Toy World Magazine September 2021

Page 1

September 2021 Volume 11 Issue 1

Brand new Disney Crystal Art items launching from October!


Autumn Fair, NEC: 5th - 8th September. STAND 6J36

Christmas Cards

1. Pick up crystal

Stickers & Decorations

2. Apply with pen

Wreaths & Canvas Kits

3. Repeat to make your Crystal Art creation © Disney.

Unit 7, Anglo Business Park, Asheridge Road, Chesham, HP5 2QA | Tel: 0203 417 6565 Email: |

The Team...

CONTENTS September 2021 Volume 11 Issue 1

John Baulch

36 Feature: Pre-Christmas Marketing

56 Fresh

Publisher and Managing Editor 01442 502 408 07932 651 207

Mark Austin

Sales Director 01442 502 405 07710 532 952

Anita Baulch




05 06 18 22 28 94

34 NPD column 56 Fresh

36 Feature: Pre-Christmas Marketing

From the Publisher News Industry Moves Marketing World Licensing World Allegedly

60 S pecial Feature: Toy World 10 year anniversary 64 Touching Base 10 year anniversary 72 S pecial Feature: Amazon over the last ten years

Circulation and Financial Director 01442 502 406

74 Feature: Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles


The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | JonathanStephen Barnes | Jonathan Chambers | Asha Bhalsod

Rachael Simpson-Jones Editor 01442 502 406

60 S pecial Feature: Toy World 10 year anniversary

74 Feature: Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

Sam Giltrow

Assistant Editor 01442 502 406

Alakat Published by

Mark Crowford

Design and Production Manager 01442 502 405 @toyworldmag @baulchtweet


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Toy World Magazine

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

W from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

elcome to the 10th anniversary issue of Toy World. It is a fantastic milestone to reach; in a turbulent and challenging period for print media, we have proved beyond any doubt that a strong magazine still has a pivotal role to play in trade communications.

There are far too many people and companies to thank individually for their support over the past decade – but if you have advertised in Toy World, partnered with us, fed us interesting titbits of information or gossip, or have simply been a regular reader of the magazine and website, we thank you for playing a key part in our success.

It has been a rollercoaster of a decade: there have been highs and lows, twists and turns, but through it all, we have had the most enormous fun – we’re writing about toys for a living, so if we weren’t having fun along the way, something would be very wrong. We said from the start that we wanted to shake things up - to produce a magazine which was fresh and reflected the vibrancy and endless creativity of the toy market.

I’ve written a piece which looks back on the launch of Toy World - what it meant to me personally and also to the team of people who have worked hard to build Toy World into arguably the most successful B2B toy media brand, not just in the UK but in the world. The article starts on page 60, and it is followed by some personal recollections and reflections on the past decade from a special hand-picked group of people from the toy community, all of whom have been there for us from the very start.

Product has always been at the heart of our content strategy, but we also realized that it was important to integrate many other strands: news, marketing activity, licensing information, gossip and social functions. Product is - and always will be - king, but a magazine needs more than endless big pictures of toys to be worth reading: otherwise, it just looks like a catalogue – fine for flicking through, but not something you really engage with. Crucially, we wanted Toy World to contain a far greater level of opinion and analysis than other trade titles: to actively express our thoughts on what is happening in the trade, and also to publish the considered opinions of people who we felt had something to say, as well as the requisite level of knowledge and experience to know what they are talking about. Our contributor roster has always consisted of ‘A-listers’ – NPD, Toy Barnhaus, David Ripley, Generation Media, Azure Media, Jim Hawker and many, many more have made an invaluable contribution to Toy World over the years, and we thank them for sharing their wisdom and knowledge. If you are a regular reader, you’ll know that we never wanted to sit on the fence and be bland or vanilla. We are happy to praise and equally prepared to criticize. We strive to be as honest as a B2B magazine can be, and to have authenticity and integrity. And we have always elected to put retailers front and central in our planning. Of course, advertisers will always be absolutely integral to the success of a B2B media business, and we are immensely grateful for the loyalty and support of so many toy, licensing, media and service-providing companies over the years. However, for advertisers to receive the best possible value, they need their customers to be committed and engaged readers of the magazine.

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So, the first ten years – it has been a blast. We’ve had fun, we’ve built an exceptionally strong and sustainable business and, crucially, I believe we have made a difference in the toy community. If you have a magazine and you are not making a difference to the industry you are covering, what’s the point? So yes, we are firm believers in what a trade magazine can achieve and passionate about what we do – we will never apologise for banging the drum for what a good trade press partner can deliver and advocating why companies should work with Toy World. On such a special occasion, it’s nice to reflect on what has happened since Toy World first appeared back in 2011. That said, we have never made any secret of the fact that we prefer to look forward, rather than back. So, beyond the 10th anniversary reminiscences, there is plenty of forward-looking content in this month’s edition: as we head towards Christmas, we explore the current media landscape, and look at why digital advertising may be about to usurp TV advertising as the toy market’s preferred channel to target consumers over the festive season. We also look at the Pocket Money Collectibles category, which has been reenergised since schools returned and stores re-opened. And finally, this issue is accompanied by our legendary standalone supplement dedicated to the Games & Puzzles sector – a category which enjoyed a stellar year in 2020 and is on track to deliver another fine performance this year. With the business end of the year rapidly approaching, there is much to look forward to – just don’t mention the shipping situation!

News Which? survey highlights unsafe toys on sale on online marketplaces New Which? research has revealed that a test of 28 toys bought from AliExpress, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish found that 12 toys – or more than 40% of those tested – failed standard safety tests and would pose a danger to children. Which? notes that the BTHA found similar problems with toys bought from online marketplaces when it investigated them in 2020 as part of its Don’t Toy With Children’s Safety Report. Speaking to Which?, Natasha Crookes of the BTHA commented: “We’ve been testing toys for three years and we’re still finding unsafe and illegal toys sold by third-party sellers via online platforms. Last year we found 86% of the toys we tested were illegal and 60% were unsafe. We can’t emphasise enough how careful consumers should be when purchasing toys via online platforms. Currently the platforms have no legal responsibility for checking the safety of the products that are sold before they are listed.” In the same year, Toy Industries of Europe called for action on online rogue sellers in its report – EU Toy Safety: the problem of unreputable sellers on online marketplaces by Toy Industries of Europe, which showed that of almost 200 toys bought from third party sellers on four online marketplaces in Europe, 97% did not comply with strict EU toy safety rules and 76% of those tested had defects that made them dangerous for children. Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, said: “Consumers should be able to trust that products sold in the UK are safe and meet the standards required. It is absolutely crucial that online marketplaces are urgently given greater legal responsibility for the safety of products sold on their sites so that consumers are far better protected from dangerous and illegal items.” Representatives from AliExpress, Amazon, eBay and Wish all claimed that they took swift action when a product that failed to meet safety standards was brought to their attention. However, none of the individual sellers that Which? was able to contact responded to the findings.

Julia Cake becomes new UK country manager at Flair The Giochi Preziosi Group has announced the appointment of a new UK country manager, as Julia Cake takes the helm at Flair PLC. “I’m thrilled to join the experienced Flair team and help shape the future of the company,” said Julia. “Working with multiple brands, suppliers and the wider Famosa/Giochi Preziosi Group has opened a new chapter in my career. I am ready for this new challenge, and I am really looking forward to making a difference to such an esteemed company.” Julia grew up in an entrepreneurial family manufacturing business, making doll pushchair covers in the UK. Since then, she has cumulated 20 years’ toy experience, having held positions at Mattel and Schleich, among other toy companies. Most recently, she held the position of commercial director and manager of Magic Box UK, where she doubled the turnover in just three years. “It’s an exciting year ahead for Flair, with many new brands already added to the portfolio and plenty more on the horizon,” added Julia. “Growing this portfolio is just one of the many objectives I have in this new role.” Marie-Eve Rougeot, Giochi Preziosi’s CEO commented: “We would like to welcome Julia to the team. She brings with her a vast amount of experience and shares our drive to take Flair to a new level of success. With such impressive achievements to date, Julia will be instrumental in supporting the growth of the UK operations in both the short and medium term.”

distributor of leading brands | +44 116 478 5230

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70357 Rhino with Calf

70349 Meerkats

70343 Outdoor Lion Enclosure 70346 Zoo Vet with Medical Cart

70341 Large City Zoo

70353 Pandas with Cub

70358 Alligator with Babies

News Mattel publishes 2020 Citizenship Report “As a purpose-driven company, we take our role as a responsible corporate citizen very seriously,” said Ynon Kreiz, chairman and CEO, Mattel. “Our updated ESG strategy serves to build upon a solid foundation and leverages additional opportunities to manage our business more sustainably in a rapidly changing world.” Under the Sustainable Design and Development pillar, Mattel will develop innovative products and experiences that are better for our world by integrating sustainable materials and principles of product stewardship and circular design. The company continues to progress towards its goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in all products and packaging by 2030. Mattel recently announced Drive Toward a Better Future, a product roadmap that paves the way to ensuring all Matchbox die-cast cars, play sets, and packaging are made with 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials by 2030, as well as Mattel Playback, a toy takeback programme designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys for future Mattel products. Under its Responsible Sourcing and Production pillar, Mattel’s will optimise its resource use in operations to reduce environmental effects and promote ethical sourcing practices and worker health and safety throughout its supply chain. The company has updated its operating footprint goal to reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions 50% by 2030, versus Mattel’s 2019 baseline, in support of the Paris Agreement. Mattel is also aiming to achieve zero manufacturing waste by 2030, holding on-site waste audits to determine the causes, sources, types, volumes, and costs of waste being generated, and developing site-specific strategies with a focus on a waste-minimisation hierarchy – reduce, reuse, and recycle. Under the Thriving and Inclusive Communities pillar, Mattel’s strategy is to create positive social impact through purposeful play and by supporting diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities where people live, work, and play. Most notably, the company has made significant progress in increasing representation of women and ethnically diverse talent and recently achieved 100% base pay equity for all employees globally. “At Mattel, we aim to contribute to a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and sustainable future,” added Pamela GillAlabaster, head of Global Sustainability, Mattel. “Our updated ESG strategy and goals, recent sustainable new product launches, and toy takeback programme are all part of a broader effort to manage our business more sustainably.”

Purposeful Play 2020 Citizenship Report

HMV owner Putman Investments to buy Toys R Us and Babies R Us Canada Putman Investments, a Canadian-based, family-owned company, has confirmed its intention to purchase Toys R Us and Babies R Us Canada from certain affiliates of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. Doug Putman, founder of Putman Investments, said: “Toys R Us and Babies R Us are extremely strong brands that have been in great hands over the past three years. Since its split from the US, we’ve watched the way in which the company has grown and focused on the Canadian customer. Much has been achieved and we’re excited to help to drive the business forward.” Toys R Us and Babies R Us Canada employs just under 5,000 people who work out of the Vaughan head office, as well as 81 stores across 10 provinces. Doug Putman is also the owner of Sunrise Records in Canada, as well as HMV in the UK, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. He added: “There are no immediate plans to bring Toys R Us and Babies R Us back to the UK, but we’ll continue to assess any opportunities that make business sense.”

Spring Fair announces 4-day show and latenight openings With input from over 3,500 exhibitors, buyers and partners, Spring Fair has announced that it will become a fourday show. The new show dates run from Sunday 6th – Wednesday 9th February 2022 at NEC Birmingham and will include the introduction of late-night openings until 7.30pm on the Sunday and Monday. Simon Lau, event director, Spring Fair, said: “After extensive research, analysis and collaboration with over 3,500 exhibitors, buyers and partners, we have taken the decision, which reflects industry opinion and buying behaviours, that Spring Fair will become a 4-day show. We have listened to our customers, who had overwhelming feedback that the show was a day too long. Buying behaviours have changed in recent years and visitors have communicated that they welcome a 4-day show, and that a more condensed few days with the same number of talks, demonstrations and meetings would make it a more dynamic and action-packed event. We are also really pleased to introduce two late night openings. A trend common in retail already, the additional opportunities to trade will greatly benefit visitors attending for one day only.” Sarah Ward, CEO, The Giftware Association commented: “We fully support the fact that Spring Fair is evolving to a 4-day show from February. This change has been a long time coming, driven by collaboration and feedback from the community with the aim of delivering a better return on time and investment for both exhibitors and visitors alike.” Jeff Moody, commercial director, Bira (British Independent Retail Association) added: “Both retailers and exhibitors have asked for this so that they can better concentrate their time and resources into a focused four days. This is a great example of listening to what your customers want and delivering it – well done Spring Fair.”

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News Jakks costume division Disguise brings industry veterans on board in UK Disguise, a division of toy and consumer products manufacturer Jakks Pacific, has announced the organisation of its senior leadership team in EMEA. Industry veterans Tony Lewis and Lynda Morris have joined the company, heading up expansion and recruitment efforts to build an EMEA team of costume experts across sales, design and marketing, based in the UK. “We are excited to continue to expand our presence in EMEA. An enhanced dress up and role play line is a natural complement to our strong toy portfolio,” said Dan Cooney, EVP Jakks Pacific. David Carscadden will now lead both the Disguise and Jakks teams in EMEA, focusing on strengthening distribution channels and retail partnerships for Disguise’s vast range of costumes and fancy dress as well as leveraging Jakks' expertise in role-play and dress up. The UK based teams will be led by Tony Lewis for sales and marketing and Lynda Morris for design and development. Sales and marketing director in EMEA, Tony Lewis, is a costume industry veteran with 30 years’ experience at companies including Christy’s, Amscan and Character World. Tony brings extensive expertise to the Disguise division, working closely with Jakks to build and develop retailer and buyer relationships across the whole of Europe, while growing the list of dress up clients for both Disguise and the Jakks team. He heads up all forecasting, planning and joint ventures as well regional and local sales teams, building and developing the customer and wider distribution base. He is currently recruiting an experienced costume sales and business development team for the UK & EMEA. Lynda Morris brings decades of design and management experience within the children and adult apparel space as well as seven years’ experience in Halloween with Rubies to her role as Design lead for UK and EMEA. She will work in tandem with Tony and the Jakks teams on forecasting, safety testing and presenting concepts and styles to licensors and customers. She has also been tasked with building a creative and development team in the UK to work on design this year and production in 2022. Her team will be creating innovative styles for Disguise’s existing and new licences, which are soon to be announced.

GP Flair MD Simon Hedge moves on

United Wheels UK brings Huffy Bikes to Britain

Simon Hedge, managing director of GP Flair, left the company at the end of July. Simon has been part of the toy industry for more than 30 years and was a founding member of the former Flair Leisure Products when it was established in 1995. Having taken the company through the acquisition by Giochi Preziosi in 2008, Simon finally achieved the position as managing director of the group’s UK operations in 2013. Speaking of his decision to leave, Simon said: “I feel the time is right to start a new chapter in both my career and family life. My time with Flair has been tremendous and we have seen both highs and lows during the past 25 years; from a pre-Christmas warehouse fire right through to distributing some of the UK’s most exciting toy brands. To start a company from literally nothing alongside friends and colleagues such as Peter Brown and Nicola Bergot, I feel myself very lucky for the time I have had with Flair and all that has been achieved.”

After announcing its expansion into Europe, United Wheels UK has shipments of Huffy Bikes arriving on British shores in time for the end of summer and the all-important Christmas sales period. Already a household name with consumers in the US, the company’s UK team has worked hard, despite global shipment delays, to ensure the arrival of stock. The shipment included a well-balanced assortment of branded children’s pavement bikes, ranging from 12” to 20” wheel sizes, with an adult range set to follow. Bikes are available via trade or home delivery. The arrival of the bike collection marks the start of a huge brand development strategy for Huffy, with many launches and exclusive ranges planned for the year ahead, along with full distribution rights to produce Disney products from 2022 across the EU. United Wheels UK, part of privately held Covation Holdings Ltd, has announced a new licence agreement for Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm film properties for UK, Ireland, France, Iberia, Italy, Germany, Benelux and Africa territories. Disney and United Wheels’ affiliate, Huffy Corporation, have worked together in the US since 1996, and this new agreement expands the existing partnership to include EMEA. Having now opened its new EU office, United Wheels is well placed to help drive continued growth of the Disney licences across these new territories. “Our company has had a long relationship with Disney,” Jon Tilley, general manager of United Wheels UK, told Toy World. “It was only natural for us to reach out to Disney when we decided to make a concerted effort in Europe, to find mutually beneficial ways to work together. Since then, we have invested in building a strong EU team and infrastructure and will focus on supporting each market with in-country-specific teams and local distribution operations.” For more information about the range, please contact the Huffy sales team at

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With Green Garden, playtime can be related to everyday situations thereby intergrating the kids and inspire a healthier living.

From dirt to dinner

4714 Green Garden Planting Set

4782 Green Garden TEA SET

4725 Green Garden Planting School


Head of Sales Anne Harding, -


South West + Wales: Karen Tank,, Phone 07780 806374 London + South East: David Neale,, Phone 07967 440725 London + South East: Craig Kidd,, Phone 07770 728261 North East, North West + Midlands: Stephanie Mailnowski,, Phone 07984 446272

News Barbie honours vaccinologist Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert with one-of-a-kind doll Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert has been honoured as a ‘Barbie Role Model’ for her work creating the Oxford vaccine. Professor Gilbert is the Saϊd Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford and Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 which is now in use in many countries around the world. Barbie is also making a donation to Professor Gilbert’s chosen STEM-focused organisation WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) in the UK to support My Skills My Life, an outreach resource created to inspire girls to consider a career in STEM. Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert said: “I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls to take up STEM careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realise how vital careers in science are to help the world around us. My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist.” As part of its commitment to demonstrating the value of STEM careers to girls, Barbie is recognising five other women who have worked tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19 since the pandemic began, showing unprecedented courage and tenacity against the virus and achieving greatness in their chosen careers. “Barbie recognises that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. “To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories and leveraging Barbie’s platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back. Our hope is to nurture and ignite the imaginations of children playing out their own storyline as heroes.” As well as Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, the other women honoured with a one-of-a-kind doll are: Emergency Room nurse Amy O’Sullivan who treated the first Covid-19 patient at the Wycoff Hospital in Brooklyn, NY and later contracted the disease; Dr. Audery Cruz, a frontline worker from Las Vegas, who joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination; Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa who has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, which has been further highlighted by the pandemic; Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, who is credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a Covid-19 variant in Brazil and Dr. Kirby White who co-founded Gowns for Doctors, a gown that could be laundered and re-used.

Neo Magic partners with The Fantastic Factory Neo Magic has teamed up with The Fantastic Factory to create a new range of magic products ready for autumn/winter 2022. Vinny Sagoo of Neo Magic told Toy World: “I spent my working life as a fraud lawyer, before a car accident in 2017 made me switch lanes. I absolutely love toys and games, but my passion has always been creating magic tricks. In the last decade, I have invented over 300 magic tricks and successfully marketed them to magicians all over the world. I have showcased my latest and greatest at the biggest magic conventions, along with some of them appearing on national TV. Over the years, I became frustrated that traditional toy magic sets were merely ‘old wine in new bottles’, and if you change nothing, nothing changes. I decided to make that change.” He continued: “Meeting David from The Fantastic Factory allowed me to bring my ideas to market in a really great, collaborative way. For me, it’s about connecting with the consumer via my ‘EVA’ approach. If you want to hit them Emotionally, you need to connect with their Visual and Audio senses first. Our products will deliver something new in magic.” David Snow, co-founder of The Fantastic Factory, added: “We are always looking for new opportunities to explore within toys and games. We are big fans of magic, so after lots of research we decided to venture into this area with some new ideas, which led us to meeting the amazing Vinny of Neo Magic. We believe magic can be delivered in a way that is exciting from its packaging all the way through to the tricks/puzzles/illusions themselves. They will be supported with a full suite of print and digital ‘how to wow’ guides that will amaze the end consumer. We firmly believe this approach will make magic more accessible and achievable for all.”

Craft Buddy becomes Toymaster and AIS supplier Craft Buddy has revealed a number of progressive moves to further establish its commanding presence in the arts & crafts market and growth within the toy space. Becoming both a Toymaster and AIS supplier, Craft Buddy is keen to maintain and strengthen its relationships with retailers on the continued success of the Crystal Art range. “Several members were already stockists of Craft Buddy, so it seemed only right that they joined Playroom (AIS) as a Cenpac preferred supplier,” commented Rosie Marshall, head of Toys & Children’s Gifts at Play-room (AIS). “This last year has seen huge growth in craft activities, and the Craft Buddy product range suits our broad and diverse range of members. As one of the largest multicategory buying groups, we can support members with products such as this that often cross over into both children’s and adult gift. We are delighted that Craft Buddy will be exhibiting its new products at our Toy & Gift Show on the 14th & 15th September 2021.” (Craft Buddy can be found at stand P120.) Craft Buddy will also have a presence at this year’s Autumn Fair from 5th- 8th September, on stand 6J36. Attendees will be able to experience first-hand the company’s new festive Disney Crystal Art collection and get a first look at a new Paint By Numbers brand which launches later this year. “It’s great to see Craft Buddy becoming suppliers of both Toymaster and AIS in 2021,” said Gary Wadhwani, co-director of Craft Buddy. “This announcement represents a natural retail progression for the demand and appetite we have seen for our ranges, and we continue to be here to support retail as much as we can. We very much look forward to working with Toymaster and AIS as we continue to develop our Craft Buddy and Crystal Art brands. We have several exciting announcements to come during this year and next, so watch this space.”

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News Fabula Toys now available at Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop Operating for just over nine months, start-up toy company Fabula Toys has announced that its exclusive toy line will now be available at the renowned Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop at Covent Garden, London. The vintage and retro toyshop is one of the oldest toyshops in the city and has its origins at Hoxton as far back as 1851, before moving to its current location in 1980. Fabula’s popular Incy Wincy Spider set of sensory gloves, and The Finger Family set of 10 multicultural finger puppets, will be available both in-store as well as online at Nazneen Yasin, founder & director at Fabula Toys, said: “I am pleased with the growth we have seen over the last few months and am beyond thrilled for our products to be listed at a place as legendary as Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop. Over the next year or so, expansion will be a priority for our business. With the markets opening up and Christmas drawing closer, opportunities are endless, and they start as soon as early September – I am really looking forward to meeting with shop owners, buyers and other members of the industry at the Autumn Fair 2021 in Birmingham.” Initially launched via the company’s eCommerce website, Fabula Toys gained prominence for bringing age-old nursery rhymes alive by exploring the characters and story lines in a way that encourages children to interact with them in the physical world, rather than watching rhymes on YouTube. In addition, each toy is designed to promote the development of Early Years Learning Goals such as imagination, sensory perception, physical exercise, vocabulary, communication and more. Customers can purchase the company’s toys on Etsy as well as directly from Fabula Toys will be at Autumn Fair 2021 in Hall 7, Stand 20C62, and welcomes all trade visitors to its stand to discuss retail opportunities. The company can be contacted at: 3633 9684.


Miko – on a mission Michael Beckett, director of Licensing and Content Acquisition at Miko, tells Toy World about the kids’ robotics company, its flagship products, and why innovative content is key when it comes to learning. Tell us about Miko and how the company was founded. Miko was founded six years ago in response to a couple of key societal issues. Our extensive global research showed that parents were concerned by the amount of screen time their children were consuming but did not wish to take those screens away. Miko therefore set about creating an interface for technology that provides maximum value to kids and supports parents with key areas of their child’s development. Since then, we’ve successfully launched Miko 1 and Miko 2, which sell in 140 countries worldwide. The way that children spend their free time has evolved over the last 10 years, moving from traditional media towards increasing levels of screen time. Children are becoming increasingly tech savvy from a younger age, and this has been further accelerated during the pandemic. When you add internet security issues and screen addiction, parents understandably find themselves concerned about how technology may be affecting their children. Miko aims to address some of these challenges.

Tell us about Miko - what are its key features? Miko supports parents in the development of their child through an AI guided conversational experiences, fun and informative apps, and guided knowledge journeys. Kids can launch their favourite content using voice commands to learn about their favourite subjects, while Miko can dance and tell stories and jokes too. Soon we will launch Miko Missions, which will challenge children with daily fun engaging missions that aid their overall growth and development. The Missions consist of activities designed to offer a guided process supporting mental and physical health, cognitive and academic growth, and strong social skills.

What is special about Miko? Miko is an AI companion that educates, entertains and engages in ways that a standard phone or tablet can’t. The product is packed with the latest technology, incorporating AI, machine learning, robotics and voice recognition, allowing Miko to initiate conversations which both educate the child and allow the robot to learn more about them in return. Miko also delivers content in the form of video, audio, games, podcasts, live tutorials and much more.

Do you create your own content for Miko? We do create our own content, but we’re always looking for great content to add to our platform too. We’re particularly interested in content that can be adapted to Miko’s capabilities. Instead of a simple story book, for example, we consider whether we can create an interactive story in which children decide the outcomes, and if Miko can discuss the key themes and quiz the child about them. And instead of just learning about healthy food on a video, we want Miko to send a notification to mum’s phone with a game parents and kids can play together the next time they are at the supermarket. The possibilities for creating fun and unique learning experiences are endless, which is why we’re looking for key partners to help us create this magic. I urge anyone with great children's content to get in touch with me at to discuss opportunities.

What does the future hold for Miko? As our AI develops, we want to revolutionise the way we interact with technology, creating innovative ways to support families in an emotionally intelligent way. This is just the start of a very exciting journey which could see Miko supporting people through old age, or people with learning difficulties. For now, however, we are focused on making sure Miko is the best companion to children and their parents that technology can offer.

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indie viewpoint The BTHA launches new Make Time 2 Play podcast

The BTHA’s Make Time 2 Play campaign, which provides parents and carers with hundreds of free play ideas, tips and information on the benefits of play, has now released its first podcast series. The series will consist of six weekly episodes; in the first episode, presenter Georgia Jones chats to Dr Aric Sigman about the benefits of physical play and the impact physical play has on mental wellbeing and hears tips for parents and carers on how to get their children more active. The podcast is available at The BTHA has said it would be grateful if the toy industry could get behind the campaign and help share the podcast on companies’ own social media pages. Anyone interested in supporting the podcast and campaign is advised to email for more information.

Dantoy Take Back programme to give Danish toys a new lease of life In collaboration with Randers Municipality, Danish toy company Dantoy has set up a container into which parents and kids can place their pre-loved Dantoy toys. Once collected, the toys will then be recycled and made into new ones at the company's factory in Hobro, Denmark. “There is something special about producing toys in Hobro, selling them to consumers, picking them up again in Randers - just 30km away - after years of play, and taking them back to Hobro to make new toys out of them," said Mette Matthiasen, CEO of Dantoy. The is not the first time the Danish company has demonstrated its commitment to the environment. Dantoy was the first toy producer to carry the Nordic Eco Label and to this day remains one of the only ones producing almost 100% of its products with the label. Always striving to lead from the front on matters of sustainability, Dantoy Take Back is just the latest example of how the company is going the extra mile. The next chapter in the Dantoy Take Back project will follow in autumn, when a major collaboration with local kindergartens will launch. As part of the weeklong initiative, Dantoy will help kids learn how to recycle toys and will also help collect old and damaged Dantoy products, ready for them to be given a new lease of life at the Hobro factory. Mette added: “When plastic toys are broken, most parents will just toss them. This isn't good for the environment even if the toys are made out of bio-plastics and other environmentally friendly materials. We have to practise how to recycle more and more in our everyday lives. With this in mind, Dantoy has launched its new project, Dantoy Take Back. We will start the project with the local kindergartens and recycling stations, but expect to collaborate with kindergartens and stations across the whole of Denmark in the near future.”

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Pings can only get better


s we write this, we are in the middle of our own pingdemic at Toy Barnhaus. Having counted ourselves lucky with how few colleagues have had to isolate so far, the last two weeks have seen over 15% of our staff absent. It has been yet another challenge to deal with, and one we have been pretty much expecting. However, our team has been fantastic in being flexible, and pulled together to ensure all the stores are covered. They all appreciate their jobs more after such a turbulent time, and we are very grateful that their support ensures Toy Barnhaus has been able to keep serving our customers. We are hopeful that when the rules change on isolation, the situation should improve. On a more positive note, the summer holidays have been great for trade, with the increasing number of staycations resulting in footfall being noticeably up on last year, and even on two years ago too. The pocket money crazes continue to be popular, with anything fidget, squishy, squeezy or slimy proving difficult to keep in stock. Crazes and collectibles has been one of the key categories that has helped drive our success since we reopened in April. After a rough year for bricks and mortar retailers, a craze to help drive footfall is just what was needed, and the fact it is a pocket money craze is even better. Products at that price point are much less likely to be sold online, so it has really driven customers into physical shops. There are signs that the craze for pushpoppers is starting to slow among the basic lines, but any new shapes, designs, or ones with new features (we have just received a reversible popper octopus!) seem to immediately fly out, as kids want to have the latest thing and are always looking for something new. Along with that, collectibles is dominated by Pokémon trading cards, which are showing no signs of slowing and actually seem to be getting even more popular. We are just managing to get hold of stock in time and are really excited for the Pokémon Celebrations releases for the 25th anniversary in October. We are already being asked for these by our avid collectors, so expect this to be massive. By the time you read this, our Christmas stock will be arriving in stores, a few weeks earlier than previously. With the well documented shipping issues, we have taken the decision to take stock early where we can, to ensure inventory can meet demand later in the year. Now that there is coverage of the shipping crisis and supply issues in the mainstream press, we expect the message to get through and that people will be shopping earlier, to secure the items on their lists. Pre-Christmas marketing will be more important than ever to highlight available lines. Games and puzzles are key categories in the run up to Christmas. We will expand our ranges for the season and move games to the front of the store for the final four months of the year to capitalise on this demand. We expect sales to be focused on the evergreen bestsellers such as Monopoly, Rubiks Cube, Dobble, Operation, Scrabble etc. Not being able to see physical new products at any toy fairs this year means it has been more difficult to get a true feel for potential new bestsellers. But to keep things fresh, we have cautiously taken a gamble on a few new lines and will keep a close eye to see if there are any early winners. In this digital age, it only takes one YouTube or Tik Tok video to go viral, and demand will rocket almost overnight. You have to keep your eyes and ears peeled to see what customers are asking for and then react as quickly as possible. Stock will surely be tight this year, so this will be a challenge, but we’ve coped with everything so far so bring it on!

Industry Moves The Lego Group appoints new head of marketing The Lego Group has announced that Isabel Graham will be joining the UK & Ireland division as head of marketing. Starting in October, Isabel will be responsible for Lego UK & Ireland’s marketing strategy and execution. She brings to the role a wealth of experience from across The Lego Group, having worked for the company for almost 10 years, including for The Lego Agency, Product Group Marketing and the Americas Brand Marketing Team. Most recently, Isabel held the role of head of marketing for the Nordics division. Isabel will be replacing Marius Lang, who moved into the role of general manager for Benelux at The Lego Group on 1st August. Marius said: “I have very much enjoyed being part of The Lego Group’s UK & Ireland division over the last few years. A big thank you to our customers and many other partners for their trust and collaboration. It’s been a fun ride and I am proud of what we have achieved.” Isabel Graham added: “I am thrilled to be taking on this role, and I look forward to bringing my experience and passion for the Lego brand to the UK & Ireland business. It’s such an exciting time to be joining the team and I can’t wait to see what we are able to achieve together.”

Funko expands EMEA sales team with appointment of Karen Athill Joining from MGA Entertainment, where she served as sales director for over three years, Karen Athill will lead the regional sales teams as Funko continues its European expansion, as regional director of sales. At MGA, Karen helped to spearhead the strong growth of the UK region via a hugely successful sales strategy for brands including L.O.L. Surprise!, Rainbow High, Little Tikes, Baby born and Baby Annabel. Prior to this role, Karen headed up UK sales at Rubies, where she delivered multi-channel strategies across its comprehensive portfolio of products in both hardlines and softlines. Speaking of her new position, Karen said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Funko family. Its huge range of licence partnerships offers unlimited opportunities and I’m thrilled to be working on such a diverse product range spanning multiple categories. Additionally, the ongoing portfolio expansion, with brands such as Loungefly, make this an exciting time to be a part of the business. It’s great to be back in a cross-category environment; I cannot wait to be working with the Funko team and look forward to supporting our EMEA retailer partners as they move towards further growth.” Malcolm Ottley, vice president of sales at Funko (EMEA), added: “We are delighted to have been able to secure someone with Karen’s proven experience to help strengthen our retailer relationships throughout the UK, France and Iberia regions. Karen will lead our sales teams in those regions, further enhancing our strategic partner relations and continuing to drive our category expansions across our Pop! collectibles, toys, games and softlines through our thriving Loungefly business.”

Guy Rooney joins Zapf Creation as sales director MGA UK & Ireland has announced the appointment of Guy Rooney to the role of Zapf Creation sales director. Reporting to UK managing director Neil Bandtock, the newly created position will allow Guy to oversee the portfolio of Zapf’s award-winning brands, including Baby Annabell, Baby born and Baby born surprise. Joining the team following four years with Character Group, Guy will take up the position at the end of September. He joins with a wealth of experience in the toy and retail industry, including senior sales roles with IMC Toys and retail management positions with Argos and Homebase. Neil Bandtock, MD of MGA UK and Ireland, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Guy to the team. Zapf is home to a number of evergreen and hugely successful brands and the addition of Guy as sales director will elevate this success to the next level. Our UK and Ireland retailers will really benefit from this increased focus.” Guy Rooney commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Zapf team and can’t wait to get started. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity of supporting our customers and increasing the sales of these well-loved brands.”

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Industry Moves Jazwares adds new commercial and licensing directors As part of Jazwares’ ambitious European growth strategy, the EMEA team is expanding with Matt Stent appointed European commercial director and Sam Bourne the new European licensing director. Matt will be responsible for growing Jazwares’s business in Europe, through its regional offices and third-party distributors, and will report into Jonny Taylor, SVP Europe. He comes to Jazwares having spent almost two decades at Argos & Sainsburys, most recently as the buying manager for Sports, Leisure, Outdoor Toys & Nursery. As the new European licensing director, Sam Bourne will focus on ensuring Jazwares delivers commercial value and results to global licensing partners, as the business continues to grow. She was formerly head of licensing and brand at Rubie’s Masquerade, so brings a wealth of experience within licensed consumer goods. She will report into global VP of licensing, Sam Ferguson. In addition to these appointments, Jazwares has also expanded its UK team with a further 10 hires to fill newly created positions across licensing, sales, marketing, operations and business intelligence. Jonny Taylor, SVP Europe, said: “We are thrilled to be adding such strong talent to our team, to match our growth both in the UK and across Europe. Exciting times ahead.”

Casdon team welcomes senior hire Laura Bull Casdon Toys continues to expand its team with the recruitment of Laura Bull as Americas territory manager in a newly created role. Joining the Casdon team in August, Laura brings with her a wealth of toy industry experience, having previously held the position of UK and Ireland sales manager at Magic Box, as well as working as marketing manager at both Posh Paws and Schleich UK. The newly created role will allow Casdon to strengthen its operations overseas and harness growth in the American market. Phil Cassidy, managing director at Casdon Toys, said: “We are delighted to welcome Laura into the Casdon Family. This is an exciting step for Casdon as we continue to focus on our international growth, and we have no doubt that Laura’s experience within the industry will help us to achieve plans we have for the coming year.” Commenting on her new role, Laura added: “I am thrilled to be joining Casdon, a company so renowned and admired throughout the industry. I look forward to being part of the Casdon family and driving business growth in the American markets.”

Character Options announces new roles in sales restructure Character Options has announced several high-profile changes to its sales structure as part of an internal review, which the company says will help to ensure the company is well positioned for future growth. Home grown talents Richard Dinham and Anthony Thorpe have been promoted to senior national account managers in recognition of their first-rate professional approach and respect within the business. Sales director David Bramford said: “I am really pleased for both Richard and Anthony as they have both played an integral part in Character Options’ success in recent Sally Hunter Anthony Thorpe Richard Dinham years. From a personal perspective, it’s brilliant to have the opportunity to promote internally.” In addition, Sally Hunter has joined the Character team as a further senior national account manager and will replace Guy Rooney, who is leaving to take on a new industry role. David added: “Sally’s professional approach alongside her contagious enthusiasm will perfectly complement Anthony, Richard and the rest of the team. Over the years we have always felt she would be an ideal fit for Character and whilst I would like to personally thank Guy for his excellent contribution, equally I am sure Sally will relish taking this opportunity.”

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Marketing World Former GMTV stalwarts offer media opportunities on Talking Pictures TV Talking Pictures TV, the station which shows classic British film and television series, now includes a Saturday Morning Pictures slot, featuring a programme of films that many viewers will remember from their childhood. Mike Gull and Simon Poole, formerly of GMTV, are handling ad sales for the channel. The slot runs every Saturday from 9am – 12 noon, featuring classics including the 1942 Superman series, The Green Hornet, Laurel and Hardy, The Lone Ranger, sci-fi series, films from the Children’s Film Foundation/BFI and cartoons. Talking Pictures TV, which started six years ago, is now one of the UK’s most successful independent stations, with over five million viewers. This means the channel provides a strong opportunity for advertising and sponsorship by toy and model brands, particularly in the Saturday morning slot. The channel’s audience is largely upmarket Baby Boomers, many of whom have a huge interest in nostalgia – and disposable income to spend. As well as buying things for themselves, they’re often also looking for gifts for grandchildren, so there is a chance to showcase products to two generations. TPTV’s advertising sales are handled by Media 15, whose Mike Gull and Simon Poole have worked extensively with the toy and model industry in the past through their long association with GMTV, which always had a special relationship with the toy market. They are keen to talk to smaller companies who may not have thought of television advertising, as they believe they can offer simple, effective packages to advertisers. Talking Pictures can make a commercial for any company new to TV, which can be used in any subsequent promotional material. Talking Pictures TV is available on Freeview and YouView channel 81, Sky 328, Virgin 445 and Freesat 306 and is free to all viewers. Anyone who would like to talk about advertising or sponsorship can contact or Moose Toys says that the launch of Akedo is the company’s biggest boys’ launch to date. The retail launch took place in early August, when Akedo Ultimate Arcade Warriors hit the market as the first brand to combine realistic battling action figures at a micro-collectible scale. Akedo Ultimate Arcade Warriors the animated series launched on 2nd July with an exclusive mini movie on the MooseTube Mania channel. The series follows three friends on their journey to become Akedo Warriors and is already creating a buzz online, with the mini movie receiving over 1.4m views in its first month. With reports suggesting The Akedo Super Ultimate Ultimate Tournament took place that school pupils in the as an “as live” event in partnership with Nickelodeon on 15th UK lost a third of education August. The tournament matched up 16 competitors to battle it out time during the pandemic, and become the first Akedo Ultimate Arcade Warrior champion. arts & crafts brand Crayola Leading influencers including Ninja Kidz, Onyx Kids, Ohana Boys has teamed up with dataand Kyle’s Toys & Games were all on board, posting training videos powered integrated agency on their channels in the lead up to the tournament. Jaywing to create its 2021 “Akedo is the next global action franchise mega-hit and this back-to-school campaign. is a perfect three-move combo of toy, animation series and event Designed to encourage a new launch,” said Logan Stone, Moose Toys marketing director for UK year of adventures, friendship, exploration and endless creative possibilities, Crayola partnered & Europe. “It is the most dynamic battling toy ever, with Great Bedwyn C.E and its pupils in Wiltshire to reflect on the back to school season requiring skill and strategy to land the knockout blow. through the imagination of a child. It is highly collectible, with only one in 1000 of the The campaign, which comprises videos and images showing children colouring in a series of Limited Edition Mythical Stormstrikes available letters to reveal the phrase ‘back to school’, saw the pupils from the Great Bedwyn C.E Primary globally. Most importantly Akedo is engaging school playing a huge role in the project. The aim was to emphasise the human experience physical entertainment, giving kids the of education and adventure through learning as they created poems about their own back to chance to play off screens with their school memories. The children then attended the final shoot, where they read out the poems to friends in-person once more.” be used as the final voice over. The videos and images, which were created for Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, ran online over the summer, reaching over 3.5m parents. Crayola is passionate about helping parents and educators encourage creativity and is committed to making its products responsibly. This means parents and children can feel confident their back to school tools are responsibly sourced from well-managed forests and created with the help of sun-harnessed renewable energy. Jade Childs, brand manager at Crayola, said: “We worked with Jaywing to creatively execute our Back-to-School 2021 social campaign, which celebrates the return of school. We’re thrilled with the final Back to School campaign and the authentic creatives we developed together, with the poems written and voiced-over by participating children from a local school. It was a great process that they really enjoyed getting involved in.”

Nickelodeon tournament marks launch of Akedo Ultimate Arcade Warriors

Crayola partners with UK primary school to spark creativity and inspiration

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Marketing World Rubies’ Fall in Love with Halloween campaign set to fright and delight With Halloween fast approaching, Rubies’ Fall in Love with Halloween campaign will provide a combination of prominent creative, rich media and engaging activity ideas for Rubies’ core audience along with striking content which can be utilised by its trade customers. Halloween is by far the biggest event of the year for Rubies, and the company predicts Halloween will be celebrated by consumers like never before this year, due to the previous two years of minimal festivities. With parties, gatherings, trick-or-treating and many other events planned, Halloween will be the first major occasion of 2021 which will allow consumers to gather and celebrate with the ones they love. The campaign will see Rubies unleash brand-new content across all its social channels, the official website and a range of partnered retail sites. The content will showcase a mixture of new generic costumes and accessories in addition to officially licensed characters such as horror icons Freddy and Jason and will feature across social channels in a range of new media formats supported by online and print marketing collateral. The campaign kicked off in June, with an ambitious photoshoot centred around a vaudeville theme, shot on location with models and circus performers. The size and scale of the shoot was like nothing Rubies has ever undertaken before, and the industry professionals and skilled circus performers displayed an incredible ability to take the costumes to another level. Fran Hales, head of Content and Marketing, said: “I am delighted with how each aspect of this marketing campaign is turning out. The photoshoot allowed us to put our own unique spin on what we do as a business, showcasing Rubies’ imaginative ideas when it comes to content generation. What we’ve created in such a small space of time will not only serve us well for Halloween but also for Carnival season. We are keen for our partners to also benefit from our marketing materials, and I encourage them to contact us to utilise it on their own channels and platforms.”

Character Kidz Big Weekend hailed an outstanding success Character Options’ three-day virtual extravaganza took place from 6-8th August as junior content creators reviewed new key lines due to arrive in store this month. With views still racking up after the event had taken place, it was an outstanding success for all who took part. Kidfluencers from across the nation came together to unbox new items including Little Live Pets, Piggly the Walking Pig and Gotta Go Turdle, Tan Tan the butt wiggling Orangutan from Jiggly Pets, Squeakee the Balloon Dino, Heroes of Goo Jit Zu’s Galaxy Attack, plus new Glo-Up Girls and more. Over 80 videos were created highlighting the new, innovative toys, while live-time social events for ChillFactor, Mash’ems, Moonshoes, Glo-Up and Squeakee Dino drove engagement and interaction. Jerry Healy, Character Options’ marketing director, commented: “The pandemic encouraged us to take Character Kidz online in 2020. After the success of that event, we are delighted to say this year’s was even bigger and better, with TikTok really adding to the mix. It takes months of preparation, but these talented youngsters support us all year and we were delighted to bring even more to them in their own homes this year. For us it’s a kick-off to the new season and a base from which all our online activity and PR will start.” In addition to over five hours of YouTube content, TikTok and Instagram hosted shorter form content, further ramping up the views and reach of the campaign. In the week after the event, over 3m Instagram impressions, 5m TikTok views and 2m YouTube views had been recorded, with views rising every hour. “On behalf of Character Options, I’d like to thank all the creators for their phenomenal support. Without their hard work and infectious personalities, we wouldn’t have had such an explosive weekend of activities, fun and laughter,” added Jerry. For more information about the products featured during the Character Kidz Big Weekend please call 0161 633 9800 or email

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Please email us at or contact 01525 664041 We’re excited to help you #LiveTheRide


YouTube advertising to overtake TV, but when? Jonathan looks at UK TV advertising and whether it is set to follow trends in other territories, where its dominance has started to wane.

Jonathan Chambers Director of AV Investment, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7906


s an industry, we’ve been reporting the decline of TV for the past five years, yet year after year it still commands the largest share of Toys and Games ad spend in the UK. This is no longer the case in the US (and some European markets such as Belgium, Netherlands and Nordics), so how long will TV’s dominance last in the UK? Our latest report, Toys & Games AV Update H1 2021, reveals that reported total Toys & Games advertising spend for the January-June 2021 period increased by +16% year-on-year (YoY). This was driven by the expected surge in Q2, with April finishing +147% YoY. Within this, TV’s growth fell below the average at +14%, whereas Digital finished +54%. The reasons for this are manifold, but the ongoing double-digit decline of children’s TV viewing is pivotal. Children 4-9 impacts on the key commercial channels (children’s specific) fell -22% YoY, with Boys 4-9 (-36%) migrating to other platforms far quicker than girls 4-9 (-6%). This pattern of decline is nothing new – double digit decline has been prevalent for the past five years (in total children’s equivalent impacts have decreased by -55% over that time). However, when focusing in on the first half of the year (H1), the increased rate of growth in Digital does subvert the usual narrative. Traditionally Linear TV provides a more cost-effective means of building effective reach compared to its Digital counterparts. However, the decline in viewing to Linear TV is severely impacting reach. When analysing based purely on cost per impact, children’s TV still provided the best return on investment for toy advertisers during H1 2021. But if we look at a deeper analysis of cost per % cover point, YouTube actually provided a comparable performance to TV (albeit with a much lower frequency). Looking ahead to Q4 as the cost of linear TV increases, YouTube will not only outperform TV

in terms of cost per % cover point, but also cost per impact. So, does that mean YouTube will command the largest share of Toys & Games advertising spend? The reality is that this won’t be the case in 2021. For all the advantages that YouTube is now providing when it comes to media metrics, doubts still remain as to whether it can be as effective at driving ROI at the tills (in store and online). This will result in TV still retaining over 50% of ad spend. Growing evidence does suggest that YouTube and other Digital platforms are making gains on TV when it comes to sales based marketing metrics. According to the latest wave of Giraffe Insights Little Voices study, 27% of 4-9 year olds claim they see the best adverts on YouTube, compared to 20% for TV. 28% of 4-9 year olds cite YouTube advertising as a source of inspiration for products they want, whilst 55% of 2-9 year olds remember seeing adverts on YouTube. The confidence in TV’s continued dominance in 2021 assumes that ad spend will be deployed as planned. However, ongoing supply chain issues mean that there may be advertisers who are not able to commit to the early booking deadlines. Given the audience declines, there is the possibility that when such advertisers are in a position to book, there will not be enough inventory to meet demand. This will result in investment being shifted to Digital platforms where flexibility is much greater and inventory continues to outstrip demand. This being the case, do not be surprised to see some brands run 100% Digital campaigns this Q4, which will then generate the case studies needed to prove the effectiveness of YouTube et al at generating sales.

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Should this be the case, then Q4 2022 will see TV lose the crown and Digital emerge as the largest destination for Toys & Games UK ad spend. As things stand, YouTube will be the recipient of the largest share, no surprise given its market-leading reach and cost efficiencies for advertisers. It will not have a monopoly though. Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media platforms will gain share as more attention is focused on parents and gift givers, where sales can be more easily tracked online. TikTok will likely have resolved its compliancy issues in the US and globally, so it may once again decide to allow children targeted advertising (in a COPPA and GDPR-K compliant manner). We will also see content owners and developers stake larger claims for ad spend as they diversify their portfolios across more platforms. And let’s not forget gaming. Huge portions of children’s time is devoted to gaming, and partners such as SuperAwesome, Playwire and Venatus continue to innovate in the creation of engaging new formats. SuperAwesome, as part of the Epic group, could well be placed to make moves in 2022 that give them the advantage in this space. All of the above will of course be utilised in 2021 by the vast majority of advertisers in some form or another, but it is 2022 when they will need to come to the fore of successful marketing strategies. If you are not yet looking ahead to 2022 marketing (and beyond) and making the most of 2021 as a successful testing ground, then get in touch to discuss the best solutions for your brands.

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Licensing World Lego unveils Harry Potter Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition

Tonies details latest properties to join audio line-up The latest Tonie figures include a new Clangers Tonie. A great introduction to the iconic CBeebies TV show, the Tonie plays six adventures, narrated by Sir Michael Palin that will take children on an exploration of the Clangers’ planet, joined by Small, Tiny, Mother, Major and Granny Clanger. Jeremy Banks, CEO of Coolabi Group, said: “We are absolutely over the moon to be announcing this new partnership and the Clangers Tonie release. The partnership celebrates all the fantastic music and sounds that make Clangers so magical and unique.” The Clangers Tonie was released alongside other popular children’s properties How to Train Your Dragon, Trolls and Super Wings Tonies. Meanwhile, the Tonies Disney range has also welcomed even more additions with Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Moana and Mulan Tonies joining the range. As well as encouraging independence, the magical stories told by the classic characters will inspire conversations and the development of emotional bonds with parents, who will be able to share their own memories of hearing the stories for the first time. In fostering this deeper connection, Tonies keeps little ones entertained in a way that is meaningful, enriching and, most importantly, fun. Pinky Laing, UK Partnerships at Tonies commented: “We are delighted to be launching our newest Disney licences, Bambi, Winnie the Pooh, Moana and Mulan, building on the special relationship we hold with one of the world’s best-loved brands. We are dedicated to igniting the imaginations of the next generation and helping them feel inspired by the power of storytelling.”

Celebrating 20 years of Lego Harry Potter and its tie up with the Wizarding World, The Lego Group has revealed the Harry Potter Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition, a detailed new set which captures some of the most iconic characters in one model. The set follows the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends and also includes famous artefacts found in the Wizarding World over the last two decades. Sitting proudly at the centre of the set is Harry’s loyal owl, Hedwig, clutching the infamous Hogwarts letter. Fans will also find Harry’s wand and glasses, a chocolate frog, a potions tray including five potion bottles and ingredients, as well as Tom Riddle’s diary, the Golden Snitch and a school scarf which is customisable to match any Hogwarts House. The model comprises 3010 pieces and measures over 44cm high, 50cm wide and 33cm deep, and comes with a bespoke stand and celebratory tile to mark the 20th anniversary of Lego Harry Potter. The set also comes with a trio of exclusive anniversary golden Lego minifigures, including Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid, as seen together in the first scene of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Speaking about the new set, Lego designer Marcos Bessa said: “The timeless magic of Harry Potter never leaves you, and this new Lego set is our way of celebrating 20 years of Lego Harry Potter and the wonderful people and things found in it. Every item in the set is filled with memories, from winning quidditch matches to iconic potion ingredients, not to mention getting that all-important letter. Building the Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition Set is sure to bring fond recollections back for Wizarding World and Lego fans alike, with this beautiful centrepiece.” The Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Icons Collector’s Edition Set will be available from September.

HTI extends JCB portfolio with introduction of My First JCB HTI has added My First JCB to its 22-year strong licensing partnership with the world-renowned digger brand. Under the Teamsterz brand, HTI has been recreating high quality replica toys of JCB machines for the 5-10 year-old market since 1999. From AW22, the company will also be providing JCB toys, with bright colours and fun characters, for the pre-school market by adding My First JCB to the existing portfolio. Alison Downie, HTI’s global licensing and brand director commented: “We look forward to welcoming Joey JCB and his friends to HTI. This natural progression of enhancing the current JCB offering with My First JCB will simplify and strengthen the purchasing process for retailers and JCB fans alike”. The JCB toy category produced by HTI exceeds 40 lines, ranging from mini machines to larger dump trucks and excavators with sounds, lights and movement. An FSC wooden range has also recently been developed, and tool kits, playsets, ride-ons and tower cranes will allow kids to fully immerse themselves into the construction industry. Sam Johnson, senior licensing manager at JCB added: “Our long relationship with HTI goes from strength to strength and we’re delighted to finally have the full mainstream toy offering under one roof. Joey JCB and the gang will feel right at home with a partner that believes passionately in all things JCB”. For more information about the JCB range and the full HTI portfolio, contact HTI on 01253 775544 or

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Licensing World Rubies hails inclusivity with new Marvel Adaptive Costumes Rubies’ range of Adaptive Costumes has been designed for children with limited mobility. The company’s new range has been specifically designed so that all children, no matter their condition or level of ability, can participate in the magical world of roleplay and dress-up. The costumes have a range of features which mean they are optimised for ease of wear, accessibility and fitting. Mike O’Connell, Rubies’ managing director, commented: “We are extremely pleased to announce the introduction of Adaptive Costumes into our extensive licensed portfolio. As an inclusive and innovative company, we strive to create a world where everyone can express themselves equally.” Specialised design features include back openings in the trousers and skirts, which allow wheelchair users to dress in bed or in a laying down position. A combination of Velcro fastenings with elasticated areas add comfort and allow for easier dressing, while a discreet front flap opening allows access to tubes on the abdominal area. The seated area is free from costume fabric, helping to reduce pressure points which can cause sores and ulcers from wrinkles, creases or pronounced seams. To ensure the collection provided comfort and inclusivity with the key demographic, the costumes have been tried and tested on a select focus group of participants in this year’s Superhero Series Powered by Marvel, with positive feedback across the board on the designs and features. One of the costumes even featured on a Good Morning Britain section, with Emerson Grant showcasing his Spider-Man outfit to the nation. Mike O’Connell added: “Although our exclusive Adaptive Range costumes are different in their features and design, we wanted to ensure our price point matched any other costume of the same quality within our range.” Available to order in time for Halloween, the new range will launch with a choice of characters from Marvel, DC and The Mandalorian, including Captain America and SpiderMan’s jumpsuits featuring 3D padded muscles, and Wonder Woman’s dress which comes with a range of accessories to complete the look. Meanwhile, Rubies has also announced a Pan-European alliance to develop, manufacture and distribute costume dress up and accessories for Zag and On kids & family’s flagship brand, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.

Hunter Price Hasbro Bildo distribution deal kicks off with Peppa Pig Hunter Price International has announced a new strategic partnership with Bildo, one of Europe’s top toy manufacturers. Following the expansion of its EMEA licensing collaboration with Hasbro, which spans several evergreen Hasbro brands including Play-Doh, Peppa Pig, My Little Pony and Ricky Zoom, Bildo has granted Hunter Price the exclusive distribution rights of a range of role-play items, which hit the UK market from this summer. The partnership kicks off with Bildo’s Peppa Pig product offering. The range brings to life the brand’s strong play values for this ever-popular pre-school licence, which has already received strong support from retailers ahead of autumn/winter 2021. Key items within the range include play kitchens, tea trolleys, tea sets and learning blocks. Richard Belford, sales director at Hunter Price, explained: “Peppa Pig is a true evergreen licence which continues to evolve and engage young children across all channels. To add such a heavyweight brand to our portfolio shows our commitment to providing the best offering for our retail partners. This and the upcoming Hasbro ranges will really strike a chord with our retail partners, especially in a climate where value remains ever important.” George Fotopoulos, commercial director at Bildo, said: “We’ve worked closely with Hunter Price for many years, so we knew it would be a great fit for us to expand our Hasbro licensing offering in the UK. In close collaboration with Hasbro, we look forward to rolling out our Peppa Pig strategy in the UK and Hunter Price is an integral part of this plan. At the same time, we are preparing the launch of future licensing ranges from Play-Doh and Ricky Zoom to My Little Pony, due to market in 2022 onwards.” For further information, contact

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Toikido inks deal with Boneloaf and Gang Beasts Following ongoing success with the Among Us brand, Toikido has landed a deal with another gaming super studio. The company has signed a global master partnership with Boneloaf and the multi-award-winning Gang Beasts. Darran Garnham, founder of Toikido said: “We are huge fans of the Boneloaf team and have been playing Gang Beasts together and with our families for ages, so to bring it into the Toikido stable is amazing news”. Boneloaf is working on a series of experimental multiplayer party games with the development team working iteratively, prototyping and playtesting to identify what is fun. The team grew up playing Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye 007 and other local multiplayer games, and so have been inspired to make games that have a similarly lively and fun feel to them. Gang Beasts, which has recently been announced for release on Nintendo Switch, has developed an amazing fanbase and has been honoured with a slew of awards and industry recognition. Toikido has slated the launch of Gang Beasts consumer products for 2022 across a number of categories, including, but not limited to toys, apparel, stationery and more. Darran is delighted with the Toikido business so far, as the company continues to build on its early success stories. “Toikido is a business that ‘pushes the envelope of innovation’, not only in the kind of toys and IP it delivers to a contemporary toy industry, but in the way the industry itself operates,” he said. “We have the infrastructure to operate at lightning speed, having brought Among Us to market in under six months from agreeing terms to hitting the shelves. This is revolutionary to the normal route to market.” “Toikido has been born by handpicking amazing people who I have always wanted to bring together,” Darran added. “We’ve developed an ecosystem across many disciplines and skills that are really going to shake things up a bit. I’m really very excited about the future of the business.”

Working Together to Keep Bad Toys Away

Contact us to discuss how we can help ensure the safety and quality of your products. MTS can help you mitigate risks whilst offering cost effective solutions. • UK toy laboratory – physical, flammability & chemical testing • UK Approved Body for toys • Global laboratory locations • Europe & Asia inspection services • Factory auditing • Consultancy & risk assessments

For more information email us at: or call us on:

+44 (0)113 248 8830 www mts-global com


16/12/2020 12:20

Licensing World Brainstorm adds Paw Patrol and Blue’s Clues & You! Torch & Projectors

BBC to show Pokémon series for first time this summer For the first time ever, Pokémon animation is available on BBC iPlayer with the broadcaster acquiring two complete story arcs from the Pokémon the Series collection, along with the associated feature-length Pokémon the Movie films for linear and iPlayer. The Pokémon Company International has announced viewers can tune into the adventures of Ash and Pikachu in 189 episodes of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, which are now available to UK audiences on BBC iPlayer. 142 episodes of Pokémon the Series: Black & White will follow this autumn on a non-exclusive basis. There will also be eight feature-length movies available to watch. The episodes trace the journey of young Pokémon trainer, Ash Ketchum, and Pikachu, as Ash works towards his ultimate goal of becoming a Pokémon Master. The Diamond and Pearl story arc heads for the Sinnoh region, where beautiful cities, passionate Gym Leaders, mysterious legends of time and space, cruel villains, and of course, a multitude of Pokémon await Ash, Pikachu and friends. Meanwhile, in the Black & White story arc, Ash and Pikachu visit the distant Unova region, where they encounter new friends, new rivals, new challenges and all-new Pokémon.

Brainstorm is adding Paw Patrol Blue’s Clues & You! to its successful Torch & Projector range after agreeing a partnership with ViacomCBS Consumer Products UK. Paw Patrol continues to be the UK’s number one pre-school toy licence with growth across the industry, and the new Torch & Projector will allow fans to project images of all their favourite characters up to one metre wide on their walls and ceilings. It will include 24 images featuring characters and scenes from the animated programme and Brainstorm plans to have the first stocks available in August, in time for the UK release of the much-anticipated Paw Patrol movie. The newly rebranded Blue’s Clues & You! was the number one UK pre-school premiere on Milkshake!, Nick Jr. and YouTube, and Brainstorm’s Blue’s Clues & You! Torch & Projector will include 24 images from the popular play-along series starring pre-school aged puppy Blue, Josh and Friends. Brainstorm’s popular Torch & Projector range features a variety of themes including Puppy, Funny Animals, Space, Shark, Pirate and other licensed characters including Shaun the Sheep and Wallace & Gromit. Debra Tiffany, marketing manager at Brainstorm, said: “It’s great to be working with the team at ViacomCBS Consumer Products UK and we can’t wait to add these two popular properties to our Torch & Projector line. Thanks to their pocket money price-point and superb quality, the range is already hugely successful, and we are certain that these excellent character licences will guarantee a winning combination.”

Moose Toys announces newest products for Bluey Bluey, the hit animated children’s TV series consistently ranked No.1 on Disney Channel and Disney Junior, is welcoming new toys from Moose. Leading the way is Bluey’s Caravan Adventures. Rolling out this month, the large play set includes everything the Blue Heeler dog family needs for outdoor fun. Inspired by the ‘Camping’ episode, where Bluey meets a new friend, Jean Luc, the play set includes an exclusive Jean Luc figure, a firepit and accessories. Launching alongside Bluey’s Caravan are other new offerings to help families embark on their own adventures. The Talking Bluey Plush says nine phrases when his belly is pushed, and also sings the opening song from the Disney series. Moose’s new themed figure sets feature Bluey and Bingo ready to play one of their favourite games of pretend, Queens. The set includes a royal crown and regal brushed tricot cape that both can wear as they take turns being Queen for a day. There’s also Bingo and Dad (Bandit) in their work attire, each wearing their badges from the episode ‘Work’ and complete with a cloud bag accessory. Perfect for family entertainment on-the-go, the Bluey Hopscotch Race Card Game sees players build a hopscotch path using cards, then spin the spinner to match the colour. The game includes 44 colourful picture cards, a colour spinner and the four Bluey family characters as game pieces. Paul Solomon, co-owner, Moose Toys, said: “Bluey has entered the cultural zeitgeist, an actual ‘pup culture.’ In addition to topping many prestigious must-watch TV and best show lists, last year Bluey was The NPD Group’s No.1 new licence year-over-year in the Pre-school Figures, Playsets and Accessories category and the No.2 new growth property in the total toy industry. It’s clear Bluey is a favourite among kids and adults, so we’re continuing to expand our toy line to meet demand and allow kids to replicate their favourite episodes or create their own everyday adventures.”

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NPD Insight

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 Follow NPD on Twitter @npdgroup.

Collectibles are back Moneeba looks at the collectibles category which is benefiting from retail reopening and children returning to school, as well as being boosted by the popularity of the Euros.


or the first seven months of the year, the collectibles market in the UK was worth £105m and has showed a significant growth of +19% vs. YTD July 2020. Collectibles now account for 12% of the total toy market spend, which is up two percentage points from where we were last year. Collectibles currently represents one in every five toys purchased. As non-essential stores opened in mid-April, we saw the resurgence of impulse purchasing. Coupled with children returning to school, this has seen the collectibles sector return to growth.

Yu-Gi-Oh cards, WWE cards and the new Slam Attax cards. With England getting further in the Euro Football Championships than ever before, the Euros gave a major boost to the Non-Strategic Trading Cards/ Collectible Stickers category, which has sold 6.4m units so far this year with a total value of £13.5m. The UEFA Euro 2020 Tournament Multiset by Panini was the number one fastest selling item for the month of July based on SKU efficiency, with only 23% distribution. It was also the number one new item in the collectibles

Moneeba Baloch

Account Manager, UK Toys, Euro Toys

new items come through across a range of different categories. Capitalising on the Sports theme, the L.O.L. Surprise! All Star B.B.s Sport Asst ranked as the number two new collectible item, generating £1.4m and selling over 122k units. The 5 Surprise Mini Brands Ball Asst has also been exceptionally popular this year, selling over 183k units. New items account for a 37% share of collectibles and have generated £38.8m so far this year.

Since the end of lockdown in mid-April, the collectibles market has enjoyed stronger growth than during the YTD July 2021 vs. 2020 first quarter, increasing by over a third. Indeed, the first week of stores Strategic Trading Card Games re-opening was the Non-Strategic Trading Cards/CollecMble SMckers biggest week of the year With impulse for collectibles value so Miscellaneous Toys purchasing far this year. With just TradiMonal Plush returning, the under 11m units sold shift in price point since mid-April, the AcMon Figure CollecMbles growth has swung number of collectibles Standard Building Sets to lower price sold has nearly doubled. points. Each price Playset Doll Accessories Collectibles in the point below £4.99 Grocery channel grew Fashion Dolls has shown YOY by nearly a quarter, CraR Kits growth. The 0-99p while it grew by +48% price point has in the Specialist and Reusable Compounds shown the biggest Mixed channel. Overall, £0 £3 £6 £9 £12 YOY growth by Grocery accounts for Millions Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | UK | YTD Jul-21 +32%, with a total a bigger share of the value of £9.8m. The category with 56%, while 1 The NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential next price point to show the biggest YOY growth is £3area. The UEFA Euro 2020 Tournament Edition Booster Specialist & Mixed accounts for 44%. £3.99 which has a value of £31m and grew by +18% YOY. Pack, priced on average at 81p, was the number one So, what has been driving the collectibles market fastest selling item for the month of July based on unit While collectibles are now in growth vs. 2020, the growth? Strategic Trading Card Games is the number efficiency. Selling over 100k units, this item has flown area is still down -11% vs. 2019, but with consumers one gaining subclass so far in 2021. Adding over £10m off the shelves with a small distribution of 7%. It’s not buying more toys at the lower price point, there is to the market and growing value by triple digits, the just the Euro stickers which are continuing to sell fast; every chance that we will see the collectibles market success of this subclass is largely being driven by we’re also seeing the Minecraft Treasure Sticker Packs maintain the current positive trend as we head into Q4. the Pokémon Trading Card SKUs, with the number and SuperZings Rivals of Kaboom Power Machines in We know that collectibles items are popular for pocket one item in this subclass being the Pokémon Kanto the top ten fastest selling items based on unit efficiency. money spend and stocking fillers, so we hope this Power Mini Tin Display. With children back to school

Top Gaining Collectibles Subclasses

combined with the collector element, there are other properties which are performing strongly, including

Newness has been really important in the rise of collectibles this year. We’ve seen many innovative

Toy World 34

growth continues for the rest of the year.

Item Progression:

Item Description

Polly Pocket World Sweet Treat Playset Doll Accessories generated £1.5m in terms of value and accounted for Compact Asst 74 4 11% of Dolls share for the month of July. A key contributor to this value was the Polly Pocket World Sweet Treat Compact, which climbed 70 places this month and had a value of £241k, showing growth of +83% vs. Jun 2021. Increasing its distribution by +15% this month, this item is distributed well across 83% of weighted distribution in our data. Selling under 22k units with an average price of £11.03, this item ranks at 16% of total Playset Doll Accessories subclass for the month. Polly Pocket as an overall brand has performed phenomenally well, up +64% and is the No.1 fastest growing existing Doll property this month, now the No.3 property in Playset Dolls, behind L.O.L. Surprise! and Sylvanian Families. With the licensing market now accounting for 27% of sales, the biggest share we’ve seen in the last four years, the way in which consumers are viewing content has become YTD July 2021 vs. 2020 increasingly important. Typically, movies have been the biggest driver for licensed consumer products, but this has £140 been in decline so far this year, as cinemas remained closed and traditional movie releases were limited. That trend could well change with a number of blockbuster cinematic releases £105 due later this year, while some classic movie IPs such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Spiderman have remained strong, even without movie releases. £70 TV/DVD/Digital remains the biggest entertainment driver for Toys consumers products. Accounting for 16% of the total toys market, this entertainment category has become £35 increasingly popular this year, with the likes of Barbie, Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig all in double digit growth. As consumers’ focus moved from the big screen to little £0 TV/DVD/Digital Movie Video Digital Games Sports Music screens, we have also seen Video Digital Games grow by +75% YOY, adding £18.5m to the market. Pokémon has added Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | UK | YTD Jul-21 over £11m to this area, while Minecraft has added over +£3m. 2 The NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential As well as these two key properties, the No.1 new property in the market, Lego Super Mario Brothers, also added an incremental +£3.5m. It's no surprise that sports has grown +89% so far this year. There has been a real push for children to get back into sporting activities, with further big sporting events due over the next couple of years. While the collectible Euros stickers have driven the majority of Sports sales so far in 2021, it is also worth pointing out that properties such as Monster Jam have also proven popular in this area. Millions

Entertainment Type in Toys

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Pre-Christmas Marketing

Take it from media In previous years, Toy World’s annual look at pre-Christmas advertising campaigns has focused very much on broadcast kids’ TV, but the times, they are a-changin’. In this piece, which features generous expert input from Generation Media, KidsKnowBest and Azure Media, Rachael Simpson-Jones takes a deep dive in the Q4 marketing space to find out how the pandemic, stock shortages, viewing habits and more are impacting toy companies’ plans.


n the same way that it accelerated a major shift to eCommerce among retailers and consumers, the pandemic has accelerated a shift to digital viewership that, our experts tell us, was already taking place long before Covid showed up. “Prior to the lockdowns, kids were spending an increasing amount of their time in on-demand platforms, be that video or gaming - basically media they can switch on at any time instead of content

Tristan Brookes Azure Media

being scheduled,” notes Tristan Brooks, managing partner & head of Client Services, Azure Media. “This trend has been driven through growing access to digital devices and video on demand services like Netflix. With kids at home over the lockdowns, parents invested more in technology and media services to keep themselves and their kids connected, educated and entertained. This means kids are now spending more time with the media platforms they enjoy, as well as discovering new content as their media worlds expanded. There are now more households in the UK than before with greater access to content. Viewing is unlikely to shift back, so advertisers need to understand how their media worlds have evolved to be able to reach, interact and engage them.” In the first six months of this year, Jon Chambers, director of AV Investment at Generation Media tells me, kids’ TV channels reported a combined decline of -25% YOY in terms of commercial impacts. Taking a longer-term view, this figure stands at -55% over the past five years (2021 vs. 2017). “During the pandemic, the biggest recipients of audience migrating away from children’s TV were SVOD platforms such as Netflix and Disney+,” adds Generation Media’s business director of Digital, Felix Lewis. “According to Kids and the Screen data provided by Giraffe Insights, in October 2019 SVOD services accounted for 23% of viewing occasions (Live

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TV = 28%, Online Video = 24%). By October 2020, this had risen to 31% ahead of both Live TV (23%) and Online Video (21%). In the latest wave of data, however, (April 2021), we are witnessing general viewing fatigue across all platforms as viewers become more time poor. There are less opportunities for long binging sessions, meaning SVOD’s lead has been eroded to 29% and Live TV has gained share - although not time - at 26%. TV’s share however has been largely held up by the diversification of what children are watching; the greater focus on family time has continued post lockdown, meaning more shared viewing experiences such as sports, movies and Saturday night entertainment (not forgetting Love Island either). Online video, such as YouTube, has been the most consistent player throughout this entire period, and with costs becoming preferential over Live TV, it will provide the most compelling rival to TV for advertisers spends in Q4.” KidsKnowBest, an agency that focuses predominantly on digital and social, has witnessed another impact from the pandemic first-hand - the need for speed. Rob Lough, co-founder and chief brand officer, says that with the pandemic creating a situation of ongoing behavioural change, and big TVC productions becoming harder to execute on, the route to entry on digital and social media is much easier. Rob also says that his agency is seeing


Pre-Christmas Marketing

Rob Lough KidsKnowBest far more strategies geared towards earlier launches. He explains: “In previous years, November and December would be the key months of focus, but with competition hotting up and the route to market becoming far easier for smaller brands through digital with D2C [direct to consumer], we are seeing October and even September marking the start of the Christmas push.” During research for this piece, both Generation Media and Azure Media raised a further hurdle facing TV advertising, one caused by an issue extensively reported upon by Toy World in recent months – supply chain problems. As Jon Chambers explains, stock shortages caused by ongoing shipping issues will mean some advertisers aren’t able to commit as early to bookings as in previous years, meaning they will prioritise channels which offer the shortest lead times. While TV supply partners are working hard to offer the toy market as much flexibility as possible, giving marketers more time than in previous years to make the right decisions for their budgets, they are constrained by the limitations of the declines in their audience and will therefore have to prioritise accordingly. “The ongoing issue with disruption in the supply chain is causing unforeseeable changes to campaigns, so we’re working very closely with our clients whilst managing the media sales houses to keep them as flexible as possible,” adds Azure’s Tristan Brooks. “This is a unique year with unique challenges, but we’ve had the foresight and time to make sure we’re prepared to deal with these as they arise, coming into the final quarter. Where there’s limited media availability, as there is with Kids TV, investment commitments need to be made earlier; however, we’ve worked with clients to build more flexibility into media plans. I see this being the new normal digital media will take greater investment and can be switched on much more reactively according to requirements.” Felix Lewis also offers his perspective, noting that while in previous years this disruption would have presented a significant challenge to the toy industry, due to TV’s market-leading cost and effectiveness, a plethora of cost viable alternatives are now available across the digital spectrum, led by YouTube. He says: “With much shorter lead times, and, at present, lower demand from advertisers, inventory availability will not be an issue for those looking to approve bookings later. More importantly, the effectiveness of these channels in comparison to TV is improving all the time. TV has long led the way when it comes to marketing metrics such as brand recall, but a

recent study by Giraffe Insights revealed that 55% of US children (aged 2-12) remember seeing adverts on YouTube. When asked ‘Where do you see the best adverts?’, YouTube emerged as a resounding No.1, ahead of TV, TikTok and Instagram respectively. Therefore, expect to see some advertisers employ 100% digital strategies where it makes sense to do so for their brands.” Felix continues: “We must also remember that stock challenges are not isolated to the toys and games market. There will be many other industries impacted by the shipping crisis, plus the supply of microchips. As a result, we are likely to see spend reductions from categories such as automotive and tech. This being the case, it could open opportunities that are usually the reserve of multinational corporations - such as high-profile online takeovers or prime time TV sponsorships - at lower costs, as media owners look to maximise their inventory in the face of reduced demand.” Going back to what Felix said earlier, ‘Plethora’ is an accurate word when it comes to describing the digital marketing space. It’s both vast and varied, spanning YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, plus specialist kids’ networks,

Felix Lewis Generation Media and more. With great choice comes great decision making – when there are so many ways to reach consumers, how do you sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of what works for your brand? “The same way you would separate radio, cinema and TV: it’s about consumers’ needs,” answers Rob Lough. “Advertising and content have never been a one-size-fits-all market. The reason a person uses TikTok is completely different to the reason they use YouTube, Instagram, Roblox and other social platforms. For example, KidsKnowBest recently ran a study looking at influencers on different platforms. On TikTok, users weren’t watching any one specific influencer. Engagement instead focused on content themes, be that dances, pranks or challenges. On Instagram and YouTube, however, users predominantly have a favourite creator and follow them. This sort of insight is key to brands' social media strategies. Campaigns have to be able to cater to the audience in the same way a radio or billboard ad would.” “When marketing in this space, think of your splits,” Rob adds. “It’s complex, as the end user isn’t necessarily the gatekeeper to purchase. This is very rare in marketing and needs consideration given to business goals. For example, are you building a brand

Toy World 38

or are you just trying to shift as much product over Christmas as possible? It’s easy to say both, but if you can zone in on this, you’ll be able to achieve balance in that crucial split between awareness and conversion. Once you know the answer, the rest should fall into place.” By now, we’ve established that digital is the king of the toy marketing space, but I was keen to ask our experts what kind of marketing share the different sectors and platforms might enjoy this year. Interestingly, Rob Lough was keen to highlight the potential offered by the gaming space, specifically the metaverse, which he says is ‘hugely untouched and misunderstood’. Rob says: “Navigating the compliance and safety of this space is key, so using the right partner is vital. When done well, brands are engaging with an audience that they know is bang on their target market in a creative, engaging and innovative way. It’s the next level of experiential marketing.” Felix was also happy to share his opinion, telling me that in line with the wider advertising industry, where ~70% of media spend reportedly goes on digital, he expects to see continued increases in digital investment across all channels. Drilling down further, he says YouTube will be the market leader, especially whilst TikTok ‘irons out its approach to children and family targeted advertising’. He adds: “Specialist children’s networks such as SuperAwesome and Playwire will also be far more prominent on media plans, especially on their gaming platforms as this continues to demand a higher and higher share of children’s time. According to the latest Little Voices report published by Giraffe Insights, 48% of parents of children aged 4-9 allow them to play over one hour per day. That’s more than the average 4-9 year old spends watching TV (45 minutes per day, Jan-Jun 2021, BARB).” Jon, meanwhile, says that within the TV market, readers should expect to see VOD services from broadcasters (Sky, ITV, Virgin and so on) and emerging partners (Kidoodle, Ketchup, etc.) take a significantly higher proportion of spend YOY. In his opinion, this situation will lead to TV being ‘truly challenged’ at the top of the children’s marketing pyramid, likely resulting in a scenario in 2022 where less than 50% of toy advertising spend will be placed on TV. He adds: “However, to apply percentages against each media channel is relatively illogical for most brands. Every product is unique and will have its own set of marketing objectives and variables to achieve, each of which will be best served by different media. This is why we have used our industry experience

Johnathon Chambers Generation Media


Pre-Christmas Marketing and insights to build The Media Aggregator, our unique planning tool which assesses each brief on its own merits and recommends a completely bespoke percentage split for every single campaign.” At Azure Media, the approach is to focus on teasing out valuable and directional insights upfront before looking at splitting media budgets. Once both the agency and its clients understand the target audience, the media lives of those within it, the people and brands of influence within the space, the role the product/service can play, and has examined whether they have the right creative content to succeed, then it’s time for the next discussions – agreeing an integrated media and creative strategy, in addition to proposing a budget breakdown by platform. “We see understanding and activating fandoms as a growing area of opportunity as kids spend more time in media they and their friends choose to be in,” says Tristan. “Being on trend in these spaces, speaking their language with the right products in the right way can be highly influential, especially for more established brands and licences. I would say there is much more focus now on harnessing different media across the customer journey including point of purchase, so I see conversion media like marketplace investment growing. It makes no sense for advertisers to be investing in creating product awareness and demand, only to lose it to a competitor at the point of sale. This is why Azure offers full-service eCommerce and marketplace management and support.” By this point, you might be thinking that the picture for TV is a bit bleak. However, our experts from

Generation Media did point out that for many toy brands, TV remains the best way for toy and games companies to get their products in front of kids. This is especially true between January-August, when the cost advantage offered by TV is far superior when it comes to building effective reach beyond the 1+ level. Jon does note, though, that as supply and demand issues mount during Q4, TV’s cost advantage erodes. But it’s not all doom and gloom for TV at this time of year; Jon notes that there is still something to be said for the power of ‘as seen on TV’, telling me: “We have seen from Giraffe Insights studies that while softer metrics, such as brand recall and favourability, are increasing for YouTube and other digital channels, TV still holds a lead over its rivals when it comes to harder metrics such as ROI.” We’ll give the last word to Rob Lough, who has some sage advice for those still pondering their marketing strategy for this Christmas: “Do your research. Contextual marketing is everything. Forget about your demo and really dig into what the product you are marketing stands for, and where it should be marketed. It’s easy to suggest influencers or platforms such as gaming, TikTok, TV, YouTube etc., but the question has to be why you’re suggesting them. The right to play is everything - double down on where a product should be marketed, and don’t just go down an avenue because it feels like you should.” Over the coming pages, Toy World catches up with a number of major players within the toy industry and finds out how they are choosing to market their lines this festive season.

Pre-Christmas Marketing

Canal Toys 01904 379 123 | This year, in addition to significant TV campaigns across all So DIY Key lines and the newly launched Airbrush Plush, Canal is ramping up its digital media investment on YouTube as well as launching engaging influencer campaigns. So DIY will also be sponsoring Nickelodeon for seven weeks starting 1st September. Airbrush Plush Unicorn is an innovative new brand from Canal Toys. This cute unicorn soft toy is the perfect blank canvas for anyone with an eye for design. Each unicorn has bright white plush fur which can be washed clean under a tap when it’s time for a new style. Kids can either spray directly onto the fur or choose from over 100 stencils, using the battery-operated airbrush and four pop-coloured markers to create wonderful patterns and designs across the body, legs, and head. Simply wash and repeat for endless design possibilities. The So DIY brand continues to expand, with a variety of exciting and fresh new lines being added each quarter. The So Slime DIY Ice Cream Studio delivers a range of slime creations with a fun and unique twist, combining textured, scented and fluffy slime with satisfied customers for hours of imaginative gameplay. Kids can mix & match scents with different textures to create outstanding slime sundaes that smell amazing, look fantastic and feel satisfying to the touch. So Bomb DIY is being extended with the Aroma range, which includes fun moulds, decorations and cute characters along with nine scent combinations to create. Kids can design the ultimate, fragrant and fun bath bomb for bath time. The So Sand DIY Rainbow Cake has been developed with the AMSR trend in mind. This bumper kit includes all the tools, scented sand, decorations and moulds needed to create a colourful sand ‘cake’ that provides satisfying sound and smell sensations. Canal also plans to introduce a new range of Scented Sand, which will hit shelves next season. The successful Studio Creator range has been extended following its launch in late 2020. This new brand taps into tweens and teenagers’ love of consuming and generating online content. The Studio Creator Video Maker Top-Down Kit makes it easier than ever to create engaging content for tutorials. Whether for beauty, cookery or DIY videos, the special accessories inside the unique kit simplify the creation of close-up shots and offer kids a raft of handy hints and tips. The Top-Down Kit includes a desktop light stand and phone holder which can be set to the ideal position for the shot kids need to capture, while an anti-glare, anti-slip clear placemat makes it simple to set the right mood and make original content look even more professional. The adjustable LED ring light offers a choice of three different settings to give content the unique finish and stylish flair creators desire. Studio Creator also includes a range of cute stickers kids can use to customise their backgrounds and create a signature style for all their content.

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Start an exciting model railway journey with ‘Flash’, ‘Bolt’ & ‘Thunder’. All run on a remote control system, this brand new range of children’s model railway products feature working lights, multiple sounds, 3x speeds in forward and reverse, easy to clip together track and lots more! With additional products available such as solo locomotives, rolling stock and track packs there are endless opportunities to expand and build a Playtrains world!




Hornby Hobbies have produced a toy catalogue which features hero toy lines from its portfolio of brands.

Features multiple sounds

Working lights with 3 x forward & reverse speeds

Easy to clip together track

To get your copy call 01843 233525 or email

To learn more about Playtrains visit the Playtrains Portal at or contact us via 01843 233525 Follow us on social media!

Pre-Christmas Marketing

Mattel 01628 500 000 | Mattel continues to invest in heavyweight campaigns to support key items for the festive period, with all the products below set to benefit from extensive TV support that will drive consumer demand. This autumn/winter, Barbie welcomes exciting new play sets including the Day to Night Dreamhouse and the Fast Cast Clinic, and continues to support the 3-in-1 Dreamcamper. The brand also introduces new waves of Colour Reveal Dolls with a party theme as well as the Barbie Extra Doll Assortment and Barbie Extra Vanity Playset. Barbie continues to support the Barbie Dreamtopia Colour Change Mermaid from the magical world of Dreamtopia. The Barbie Big City Big Dreams Feature dolls and Transforming SUV, meanwhile, are taken from the new musical movie special Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams. Hot Wheels continues to create thrilling vehicle experiences for fans. The impressive Hot Wheels Massive Loop Mayhem will be supported by TV coverage alongside the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage and Hot Wheels Toxic Gorilla Slam. This autumn/winter, Hot Wheels is sponsoring afternoons on Nick Jr. with Hot Wheels Color Reveal, Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage, Hot Wheels Toxic Gorilla Slam and the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Mega-Wrex Vehicle. Fisher-Price introduces the new 4-in-1 Learning Bot with extensive TV support, plus new Linkimals, the Cool Beats Penguin and the 3-in-1 On the Go Camper play set. FisherPrice’s Little People Best Friends Play House, Recycling Truck and Load Up & Learn Construction Site will also be supported on TV. Thomas & Friends introduces the exciting new Trains & Cranes Super Tower. TV marketing is also in place for Mattel’s iconic Polly Pocket, with the new Spin & Reveal Assortment and Rainbow Funland Theme Park Playset appearing alongside new Pocket World Compacts. New for 2021, My Garden Baby Feed & Change Butterfly Assortment will be supported alongside the company’s Spirit Untamed toys, including the Lucky’s Train Home play set and the Forever Free – Lucky & Spirit dolls. Minions 2 Fart ‘n’ Fire and the Jurassic World Scorpios Rex, based on the Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous Animated series airing on Netflix, will also make an appearance on the small screen. Mattel Games is introducing a range of exciting new launches including the action-packed Uno Extreme game, which joins the range this autumn/winter. TV campaigns are in place for Pictionary Air Harry Potter, a magical twist on the classic family drawing game, and the new reaction-based electronics game, Crossed Signals. Finally, the new Mega Barbie range will enjoy strong TV support this Christmas, showing fans that they can build anything from the Mega Barbie Adventure Dreamcamper set to the Mega Barbie Malibu House.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | | Flair will be supporting its key brands across the board with TV and digital campaigns. Following a successful August launch for Let’s Glow Studio, a market-first content-creation craft kit that lets teen and tween creators glow-up their selfie videos without the need for an app, further activity is scheduled for September, October and November. The August TV and digital campaigns will be bolstered with even more TVRs plus further influencer activity including dance challenges and holiday events. Laser Pegs, the award-winning construction toy range, will benefit from TV, VOD and digital campaigns that promise to keep brand awareness high from October through to December, with the Laser Pegs Multi Models 4-in-1 Red Racer Red set a key item within the range. Blue’s Clues & You was named the No. 1 new licence globally at the end of last year. Flair will ensure that the Just Play master toy line for this hit pre-school show remains front of mind ahead of the festive gifting period by delivering strong campaigns across all key items. In the final quarter, the campaign will highlight the Peek a Blue feature plush with a parent-targeted YouTube campaign on top of its kid-targeted TV, VOD and YouTube campaigns. In addition, kids’ and parents’ influencer marketing campaigns are planned in, and will feature some familiar faces. Flair is putting its full support behind its Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse toy collection with strong campaigns designed to be remembered. TV, VOD and YouTube campaigns will highlight the fun on the farm offered by the Mickey Mouse E-I-OH Feature Plush, while the world of Minnie Mouse focuses on the Bow-Tel Hotel play set. This hero item is not only part of Flair’s TV advertising, digital and PR activity, but is also featured in this year’s Disney Christmas brand campaign.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | Playmobil will be hitting the small screen this year in the lead up to Christmas. The brand is launching a new advertising campaign which will focus on eight key ranges, including popular sets such as the Family Fun Large Zoo, City Action Police Squad Car with Lights and Sound, and City Action Fire Ladder Unit with Extendable Ladder. These classic play themes will form part of the Playmobil Greatest Hits for Christmas campaign, which features not only media advertising but strong in-store POS support. Many more action-packed themes will be making an appearance in Playmobil’s new campaign, while a raft of new licensed product and additions to the popular franchises Novelmore and Dino Rise will be joined by a brand-new franchise theme, Adventures of Ayuma. All these ranges will benefit from top-tier media in the form of TV, digital and social support. Starting from September and lasting through until December, the campaign will reach millions of consumers across digital and social and will include over 2,000 TVRs.

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Available Now Christmas Children’s TV Campaign 200 + TVRs plus Youtube campaign generating 425,000 views

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


TV advertised October onwards, 138 + TVRs plus Youtube and VOD Campaigns

For more information please call 01843 233502 or email us at /officialscalextric





Pre-Christmas Marketing

DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | Ahead of Christmas, DKL-Beysal will deliver a high impact YouTube campaign to support its newest and most interactive range, The Dancing Army. Throughout September, October and November, the campaign will be seen on YouTube, further supported by digital, social and influencer activity. The pre-Christmas campaigns will highlight the concept of this product and its suitability for TikTok dances and challenges. The Dancing Army was born to bring colour to those dances and challenges and is well equipped with everything needed to customise a dancer, including face, body and hair paint, plus inspiration for choreography and a UV light that provides an eye-catching effect in the dark when dancing.

Character Options 01616 339 800 |

Alpha Group 01293 804599 | Super Wings’ autumn/winter marketing activity will support key lines across the range, including new product launches from the new TV series. Season 5, Super Pets, will air on Tiny Pop and Cartoonito, featuring 40 episodes in which Jett and friends are joined by myriad new characters including the comical Super Pets. Promoted lines for autumn/ winter include the World Aircraft Playset and Mission Team Airport, both of which appear in most episodes, along with the extensive range of Transforming Figures including new characters Golden Boy, Leo and Sunny. The always-on marketing strategy will be delivered via a multi-platform approach including linear and digital. Activity includes TV sponsorship during the key Q4 period and several YouTube pre-roll campaigns targeting Super Wings fans and pre-schoolers. Separate campaigns targeting parents will be supported across Facebook and Instagram, including activity on TikTok using content creators to develop relevant and engaging content. The Super Wings magazine will also feature adverts and competitions in every issue. Retail activity will include exposure in key retail Christmas catalogues along with in-store events such as Jett meet & greets to offer an interactive brand experience. This comprehensive multi-platform marketing plan will deliver 10m+ impressions, with all activity linked to retail to drive sales. Alpha Group is also launching a new master toy range for Chuggington in autumn/ winter 2021, in partnership with brand owner Herschend Entertainment. Season 6 of the TV series has been airing on Cbeebies since January 2021 in a prime-time slot seven days a week, with Season 1-5 content available on demand via BBC iPlayer. The new toy range includes train sets and engines compatible with most other track sets. The mid-scale range includes new touch sensor technology that starts and stops the motorised engines, whilst the large-scale products include surprise transformation features when kids pop open their roofs. Hero line the Safari Park Track Set will be supported across key digital platforms throughout the all-important Q4 period, including YouTube pre-roll targeting pre-schoolers and parents. A geo-targeted parental social media campaign will be supported on Facebook and Instagram as well as an influencer campaign on TikTok. Fans will be able to explore the new product range through press adverts and competitions in key pre-school magazine titles including Chuggington and Cbeebies magazines. This wide-reaching multi-platform campaign is also expected to deliver 10m+ impressions, with all activity driving sales at retail.

Following the sell-out success of Gotta Go Flamingo last Christmas, there are exciting new additions to the world of Little Live Pets. Gotta Go Turdle, the singing, eating, pooping turtle, is tipped to be the most outrageous electronic pet of the year. There’s also Piggly – My Pet Pig, a sweet electronic micro pig that kids can feed, take for a walk and watch as she dances to music. These interactive pets launch with the support of an always-on marketing drive; TV remains key across children’s channels, underpinned with YouTube pre-roll activity, as well as celebrity endorsement and activity across social media. In October, the company will also be running a campaign with SuperAwesome. All related activity will be linked to a microsite where kids can fully engage with the brand. Squeakee the Balloon Dino plays games such as Tug of War and Chicken, performs tricks and features 70+ sounds and movements. He can also walk, stomp and chomp, and boogie to the music when his headphones are on. The global launch includes TV, digital and broadcast product placement. The Heroes of Goo Jit Zu brand remains a top priority for Character Options this season. The new Galaxy Attack Series sees the existing Heroes set off across the galaxy to discover the origin of the goo that transformed them into superpowered heroes. On their mission, the three heroes encounter four galactic goons, including the limited-edition Crusticoid alien with its gruesome eye-pop attack feature. The new series will be seen by kids from launch right up until Christmas thanks to regular bursts of TV, bridged by YouTube pre-roll activity. There will also be accompanying press support and an immersive microsite hosted on Pop and mobile filmstrips. The InstaGlam Glo-Up Girls launched this summer to a positive reception, and the range is set to extend in the final quarter. Each doll comes with cute pyjamas and 25+ surprises for a head-to-toe makeover experience including spa, nails, hair, makeup and fashion. Launching just ahead of Christmas will be the InstaGlam On the Glo Makeup Trolley, a beauty set that comes with more than 100 pieces of content, including makeup for lips, cheeks and eyes, as well as nail polishes, brushes, applicators and accessories. Both lines will be supported with dedicated advertising, as well as integration within the ongoing activity for the InstaGlam brand as a whole. This includes TV, multi-tiered influencer support with celebrity endorsement, YouTube pre-roll and more. GloUp Girls will also benefit from a high impact SuperAwesome campaign.

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Chef counter to serve customers ic Fea


Prepare amazing dishes!



Allows children to play together! mazing A 2



Fully equipped kitchen with 70 Accessories!




Collect payments using the cash register



Pre-Christmas Marketing

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 |

Simba Smoby Toys UK is set to increase its marketing drive for Smoby and central to the always-on marketing strategy is TV. The company plans to echo the success of its spring campaign with a new TV drive during autumn on its role-play ranges, featuring kitchens, workbenches and supermarkets. Celebrity and influencer endorsement also remains a key part of the strategy. This activity will continue as the focus switches from outdoor to indoor and Christmas gifting. Similar activity is in place for Simba Smoby’s latest launch, FleXtreme. Having launched at the end of July with the support of a heavyweight TV campaign, YouTube pre-roll and advertising across Facebook and Instagram, FleXtreme will be unmissable between September and December, with TV scheduled at key times including the October halfterm and Christmas holidays. YouTube pre-roll and social media ads will ensure FleXtreme brand awareness is high. The FleXtreme Discovery Track Set is the hero TV-advertised line for Q4. The Masha and the Bear line-up includes Masha dolls and Bear plush as well as play sets and collectibles, including the hero TV line for the final quarter, the Winter Bear Tree House Playset. The range will be front of mind with kids thanks to the September and October TV advertising schedule, which will be simultaneously supported with VOD. YouTube advertising is also in the mix, sandwiching the TV with bursts from August through till November. There will also be an exciting mix of high-profile and celebrity endorsement for the brand in Q4, boosting its awareness and positioning in the market. Between the October half-term and Christmas, Simba’s popular Toy Story and Cars collections will also be supported with TV and YouTube advertising aimed at the core audience of boys aged 4-7. The 1:24 Buzz, Woody and Duke RC toys are central to the Toy Story drive, whilst the 1:24 scale RC Turbo Racer Lightning McQueen will be key for Cars. A social media campaign is also planned to run during each burst of TV, with the aim of driving shoppers to retail at key buying times.

Two in 1 Direct 07967 004 585 | |

Melissa & Doug 0800 731 0578 | This year marks Melissa & Doug’s debut foray into direct consumer advertising. The company’s first ever brand campaign kicked off in March and will run for the remainder of the year, incorporating TV advertising, digital and social media, PR, and a partnership with leading parenting site Netmums. The campaign, ‘Timeless Toys. Endless Possibilities’, highlights Melissa & Doug’s 30+ years as a leading pre-school toy brand, as well as the brand’s commitment to producing toys that offer open-ended play and act as launchpads for imagination. TV advertising will run in two bursts from mid-September through to mid-October, and again throughout November and into the first week of December. The 30-second brand spot showcases some of the brand’s key products including the best-selling Ice Cream Counter. The channel mix includes ITV, with high profile spots in programmes such as Good Morning Britain, plus ITV2, ITVbe, 5ive, Sky and Comedy Central. The ad will also run on YouTube through connected TVs. Digital advertising across social media and programmatic network buys will feature both the 30- and 20-second commercial as well as specific product creative supporting items in the company’s top 20 products. In Q4, the year-long partnership with Netmums will conclude with a focus on Melissa & Doug top picks for Christmas via a feature article, social media and email blasts, and a social media advertising campaign. Brand building activity will continue through the company’s recently established social media channels, press office and influencer collaborations. In addition, the new co-branded licensed Paw Patrol and Blue’s Clues & You! ranges, developed with Viacom, will benefit from their own dedicated media campaigns. These will run on Viacom’s media channels and YouTube from September through to early December.

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Cats vs. Pickles has got off to a strong start, having earned its status as a collectible brand of choice among a fanbase that is growing continuously. The success of the launch has, in part, been down to comprehensive marketing support, which will continue through the autumn as new ranges and waves appear. The range now includes 100+ styles of cat and pickle Collectible Plushie characters, plus an assortment of Kitty Condo play sets to collect. These light-up customisable play sets stack together to create bright and cheerful neighbourhoods for the Plushies. Other must-have lines include the Jumbo Plush Character Pillows. A high-impact marketing schedule will ensure that Cats vs. Pickles remains at the forefront of children’s minds in Q4. TV will be at the centre of the strategy, with monthly bursts running until Christmas delivering more than 1,000 TVRs over the period. Digital activity will complement the TV, with over 2m pre-roll deliveries of the TVC for both the Collectible Plushies and the Kitty Condo play sets. In addition, influencer engagement on TikTok will be ramped up with regular deliveries of ‘Pickle Post’ to channels. YouTube unboxing will also add to the webisodes on the official Cats vs. Pickles channel and on Instagram, with parents and in-store spotting rounding off a full quarter of activity.

Pre-Christmas Marketing

Learning Resources 01553 819 386 |

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | Golden Bear has announced its pre-Christmas advertising campaigns for Q3/Q4 2021. Within its licensed portfolio, Golden Bear is TV advertising Bing, Hey Duggee and In the Night Garden as well as own IPs including FunLockets, Smart Ball and Zipstas. All brands will be supported by a robust digital advertising programme, reflecting the company’s commitment to brand growth. A compilation of 20” and 30” spots are airing across terrestrial TV, satellite, videoon-demand platforms and YouTube to support the hero products within each of the key ranges. The spotlight will be shone on new products that promise to inspire the imagination of children, including Hey Duggee Spin & Groove DJ Duggee, Bing’s House Playset, and Musical Statues Dancing Bing. A new TVC for In the Night Garden will showcase products within the Playtime, Bathtime, Bedtime range including the Musical Activity Ninky Nonk Bubble Train, Pinky Ponk Build & Sort Vehicle, Lightshow Bath-time Boat and Snuggly Singers. Golden Bear’s TV advertising plans will be integrated with digital and social marketing across various platforms including YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. Earlier this year, the company introduced a dedicated in-house digital and assets team to support an always-on digital strategy and drive awareness via online platforms. All brand activity will be supported by a robust PR programme including highprofile influencer campaigns, social, and traditional media partnerships.

Learning Resources will launch its multi-channel Christmas campaign in October, Give the Gift of Learning. This Q4 campaign builds on the current brand campaign, Building Someone Amazing, and will showcase the benefits of giving children educational toys this Christmas. There has been significant growth and consumer engagement in the educational toys category. Learning Resources is ideally positioned to offer families a wide range of fun, high-quality toys and games for play-based learning at home. Insights show that what matters to a growing number of consumers is giving children fun, high-quality toys that have an educational value. The Give the Gift of Learning campaign will leverage this by focusing on the advantages of giving a toy from Learning Resources. The campaign will incorporate real-world reviews and consumer testimonials to help influence purchasing decisions during the competitive Q4 shopping season. Content will focus on promoting a selection of product heroes and 2021 launches including the new Coding Critters MagiCoders STEM coding robots, the Design & Drill Bolt Buddies range, with its eco-friendly reusable packaging, and the best-selling Numberblocks MathLink Cubes sets. Featuring a wide range of innovative, high-quality toys for children from ages 18 months to 12 years, the campaign will have a broad appeal among kids. Activity will also target parents and grandparents across multiple touch points including print and digital advertising, social media content and collaborations, PR outreach and email newsletters. Retail support material and campaign guidelines will be available to trade customers via the Marketing Resources Centre.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | | Cry Babies, Cry Babies Magic Tears, VIP Pets and Bloopies will be supported by a robust TV and digital advertising programme, reflecting IMC’s commitment to brand growth within the UK & Ireland market. TV support includes a compilation of 10”, 20” and 30” spots aired across terrestrial, satellite and video-on-demand platforms, with placements of solus adverts for each of the key ranges. Cry Babies will be supported by 1,000 TVRs highlighting the new-look dolls’ upgraded features and reimagined lines: Cry Babies Dressy, Cry Babies Kiss Me and Cry Babies Starry Night Sky. New Cry Babies Magic Tears, VIP Pets and Bloopies ranges will also feature in over 2,000 combined TVRs from August onwards. IMC’s TV advertising plans will be integrated with digital and social targeting, plus an eCommerce campaign across IMC’s groundbreaking new Over-The-Top (OTT) Kitoons platform. Available through Smart TVs, mobile, tablets and web, Kitoons OTT combines content with eCommerce and can suggest products based on the video being watched, driving viewers directly to retailers. Full marketing support is in place for each of the brands including high-profile influencer campaigns, pre-roll placements, continued TV sponsorships and new webisode content on IMC’s YouTube entertainment channel, Kitoons. A content partnership with Nickelodeon is also currently running for both Cry Babies Magic Tears and VIP Pets, which includes the broadcasting of commercial short form episodes, linear content and a digital hub on Nick Jr.

Pre-Christmas Marketing


Hornby 01843 233 500 | | Ideal for family play, the Drift 360 race set 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 set is ideal for those who love the thrill of a car chase that ends with a collision. The Drift 360 race set will be supported with a digital marketing campaign including YouTube advertising estimated to generate over 850,000 views, as well as Playwire advertising which will achieve over 750,000 impressions. The Micro Scalextric Batman vs. Joker race set features over four metres of track with nine layout options including a loop-the-loop and half pipe, and two character cars modelled on the famous Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. This set will be supported with a TV campaign comprising 138+ TVRs, forecast to achieve over 270,000 impressions on VOD and more than 760,000 views via YouTube advertising. The Micro Scalextric range also offers a race set based on the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die. Bond fans can enjoy watching the Aston Martin DB5 chasing the Jaguar XF over four metres of action-packed track. This set will be supported with a PR campaign targeting entertainment titles and influencers, as well toy and hobby titles and influencers. The ever popular My First Scalextric set will again be supported with a TV campaign in 2021, with over 200 TVRs targeting childrens’ TV channels such as Milkshake, Cartoontio, Boomerang, Nick Jr, Nick Jr 2, Tiny Pop, Disney Jr, CITV and ITVB until December. This set will also be supported with YouTube advertising driving over 400,000 estimated views.

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | Brainstorm will showcase its popular Brainstorm Toys products, as well as two of its key distribution lines, with planned TV ad campaigns during Q4. This autumn/winter will also see an emphasis on YouTube ads across hero ranges. StikBot and Klikbot, as well as key Brainstorm Toy lines including My Very Own Moon, My Very Own Solar System, My Very Own Rainbow and T-Rex Projector & Room Guard, will feature in pre-roll video on YouTube’s main platform with a combination of standard and connected TV buys extending the reach of the campaign beyond linear TV. YouTube Campaigns will commence in September and run throughout November and December to drive awareness during this crucial sales quarter. TV advertising will also commence in September and run through November and December. As well as the Brainstorm Toys and StikBot and Klikbot ranges, Aqua Dragons will benefit from TV marketing. Brainstorm is also sponsoring the CitvB channel with StikBot and Klikbot ads running throughout November and December. In addition to its TV and digital advertising campaigns, Christmas PR support commenced in July and will continue until Christmas with coverage for key lines already secured in long-lead media throughout Q4. Brainstorm is also taking part in a Christmas Media Power Pitching event early this month.

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Zuru has been running a comprehensive TV and digital advertising campaign since July and will increase its presence from September onwards as part of a multichannel approach across all platforms. Rainbocorns carries the company’s largest advertising plans for 2021, with TVCs featuring the new Egg range – comprising Series 4: Fairycorn Surprise, Itzy Glitzy mini collectibles and Puppycorn Surprise - plus solus ads for the new Jelly Shake and Epic Golden Egg lines. The Rainbocorns brand will also be supported with a strong YouTube presence including pre-roll placements and new webisode content. A robust social and influencer campaign will be in place with brand ambassador postings and content across a mix of platforms. Smashers and Pets Alive will benefit from TV advertising support during the lead up to Christmas. Each of the ranges will have full-line TVC campaigns in addition to solus placements for hero products including Smashers Mega Light Up Dino Surprise Egg, Pets Alive Poppy the Booty Shakin Pug, and the new Pets Alive Pet Shop Surprise collection. PR, digital, social, and influencer campaigns will be implemented for each range between now and Christmas. Itty Bitty Prettys Angel High and Vlad & Niki will also be supported with extensive digital marketing campaigns. Both launches will enjoy a robust PR, influencer and social programme. 5 Surprise Mini Brands and Toy Mini Brands continue to be supported with marketing across digital, search, and social channels. The UK sees Mini Brands Series 2 Wave 1 and Mini Toy brands Series 1 Wave 2 enter the market with a combined campaign reach of over 700m impressions.

Pre-Christmas Marketing

VTech 01235 546 810 | The pre-Christmas peak season 2021 will see 20 different VTech products advertised on TV, as part of a marketing drive that includes 10 completely new creatives for new items launching this year. VTech says the level of investment placed behind TV this year shows a high level of support for a selection of its existing best-sellers and will ensure consumers are aware of its exciting new additions. Over 3.4m (72% of children), and over half of all parents with children 0-3, are expected to see a VTech advert at least once in the run-up to the festive season, thanks to a comprehensive TV plan targeting both children and parents across the most popular channels and relevant programme mix. Understanding the media habits of parents is key to VTech’s media strategy for 2021. VTech knows that 83% of parents with kids 4-9 watch VOD content, so will therefore be using popular channels such as Milkshake, Pop, CiTV and Ketchup to extend its AV approach. Supplementing its extensive TV plans, VTech will reach children in brand-safe and contextually relevant environments online. Using pre-roll adverts and interactive units across sites where the company knows children love to spend time, consumers will be encouraged to engage with the VTech brand. The company will also be partnering with popular and talented influencers in the kids and family space to create exciting content which will bring products such as Kidi DJ Mix and Kidi Studio to life. Almost half of all parents with young children say that while watching TV, they search for products they have seen. By using programmatic displays, VTech is able to reach parents as they browse the web, putting its products at the forefront of web searches. VTech’s research also shows 90% of mums with children 0-3 used YouTube in the last month. By using social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and, for the first time, TikTok, VTech is able to target this audience with engaging content, in a place where they spend a lot of their free time consuming media.

University Games 0207 254 0100 | University Games has big plans for its Q4 campaigns including primetime TV, radio and high-profile online campaigns for the iconic table football game Subbuteo, as well as significant digital campaigns for a number of its popular blockbuster family games. The Subbuteo range, a Christmas best-seller in 2020, now offers both the Official England and Official England Lionesses Main Games alongside the Original Main Game, as well as a host of teams and accessories including the new VAR Set. The inspiring and nostalgic family-led creative Subbuteo TV commercial, featuring the voice of sporting broadcasting legend John Motson, will feature as part of a multi layered and heavyweight media campaign throughout Q4. The heavyweight media schedule, which begins this month and ramps up with core coverage running from mid-October through to December, will include TV advertising within family, sports and adult time as well as in-match advertising. The TV exposure will headline supporting activity that includes radio partnerships, YouTube and social media plans as well as digital activity with LadBible and SportBible. There will also be a comprehensive TV, online and social campaign for Smart Ass, as well as digital and social campaigns for Kersplatt! and Dumb Criminals, three high performing and entertaining family board games. Joining them with strong digital activity are newcomers for 2021, 5 Star Review and Judge Your Friends. These two games are on trend and lend themselves to fun social content. All marketing efforts will begin with a burst in September, with full strength campaigns kicking off mid-October and running through to December.

Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | Zapf Creation will adopt a 360 multi-channel marketing approach across its Baby Annabell, Baby born and Baby born Surprise brands during Q4, supporting its PR activity with robust TV, digital and social campaigns. The extensive marketing programme will target both children and parents during the brand’s most important season, increasing awareness in core target groups. Across Baby Annabell and Baby born, the group will be supporting hero dolls as well as key accessory items linking to bed and bath times. Across autumn/winter, kids aged 4-6 will see Baby Annabell and Baby born adverts at least 14 times on UK linear TV. The group will also be introducing new, innovative items across both brands to children with exciting new commercials. Zapf will also be reaching parents and co-viewers through Sky’s portfolio of adult channels and is partnering with Tiny Pop too, running sponsorships across both Baby Annabell and Baby born.

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*Date subject to change


Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. Here are new releases from: Craft Buddy, DKL-Beysal, Hornby, Little Tikes, MGA, Plum Products & Playmobil.

Globber scooters

Plum Products 01522 737126 |

Globber creates innovative scooters, suitable for all ages, that support children in their development and confidence outdoors. From a child's first scooting experience to an adult's daily commute, Globber scooters are ideal for everyday use. Plum Play has been the Globber UK distributor for five years and stocks an extensive range of the brand’s best-selling models. The Globber Go Up Foldable Scooter can transform into a rideon pushchair, walking bike and beginner scooter. A push-button allows the scooter to pack down, making it more convenient to transport and store after playtime or on the school run. With a three-wheel structure and low-ride foot deck, this scooter is ideal for developing balance. The Globber Explorer Trike 2-in-1 is perfect to kickstart kids’ biking journeys, being compact, adjustable and comfortable. The Explorer is designed to help children develop all the essential riding skills, including balance, before they transition to their first push pedal bike. The Explorer is an all-in-one trike and balance bike with a 100% screw-free design. The trike can be easily and quickly transitioned through the two stages to meet the child’s needs as their skills progress. The Globber Flow 125 Scooter is ideal for pre-teens looking to transition to their first two-wheel scooter. With a strong and stylish frame, long rear brake and height adjustable T-Bar, Flow 125 Scooters are designed for safe two-wheel scooting as well as durability and comfort. The non-slip deck ensures the child is in full control of the scooter and stays safe as they ride.

Tobi 2 Smartwatch, Director’s Camera and Interactive Karaoke Machine Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 |

The new Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch, with its sleek, modern design and clear housing that lights up, is the flagship of Little Tikes’ new Tobi product line. Packed with a host of interactive features to engage and excite adventurous minds, the Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch features a playful personality and a variety of brain, arcade and fitness games. Kids can play games head-to-head with other nearby Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatches, snap selfies, and send voice messages to nearby Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatches. The built-in pedometer will encourage kids to track their steps and movement. Other features include a clock, calculator, stopwatch and timer. With a choice of colours and both a dual camera and wearable clip to transform the video camera into a ‘Go Cam’, this unique accessory is both practical and fun. The smartwatch’s built-in memory also has the ability to store up to 3,000 photos or 30 minutes of video. Other products in the Tobi 2 portfolio include the Interactive Karaoke Machine and Tobi 2 Director’s Camera. The latter helps kids champion their inner film director and photographer by giving them the ability to create and customise their own videos. Features include video stickers and stop-motion animation. With two built-in HD cameras for photos and videos as well as 40 backgrounds, children can spend hours creating their own mini cinematic masterpieces. The Tobi 2 Director’s Camera can also be controlled using the Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch. The Interactive Karaoke Machine gives children the chance to sing along with animated Tobi whilst producing their own music through voice changing technology, pitch correction and sound effects. With built-in songs and beats to sing along to, children can enjoy endless sing-alongs with friends. Kids can also get creative by writing and recording their own music. Built-in Bluetooth technology allows kids to connect the machine to an external music device, and they can use their Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch as a remote control.

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Hama Beads 50th anniversary range

DKL Beysal 01604 678 780 |

50 years ago, the innovative owner of the Hama Beads factory, Malte Haaning, began making beads and pegboards at his production facility in Nykøbing Mors. Today, Hama is renowned globally in the children’s products market and continues to develop and extend its ranges with the aim of producing fun and unique arts & crafts options. In honour of its landmark year, Hama Beads is launching four exclusive products in limited quantities and at affordable prices. Each product will include the 50th anniversary celebratory logo on the packaging amidst a montage of exciting and inspirational Hama designs on the gift and hanging boxes. The full 50th anniversary range comprises: • A Gift Box containing 4,000 beads, two large pegboards, a colour printed design sheet, instructions and ironing paper

Playmobil Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Playmobil 01268 548111 |

The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 and crew release date is 8th September, 55 years after the original premiere of Star Trek in 1966, a date which marked the start of one of the greatest global pop culture phenomena of all time. The 70548 Star Trek – U.S.S. Enterprise sees the Star Trek universe joining forces with Playmobil, as the brand continues to extend from being an integral part of children’s play to include themes that are popular with adult fans too.

• A Hanging Box containing 2,000 beads, three small pegboards, a colour printed design sheet, instructions and ironing paper • 2 x Beads in bag with 2,000 beads in different colour assortments The Hama Beads range is distributed in the UK by DKL Beysal. For more information, visit

The metre-long Constitution-class starship comes with a host of mesmerising details and features to inspire fans, including the ship’s iconic bridge and engineering. Specially designed mounting will ensure the legendary ship is presented in the best possible way. Lights, sounds and other technical features are included alongside a unique AR tie-in app, which will expand the authentically detailed Star Trek experience further than the physical product. The ship comes with seven crew members from the original cast. With a removable roof, the entire bridge and crew can be accessed. There’s a rotating chair for Captain Kirk, workstations for all crew members, a cell phone holder and storage compartment for phasers, communicator and other equipment. In the hull is the engine room with two stand-up workstations. To activate the light and sound electronics, the dilithium core is inserted into the container and placed in the engine room. Power can be supplied via batteries or USB connection, and Captain Kirk will personally announce greetings. The buttons on the centre console on the bridge can be used to control various light and sound effects such as the warp drive, torpedo, or alarm sounds. In another first, Mr. Spock is the first figure in Playmobil history, since 1974, to have ears.

Glitter Babyz

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | MGA Entertainment‘s new range Glitter Babyz introduces Dreamia Stardust, January Snowflake, Lila Wildbloom and Solana Sunburst nurturing dolls suitable for ages three and above. The new 24cm tall babies have unique head sculpts, big, beautiful eyes, sparkles on their eyelashes and glitter in their hair. With four magical themes and colour schemes to collect, each character has a unique personality expressed within their style to discover and adopt. The new brand focuses on developing nurturing play patterns by encouraging kids to keep their doll’s magic alive and sparkling by feeding them a bottle, changing their nappies, giving them a bath and laying them down for nap time. Endless hours of play are on offer, thanks to repeatable nurturing features and reusable accessories including themed T-shirts, dummies and reusable nappies. Unique to Glitter Babyz, each dolls’ eyes are full of distinctive nature imagery reflecting the four separate themes: rainbows, snowflakes, flowers and sunsets. Each articulated character also comes complete with three colour change surprises that can be enjoyed over and over again, including an impressive hair transformation during bathtime as well as a magical shampoo bottle and juice bottle that change colour each time kids add ice cold water. The range will be supported with TV and digital media targeting both children and adults, whilst creative PR activity will raise awareness and promote the new collection to its target audience.

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Hornby 01843 233 500 | Playtrains is a new range of remote-controlled toy trains and accessories designed to help children start their model railway journey in a fun and accessible way. The range features a raft of products providing endless opportunities, allowing children to build and develop their very own model railway world. Leading the Playtrains range are Flash, Bolt and Thunder. These characters have stories to tell, adventures to go on and friends to make. Each train features working lights, multiple sounds and three speeds in both forward and reverse, plus they run on an easy to clip together track system. The Playtrains world includes an exciting and interactive Playtrains Portal available via the Hornby website, which hosts fun and engaging activities such as a Playtrains kids’ zone, character stories and personality profiles, educational assets, videos, and much more.

Disney Crystal Art Christmas Collection Craft Buddy 0203 417 6565 |

From October, Craft Buddy will be releasing its new Disney Crystal Art Christmas Collection, building on its successful Disney Crystal Art launch from earlier this year. The Disney Crystal Art Christmas Cards feature popular characters with a festive theme, including Festive Minnie, Santa Mickey, Festive Lion King, Winter Winnie the Pooh and Winter Olaf. Other products in the collection include the Set of 6 Disney Pixar Hanging Decorations, a Disney Christmas Friends Sticker Set, a 30x30cm Winter Mickey and Minnie Crystal Art Canvas Kit and two Crystal Art Wreath Kits: Bambi and Christmas Disney Princess. Further items in the Crystal Art range include 30x30cm Crystal Art Canvas Kits based on movie scenes from Raya and the Last Dragon, Dumbo and The Aristocats, as well as larger 40x50cm Canvas Kits of 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book.

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Special Feature Toy World 10 year anniversary

Toy World

turns ten This edition of Toy World marks ten years since the very first publication in September 2011. Publisher John Baulch looks back on the launch and how the magazine has fulfilled his ambition to become the industry defining title it is today.


years. One whole decade. 112 issues, plus a host of special supplements. Bloody hell – we did it. It’s been an epic journey, full of twists and turns, but great fun all the way (well,


So how did it all start? Let me take you back to 2011: the UK toy market was still recovering from the loss of Hight Street giant Woolworths two years earlier. Some in the toy community had momentarily lost all sense of perspective and predicted it would be the beginning of the end for the toy trade as we knew it. Instead, it was the beginning of a whole new era in toys – arguably neither Smyths nor The Entertainer would be the forces they are today without the demise of Woolworths. In time, value retailers such as B&M and Home Bargains would also ease into the space left by Woolworths, while countless independent stores were able to flourish on High Streets where giant Woolworths stores had once acted as a magnet for toy consumers.

On a personal level, after spending 28 years with another toy magazine, I had reached a turning point in my career. I had run out of road where I was – personally and professionally, it was time for a change and a fresh challenge. I had two choices: take my transferable skills as a publisher, head off to a new industry and start afresh. Or I could use the knowledge, experience and contacts I had built up over three decades to start my own toy magazine in the industry I knew and loved. I knew which option I preferred – but how would the industry react? At the time, there were two toy UK magazines. When I first started working at Toy Trader in 1980, there had been four titles. This number was gradually whittled down over the years, and the industry seemed relatively comfortable with a duopoly. However, from the inside, I could see the pitfalls of this arrangement: the trade press had fallen into a safe, predictable routine, there was no real competition and precious little spark. Toy magazines had become fairly uninspiring, unambitious - just a bit… dull.

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It was never a case of thinking ‘how many magazines is the right number’ – because that was the wrong question. I simply set out to create a better magazine than the ones already in the market. This was no different to any toy company launching a new product: it is not as if there aren’t enough dolls or games or pre-school toys in existence already. But there is always room for something new – providing it offers something different and is better than what is already there (otherwise kids would still be playing with wooden hoops or clackers and watching Muffin the Mule). I spoke privately to a few friends in the industry and explained my dilemma: every single one reacted in the way I had hoped: “You are the person we’ve been working closely with– if you set up on your own, we’ll do our best to support you.” I needed no further encouragement: I was working on the basis that you don’t tend to regret the things you do in business, only the things you don’t do. I was going to give it a go – a damned good go. So, I resigned, spent my 30 days’ notice period

(yes, 30 days!) in hibernation, then launched the new company on 1st July 2011. That gave us approximately six weeks to pull together our launch issue from scratch. Anyone who knows publishing will know the magnitude of that order, but I had three big advantages. One: I was launching a magazine in an industry I knew extremely well. Two: Unbelievably, I had the element of surprise on my side – I heard from former colleagues that I had been dismissed internally as “too old to start my own business” (I was 49). Three: I had fantastic support from the toy community. In truth, that has always been the key to Toy World’s success – the industry has been incredibly supportive of what we set out to do, and where we have taken Toy World since. We could produce the best magazine in the world, but without the backing and support of the toy industry, it would mean nothing. Thankfully, so many people were amazing: several companies recognized that cash flow would be a major challenge in the early days, so paid their first invoices the day they received them rather than waiting 30 days, while Martin Grossman wrote me a cheque for £5000 and told me to bank it and he would take the ads over the coming months. Paul Lamond’s Richard Pain told me that if I wanted a ‘no strings’ loan, I only had to ask, and we had several other offers of investment, but politely declined – we preferred to do it all under our own steam, without shareholders influencing our decisions. We wanted to do what we believed in - not what investors felt we should do. This was our ship, and we wanted to sail it alone. In all, over 50 companies committed to advertising in our first issue in September 2011 – we were absolutely thrilled with such an incredible level of support for a start-up publishing venture. That month, we carried more ads than our two competitors put together – not a bad way to announce ourselves. In truth, this was quite a rarity in publishing circles: usually the ‘wait and see’ brigade far outnumbers those willing to give a chance to a new publication. Overall, almost two dozen toy companies have advertised in Toy World from the very start and every single year since we launched, including industry stalwarts Mattel, Character Options, Flair, Vivid, VTech, Worlds Apart/ Moose, Esdevium/ Asmodee, Grossman/ Tobar, MV, Rubies, Golden Bear, IMC, Ravensburger, Casdon and John Adams. The BTHA has also been ever-present, along with one licensing company – Warner Bros. The loyalty and unwavering support they have all shown has been hugely appreciated. The inaugural Front

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Special Feature Toy World 10 year anniversary And yet, 10 years later, here we are, with an 80%+ commercial market share, while the budding Nostradamus who made that bold prediction is no longer in the toy industry. The name Toy World was carefully chosen; we didn’t want to saddle ourselves with a name which would quickly become anachronistic and outdated. The ‘World’ in Toy World was adopted more in the communal sense, rather than a global reference: a nod to the fact that we wanted to embrace everyone and every company who had an interest in the toy market. The heart of the toy community will always comprise toy suppliers and toy retailers, but it also includes many other people and organisations whose livelihoods and fortunes are inextricably linked with the toy market.

Cover was reserved by Mattel, who decided to feature a brand-new interactive line. Fijit wasn’t a stayer, but it did win the Girls’ Toy of the Year in 2011. And in many respects, it was fitting to have something new and fresh on the cover – because those were exactly the qualities we wanted to bring to the trade press arena. I received an email shortly after the first issue landed from the venerable industry legend Peter Brown, in which he admitted he had thought I was a “mad bugger” for launching a new toy magazine. He would later tell me that he had meant the epithet fondly, and that I had proved him wrong – he had not been convinced that the industry ‘needed’ a new magazine, but he could see that our arrival had shaken up the market and made everyone up their game (although in some cases, this was only temporary). Peter was by no means the only sceptic: within a few days of the first edition landing, I was being told by advertisers that they had been contacted by one of the other magazines saying – and I quote – “enjoy it while it lasts, it will be gone by Christmas.”

In short, we have always believed that if you have a media platform, you should use it to say something. We don’t expect everyone to agree with what we say: if that was the case, we probably wouldn’t be being brave enough in the first place. But to have a platform and fill it with boring, meaningless platitudes is unforgivable in my book: I just don’t see the point. B2B media has a unique challenge: our readers are incredibly knowledgeable – they really know their stuff. Many of our readers have been working in the toy market for a very long time. They don’t want to read a bunch of stuff they already know, or ‘Janet and John’ level of commentary. We try to avoid ‘no sh*t sherlock’ content at all costs. For many years, we had a white board in the office with some guidelines for new members of staff; one of the first rules was ‘would the Argos buyer care’? (Although if we were doing it now, we would probably replace Argos with Smyths or The Entertainer). Many of the most successful toy retailers are true specialists – people who live and breathe toys. We wanted to mirror that by being the specialist toy magazine: we have never wanted to branch out and launch ‘Plates and Sh*t’ (the colloquial name given to one of the titles my former company used to publish). We do toys, and children’s licensing (because the two are inextricably linked). That’s it. As a result, we spend each and every day focused on the toy market, understanding what drives it, learning more about it – what the biggest opportunities are, and equally what challenges people are facing. We have never been shy in covering controversial or ‘difficult’ subjects: in truth, we thrive on it. Whether it is the shipping crisis that currently grips the global supply chain, problems with the way certain licensors conduct their business, or our old friends at Amazon and other online platforms, we love to shine a spotlight on behaviour which affects the toy community. There are many reasons for this: first and foremost, it helps companies to realise that they are not alone in experiencing these problems. We can also

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bring clarity by exploring a subject forensically – and as we are not in a commercial relationship with the companies involved, we can say things that their customers can’t, for fear of commercial retribution. Indeed, we are frequently encouraged to keep going by companies who wish they could talk freely, but in reality can only pass us information ‘off the record’. People who work closely with us know they can trust us – it is why we are so often first with a story, as in many cases we have known about it for months before it can be announced. Just as we never reveal ‘sources’ of information, we never betray trust and just go ahead and print something because we know it: B2C journalists don’t rely on long-term relationships, but we do. It’s why people are comfortable sharing things with us, knowing we will always ‘do the right thing’. It can be frustrating having to sit on some stories, but in the end, the balance between publishing the best content and maintaining the strongest partnerships is a delicate one – and one we are well-versed in navigating. The past decade has seen some incredible toy success stories: from fleeting mega-hits like Moshi Monsters, Loom Bands and Fidget Spinners through to brands with incredible staying power such as Paw Patrol and L.O.L. Surprise! Juggernauts like Hatchimals, Pie Face, Frozen and the enduring classics – Lego, Barbie, VTech, Playmobil, Peppa Pig and so many more. We’ve been delighted to showcase them all, and a host of other brands and ranges which make up the vibrant, fascinating toy universe. There isn’t space to acknowledge all of the individual people and companies whose advertising support has been the lifeblood of Toy World’s success over the past 10 years – but thank you all. And thanks too to all the people who have shared information, given us their thoughts and opinions and generally told us interesting stuff; no trade magazine works in a vacuum, we can only present the best quality information if we know what is going on in the first place. We’ve also been supported by many great Toy World team members over the years: our sales director Mark Austin has been with us practically since day one, while our editorial and design teams have always played a pivotal role in shaping the look, feel and content of our print publication and website. We’ve had some great team members, and it is in no way diminishing their contributions to say that our current editorial team, led by Rachael Simpson-Jones, is the best we’ve ever had. And finally, I have to offer eternal gratitude to my wife Anita, who has provided invaluable support throughout – from putting up with me whinging about how awful my last job had become, encouraging me to ‘go for it’ in the days when I was deliberating whether to launch my own business, taking on the critical database management and accounts functions, supporting the editorial team and being a crucial sounding board for my ideas for the business and my Blogs, she has been my ‘rock’. Anita has undoubtedly saved me from saying many things I shouldn’t have said over the years – she sees the ‘unexpurgated’ Blogs and has a strong sense of when I have gone too far. And if you think “Blimey, if what he prints is the toned-down version, what must the originals be like?” then I can only say that Anita knows only too well that, on occasion, it is wise that someone gently suggests that maybe I should reconsider what I am saying or the way in which I am expressing it. I mentioned earlier that the name Toy World wasn’t conceived in a global sense. But that was ten years ago. Our initial goal was straightforward: to

publish the best magazine and website for the UK toy market. We won that battle years ago. But over the past decade, the global toy community has become more closely connected than ever. People used to talk about the global toy market, and I used to tell them it didn’t exist – that the toy market was made up of lots of individual territories which all played by different rules, which all had their own foibles and idiosyncrasies, and which ultimately had more which divided them than they had in common. There is still some truth in this viewpoint, but equally the world is becoming a smaller place each year; increasingly, we take advantage of the same opportunities and face the same challenges. I noticed a few years ago that our international readership was growing, especially online and on the digital version of our print issue. There are so many countries where the local toy magazine is only published sporadically, and in some surprising cases, there is no local magazine at all. Even where there is a print title, many international toy magazines have no meaningful online presence. Inadvertently, Toy World had started to fill the gap – people in the international toy community gravitated towards us for the same reasons as UK toy people … the reliability of daily online newsletters and monthly print magazines, and the calibre of information and opinion we were sharing. People I didn’t know would come up to me in bars and restaurants – and famously, once in a lift in Las Vegas at 2.00 in the morning – and tell me: “I love reading your Blog/your news feed/ your magazine.” I learned that we had a big following in parts of the world I had never considered were our target market: Israel, The Middle East and all across Europe. One of my contacts in the US sent me a LinkedIn message after the recent Astra show to tell me that our name had come up in conversation several times – at the US equivalent of the Toymaster show, that came as a surprise. Except, in a way, I am less surprised as time goes on: the digital arena has opened up the world in a way that could never have been achieved by purely print magazines, both in terms of cost and delivery time. So now, we have expanded our horizons and are happy to add an international element to what we do. But some things will never change; print will always be the beating heart of our offering. Online is an invaluable resource and allows us to reach people we could never reach before – but the Toy World print magazine remains our flagship and our fundamental raison d’etre. We will always be true to ourselves and do what we think is right for us and for the toy community. We won’t do things we don’t believe in purely for commercial gain – thankfully, we don’t need to. We won’t compromise our beliefs or sell our soul for pennies. What we will do is to continue to deliver the best content – the most honest, authentic content – via all the Toy World channels. We will strive to work with the best toy companies, the best toy retailers and the best service providers to bring you the latest developments from across the world of toys. We will continue to do our best to lead, not follow. We will make the odd mistake, because you can’t run a business without doing that – if you do, you’re being far too safe and not taking enough risks. And, most of all, we will continue to have fun and be thankful that we work in the toy community. When I started my career in publishing, I worked on some grim titles: Blinds & Shutters. Brushes International. Process Biochemistry. Paint & Resin News. Then I found myself on a toy magazine. The rest, as they say, is history… Thanks to everyone for enabling us to do what we have done so far - and here’s to the next ten years.

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Special Feature Toy World 10 year anniversary

The decade surveyed This month, in honour of Toy World’s 10th anniversary, we spoke to a small selection of valued clients and contributors to ask what changes they’ve seen over the past decade – the good, the bad and the ugly – and what impact these have had on the toy industry, their companies and the way they work.

Anita Baulch - Director, Toy World Toy World has developed massively from where we started a decade ago, as we have come up with new ways to shape the publication and deliver quality articles and content to our readers. From a basic blueprint, we are proud to have introduced significant changes to the trade press; often imitated, never duplicated. What looked like being the worst thing to hit the toy trade – the Covid-19 pandemic – actually made us focus even more and work harder and smarter. It was gratifying to see how everyone pulled together to help each other out, from our own team to the various companies we deal with throughout the industry. It will be a while before life returns completely to normal, but we now know that determination and hard work can overcome most things. Having said that, the businesses which folded, and any job losses, are some of the worst things to have happened in the industry, coupled with seeing friends and colleagues suffer illness and loss, which is terrible. The best changes? Seeing so many more women in pivotal positions throughout the toy trade and nobody commenting on their gender anymore. Even the Fence Club is catching up. In media terms, online has increased in importance to underpin almost everything we do, meaning we can get news out quickly and efficiently, stay in touch with our community of readers and extend our reach, all without taking away from the glory of a print magazine. The retail landscape has changed dramatically over ten years, but as one retailer shuts up shop, another opens or expands. It’s the same with suppliers. Buying cycles have shortened, with a knock-on effect on product previews, trade shows and production, and it is more important than ever to keep buyers informed about all of the above. A combination of changing consumer habits and enforced situations like Brexit or the pandemic have driven the industry to become much more nimble. Because we’ve seen this is achievable, it can be exasperating when we come across companies who haven’t embraced such positive developments…yet. Personally, the toy industry has brought a great deal of fun and excitement into my life, from agreeing to spend our savings on an exciting dream John had, to coming out of stay-at-home-mum retirement to join the brilliant Toy World team and rejoin an industry I love.

Mark Buschaus and Stephen Barnes - Toy Barnhaus Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed the rapid growth of online, and this has only accelerated over the previous 18 months. However, customers still very much want to come and enjoy visiting a toy shop, so there is still a market for us. We’ve also seen big changes in the way products are marketed and how many kids now view things on YouTube, as well as how quickly a craze can arise due to the ubiquity of the internet. Our business has had to adapt constantly, and our online presence is probably the biggest change over the past few years. Online is now a key part of our business and has changed how we buy products; there are big differences between in-store and online, and what sells where. After the last 18 months, the best thing to have happened to our company in the past 10 years is the fact we’re still here! We love what we do - supporting over 80 staff, selling toys and making our customers happy. We have loved being part of Toy World. I think we have been writing the monthly Indie Viewpoint column for nine years now. It was great to be asked to become a Toy World regular, and to help contribute to the toy industry in some way. There is always something to talk about. The magazine landing on our desk is always one of the highlights of the month and, with the lack of toy shows, has proven to be especially valuable over the last 18 months.

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Gary Grant - Founder and chief executive, The Entertainer The biggest change in the toy market over the past decade has been the demise of both Woolworths and Toys R Us. The loss of these two giants completely changed the UK toy retail landscape. It has been good for The Entertainer, as it allowed us to grow into the space that they left; but it wasn’t so good for the toy market as a whole. The biggest challenge in the past 10 years has undoubtedly been Covid. Apart from the financial crash in the late noughties, it has caused more disruption than anything else we have had to face since The Entertainer launched 40 years ago. There have also been big changes to the way we reach consumers. This is now more targeted, with everyday people able to influence massively the way people shop. YouTube and influencers – even young children have the ability to massively change buying habits. For me personally, the biggest change to the way I work has been learning to delegate. When we set The Entertainer up, we had one store, so every decision went through me. Now, it is very different - the business is run by teams, and what’s more, it can run without me. As a business owner, that can actually be quite difficult to come to terms with. But if you don’t do that, you can’t grow. From a business perspective, the way we operate day-to-day has changed massively. We now need to consider more aspects when making business decisions. The business is bigger that The Entertainer; it’s Early Learning Centre, Poly, Addo and more, which makes our operations much more complex. The way we now work with suppliers and licensors is more important than ever and has encouraged us to form smarter collaborations. The biggest thing to happen to The Entertainer over the past 10 years was the opportunity to grow after Woolworths disappeared. We have seen fantastic growth in the business and in the team over that period, and I’m also delighted with the growth of the Addo Play brand over the past five years, which has given us a real point of difference in the market. The growth of our franchise partner base has been another particularly successful aspect of the business. To still be here decade after decade is a huge milestone, and a massive achievement for us as a family business. In my 40 years in the toy business, I have seen many toy magazines come and go. What I like about Toy World is that you have your finger on the pulse, and you are not afraid to tell it like it is. Not just the magazine – the Friday Blog as well. There is an honesty about what you do which stands you out. Toy World has been a valuable partner to The Entertainer: we have collaborated on numerous stories highlighting some very key moments for our business. As a business, we would like to express our congratulations to John and the team at Toy World magazine as you celebrate your 10th Anniversary.

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Special Feature Toy World 10 year anniversary Michael Hick - Vice president and country manager, Mattel UK Well, the worst change to the toy market has to be the last year of Covid and lockdowns, but the best is just how resilient the toy industry has become. Against the odds, the industry has demonstrated just how dynamic it can be and how it responds positively to change. Mattel has become much more agile over the past 10 years and has worked ever more closely with its retail partners through the continual changes and challenges they’ve faced. It’s also become more in touch with consumer trends and buying patterns. Speed is now key to both keeping ahead in the marketplace and evolving as a business – something market dynamics require. Mattel’s journey has been well documented, but, for me, the best part is right now, and what the future holds. We are now firmly in growth mode, and we’ll continue to invest across the board, driving category growth and leadership with our brands. That’s really exciting. Mattel has the strongest IP portfolio in the industry, with new launches coming up and so much more in the pipeline. I am really excited to be leading the UK team and proud of all the potential it has. Toy World has been a real dynamic force in the industry, and it seems amazing that it’s only been 10 years since it first began. John and his team commentate on the industry with insight and knowledge, and with a perspective that always makes for an interesting read.

Alan Simpson - Chairman SMF Toytown/chairman the TRA The number of retailers operating in the toy market has shrunk considerably in the past 10 years - alarmingly so. However, I feel the standard of those currently operating has improved considerably in that time. Obviously, the rise of the internet has had a significant effect on bricks and mortar retail, and not always in a positive way. Thankfully, I now regard myself as semi-retired, therefore my day-to-day agenda is easier and more relaxed. Old habits die hard though; I do keep a very close eye on figures still and can’t see that changing. As a business, I am delighted that SMF Toytown has doubled its turnover in the last 10 years. We also have further growth plans in the pipeline for whenever we can get back to a level of normal life on a consistent basis.

Phil Ratcliffe -

Sales & marketing director, MV Sports Over the last 10 years, probably the best thing that’s happened to MV is the increase in the number of accounts we can now sell to via the online space. We’ve also witnessed the substantial growth in value-based bricks & mortar retailers to compensate for loss of the Woolworths and Toys R Us business. The worst is the preoccupation with price over play value or innovation amongst some customers, as well as the move to little and often via direct drop as opposed to stock commitments or larger bulk buys. Nowadays, I’m more tied to a computer - which is not always a good thing. This is something which has permeated the industry as a whole. A great toy is often more than a number on a spreadsheet. I can’t choose any one good thing to have happened to MV in the past decade, other than winning various awards from key customers and licensors (which are always appreciated, thank you). We have definitely become more proficient in terms of how we operate on a day-to-day basis. Having a stable, experienced and valued team has been very important, but the best is yet to come.

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Alison Downie -

Global Licensing and Brand director, HTI Group In the toy market, the shrinkage of the customer base has massively impacted businesses over recent years. Some large companies have decreased their toy and game offering, or have even shut down altogether, impacting sales. However, to balance the shrinkage of brick-and-mortar stores, the rise of online shopping has helped us to pick up these sales elsewhere. There’s no doubt that the average consumer’s shopping habits have changed, and it’s hard to find somebody nowadays who hasn’t purchased a product online in at least the last year. Only time will tell if the shift to online shopping is to be a permanent feature of the market. We have found that there have been significantly less ‘phenomenal’ licence explosions. The release of the first Frozen movie was the last time we saw a huge uptake in interest for a brand, and products selling out within seconds. Children have so many more TV channels to choose from, as well as on-demand platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. There are lots of amazing brands out there, which children are able to access 24 hours a day, and so many new brands diluting the market. The biggest change to the way we operate has been a shift in the timing of decision making. Retailers have brought their timing for selections forward which, in turn, has changed our operational calendar. Product Development planning has been brought forward in order to be able to fulfil these earlier orders. A more recent change is the shift to virtual communication. Although we have used video call platforms in previous years, the pandemic has made this type of communication much more common and it is likely that more meetings will remain virtual in the coming years. At HTI Toys, we have seen the growth of our own brands over the last decade, which has allowed us to take control of our own destiny. We have made strategic decisions on which brands to focus on and grow, decisions which have really paid off. Teamsterz has fast become a key player in the diecast and vehicles market, and we have had amazing feedback from the trade on the re-brand of Evo, which is hitting shelves this Autumn. We can’t wait to hear consumer feedback. Another testament to the success of HTI Toys is the high quality of the people in the business. We are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated team; their hard work is the reason the company is thriving.

Innovative scooters, suitable for all ages. Globber scooters support children in their development and build confidence


Available with or without light-up wheels

3-height adjustable aluminium T-bar with an anti-scratch sleeve Patented folding system with a safe and easy side push button Super-low metal reinforced structure with a wide, anti-slip composite deck


Available with or without light-up wheels

Transforms into three forms; pushchair, walking bike and scooter 3 height adjustable T-bar Patented folding system with a safe and easy side push button

To request a catalogue or schedule an appointment to see our full range email or call Rosie Gissing on 01522 737126

Special Feature Toy World 10 year anniversary Lesley Singleton - Head of play, Playtime PR

Happy birthday, Toy World! My own toy career began in the same year. Among the biggest changes I’ve noticed is the fact that brands are acting much faster and responding more quickly to trends, especially those driven by social media. Toys and games are actively being developed at a rapid pace in response to things happening in the physical and digital worlds. In addition, toy manufacturers are now actually walking the walk on all things sustainable. A decade or so ago, brands were very good at talking about how they needed to change, but it’s great to now see so many taking positive, tangible steps towards a more sustainable future. This is reflected by toy companies placing greater emphasis on their purpose and values, understanding that today’s consumer wants to see their own values reflected in the brands they engage with. I also love that we’re seeing more diversity and representation in toy design. It feels like where once this was treated as something of a novelty, brands now realise that there’s a commercial value to letting children see themselves in those worlds of play. Finally - and perhaps this is the thing that’s accelerated most in the past 18 months - many toy companies are embracing their own eCommerce offering. Back in 2011, I was a freelance PR working solo and about to take on my first toy brand, Bananagrams. The biggest change came when I launched Playtime PR in 2014, hoping to bring together a stellar collective of senior PR specialists to offer toy brands an alternative agency. Fast forward to 2021, that team is about to welcome its 25th expert consultant and we’re working with some massive toy brands, some of which have been with us for a number of years. Being trusted to devise and deliver everything from press office solutions to big bang creative campaigns for the likes of Moose, Bandai, Zuru, Asmodee, Golden Bear and John Adams is fantastic, and we continue to grow too – this year we’ve welcomed Casdon, Schleich, Orchard Toys, Toynamics, PlayMonster Games and more. We continue to work with indie brands and start-ups, and, if it’s possible to suggest that the pandemic has a silver lining at all, it’s that we no longer have to justify our 100% flexible remote working business model to clients. So many good things have happened - and continue to happen – to Playtime, from being approached by Argos a few years back to handle a one-off campaign and then ending up with 10+ toy briefs from it over two years, to seeing my team receive glowing feedback from clients, and campaign recognition through industry award wins. It makes me fiercely proud of all the hard work we’ve put in over the years. If I had to pick just one moment though, I’d say it’s our most recent development, which really heralds the beginning of a new era for the business as we continue our growth and expansion into wider sectors of playfulness – formalising Ceriann Smith’s role within the company as director of Strategy & Creative. Ceriann has long been a force within the agency, and the perfect partner to have by my side as we embark on the next decade.

Graham Canning - Sales director, VTech Technology is continually changing, and the last decade is no exception. Innovation in this category has given consumers new play experiences. There’s also been a huge improvement in the safety and standard of toys over the last 10 years, ensuring all children can play and enjoy toys safely. One of the biggest changes during this time was the demise of the largest toy specialist retailer, Toys R Us, which was a huge loss to the industry. However, the void has been filled by the Smyths Toys expansion. Shopping habits have changed a lot in this time too, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever. Finally, we’ve obviously seen the biggest upheaval to our daily lives since the Covid 19 pandemic started, at the fastest rate of change we have known. The best and worst combined have shown how adaptable the industry has been at facing up to the challenge. I have definitely adapted to the changes in the marketplace too, but apart from that the focus remains the same - delivering the best products to our retailers. I am also the current chairman of the BTHA, where work continues facing and tackling challenges to the industry. Technology was more accessible for children’s toys by the start of the decade, and VTech was able to take advantage of the tablet market. I’m delighted that we were able to rescue the Leapfrog brand in 2016. Since then, we’ve introduced some outstanding new products to market in the last five years for both VTech and LeapFrog, enabling us to continue on our growth path. I would like to take this opportunity to wish a happy 10 year anniversary to Toy World what an admirable achievement.

Mary Wood -

General Manager UK & Ireland, Tomy Between Covid, and store closures, and now the shipping and container issues, I do think - despite challenges in the past - those we are facing right now are actually amongst the worst. In all my many years in the industry, I can’t remember facing anything quite like this in terms of raw material cost increases, ridiculously high container costs plus lack of supply hitting all at the same time. In terms of the best changes, then I would have to point to the ever-improving ethics in our business both from a product quality and safety perspective. It’s good to feel proud to work in an industry where child safety remains our No.1 priority. Incoming communication from multiple media 24/7 has certainly picked up the pace of business in the last 10 years, but on the plus side it has made decision making quicker, meaning the business can be more dynamic. I enjoy the fast pace we have now – being nimble and light of foot has distinct business advantages, and it makes our company a challenging yet exciting place to work. A decade ago, back in 2001, Takara-Tomy acquired RC2 Corporation and the RC2 sub-brand Learning Curve, which included The First Years & Lamaze. This really set our international business on a new road. Lamaze remains a core brand for the EU business and has enabled Tomy to add brands and build expertise in the Infant & Pre-school category. Specifically from a UK perspective, one of the most important and more recent distribution partnerships has been with Drumond Park, which joined the Tomy family in early 2019. With Tomy’s strength in kids’ games and Drumond Park’s dominance of the Adult game market, we have been able to build an important portfolio in the Games category and a respected position in the market.

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Making Science ...and


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View our full range of SmartLab toys at To contact our SmartLab sales managers please email: And/Or

Special Feature Toy World 10 year anniversary Dave Middleton - Owner, Midco Toys Over the last 10 years, I think we’ve seen the over-commercialisation of product; the focus in some areas has moved from the toys themselves onto number chasing and hitting targets. The internet has made things harder for me as a retailer, as has the price-matching that goes on at some nationals. The loss of Toys R Us created a void, into which moved a number of discounters and some ruthless players. Toys R Us left a huge hole. As an indie retailer, things are getting more challenging all the time, so you need to find ever more niche, unique product – the mass is being taken up by everyone else and is therefore available everywhere. The best thing to happen? The decline of the high-street has made it affordable for me to secure a unit right in the middle of Burton-uponTrent's The Octagon Shopping Centre. I know that’s a bit of a backwards-forwards statement, but it’s true. Also, the rise of social media means there’s much greater awareness of start-up brands and niche products, these small pockets within the toy market that aren’t stocked in the nationals. TikTok has been great for keeping up on trends and crazes, like slime and fidgets. We recently started stocking Slime Party UK, which is just a small one-man-band enterprise, and it’s been huge for us. I saw the brand pop up on Facebook, reached out and received all the necessary safety certification and documentation, and that was that. You wouldn’t have been able to do that before, as everything would have been TV advertised and therefore, more than likely, mass market. Toy World is the best toy magazine out there. John is so switched on - he knows what’s going on – and it keeps each issue totally relevant.

Nick Thomas - General manager, Vivid Goliath We would never had predicted the seismic shifts in the retailer landscape following the demise of Woolworths and Toys R Us; I recall wondering at the time how we would replace that business. Fast forward to now, and we’ve got an incredibly dynamic retail landscape because of the rise of Smyths, The Entertainer, B+M, TK Maxx and more. Notably, due to lockdowns, we’ve seen huge growth online as well. Our product development has also changed enormously to meet the needs of our ever-changing retailer and consumer demographics. In recent times, working from home has been a huge shift. We’ve had fewer face to face meetings with retailers and partners, less travel and no trade shows. Remarkably, business has continued despite these challenges, but it throws into sharp relief how much easier product presentations are when you’re in the comfort of a showroom. I’d also say that we have shifted over the years to be a far more data driven business; the importance of accessible EPOS data has allowed us to make swifter decisions on stock and advertising plans, making our business more responsive than ever. Being acquired by Goliath must be the biggest gear change Vivid has seen in the last decade. Our ambition was always to become more global, and this was achieved overnight thanks to Goliath’s offices in all major markets including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a formidable European footprint. The acquisition also transformed us into a top Games company, and we’ve been able to spread our wings into far broader categories within games as a result. It’s been a fantastic transition and we’re enjoying the benefits of global product development, launches and marketing campaigns as a group. The other major accomplishment in the last decade has been trebling the Crayola business. The product always delivers on the core brand values trusted by parents, and distribution continues to grow thanks to the brand’s performance and great retail relationships.

Sue Barratt - Country Manager, IMC UK We’ve seen so many changes to toy retail over the last decade, bringing a mix of positive and negative impacts, but the closure of Toys R Us is arguably the worst change. It was an iconic store for the toy industry, able to stock an enormous breadth of range, and its demise was a loss for brands and consumers alike. On the flip side, we’ve seen substantial growth in online, rapid changes in technology and an enormous shift in consumer shopping habits. Another change is kids that just don’t seem to stay kids for very long. Taken together, all these factors have positively changed the way we market to consumers, continually pushing us to keep our brands fresh, which helps keep the toy industry exciting. The very changes that keep the toy industry exciting are responsible for keeping those of us working in the sector excited too. Layer onto that all the system and functional changes that have come into play, and how we’ve had to adapt, and it’s about being agile. Of course, there are unforeseen local and global issues and changes that impact the industry and how we operate as a company too, such as Brexit, shipping and Covid. The best thing IMC has done in the past decade is moving away from a heavily licensed distribution portfolio. Now we manage a range of hugely successful in-house developed brands, all supported by great animated content for children. This includes the introduction of Kitoons, our YouTube channel, broadcasting content with Nickelodeon and our new innovative Kitoons OTT Platform which combines content with eCommerce, reflecting consumers’ changing media consumption habits.

Jerry Healy - Group marketing director, Character Options The market we’re selling into has probably undergone the biggest change of all in the past 10 years. The retail base has shifted dramatically, particularly with the increased strength of online, something which has only accelerated in the past 18 months. A breakdown of our top 10 customers a decade ago would look very different today. Of course, we’ve also seen the demise of some big names, such as Toys R Us, the rise of some new players, like Amazon, and the expansion of retailers including Smyths, which has become very much a power retailer. We’ve really had to change how we market our products and communicate with consumers over the past 10 years. A decade ago, it was simple; you put your line on TV, and your job as a marketeer was basically done. The popularity of TV has waned, though, and kids have moved onto other forms of media. We’ve had the unboxing phenomenon, then influencers, and those have both been bolstered by the rapidly increasing consumption of YouTube. TV impacts have declined steadily over the last six or seven years, while YouTube has grown exponentially. We’ve had to overhaul our marketing strategy as a result, from very much a core TV advertising model to one in which digital is a much bigger and more important part of the mix. Character celebrated its 25th anniversary a couple of years ago, which was a very proud moment for me and for everyone else involved in the business. Character Options has real heritage and longevity in this marketplace and some of the people here have been here a long time. Over the past two or three years we’ve seen huge success internationally too, especially with our Heroes of Goo Jit Zu range. Seeing a brand developed in-house become so massive globally – in fact, a No.1 selling action figure in numerous markets around the world - is very special. Character has established its position as a major player in the UK toy market, and now we’re starting to make a real impact internationally too.

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Special Feature

Amazon over the last ten years Our ten-year anniversary issue seems the ideal place to look at some of the changes which have taken place during Toy World’s lifetime. Here, Asha Bhalsod of Etopia Consultancy reviews the ongoing rise of Amazon in the eCommerce space.


ver the past decade, the evolution of both tech hardware and the internet has taken place hand in hand with the growth of eCommerce. Just as the internet has become the desired medium for marketing, advertising and purchasing of products, goods and services, eCommerce has grown to rival traditional shopping in many ways. Over the past two years, the retail landscape has evolved dramatically, accelerated by Covid-19, which for a time thrust us into virtual cocoons and intensified our reliance on digital infrastructure and delivery services. Driven by tech giants like Amazon, which joined the space in 1995, and later Google and PayPal which launched their eCommerce initiatives in 1998, the overall journey of online shopping has undoubtedly accelerated in the last decade and is far from finished. The most impactful changes that have taken place in the eCommerce realm in the last ten years, include: • The rise of online marketplaces • T he seamless shift to using mwobile devices for online shopping • T he tremendous growth of online and digital marketing and advertising. • T he practice of using digital modifications or enhancements in sales and consumer shopping. Cue ‘Q-commerce’, which is short for quick commerce. Q-commerce is regarded as the next-generation of

eCommerce and is all about optimising delivery time to serve customers better. Tech advancements have improved the customer’s online journey to such an extent that they have become more trusting and reliant on online shopping. Nowadays, consumers buy everything from clothes to even cars with simple, quick clicks on their smartphone. Speed of delivery has become increasingly important in the current climate. Covid-19 has certainly accelerated doorstep delivery, and customers began to appreciate the speed, choice, ease, convenience and safety of online delivery platforms. Through the last decade of eCommerce growth, Amazon made two-day delivery the industry standard. As we close the decade, Amazon is pushing the speed of eCommerce shipping even faster, with one-day and even same-day delivery, adapting seamlessly to Q-commerce. The convenience of 24/7 shopping, the ability to buy hardto-find or specialty items, and the ease of comparison shopping have all been factors in the continued growth of eCommerce sales. ‘M-Commerce’, or mobile commerce, has continued to grow, and over 2b people regularly make eCommerce purchases worldwide. The prediction is that nearly 73% of eCommerce sales will take place on mobile devices in 2021. Globally, around one-third of people make an online purchase at least once per week. Although the concept of ‘phygital’ has been around for several years, it started gaining traction at the height of the pandemic. Phygital is simply a combination of physical and digital. The reason for this is simple: more companies were clamouring to quickly adjust their strategies to digitally accomplish tasks that had previously been accomplished in person. Because of the exponential advancement of technology, customers have become comfortable using a mobile app to ‘walk the aisles’ for them. Amazon Go is a great example of how this marketplace has embraced technology to allow checkout-free shopping experiences. I have always been a passionate advocate about

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adopting an Amazon mindset. It simply doesn’t make sense to expect success on Amazon when your eCommerce strategy does not align with the landscape changes. Over the last 10 years, Amazon has typically been treated like a Tier 2 or Tier 3 account. However, Amazon is not just another sales account - it’s a formidable marketplace with extensive marketing clout. The pandemic highlighted the need to treat Amazon as a Tier 1 account, and those that did benefited from a head start in the accelerated shift to online. Looking forward, just as the pandemic has transformed how we do business and relate to our sales environment differently, brands need to examine their internal structures and mobilise a dedicated team with an almost unwavering commitment to eCommerce and Amazon. Traditional marketing like TV, PR, etc. should not be completely replaced: however, a transformed approach should be taken. When you have an Amazon mindset, you are instinctively going to push your marketing teams to allocate budget to Amazon Advertising, as well as your other sales initiatives. At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. You need to decide how far you would like to tip the Amazon scales in your favour. Amazon account managers require different skills than national or key account managers; you will have to recruit differently for Amazon. And it’s no secret that forecasting has been turned on its head. The importance of keeping Amazon in stock has changed the business forecasting process forever, so make sure that you have a data analyst in your team to keep track of the trends. So, what’s next for eCommerce? Based on the trends we’ve seen we can only expect more growth in the future. It’s clear that in this internet age, eCommerce is here to stay, bringing a world of new opportunities for businesses, from drone deliveries to voice commerce. The next 10 years in eCommerce is undoubtedly going to be fascinating. But brace yourselves - before we even think that far ahead, we have Q4 coming up and our favourite time of year, trading terms negotiations with Amazon!

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Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

Finger on the


It’s no secret that over the previous 18 months, collectibles, pocket money and impulse toys have suffered perhaps more than any other category due to the marked change in consumer purchasing habits brought on by the pandemic. However, there’s an increasingly strong whiff of normality in the air, and we may be about to witness a major reversal of fortunes. Rachael Simpson-Jones speaks to a selection of suppliers to find out what’s on the way in the months ahead and which trends are driving sales.


or MGA, whose L.O.L. Surprise! brand has arguably been the queen of the collectibles space for several years, September marks a turning point – the moment when kids, many of whom enjoyed just a brief taste of school before the summer, return in earnest for a new year in the classroom. Neil Bandtock, MD UK & Ireland, MGA Entertainment, explains: “There’s no doubt the playground marketplace can make or break a brand. We have a tonne of lines launching this month to coincide with the back-to-school period, which

makes a lot of sense from a strategic viewpoint. It’s also great that retailers are properly back in business now too. Consumers love to see product on-shelf. We all know the convenience offered by online, but there’s nothing better than going into your local toy shop and seeing all your favourite toys right there in front of you. Impulse purchasing drops off when you’re dealing entirely in online channels, but that element of the sales landscape has returned now, and sales are really picking up.” Paul Dearlove, trade marketing manager at Schleich,

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is likewise enthusiastic about the retail landscape now lockdown has been eased, telling Toy World that it’s ‘great to see kids and their families returning to stores and enjoying shopping for toys again, particularly for collectibles which rely so heavily on that footfall’. While multiple other collectible brands suffered from the closure of stores last year, Schleich very much bucked the trend, with strong sales throughout the period of upheaval. “Schleich has grown into an evergreen brand and is a hugely well-trusted amongst consumers, who


Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

have come to expect high-quality, detailed figures across the seven core franchises,” explains Paul, when asked what lies at the heart of Schleich’s success in this space. “Coupled with a strong programme of new products and innovation, the transition into more traditional blind bag collectibles is a logical extension, with consumers already having a good idea of what to expect.” Here, Paul’s referring to Schleich’s collectible bayala unicorn foals, now on Series 2, and Mini Creatures, the latest addition to the company’s Eldrador world. Both these new collectible concepts perfectly complement the existing worlds of bayala and Eldrador Creatures and offer lower price points, as well as different purchasing opportunities. There are 17 Eldrador Mini Creatures to collect, all offering an additional element of surprise courtesy of the blind-bag packaging, while there are 12 unicorn foals to collect in each bayala series. Both ranges include a golden figure and small collectible poster, therefore providing a slightly more structured element of collectability and additional ‘chase’ anticipation. Series 3 of bayala unicorn foals launches in January, while Series 2 of Eldrador Mini Creatures is also slated for release next year. As readers will be all too aware, the blind bag format has helped fuel huge sales of collectibles in recent years. For those brands that have been embracing the surprise unveil for a number of years, the key to continued success lies in offering fans something just that little bit different, time after time. At MGA, which Neil says boasts an ‘army of product and packaging designers’, every toy created draws inspiration from what is happening in the here and now, so kids can really relate to it. The company also aims to offer something unexpected and unattainable elsewhere, focusing on the whole play experience; with L.O.L., that means the packaging and unboxing right through to the toys inside and the play value they offer. “L.O.L. Surprise! Colour Change Little Sisters launched a few weeks ago and very much occupies that core pocket money sweet spot, while the Colour Change Dolls offer a larger size at just under £10,” adds Neil. “These offer a very new and exciting unboxing experience; not only does the doll change colour, the ball it comes in does too. Then we have the L.O.L. Surprise All Star Sports Summer Games. The

characters features glitter detail and lots of surprises. I’d love to think the launch of All Star Sports Summer Games was timed to coincide with the summer Olympics, but in truth there’s always a major sports event going on and I think that was just good luck. We’ve also got L.O.L. Surprise! Present Surprise dolls, which come hidden inside a gift box. From this month, we have some major new tentpole lines landing. We have launches timed to support the October release of L.O.L. Surprise: The Movie, and these will introduce something completely different to the brand’s current portfolio. You can actually make movies with some of these toys, and - as seen across so many other lines - the packaging is integral to the play.” MGA Entertainment’s Zapf brand entered the pocket money collectibles space in 2019 with Baby born Surprise, introducing nine cute babies with lifelike functions such as drinking and nappy wetting, plus a special eye colour reveal. When bringing these lifelike features to the collectibles market, Zapf harnessed its expertise in creating market leading nurturing dolls, and since the original range launched, Zapf has introduced a further five series including Animal Babies and Butterfly Babies, plus multiple series of Baby born Surprise Pets. The company’s latest launch, Baby born Surprise Mini Babies, has allowed the brand to expand into something new and even more engaging, with multiple babies to collect in each pack and the added element of not knowing if twins or triplets lie within the swaddle. “Our collectible ranges allow Zapf’s retail partners to capitalise on our heritage and expertise in the dolls market,” explains Kasia Leskow, Zapf Creation marketing manager, when asked how Baby born Surprise differs from other collectibles in the marketplace. “We have a large and loyal customer base, and over the years we’ve built some exceptionally strong brands which have given us the confidence and impetus to move into what is a competitive and busy category. We also have a lot of knowledge about what consumers want, parents and children alike; we know that the rest of 2021 will see the focus remain on play within the home, and believe that traditional, nurturing play will be a big part of that. We pride ourselves on our ability to reflect the everyday lives and routines of children in our toys, and on the amount of cutting-edge design we bring to the market too.” Kasia adds: “Our collectible ranges offer the elements kids would expect to see – unboxing, surprises, lifelike features and so on – but it goes beyond that. Zapf creates truly beautiful dolls. They have adorable faces, and the attention to detail is second to none, from the eye-colour reveals to the patterned swaddles. The company ensures that all its products offer amazing quality, and our customers appreciate this. We also want to make sure our toys offer real, enjoyable, engaging play opportunities, not just a fast unboxing that’s over in seconds. Each of our Baby born Surprise collectibles comes with a collector’s sheet, inside which is a fun game they can play to reveal their

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baby’s date of birth, star sign, favourite vegetable and more. Our toys get kids’ imaginations going and allow play to shine through.” Zapf isn’t the only company dealing in blind bag babies. IMC Toys’ Cry Babies Magic Tears Dress Me Up and Cry Babies Magic Tears Storyland are both available now, with the former providing collectors with new opportunities to dress and accessorise their cute character. The latter range includes six Fairytale characters complete with a removeable outfit and matching pet, plus a rare Christmas Claus doll. Blind collectibles aren’t the only thing kids are spending their pocket money on. In our August issue, we examined the spectacular resurgence of the fidget toy, particularly poppers. While some retailers are reporting that sales of these products have slowed a little, they were so high before that ‘slow’ arguably still means ‘very good’ – just not as good. HGL, Foxmind (distributed by Asmodee), Tangle, Fat Brain (distributed by Tomy), Hunter Price and many more reacted quickly to the emerging craze, though for some, the closure of schools initially proved a major hurdle. “A key example of this is our Magni Rings, powered By Fingears,” says Richard Belford, sales director at Hunter Price. “We were confident this would be a key trend and initially had strong interest across the market, but with the whistle being blown on playground games due to the pandemic, the buzz factor soon slowed. However, we were primed and ready for schools to return earlier this year and have seen a significant rise in orders since. Fidget Pops have of course been a big winner this year. A key to our success as a business was our speed to market, but also we were continuously offering fresh and exclusive designs, shapes, formats and licences to our customers.” Alongside fidgets, we’ve also been seeing strong sales of trading cards, long a staple of the playground marketplace. Konami, the publisher of the hugely successful Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, says demand is so high it’s struggling to keep stock on retailers’ shelves, but with a raft of new releases on the way for Q4, fans still have plenty to look forward to. Dawn of Majesty launched last month, swiftly followed by Egyptian God Deck: Slifer the Sky Dragon and Egyptian God Deck: Obelisk the Tormentor, and the Tin of Ancient Battles, a goldcoloured tin case featuring the middle section of the mysterious Pharaonic tablet, will be available at the end of this month, further fuelling already sky-high demand. Other Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG products on the way this year include collector’s sets, tournament packs, structure decks and accessories. The back-to-school season this year is clearly going to provide a major boost to the collectibles and pocket money space, and there’s no shortage of new product coming through – but Neil at MGA nevertheless tempers his optimism with a note of caution. “If it wasn’t for operational issues this would probably be a bumper year,” muses Neil. “It feels like people have money in their pockets; not going abroad and saving money in other ways has given finances a little boost for many, and we’re noticing that. Just imagine what the market would be like if we didn’t have these shipping issues. At MGA, we’re using planes, trains and automobiles to get product in. Train freight costs the same as shipping now. It used to be around four times as expensive as sea transport, but at least it wasn’t ten times as expensive, like air freight was. Nowadays, trains take four weeks and the price is similar. We’re investigating every option available to us to ensure kids have all the collectibles they could want this Q4.” Over the next few pages, Toy World takes a look at the newest pocket money, craze and collectible toys to hit shelves (and playgrounds) this year.

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Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

Vivid 01483 449944 |

Mattel 01628 500 000 | Barbie’s little sister Chelsea has received a new Color Reveal Party Series makeover. Each doll is partly covered with metallic silver and a confetti-print coating, keeping their look a mystery while also providing seven surprise fashion accessories to discover. The more fans collect, the more mix & match fun they can enjoy. In 2021, Hot Wheels introduces the Fast & Furious Spy Racers Assortment to its die cast range. Inspired by the unique street-style rides from the show, each vehicle features its own spy gadget and real moving parts, and is fully compatible with Hot Wheels tracks and play sets. New for autumn/winter is the Hot Wheels Color Reveal 2-Pack, which holds two 1:64 scale Hot Wheels Color Reveal cars in a barrel drum plus two surprise decos. Because each car is covered in a Color Reveal coating, the initial reveal provides fun and suspense. Each 2-pack in the collection includes different cars, allowing collectors to enjoy plenty colour-reveal and colour-shift play. Polly Pocket adds all-new animal themed compacts to the Pocket World Assortment including Beach Dolphin, Backyard Butterfly, Zoo Elephant and Candyland Gumball Machine. Each set includes two articulated dolls, each of which has two moveable joints for pose and play action. The Polly Pocket Spin 'n Surprise assortment includes two Polly Pocket compacts: the Waterpark is shaped like a tropical smoothie drink and Playground is shaped like an ice cream cone. Each opens to reveal three levels and 25 themed surprises including one Polly doll and friend, each with five movable joints for pose and play action. The Spirit Untamed surprise mini horse and friend set offers a fun unboxing experience with two characters and three accessories. Kids can discover a cute barn-inspired play set that includes a horse approximately 2” high, a similarly scaled character and three themed accessories. Fans can collect and clip the play sets together to recreate scenes from the movie. Jurassic World fans will love collecting and displaying Jurassic World Snap Squad Assortment. These small-scale collectibles combine the aggressive, fierce style of Jurassic World dinosaurs with a cute stylistic design, and mouths that open to ‘snap’ onto pens and pencils, backpacks, lunch bags and more. The Mattel Minecraft range welcomes Mini Figures, an exciting assortment of Minecraft Mini Figures that kids will enjoy collecting. Fans of the online gaming platform will appreciate the authentic design details on each figure, which capture Minecraft’s unique, pixelated look. New characters and themes will be released regularly, driving repeat purchase.

Off the back of its success to date, Vivid is pleased to be launching new Ryan’s World product for 2021. 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 around the world. The line includes collectible figures and play sets from all four corners of the globe. Kids can collect 80 different versions of Ryan and his friends, each with a unique style and flag sticker for the country they represent. The core range focuses on collectability, with single figure Mini Globes, 2-figure blind bags and 6-figure packs allowing children to expand their collection. The core range of World Tour product will be bolstered with new series for all key Ryan’s World collectibles including Series 7 of the Mystery Figures, Mystery Putty and Mystery Squishy Figures, which sold over 600k pieces combined last year. Vivid will be supporting its range with promotion across the Ryan’s World channel, including dedicated videos and alpha spots for 2021. Vivid is launching its Love, Diana range this year. The star of YouTube's Kids Diana Show is a top content creator globally with over 5b views a month, and her growth and popularity continue to increase. Vivid is working with industry-leading suppliers to launch an all-encompassing product range based around Diana, her family and their adventures, focusing on the positivity of friendship, family, creativity and the power of play. The Love, Diana Collectibles range comprises a selection of articulated mini figures of Diana, her brother Roma and myriad other characters from the YouTube channel. Autumn/winter will allow Love, Diana fans to discover a raft of new characters, outfits and accessories, plus two new mash-up play set themes.

Toynamics 0116 478 5230 | Toynamics UK & Ireland distributes a wide range of Hape pocket money toys and games, available to retailers in a bespoke free-standing display unit. Retailers with limited space, meanwhile, can take advantage of a smaller counter-top display unit. Refill packs for both units ensure retailers can stay stocked up. The FSDU accommodates over 70 individual products, across more than 20 different types of games and toys, at low price points. Games featured include colourful bird whistles, stamps, crayons, spinners and kaleidoscopes. The pocket money Hape Magnetic Drawing Board is a best-seller; the bright red apple is filled with metal balls, and the magnetic leaf pen can be used to create pictures and patterns. Toynamics also distributes Nanoblock. The world’s smallest micro-sized building block, Nanoblock allows children to construct detailed and realistic 3D models. Packs range from a miniature Koala and the Eiffel Tower to best-selling Pokémon characters and, new for this year, Sonic the Hedgehog. Toynamics provides marketing support for all brands and in-store product promotion is available.

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Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | Following on from the success of its previous Baby born Surprise 11cm doll collections, the new 6cm Mini Babies collection sees the brand entering an exciting phase in its collectibles journey. New to the Baby born Surprise Mini Babies range is the multiple character surprise reveal, with bundles including either a set of twins or triplets. There are nine food and garden themed sets to collect, with tiny new friends including Garden Peas, Banana Peels, Cheeky Monkeys and Berry Sweets. Ideal for imaginative play, and delivering on Baby born Surprise’s core values of collectability, unique baby themes and surprises, each doll is blind packed in a stackable crib. There are a raft of surprises for youngsters to unbox, including a swaddle, a bed, a birth certificate, an eye colour reveal and collector’s guide, plus moveable arms and legs. The biggest surprise of all is which characters collectors will discover: there are six sets of twins to find, while the rare triplets are the remaining three sets that make up the first series. To support the launch, the new Mini Babies range is being promoted across TV and digital throughout the summer, targeting both children and adults. In addition, a PR influencer-led campaign went live in July to raise awareness amongst an engaged social fan base. Partnering with a selection of parenting influencers with twins and triplets, influencers developed a series of Instagram Reels, alongside additional social media support, to promote the new collection. Arriving in autumn, Baby born Surprise fans can also look forward to the bunny-themed Baby born Surprise Mini Babies Bus Playset, which can seat more than 20 twins and triplets and also doubles up as a playground, with moveable swings, strollers, a merry-go-round and a seesaw. Ideal for travel as it can be folded away easily, the play set also comes with an exclusive swaddle and twin babies.

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 | | Simba Smoby supplies the renowned collectible die-cast vehicle brand Jada Toys. Quality and attention to detail are reflected throughout this assortment of pocket money 1:32 die-cast vehicles, which includes iconic properties including Back to the Future, Scooby Doo, Fast & Furious, Batman and, new for autumn/winter, the Jurassic Park Wrangler. Ever popular within this collection are the 1:32 scale Batman vehicles. Each of the six packs contain a metal figure and vehicle modelled on Batman’s on-screen appearances. The Fast & Furious collection is also enjoying good traction this year following the recent release of the F9 movie. Fans can collect popular cars from the eight-film multibillion-dollar franchise, as well as new additions from Hobbs & Shaw. The Majorette range of die-cast vehicles is highly detailed, boasting opening doors, suspension, transparent front lights and interiors. The range of 3” scale models enjoys a roster of strong licences including Mercedes, Lamborghini, Audi, BMW and many more. Simba Smoby Toys UK will build upon this strength by offering an even greater selection of play sets while also focusing on key die-cast themes and ranges, including an impressive Porsche theme.

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Spin Master 01628 535 000 | Zoobles are adorable animals with a magical surprise transformation. The Happitat 1-pack includes one Zoobles character and a matching Happitat featuring the metal hot spot that transforms each Zooble from a colourful ball to a cute animal. Kids simply push down on the Zooble to turn it back into a ball then roll, pop and transform again and again. There are 12 Zoobles to collect. Hatchimals Shimmer babies are available in a 1-pack or multipack. These iridescent and sparkly baby Hatchimals CollEggtibles characters come with sweet surprises to discover including all-new baby eggs and a gender reveal hatch. The Twisty Girlz and Twisty Pets fashionable dolls transform from cute characters into a bracelet children can wear. Each features a different stylish outfit and cool hairstyle and comes with a secret Twisty Pet: unicorn, elephant, puppy or kitty. In a few simple twists, the pet becomes a blingy ring that can be worn alongside the bracelet. P. Lushes Pets, meanwhile, is a designer plush pet range comprising animals from all around the world made from luxury fabric and wearing a sparkly collar. The Orbeez mega pack includes 2,000 of the soft and squishy colourful water beads made famous on TikTok. There are many ways to play with Orbeez: pour them out of the tubs, squish them, squeeze them, bounce them, crush them or let them flow. The #Challenge Playset is the perfect choice for children wanting to emulate the online crazes, and the Color Meez Activity Kit includes dye to colour Orbeez with bright colours. Spin Master’s Tech Deck and Bakugan brand are a great choice for children looking for more action in the playground. Kids can face off against their friends with their very own Bakugan Season 3: Geogan Rising Core Ball to become the ultimate Bakugan Master. As the Bakugan ball rolls across the metal BakuCores, it transforms with a pop to reveal the creature within. The new season introduces over 200 Bakugan and Geogans to collect, including favourite characters from the hit TV show now on Pop TV and Netflix. Young sports fans can show off their fingerboarding skills with the Tech Deck 96mm boards 1-pack. Tech Deck brings skateboarding fans the real deal with authentic fingerboards from real skate companies. Each one features graphics from the biggest skate companies in the world, including Blind, Baker, Primitive, Finesse, Santa Cruz, Plan B, Sk8mafia and Toy Machine. Finally, fans of Harry Potter can collect the Wizarding World Magical Minis small dolls. Available in a range of characters, each doll is highly detailed to bring the beloved characters to life.

p i h s d n e i r F Off to the e h t h t i w t n e m Horse Tourna ! r e l i a r t e s r o h new 4x4 and TV &


Figures can ride, sit and stand!

42539 | 42540 42541 | 42542

42533 | Sarah‘s Camping Adventure

42437 | Horse Stall with Tori & Princess

42438 | Wash Area with Emily & Luna

For more information, please contact your Schleich® representative, or contact us on 01279 870 000 or

Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | | Cry Babies Magic Tears Dress Me Up are IMC’s latest dolls. There are 12 characters to collect, while the rare Sydney doll increases desire and drives purchase. Each doll comes in a wardrobe capsule that doubles as a play set and contains eight surprises and feature interchangeable outfits. As with all Cry Babies Magic Tears dolls, children can feed their baby with the magic bottle, then squeeze her tummy to see her cry real tears. The new Cry Babies Magic Tears Storyland collection offers a sub-£15 line, increasing purchase options for consumers while supporting individual brand retail strategy. Based on new characters seen in the Cry Babies Magic Tears Kitoons animated series, the range includes six Fairytale characters complete with a removeable outfit and matching pet, plus a rare Christmas Claus doll. Each is packaged in its own unique Storyland house, which, when opened with a rainbow key, reveals 10 surprises. When the dolls’ tears fall onto each of the characters’ books, an image of their story will be revealed, adding an additional element of surprise and magic to the play experience. Smaller versions of the VIP Pets, VIP Pets Color Boost Mini Fan Dolls bring affordable hair play to the VIP Pets brand. The new Color Boost collection includes 12 characters plus a super-rare Coco doll, and each comes with 20cm of colourful hair. A new water surprise reveal has also been introduced. Children take the heart shaped comb capsule, dip it into water and watch as a colourful fizz is released. The capsule then opens to reveal the VIP Pet Mini Fan character and unique accessories, and turns into a mini hair salon play set for added value.

Hexbug 01925 854 282 | The Junkbots range offers kids an immersive and inventive unboxing experience. Each trash bin contains ‘junk’ which can be used to build 36 unique robots, while the universal socket system allows them to be taken apart and reattached in endless combinations to create other collectible figures. Whether children want to collect static robots, add rumble units for vibration, energy cores for light-up effects, or motion packs for movement, there are characters for everyone to unbox and enjoy. The Alley collection is available now and includes a trash bin, a dumpster and an industrial dumpster. The second series, the Factory collection, will be in stores from September, and includes a refreshed version of the first collection along with the addition of the Junkbots Research Lab and the Junkbots Sewer System Playset. Further expanding the Junkbots play universe, the brand new eight-part online series ‘Junkbots’ launched on the Hexbug YouTube channel on 1st August while the Junkbots official Roblox Game launched on 20th August.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | | Character’s Micro Toy Box brand takes the most popular toys and games and reimagines them on a tiny scale, allowing kids to peel and reveal miniature versions of classic and contemporary products. Starting at just three-quarters of an inch in scale, these toys come creatively packaged and ready to be unboxed. Tiny in size but impressively big on quality and detail, each collectible captures the essence of the beloved brand it’s based upon and will be instantly recognisable once unboxed. Kids can find the likes of Rubik’s Cube, Uno, Etch-A-Sketch, Fisher-Price Classics, Transformers, Nerf and more hidden inside, with the promise of more to come in subsequent series. Each Micro Toy Box pack comes with 5, 10, 15 or 20 collectible replicas to unbox, as well as stickers and a collector’s checklist. The range launches with 50+ toys and games to find. Kids can collect them all to create a miniature toy store. From the world of Heroes of Goo Jit Zu comes DC Minis. These pocketmoney priced playground collectibles offer fans a fresh way to play with this ever-popular brand. Smaller in size but big in stretch value, this collection presents the DC Heroes like they’ve never been seen before. There are eight super stretchy heroes to collect, including Ultra Rare Man of Steel Superman and golden Batman, The Flash, Cyborg and DC’s ultimate villain, The Joker. Mash’ems celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. The licensed collectibles range has seen the addition of new properties including Disney Princess, Spider-Man and Jurassic World. These join the likes of other power licences including Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, My Little Pony, Harry Potter, Disney Frozen and Toy Story.

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t i d e p x E o Volcan


42564 | Volcano Expedition Base Camp

41462 | Large Dino Research Station

NEW Dinosaurs adventure | Volcano erupts and vibrates! Cool smoke feature | Volcano glows with LED function Lifelike dinosaur sound effects | Glowing stones Connects to Large Dino Research Station

For more information, please contact your Schleich® representative, or contact us on 01279 870 000 or

Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 |

Schleich 01279 870 000 | The Schleich range continues to offer strong collectible opportunities both for avid collectors and those just starting out on their Schleich journey. Following the successful launch of the 12 bayala collectible unicorn foals at the beginning of the year, Schleich has now launched Series Two of these adorable unicorn foals, as well as the much-anticipated blind bag range of 17 Eldrador Mini-Creatures. Series Two of the bayala collectible unicorns takes on a fun and fruity theme, with 11 different fruity unicorn figures to discover including Strawberry, Peach, Lemon, Pineapple and Cherry. All the unicorns stand out with their bold colours and cheeky fruit tattoos. In addition, there’s also a special Golden Unicorn that can be found at the end of the bayala Rainbow. An ideal pocket-money purchase, and available for a limited time only, the range comes conveniently displayed in a CDU of 24 pieces. Development of Series Three is already well underway and is slated to launch in January 2022. While the new Mini Creatures should be helping the creatures of Eldrador restore their worlds after numerous battles, they have got other things on their minds. Four small creatures are available for each of the four worlds of Eldrador. They can be stacked together to form mighty pyramids or imposing tall towers, only to be brought crashing down again. The limited-edition collectible figures come in blind bags: kids can discover if theirs will be a Lava, Ice, Stone or Jungle creature, or even the Golden Mini Hero. The Mini Creatures are also compatible with the four World Robots, allowing them to gain even more power. The World Robots have movable arms and can carry any Mini Creature in their cockpit. Each World Robot comes with its own unique mini creature and can wield every weapon from the land of Eldrador.

Brainstorm has continued to add to its popular Eugy line throughout 2021, with more lines planned throughout Q4 including a trio of highly collectible special edition Christmas Eugy models. The impulse price point and the eco-friendly attributes of Eugy, coupled with the increasing number of models available, mean the brand has become a sought-after collectible. It’s also proving a popular parent purchase among those looking for added value pocket money toys, while the arts & crafts element makes the range fun and engaging too. All children have to do is piece together the numbered, recycled cardboard pieces to create a sturdy animal model to play with and display. There are 40 different models in the Eugy range to collect, with new characters including Ptero, Lion, Mammoth, Koala, Dolphin and Orca most recently added. Maker Dodoland, based in New Zealand, has also launched a social media campaign encouraging children to share their Eugy collection using the hashtag #bringhomeyourwild. StikBot and Klikbot continue to be one of Brainstorm’s best-selling ranges with brand awareness remaining high. US-based creator Zing Toys consistently innovates the range so children can add to their existing collection or modify their models to create totally unique characters. New for this year are Klikbot Kreatures. Available in blind capsules, there’s a rare gold Klikbot Kreature to find in every 12-piece CDU, with eight Klikbot Kreatures to collect in total. StikBot and Klikbot will be TV and digitally advertised throughout Q4, and both Klikbot and Eugy will form part of Brainstorm’s Christmas PR strategy.

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | |

Launching with an extensive schools marketing and sampling campaign, NanoBytes is tipped to become a new playground craze. With over 100 pixelated real-life items to collect in Series 1, NanoBytes bridges physical and digital play to offer an exclusive ByteWorld experience. Children scan the QR code found on each collectible to unlock a host of edutainment including fun facts, jokes, how-it-works and world records. They can then download the free ByteWorld app and enter a unique code to earn virtual ByteCoins for saving and spending in their own ByteWorld. There, they get to grow their world, and can spend ByteCoin to play games, buy exclusive characters, build themed stores and embark upon quests. NanoBytes are available as blind-bag collectibles complete with a ByteCoin unique code sticker and collector’s leaflet. A 2-pack Nano Case, as well as 5-pack and 10-pack blister packs are also available. The NanoByte Nano Arcade Playset completes the initial launch range and transforms into a full micro diorama as seen within the ByteWorld. The play set also transforms from an Arcade into a ByteQuest video game level for added play value, plus includes a limited edition NanoByte and exclusive Nano Caveman character. World of Zombies introduces collectible Zombie characters based on countries and caricatures from around the world. With single and double-figure blind packs available, children can collect and swap their zombie characters. Each comes hidden in a coffin-shaped capsule and is fully articulated with swappable head and hands that can grip onto other zombies and any other objects to hand. The World of Zombies brand also includes The Ball Park Playset which offers three sports in one. An extensive marketing campaign is supporting the brand launch, including YouTube campaign and weekly webisode content, Halloween-focused events and social- and eCommerce-driven programmes. Bandai’s articulated Dragon Ball Evolve Action Figures now include new 12.5cm versions of Super Saiyan Goku, Super Saiyan God Goku, Super Saiyan Vegeta, Vegito, Beerus and Majin Boo. A collection of 10 Dragon Ball Super miniature characters is also available as 5cm Mini Collectible Figures in blind foil bags. Each figure comes with a stand for display.

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For UK sales contact:

Tel: 023 9387 6600

Playground Crazes & Pocket Money Collectibles

Zuru 5 Surprise Mini Brands Series 2 Wave 1 introduces over 100 new miniature versions of favourite brands such as Slush Puppie, Heinz, and Aunt Bessies, while Mini Toy Brands Series 1 Wave 2 welcomes additional toys to find from the likes of Nickelodeon, Zuru, Rubik’s and Crayola. Rare glow in the dark, shimmery and super rare gold minis, plus shopping accessories such as bags, baskets and trollies add to the collectability. The latest 5 Surprise Dino Strike Hunt includes 13 dinos to collect and battle, each with customised accessories and hunting vehicles, while 5 Surprise Newborn Unicorn Squad offers eight newborn unicorn characters to accessorise and style. For additional play value, and reflecting Zuru’s sustainability commitment, each Newborn Unicorn Squad is packaged in a convertible capsule which turns into a baby bath or crib. 5 Surprise Monster Trucks provide an unboxing, build, battle and race experience. Every Monster Truck comes ready to build, with weapons which shoot up to a 1.2m distance. With seven trucks to collect, each truck part is interchangeable across the assortment. Zuru’s new surprise reveal range, Itty Bitty Prettys Angel High, offers an affordable range of collectible dolls. Children peel the capsule to reveal their Angel High doll and discover surprise, swappable accessories inside. Each of the capsules includes an Angel Wing hair/bag clip. Fidget Cube by Antsy Labs is a high-quality toy designed to help with focus. Specially designed with six different sides to glide, flip, roll, spin, breathe and click, the features make it easy to concentrate for long 0161 653 1306 | periods of time and avoid unwanted distractions. Hunter Price launched an extensive collection of fidget All brands are supported by PR and marketing campaigns, including global television commercials, plus toys this year as the trend rapidly swept the nation. Under digital and social media content across all channels. its Toy Mania brand, the business released its debut collection of Fidget Pops. Offering something appealing for children of all ages, the range provides sensory fun for younger kids and a calming aid for older children. Fidget Pops was the first product developed as part of the wider Toy Mania collection. Development began with 01753 271737 | a variety of shapes and sizes, before progressing into glow Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG fans can now awaken the power of the Egyptian God Cards. Ideal for those who’ve always in the dark, glitter, rainbow, tie-dye and a wide variety of wanted to build a deck around an Egyptian God Card but didn’t know where to start, Egyptian God Deck: designs. The simple but satisfying bubble-popping toy has Slifer the Sky Dragon and Egyptian God Deck: Obelisk the Tormentor serve up simple strategies to summon hit the mark with retailers and consumers alike. and win with either deck. With demand for more fidget fun at an all-time high, Slifer the Sky Dragon powers up depending on how many cards a player has in their hand, using tokenHunter Price expanded the range with Fidget Snapz, generating effects to help them gather the three required Tributes while using fewer cards from their hand. a handy finger snapping toy, and the hugely popular After the player has Slifer on the field, they can power it up with cards that let them draw more cards, like the Infinite Cube, which kids can twist and reshape all day. brand-new Thunderforce Attack. Based on Slifer’s signature attack, this Spell can destroy all an opponent’s From squishy peanuts to peas in a pod and mini face-up monsters at any time. If used during a player’s own Main Phase, they can draw a card for each keyring formats, Hunter Price continues to bring new monster destroyed. fidget formats to market on a monthly basis, with schools Yu-Gi-Oh! players can also unleash the true power of Obelisk the Tormentor by Tributing two monsters back in session and kids wanting to play with and share they control to wipe their opponent’s monsters off the field. This deck uses self-replicating monsters to the new must-have trends fuelling sales. provide Tributes and protect a player’s Life Points as they get closer to drawing their Divine Beast. Obelisk’s Hunter Price offers retailers FSDU and CDU display own ability can crush an opponent’s monsters all at once, options that can be tailored to a mixture of products. but throwing in the new Spell Card, Fist of Fate, can The design of the units also means they can be easily negate a monster’s effect and destroy it without refreshed with all the latest developments in the fidget needing to Tribute. If activated during a market. Main Phase, Fist of Fate can crush all an opponent’s Spells and Traps as well. Each Egyptian God Deck is 40 cards total and includes one Egyptian God Card and five new cards: four unique new cards as well as one copy of Soul Crossing, a new Quick-Play Spell Card included in both decks that lets players Tribute Summon their Egyptian God Card by Tributing their opponent’s monsters. Each deck is playable on its own straight out of the box and comes with a Dueling Guide that explains the basic strategy and rules players should know to get the most out of their Deck. Fans who choose to purchase both decks can mix and match their strategies to create a deck that can wield multiple Egyptian God Cards. Egyptian God Deck: Slifer the Sky Dragon and Egyptian God Deck: Obelisk the Tormentor are available now.

Hunter Price

Konami Digital Entertainment BV

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Magic Box Toys 01403 251 286 | | Magic Box’s new collectibles range Kazoom Kids launches this month, passing the power of the Kazoom to the humans of Kazoom City, turning children into Kazoom Kids complete with SuperThings hero and villain powers. The new range lets fans collect 80 new heroes and villains and gives them the chance to find rare gold and silver characters or the Ultra Rare Sparky. Each 5” Kazoom Kids figure has a secret weapon to match its SuperThings alter ego and can ride around Kazoom City in the eight different collectible Super Jets, which boast pull-back function and interchangeability. Value-added packs are also available including the blister 4-pack and 10-pack, a Starter Pack and Mega Pack. Magic Box’s new brand T-Racers launched in July. A completely new vehicle concept, T-Racers offers kids a revolutionary way of playing with cars via a ‘mix & race’ formula: each vehicle is made up of five different parts which can be interchanged to create a unique car. The full range boasts more than 500 possible combinations that will allow collectors to build a raft of custom cars, with each part benefitting from a special power or characteristic that adds to the mix & race fun. There are eight drivers to collect in Series 1, including the ultra-rare X-Racer with a special chrome-like finish. Each Turbo Wheel includes one articulated driver and one completely random car in multiple parts, with packaging designed to give kids an exciting unboxing experience plus the option to use the pack as a racing podium. Turbo Wheel is a perfect pocket money item within a brand that also includes three play sets children can use to expand their T-Racers world. Both SuperThings: Kazoom Kids and T-Racers will benefit from a heavyweight TV and digital campaign as well as webisodes on the Magic Box YouTube channel.

Golden Bear 01952 608 308 | | Taking inspiration from the micro and mini bag trends seen on the catwalk, Golden Bear’s new Zipstas range combines fashionable mini backpacks with cute characters. A unique range of wearable collectibles, Zipstas provides children with double the fun, transforming from practical on-the-go storage into cuddly companions. The first series has launched at an entry level price point to offer children six different affordable backpack designs to choose from. With a twist of the wrist, they can zip it and flip it, meaning each Zipstas backpack can be unzipped and turned inside out to reveal a cute plush unicorn, panda, koala, narwhal, watermelon or cupcake. The design on the front of the bag will give clues as to which plush will be revealed once the bag is unzipped. The mini backpack combines high quality design with portability and fun. Zipstas are small, compact and lightweight with sturdy straps, making them ideal to take to school or on holidays, day trips and visits. Zipstas are suitable for ages 10+ months. Golden Bear will be unveiling new characters and brand extensions for 2022.

Flair 020 8643 0320 | | Flair hopes to create a new playground craze with Juggleezz, a range of super-stretchy and versatile balls that can be wrapped into different shapes. As kids catch, grab, fly and throw their Juggleezz they can master old tricks and invent new ones. Lending itself well to social media content, the brand will provide plenty of opportunities for creators to make original videos and pictures, and set challenges for others to try. Available as Mini Peek Packs, Multi Peek Packs and Mini Playsets, fans can now collect more than 100 Disney Doorables characters hidden behind surprise doors. There are special edition figures to find from autumn too, thanks to the Disney Doorables Collectors Packs. Also added to the mix for autumn are two Beyond the Door Playsets. The Frozen themed play set opens to reveal an ice rink on one side and Elsa’s bedroom on the other, while the Little Mermaid set reveals an underwater seascape with interactive features. Slinky, the cult classic pocket money toy, has enjoyed decades of success. The Original Slinky can be juggled from hand to hand or set off down slopes and steps. Other fun lines include the Toy Story Slinky Dog and Toy Story Slinky Dog Jr., which bring the adorable, animated character from the Disney Pixar franchise to life. New to the collection for autumn/ winter are Slinky Shapes, which come in assorted colours and shapes, the colourful Rainbow Slinky, and Slinky Giant Metal, which is 70% larger than Classic Slinky.

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H. Grossman 01416 132 525 | HGL’s Pushpoppers sales show no signs of slowing down. The company was one of the first to the market with this craze line of tactile silicone fidget toys, and its innovative range extensions have given this season’s sensation the legs to carry sales through right the way to Christmas and beyond. Pushpoppers combine the best elements of craze and collectible, with sales reflecting kids’ eagerness to own a selection of Pushpoppers of every shape and colour. Innovative design and line extensions include key rings, unicorns, dinosaurs, pineapples, glitter, glow in the dark and tie dye. The latest items include pea pod key chains, a lobster, a rainbow, jigsaw puzzle pieces and an octopus. A range of Pushpopper mats have just landed too, in the shape of a computer keyboard and in two sizes of popping play mat. Continuously supported by timely national TV and mainstream media coverage, coupled with a social media overload, Pushpoppers are currently front and centre with all generations of consumer. Pushsnappers are new on the scene. These addictive fidget toys create a satisfying snap with every squeeze. With plenty of bright colours to choose from, kids simply push the two sides together until the suction cups connect, then release to hear the snap. Meanwhile, the Fidget Cube is a fidget with a difference. Origami in cube form, this shape changing cube can flip and fold as it’s made from eight smaller interconnected cubes. Unique in design, this toy is destined to keep even the most fidgety kid occupied. Launching this month is the new Fidget Box, a 24-piece bonanza containing all the fidget toys a child could ever want. This fun collection brings together all HGL’s fidget toys, each of which is a best-seller, making it ideal for a party or event. Designed to be unputdownable, this cost-effective assortment comprises: four sticky crawlers, a heart Pushpopper, two bendy Fidget Tubes, four woven Boink Bouncers, two Fidget Tracks, four Football Finger Spinners, two stretchy Unicorn Bracelets, a pea pod Pushpopper, two stretchy ropes, a spinning top and a Fidget Cube.

HTI 01253 778888 | HTI Toys is respected as a one-stop shop for novelty and trending items, and its Pocket Money line-up expands with each new season. The range evolves year on year, with the team undertaking constant research and development to ensure it keeps up with the latest trends and playground crazes. HTI’s new range, Sili Pops, includes a variety of on-trend ‘pop it’ toys. Children can choose from shapes including a heart, hexagon, dinosaur, mermaid tail or unicorn. Offering kids a similar sensation to popping bubble wrap for hours on end, simply push the Sili Pops bubbles to make them pop, then turn the pad over and do it again. The Jokes & Gags Fidget Toy Set combines the trends of unboxing and fidget toys. Already proving to be popular in several retailers, this set comes complete with eight fidget toys comprising a mixture of the most popular HTI Pocket Money products. Children will enjoy unboxing the set before spending hours exploring the different textures by bouncing, stretching and squeezing the toys. Magical Kingdom is one of HTI’s ever-popular own-brands. After the successful launch of the new style guide, the team continues to evolve this mythical-themed range. New for this season is the pretty Unicorn Styling Head, featuring rainbow hair and several accessories. Other staple items include the collectible Stretch-I-Corns, Enchanted Eggs and Sweetie Friends, each incorporating the magical fairy, unicorn and mermaid characters the brand is known for.

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | Global fashion doll brand L.O.L. Surprise! continues to lead the toy market as the No.1 girls’ collectible through pioneering product innovation, creative trend-led themes and market leading entertainment content. This autumn sees the launch of a ground-breaking new theme, bringing together the worlds of toys and entertainment. For the first time ever, the brand will be launching an official L.O.L. Surprise! Movie, supported with new original music and the Movie Magic toy range which will include dolls, O.M.G. fashion dolls and play sets. L.O.L. Surprise! The Movie will launch on Netflix this October, bringing fan-favourite characters to the big screen as they come together for the ‘fiercest and most surprising’ L.O.L. surprise ever. L.O.L. Surprise! The new Movie Magic dolls are ready to show off their skills both in front of and behind the camera, as kids discover whether they’ve unboxed a member of The Cast or a member of The Crew. Offering a range of innovative characters that provide fans with an unboxing opportunity like no other, each doll is designed to deliver the ultimate collecting experience. Fans can collect all 12 new L.O.L. Surprise! Movie Magic dolls to create their very own film, plug all the secret messages into the ‘fill in the blank’ Movie Script to complete the screenplay and get creative by writing their very own movie script. As a brand, L.O.L. Surprise! is all about championing individuality, self-expression and confidence. The Movie Magic theme will continue to encourage children throughout the world to celebrate and express their uniqueness with pride. Widespread TV and digital advertising, alongside targeted PR and social media campaigns will support the launch and continue to drive the ongoing exponential success of the brand.

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Two in 1 Direct 07967 004 585 | | Available now from Two in 1 Direct, the Cats vs. Pickle collection launched this year with Collectible Plushies. Available individually or in multipacks, there are 100+ styles to collect, including different themes of Cats and a limited selection of Pickle characters. Irresistibly squishy, these bean-filled collectibles feature colourful and embroidered designs that reflect their personalities. An ideal pocket money pick-up range, the collection is inspired by Cepia LLC’s property, in which Cats are nothing short of petrified of Pickles but all Pickles want is a bit of love. Launching for autumn/winter and helping to further enhance the collectability of the range, Cats vs. Pickles fans can look forward to city living with the cute Kitty Condos. These light-up, customisable play sets offer children a new way to play with their Collectible Plushies, stacking together to create bright and cheerful neighbourhoods. Kitty Condos will be available in two pocket money friendly options: Core Habitats and Themed Habitats. Both come with one container, accessories and an exclusive character. The Cats vs. Pickles toy line, which also includes the Jumbo Plush Character Pillows and a collection of 18”Giant Hugging Plush, benefits from a significant volume of bespoke YouTube content as well as extensive marketing and PR support, including TV support ahead of the festive gifting period.

Epoch making toys 08435 574 062 | In response to consumer demand, a seventh series of the Sylvanian Families Baby Collectibles featuring a magical theme has been released. Each surprise bag contains a baby figure and a magic accessory such as a lamp, wizard’s hat or flying broomstick. There are seven figures to collect plus a mystery eighth figure. The Baby Collectibles are ideal pocket money buys for core fans as well as children new to Sylvanian Families. Epoch’s arts & crafts brand, Aquabeads, has launched three new Decorator’s Pouch SKUs with themes spanning Animal, Sea Life and Unicorns. Crafters can embellish their own cases with their finished creations. Each set includes over 500 beads in 21 colours. Using the items included, children can snap their Aquabeads creations onto the front of the pouch using the design pegs. The pouch can then be used to hold their Aquabeads or as a pencil case for on-the-go creativity. These are ideal pocket money purchases for craft fans to buy and do together, as the sets come complete with everything needed to create and play straight away.

Funko 020 3376 3223 | Funko is bringing kids a whole new range of Snapsies this summer, following the successful launch last year. The brand new Snapsies range is packed with cute and adorable new creatures including French Bulldogs, Alicorns, Skunks, Leopards and Koalas. Snapsies is a diverse and creative product line. The unique toy range gives kids the opportunity to create their own custom characters, making each Snapsies truly individual and personalised to the owner. Including ‘Snappable’ pieces and fun accessories, each Snapsies comes in a capsule filled with cute and lovable creatures that kids can mix & match, making each Snapsies unique to them. Adding to the fun and collectability is the fact kids never know which one they’re going to get. The snap-and-match technology allows collectors to add ultimate customisation to their Snapsies, giving players a chance to get creative as they define the names, backstory and looks of their very own Snapsies collectibles. Funko will also be launching a new line of Snapsies plushies, which will be available this summer.

DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | DKL-Beysal distributes a range of pocket money collectibles and playground craze toys including Plus-Plus, Breyer and Hama Brands. From colourful construction bricks to hand crafted model horses, the company aims to distribute a variety of products that allow children to utilise their imagination whilst developing their early skills. Hama Beads continues to impress with its fun and affordable product range. A popular pocket money option are the small blister packs, which feature a range of designs perfect for boys and girls. Each pack contains a themed pegboard and an assortment of colourful beads to create a unique piece of art. Once ironed, children can play with their creation or use it for decorative purposes. Designs and effects include dinosaurs, princesses and glow in the dark, plus much more. Mini Whinnies Unicorns is the latest creation from Breyer Model Horses. Exclusively distributed in the UK by DKL-Beysal, the new and trending blind bag collectible allows unicorn lovers to collect eight different mystery unicorns as well as a collector booklet. One of every two CDUs of 48 pieces also includes a highly desirable golden chase figure. The unique and colourful Plus-Plus range allows children to build striking 3D creations. The brand offers a wide range of different tube designs including Zoo Animals, Dinosaurs, Aquatic, Space and much more. Each tube contains 100 Plus-Plus pieces and instructions on how to create 3D models. Mystery Builders boxes contain 50 pieces, making them the perfect Plus-Plus starter set at a low RRP.

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Those modern-day highwaymen – shipping companies – have decided that despite making record profits, it still isn’t quite enough. Posting on LinkedIn, Zuru’s Nick Mowbray highlighted an email he had received from Hapag Lloyd, informing customers that it would be introducing value added (VAD) surcharges of up to $5000 per container as a result of “operational challenges”. Come on guys – at least Dick Turpin wore a mask. The random surcharge currently applies on the Far East to US & Canada routes, but it would be the least surprising thing ever it was applied to European routes as well. For context, this random ‘extra’ charge is almost double the cost it was to ship the entire container a year ago. When the cost to ship the container is more than the value of the goods inside (as can now often be the case), surely we’ve reached a tipping point? In the end, it’s all about balance and finding an acceptable via media: it was clearly unsustainable for carriers to operate on rock bottom rates, but now the pendulum has swung to the point where it's unsustainably high. Undoubtedly, shipping companies are facing increasing costs themselves (fuel, warehousing, advance costs of ordering new containers and vessels to increase capacity); however, announcing multi-billion profits before jacking up prices even further does seem a bit tone deaf… Another company which consistently fails to read the room is our old friend Amazon. We were recently contacted by a seller who had found themselves in the unfortunate situation where Amazon took the decision to place one of their lines on clearance, then informed the business that unless it lowered its own price to match – which would have equated to just half its cost price – it would no longer be able to sell the toy on the site at all. Even more frustrating, the situation arose because Amazon wanted to clear a product that it deemed wasn't selling - but it wasn't selling due to Amazon disabling the listing due to a lack of compliance information (although the manufacturer uploaded it multiple times, ‘computer said no’ apparently struck again). But rather than them realising that it was a product they sold and contacting the manufacturer to resolve it, Amazon just kept cutting the price. Madness… If you need yet another example of an Amazon own goal, nestling in the Amazon toy top sellers list recently was the charming “Notorious Serial Killers – A Killer Trumps Card Game.” Imagine a child going through the Amazon toy list and coming across that: “Mummy, who is Jeffrey Dahmer?” You wouldn’t get that in the Argos / Smyths / Toymaster catalogue, because these retailers take their responsibility seriously and exercise control over their toy offerings. It is the same lack of control or shirking responsibility that we have previously seen with Amazon on unsafe toys and fake brands – “not our problem guv’nor, it’s down to the sellers.” Except, it shouldn’t be, not really. One wonders how this product has not been auto blocked under Amazon's Offensive and Controversial Materials Policy, which includes the specific line: “Amazon does not allow products that promote, incite or glorify hatred or violence.” Strangely, from what I hear, the algorithm mainly ends up blocking legitimate products that don't present any issues, rather than ones which really should be removed. Using robots is fine, but maybe best for a human to check occasionally to make sure they’re working correctly, eh… After decades of American cartoons coming over here and corrupting the way our kids speak, the UK has struck back…and we have good old Peppa Pig to thank. A truly heart-warming article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that as a result of binge-watching Peppa over the past year, scores of American kids are now speaking with a ‘posh’ British accent and using words and phrases their parents have never

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heard. They think their parents are drinking tea (not coffee), they want to bake mince pies for Father Christmas (not Santa), go on holiday (not vacation), push a shopping trolley (not cart), go to the optician (not eye doctor) or petrol station (not gas station), eat biscuits rather than cookies…. one child even referred to a power cut instead of a power outage. Americans, you’re welcome. It is, after all, the Queen’s English… Speaking of Americans, my good friend Chris Byrne – The Toy Guy – recently got in touch with news of the measures some US companies are adopting to address the current supply chain challenges. Certain companies are looking at shipping products unbuilt and assembling components in the US – assuming they have products and components that aren’t easily damaged in transit, it is definitely an option worth exploring. Indeed, I gather a few UK companies are already doing something similar. Chris also told me that Walmart and Target are offering space in their own containers for items that they’re making bets on—especially exclusives. Although he did point out that there is no word on what they’re charging for that special concierge service – I’m guessing it won’t be cheap. I also hear on the grapevine that at least one major UK & Ireland toy specialist retailer is adopting a similar strategy … I just hope these retailers chartering their own ships find the approach works better than Amazon’s freight service: I heard from one toy company which has been receiving huge chargebacks for late and even early delivery from Amazon – despite the fact that Amazon is handling the whole delivery process itself, through its own Amazon freight service. Brilliant – charge a company to provide a service, don’t do it correctly, then charge the company for your own mistakes. Whoever came up with that ruse is clearly a bona fide genius and probably destined to go on to run a shipping company in the very near future… I have occasionally been guilty of using Amazon as shorthand reference for online platforms as a whole, and it has been pointed out that I sometimes let other platforms off the hook. Thankfully, a recent Which? Report has given me the opportunity of calling out other online retail miscreants: step forward AliExpress, eBay and Wish, it is time to share the spotlight of shame with my old friends at Amazon. It is a depressingly familiar tale: you won’t be surprised to hear that the four platforms have all been found guilty of featuring sellers offering unsafe, dangerous toys. 40% of the toys tested failed standard safety tests, with 10 toys presenting a choking risk and two posing a strangulation risk. To be fair, as a consumer, if by now you haven’t realised that buying from the Wish ‘carousel of crap’ (as it is often referred to online) is a really bad idea, there is arguably little hope for you. But while I fully understand the principle of caveat emptor, I don’t believe online platforms should be able to obviate responsibility and put all the onus on the consumer to decide whether something is safe or not. Apart from anything else, this is such a slap in the face to all those legitimate toy suppliers and retailers who do take their responsibility seriously, spending an absolute fortune on testing each year in the process. As an industry, we have made so much progress over recent decades: there has been a dedicated global effort to address the issue of unsafe toys, and we don’t want a few cowboys to bring the toy industry’s good name into disrepute. I can’t imagine the genuine sellers on these platforms being all that thrilled either – there is always a danger that they’ll be unfairly tarred with the same brush. I just wish the online platforms would take proper steps to address the problem – not just issue the kind of mealymouthed statements they gave to Which? in their embarrassingly laughable ‘defence’. Come on chaps and chapesses, sort it out.