cookie Monster toys, as well as an assortment of soft toy bag clips with eight characters in a CDU to collect. Posh Paws Sunny Bunnies toys continue to be a hit with young fans, with their Large Giggle & Hop toys with special sounds and movement features being the most popular toys in the range. Also available are the Small Sound Slammers at ideal pick-up price-points for both indoor and outdoor play, as well as the Medium Giggle & Wiggle toys that are full of fun. Expanding its successful licensed plush collection with confectionary favourites Swizzels, Posh Paws has brought Rainbow Drops to life, with super-soft and squishy, scented soft toys. There are six characters to collect in 12”and 6” sizes, each with their own fruity scent. The licensed Swizzels Love Hearts plush gifts have spread positivity and hugs throughout the past year and the range has been hugely popular. Each Love Hearts plush toy has a fun and sentimental message written inside and characters include Avocado, Rainbow Heart, Pizza Slice, Lobster and Fries. For animal fans, Posh Paws’ range of eco-friendly BBC Earth licensed soft toys collection includes 18 high-quality, realistic toys, all made using stuffing from 100% recycled plastic bottles and with reduced packaging made from recycled card.

Craft Buddy 0203 417 6565 | www.craftbuddyltd.co.uk Having launched into the UK market this spring, Craft Buddy’s Disney licensed Crystal Art collection has already received a slew of positive feedback from retailers and consumers. Adored by a multi-generational audience, the evergreen popularity of Disney films and characters has been amplified by the success of the Disney+ channel, and they have now translated seamlessly into Crystal Art craft kits. Appealing to both children and adult crafters alike, the kits range from greetings cards and notebooks to larger works of art on a range of mounted canvas size options, each featuring iconic Disney characters. Early feedback from retail has highlighted the popularity of classic characters such as Lady & The Tramp, Winnie The Pooh and Mickey Mouse, with Frozen and Moana Crystal Art kits proving a hit with younger fans. Aiming to help stockists as much as possible as retail opens post-pandemic, the company can send retailers eye-catching finished examples of Crystal Art kits to help attract customers into stores. Handy space-saving display stands, including a bespoke Disney stand, also help provide in-store standout, with additional B2C marketing support in place across social media platforms and via targeted consumer PR initiatives. Later in the year, Craft Buddy will reveal its much-anticipated Disney Christmas range of Crystal Art kits, which is currently in development.

Tonies www.tonies.com | sales@tonies.com This month sees the launch of a several highly anticipated licensed launches from Tonies, the leading screen-free audio player for children. Kids and parents simply place each charming hand painted character on top of the Toniebox to begin the audio, opening a whole new world of adventures for kids to enjoy. Nickelodeon’s No. 1 pre-school brand Paw Patrol launches Chase the Police Pup with Tonies in May. The six heroic pups, Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Rocky, Zuma and Skye, and their 10-year-old leader, Ryder, work together to help anyone in need using their unique skills. Chase from Paw Patrol is an exciting new licence for Tonies, with the figure set to bring the audio adventures of the plucky pups to fans. Construction tales have also arrived from Bob the Builder and his team, Wendy, Scoop and Lofty. Mattel’s popular children’s character heads up his own construction yard in Bobsville. The new Bob the Builder figure joined the Tonies line-up in April, and he and his friends are already undertaking big projects with the same positivity and ingenuity kids know and love from the show. For something a little more traditional, and from licensor Hachette, Enid Blyton‘s most popular series comes to life in the form of Timmy the Dog this month. Enid’s books have been ranked among the world’s best-sellers since the 1930s. The Famous Five - Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy - find new experiences wherever they go. From solving mysteries to embarking on half term escapades, the five friends now invite kids to join in the fun via an enchanting audio story.


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Allegedly

The pandemic continues to impact the toy community across the globe, with some countries making better progress than others. Here in England, I am writing this column a few days after specialist retailers have once again been able to open their doors to the public. Early indications suggest the wait was worth it and hopefully pent-up consumer demand will result in a healthy sales bounce over the coming weeks. That is exactly what happened in Israel, where restrictions were lifted a few weeks earlier. I had a zoom call with someone based out in Israel, who confirmed that sales went through the roof when stores re-opened. Not just shops, but bars and restaurants were apparently rammed, as a general air of post-lockdown euphoria swept the country. However, not all territories have been as fortunate: shortly before I spoke to my friend in Israel, I had a zoom call with someone based in Brussels, where the contrast couldn’t be starker. Apparently they still have to apply for a permit if they want to leave the house to visit a shop, even for basics such as food and household essentials. It sounded pretty grim to be honest, so let’s hope mainland Europe sees an improvement soon… With the UK gradually easing its way out of lockdown, a conversation about covid passports has begun, with the suggestion that they may have a valuable role to play in removing restrictions. Personally, I am fully in favour of introducing some form of certification when it comes to international travel – that makes perfect sense. I also wonder whether mass events – including trade shows – may benefit from such a scheme, although remembering the chaos that ensued at one trade show a few years back when it changed its ticketing system, I can foresee significant challenges if it becomes mandatory. However, I do think the suggestion that you might need a covid passport to enter a shop is completely ridiculous. I just cannot see how it would work in practice, especially in smaller stores. Not only would it set up potential confrontation between shoppers and store staff, it would also act as a major deterrent to browsing and those unplanned, casual store visits which account for so many impromptu sales. The British Retail Consortium has come out firmly against the proposal, which doesn’t even have the backing of many in government. Undoubtedly one of the dafter post-pandemic ideas… With online sales booming during the pandemic, recent news reports have shed light on the rather egregious working conditions that many delivery drivers are currently facing. It transpires that some – male and female - have even been forced to urinate in bottles in the back of their vans, due to horrendous workloads and unconscionable pressure from above. And if you think I am exaggerating, it’s worth watching the recent Newsnight report which exposed their plight – it’s an eye-opener. And if anyone is currently designing a model Amazon delivery vehicle, maybe it should include a selection of bottles as accessories… Of course, there are many fantastic – and scrupulous - online businesses that will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the toy market moving forward, and I am sure they are equally horrified when they see reports like this – I doubt this is a brush they would want to be tarred with. And despite the online boom of the past year, it’s also worth remembering that not all online sellers are rampant successes: a couple of suppliers have contacted me recently to ask whether other companies are having a problem getting paid by a certain online account. An abundance of caution (not to mention the libel laws) preclude me from naming the account in question - I don’t want to set off a chain of events that sees them disappearing off the face of the earth to

Toy World 152

avoid everyone asking for their money at once. But if what I am hearing is accurate, they may well end up featuring on the next series of Rogue Traders….so it might be worth checking your accounts payable list, just in case anything jumps out at you… It might also be worth checking your freight insurance, after it recently emerged that the owners of the stricken Suez ship Ever Green had declared General Average. If you don’t know what that is (I certainly didn’t), it might be worth reading our report online. Basically, when the sh*t hits the fan at sea, ship staff don’t have time to carefully make a note of which containers or stock has to be sacrificed, so they declare General Average and everyone with containers on board takes a share of the hit. In this instance, although there is no evidence of containers being lost, it appears that the ship owner may be attempting to load a portion of the salvage costs and compensation claims onto everyone who had stock on board. Given the Egyptian authorities have currently impounded the ship and are demanding the owner pays a cool $916m to secure its release, you can see why the owner is attempting to pass on some of those costs. In the light of this sorry mess, those importers still shipping goods without adequate transit insurance might perhaps want to rethink that strategy. A Kantar forecast suggested that almost £4b would be spent in high street stores the week that stores re-opened, and it’s a massive relief that toy retailers managed to get their share – I’m glad it wasn’t all spent at Primark and the Debenhams closing down sale. I’m sure the fact that many kids were still on school holiday, coupled with good weather, helped. I recently encountered the phrase ‘backyard envy’ for the first time, but I completely understand where it comes from: although the word ‘staycation’ has mutated to refer to people taking holidays in the UK rather than simply staying at home, the reality is that plenty of kids will be spending a lot of time in their garden this year, and that could offer a nice boost to the outdoor sector. True, a lot of big outdoor items were sold last year, and you don’t buy a new trampoline or climbing frame every year – but that is hopefully where ‘backyard envy’ could come in. Kids going to play in their friends’ gardens, or just the sight of the neighbours’ kids bouncing above your garden fence every few seconds, might lead to a bit of pester power (the good kind) to encourage new customers to invest in outdoor equipment… With physical stores now open once more, the battle with online sellers for consumer spend can begin again in earnest. In the interests of ‘know thy enemy’, physical stores may want to make a note that Amazon Prime Day looks likely to be held in June this year. While there has been no official confirmation as yet, news has leaked that 23rd April is the last day to submit deals and 6th June is the last day for shipments, leading those in the know to assume a June date is the most plausible outcome… The latest developments with the stricken Suez Canal vessel Ever Given took an almost surreal twist recently, when Egyptian authorities impounded the vessel and said it wouldn’t be released unless the shop owner paid the eye-watering sum of $916m. Part of this sum was to cover the salvage operation, but part was apparently for ‘damage to reputation’…. yes folks, it is 2021 and canals now have reputations! I just feel for toy companies with containers on board, who may now be forced to choose between contributing to the ridiculous compensation claim, or just denying the goods are theirs and walking away from the whole fiasco. If you see a bunch of Egyptians walking round in Harry Potter Sorting Hats rather than a Fez in a few weeks’ time, you will know that has happened.


YuGiOhCardEU www.yugioh-card.com/uk ©2020 Studio Dice/SHUEISHA, TV TOKYO, KONAMI

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Toy World Magazine May 2021  

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