Toy World October 2018

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October 2018 Volume 8 Issue 2

The Team...

CONTENTS October 2018 Volume 8 Issue 2

John Baulch

Publisher and Managing Editor 01442 502 408 07932 651 207

52 Feature: Character Licensed Merchandise

30 Retail Profile: B&M

Mark Austin

Sales Director 01442 502 405

Anita Baulch

Circulation and Financial Director 01923 711 439




07 From the Publisher 08 News 18 Industry Moves 20 Marketing World 40 Fresh 46 Licensing World 100 Allegedly

27 Talking Shop 36 Viewpoint 70 NPD column 72 Touching Base

30 Retail Profile: B&M 52 Feature: Character Licensed Merchandise 69 Show Preview: BLE 80 Q&A: eOne 82 Q&A: Nickelodeon 84 Q&A: Sixteen South

Contributors David Ripley | The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Jonathan Chambers | Nat Southworth | Anthony M. Verna III

Rachael Simpson-Jones Editor 01442 502 406

69 Show Preview: BLE

Casey Goodman

82 Feature: Radio Control & Slot Racing

Editorial Assistant 01442 502 406

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

Mark Crowford

Design and Production Manager 01442 502 405

Alakat Published by

61 Maxted Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 7DZ @toyworldmag @baulchtweet


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Toy World Magazine


he sad news that Toy State had ceased trading with immediate effect came as a shock to everyone – both internally and within the broader toy community. They clearly do things differently in Hong Kong; no hint of a CVA, administration, Chapter 11 or anything that might have given the business a chance to reshape and survive. Instead, the bank (HSBC) pulled the plug without warning and that was that. Factories were shut within hours and everyone is now left to deal with the fallout. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the timing; toy companies rarely cease trading just as the peak shipping season is about to commence. January or February has long been recognised as the period when the fate of struggling companies is decided; it is practically unheard of for such a sudden occurrence to take place in August.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

Some observers made the not unrealistic assumption that its fate was ultimately driven by recent events at Toys R Us, especially as the company was heavily involved in the retailer’s own-brand programme. In fairness, while Toys R Us was a major factor, it was by no means the only issue – a perfect storm of global retail failures (not just TRU, but Ludendo and others), a series of underperforming licences and – crucially – a writing down of commercial assets including properties (a Hong Kong property crash is apparently becoming a genuine possibility) left the company desperately short of cash and unable to pay wages to the 3,000 workers at its factory. It just goes to show that it may be wise not to automatically assume that anything bad which happens in the toy trade over the next few months is purely the fault of Toys R Us. Convenient scapegoat it may be, but in the same way that everything which goes wrong in a company can’t be blamed on the person who recently left, TRU isn’t always going to be the guilty party. However, on a wider scale, this unfortunate situation may be an indicator of a trend which could ultimately affect the whole toy community; when it comes to toy businesses – supplier or retailer – it seems that the patience and forbearance of lenders may no longer be relied upon. Speaking to one major specialist toy retailer earlier this year, I suggested that that the demise of Toys R Us presented a golden opportunity for other toy retailers to benefit. He agreed, but pointed out that it could only be done with the support of the financial community; picking up an additional few million pounds of turnover wasn’t the challenge which concerned him – financing the extra stock was more the issue. All the more reason, then, to acknowledge and celebrate retail success stories – and B&M is

unquestionably one retailer which is going great guns at the moment. I was the lone journalist invited to attend B&M’s ‘Golden Quarter’ conference in Liverpool last month, and you can read my report on proceedings starting on page 33. I suspect it may challenge a few of the popular preconceptions about B&M. While it remains a controversial retailer with some sections of the trade, I have no doubt that it is only going to grow its share of the toy business over the coming years, often in areas you wouldn’t necessarily think are its real heartland. Elsewhere in this issue, character licensed merchandise takes centre stage. An extensive preview of this month’s BLE event starts on page 69, while we have also rounded up the latest news from the licensing world and a selection of the new licensed ranges which will be hitting shelves over the coming months. Finally, this month’s edition is accompanied by a separate pull-out supplement published in conjunction with Mattel Licensing, highlighting the company’s key properties and bringing you all the latest developments across its diverse portfolio. This year’s BLE will be the last to be held at Olympia before the show relocates to Excel in 2019, and it comes on the back of a challenging year for the licensing community. It is no great secret that many retail buyers have reigned in their selection of licensed products this year, in favour of allocating more shelf space to crazes and trend-driven items. Some major retail owners have even privately questioned whether the current licensing model is ‘broken’: there is a prevailing belief in some quarters that valueconscious consumers may have turned away from high-priced licensed product, while some retailers remain concerned at over-inflated price points and significantly reduced margins that accompany some of the higher-profile licences. Indeed, it has even been suggested that the excessive royalty rates charged by certain licensors are inhibiting the ability of retailers to make a realistic profit from certain ranges, and this may well be impacting their overall selection decisions. That said, there have been some notable licensing success stories this year – particularly Harry Potter, which is arguably performing better now than it has ever done – and there are some major movie and TV franchises in the wings for 2019. So, the big question is whether the pendulum will swing back in licensing’s favour next year? We may start to find some answers at BLE, as it remains a prime networking opportunity and ‘talking shop’ for the whole UK and European licensing community. We’ll see you there.

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News Toy State ceases trading

Smyths posts half a billion euro in UK sales for the first time New figures show the retailer enjoyed strong growth in 2017 in the UK, as sales surged by 11%, going from £404m to a record £475.7m (€534.5m). The firm’s pre-tax profits increased by 18% to £11.88m, boosted by ranges like Lego and Shopkins. The family-run firm entered the UK market in 2007 and its business has grown exponentially since then. The continuing expansion of the company is in stark contrast to the international collapse of Toys R Us and earlier this year, Smyth’s Toys purchased the Toys R Us business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The €79m deal adds a further 90 stores to the Smyth’s Toys group and brings the total to around 200 outlets in Ireland, UK and Europe. On the UK performance in 2017, the directors state they are “very pleased with the increase in profit particularly given the current economic climate and the increased competition in the marketplace”. Sales “were driven by growth in both existing UK stores and also the 12 new stores opened during the year”. The directors added that “further expansion will occur in the UK market in the coming years through the opening of new stores”. Last year, the company spent £20.66m on the purchase of property, which followed a spend of £20.5m in 2016. Numbers employed by the UK arm last year increased from 1,888 to 2,195. The firm is Ireland’s largest toy retailer and the extent of its profits and revenues in Ireland are not available, as the firm has unlimited status in Ireland.

In an official statement on 27th August, Toy State owner Simon Cheng announced the closure of the company with immediate effect. The statement read: “I am writing to inform you that due to unavoidable financial circumstances, Toy State has been left with no choice but to cease all trading. We profusely apologize for this terrible turn of events, and will work with customers, licensors and service providers in the coming weeks to finalize specific details. Over the last thirty-four years Toy State has endeavoured to provide the highest quality toys to children around the world. Unfortunately, changing manufacturing and retail environments have combined devastatingly, which has ultimately had a terminal effect on our business and operations. The owners of Toy State have left no stone unturned in the search for a workable solution. We are in no doubt that this news will cause much frustration and disappointment, we will continue to do everything possible within our available means to assist and answer all questions. Again, we profusely apologize for the disruption to your business.” Many in the toy community assumed that Toy State’s fate was ultimately driven by recent events at Toys R Us, especially as the company was heavily involved in the retailer’s own-brand programme. However, Toy State UK’s managing director Michael Angel admits that while Toys R Us was a major factor, it was by no means the only issue. A perfect storm of retail failures (not just TRU, but Ludendo and other global retailers), a series of under-performing licences and – crucially – a writing down of commercial assets including properties (a Hong Kong property crash is becoming a genuine possibility, and banks are reacting accordingly) left the company desperately short of cash and unable to pay wages to the 3,000 workers at its factory. At this stage, the workers complained to local government officials, and they moved swiftly, closing down the factory and taking control of disposing of assets.


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tel. 01604 678780 email.

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News Visitor registration is open for Toy Fair 2019 The British Toy & Hobby Association has announced that registration has now opened for media and visitors to attend Toy Fair 2019. The 66th annual Toy Fair will be held at Olympia London from Tuesday 22nd to Thursday 24th January 2019, with the press day scheduled for Tuesday 22nd January. Among the headliners this year is The Pokémon Company International, who has been confirmed as the official sponsor of the show’s entrance foyer, for the third year in a row. Pete Murphy, senior director, marketing & licensing, of The Pokémon Company International, commented: “Toy Fair is a key event in our calendar and we’re excited to sponsor the foyer again this year. Being the very first thing that visitors see when they come to Toy Fair gives our new launches incredible exposure and drives traffic to our distributors’ stands (Asmodee and Character Options).” Other confirmed exhibitors this year include Lego, VTech, Golden Bear, Orchard Toys, John Adams, K’Nex, Eduk8 Worldwide, Melissa & Doug and Brainstorm, plus many more. Majen Immink, director of fairs and special events, commented: “Toy Fair 2019 is the perfect event for exhibitors to show visitors the incredible passion and inspiration of the UK toy industry. Every year we are delighted to see so many returning exhibitors, but also to see so many brand-new stands revealing products at their first ever show.” Readers can register for free at To make reapplying easy, attendees from any of the past three Toy Fairs will receive a Smart Link to their existing profile, so need only check, update and submit their details to receive their 2019 show ticket. Visitors who choose not to pre-register or confirm their Smart Link will be required to prove they are a genuine trade visitor and pay a £15 entry fee on the door.

Character Options trading update hints at record sales for UK domestic business Character says it feels “confident of the prospects for the autumn/winter trading period”, with an update which includes the following statements: “As anticipated at the time of our interim results in April 2018, the Group has witnessed a return to its previous growth pattern during the second half. With Character’s UK domestic business delivering record sales, the trading results for the financial year ended 31 August 2018 will comfortably reach market expectations. Character’s established leading brands, developed in-house (such as Peppa Pig, Stretch and Teletubbies) and exclusive, distributed lines (including Little Live Pets and Mashems), together with new ranges (such as Pokémon, Treasure X and Doorables Disney Collection) have been selling extremely well. In addition, the growing trend of new craze lines – impulse purchase items at the right price point, such as Soft ’n Slo Squishies, Cakepop Cuties and Cra.Z.Slimy – has added a new, successful supplement to the Group’s strong product portfolio . We continue to witness positive listings and strong demand from our customers for our core ranges and new introductions. As a business, we feel confident of the prospects for the autumn/winter trading period, which includes the all-important Christmas season. This, we believe, will provide a solid foundation for the financial year ending 31st August 2019. The Group expects to release its preliminary results for the year ended 31 August 2018 on 29 November 2018.”

The Entertainer announces new website for improved consumer journey Having announced earlier this year a 30% sales increase on its online platform, and with its web sales set to triple over the next five years, The Entertainer has made several changes to its popular website to support its continued growth. The new and improved website aims to streamline the consumer journey for a better purchasing experience. This includes faster shopping, improved performance to support with increasingly high levels of traffic – especially during peak seasons such as Christmas – and a new predictive search engine for ease when locating products. In addition, the updated website now closely reflects the branding found in store and allows shoppers to view products by the same categories, making the search for the latest toys and trends a simple one. With almost 80% of The Entertainer’s web traffic coming from mobile users, the website has been designed with a mobile-first approach to enhance browsing on tablets and phones. Steve Moran, online product and conversion manager at The Entertainer, commented: “We’re committed to reviewing the way our customers shop with us to continually improve their experience, which is why we’re very excited to announce our new and improved website. We hope through the changes made that we make it easier than ever to find and buy toys.”

Sainsburys Argos merges toy buying teams A new team trading structure has been set up. Former buyers from both Sainsburys and Argos have joined forces to form a new commercial team, with some having moved into new roles. Since the merger of the two companies was proposed, staff have been working together across the two retail brands. As part of the transformation, the toy buyers recently moved to one location, and are now working as one team in the Milton Keynes HQ. The company says it has moved to a buying and merchandising model, with teams now responsible for both retail channels for their product categories. New buyers and support staff have joined the line-up and the recruitment process is ongoing, to fill the final roles needed. However, the senior team has been put in place, and suppliers have been advised of the new structure and new key contacts. They will be kept informed of any updates to the evolving situation.

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News Toys 'N' Tuck celebrates 25th anniversary

Changing face of the Fence Club Four new members have recently joined the Fence Club; Jacqueline Taylor-Foo (Melissa & Doug), Nicola Bergot (Flair), Mary Wood (Tomy) and Andrea Gornall (Shop Direct). All four received their regalia and were officially welcomed into the club at last week’s Autumn Dinner, which was held at Twickenham. Three members have become Wall Members so far during 2018 – John Athwal, Clive Crouch, and David Welsh – while three further membership vacancies will occur over the coming months.

The toy shop celebrated its 25th summer of trading with events, competitions and activities throughout the summer holidays. Launching in South Woodham Ferrers in 1993, Toys 'N' Tuck operated five stores across Essex at its peak. Today the company is based at its flagship store in Queens Road, Southend. "I am very proud of everything we have achieved as a toy shop. We have got through a lot of very difficult times, but being able to continue after all these years has been fantastic,” commented managing director Alan Dadswell. "With so many shops around the town closing recently, I think it is important to celebrate the fact that there are still people willing to support their high streets and independent traders. We have been here for so long now, and don't plan on going anywhere soon." Toys 'N' Tuck prides itself on delivering the latest toy crazes, as Alan explained: "We are able to react really quickly to the different crazes that arise. Our focus is always on the children; they often come in and know exactly what they want, and it is our job to adapt to that and do our best to make sure that no child leaves feeling disappointed. "We have had to adapt to more modern ways of marketing ourselves, such as holding competitions online, and concentrating on being a recognisable brand that people love and trust. That's what ultimately sets us apart from the huge stores, which can be quite faceless and impersonal. A toy shop is not like any other shop for a child, and we always aim to go the extra mile to make it a special experience every time. It's lovely that people who've grown up in the area remember us; increasingly we have parents, who used to shop with us as children themselves, coming in with their children. "The high street is facing its problems, but there's a really supportive community of longstanding independent businesses and it is a pleasure to be a part of it all."

Toys R Us bankruptcy impacts Lego earnings Revenue fell 5% to 14.3b kroner ($2.2b) in JanuaryJune, compared with a year earlier. Net profit dropped 10% to 3b kroner ($467m). The company also blamed the weakening of the dollar. At constant currency rates, it said sales were stable. Lego says revenue growth in western Europe was in the “low single digits” while it declined slightly in North America. China continued to perform strongly, with revenue growing by double-digits. The results were skewed by a strengthening of the US dollar. Sales rose 1% and operating profit was 4% higher on a constant currency basis. “We are especially satisfied with our performance given the challenges of the changing retail landscape, including the closure of Toys R Us,” in the United States, Britain and Australia, CEO Niels B. Christiansen said. “We have been able to move to other partners and take advantage of the void in the market and close it,” he added. This has been achieved by expanding online and “getting our full assortment better listed with other retailers”. Lego is recovering from a slump in 2017, when its sales fell for the first time since 2004 from record highs. In March, Lego reported its first annual sales fall in 13 years. More than 1,400 jobs were cut as the company admitted there would be “no quick fix”. The Lego boss said some of the cost-savings were starting to filter through and could be re-invested because the company was debt-free. Nevertheless, he said Lego is not plotting a return to stellar growth. “I don’t think anybody can aspire to be supernatural forever,” he said. “We would rather be on a curve like that than having unequal performance year-onyear.” He added that the plan is to stabilise the business and said the results “show we’re on track.”

Profits at John Lewis Partnership fall 99% Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the retail sector was facing “challenging times”. The results, which include Waitrose, showed profits for the six months to 28 July sank 99% from last year to £1.2m. The retailer also warned that full-year profits would be “substantially lower”. The company is rebranding its stores to John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners to highlight the chain’s 85,000 members of staff, known as “partners”, who are given an annual bonus based on the chain’s profits. “With the level of uncertainty facing consumers and the economy, in part due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, forecasting is particularly difficult, but we continue to expect full year profits to be substantially lower than last year for the partnership as a whole,” the retailer said. In the first six months, department store profits were hit hardest. Sir Charlie said that the stores’ profit margins had been squeezed in “what has been the most promotional market we’ve seen in almost a decade.” He told the BBC’s Today programme: “The biggest single reason for the decline in profits is all about margin. This year there has been twice as many extravaganza days as there were a year ago and actually the discounts have been even deeper. We’re never knowingly undersold at John Lewis, so of course we are matching that, and that affects margins.” Like-for-like sales at the John Lewis stores fell 1.2%, and it reported an underlying operating loss of £19m compared with a £54m profit a year earlier. At Waitrose, likefor-like sales were up 2.6%, but operating profits fell 12% to £96.4m.

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News Asmodee UK reduces price of Catan

Lighthouse Toys owner raising funds for new wheelchair Sam Broad is aiming to regain some freedom and assist in the running of her toy shop. Lighthouse Toys opened fourteen years ago in Cambridge, run by husband and wife team Tim and Sam Broad. Four years ago, Sam became ill, and Tim has been running the shop with the help of her parents ever since. Sam can only visit the store occasionally, when she is well enough, although she has continued to do the toy buying from home, via email and phone. Sam’s current chair doesn’t support her well and is difficult for Tim to push. This means that trips out of the house are a struggle. Sam is hoping to raise funds for a specialist wheelchair, which would give her back some freedom and hopefully enable her to take a more active role in the business again. She would love to be able to help Tim more with the shop and go out for day trips, as well as spend time with her children. Members of the toy trade, well know for its generosity and support, are able to help Sam and Tim out by visiting Sam’s GoFundMe campaign: specialist-wheelchair-for-sam TEAM Rudolph Series 1.5 1-2 page trade ad.pdf 1 12/09/2018 09:50 Any support would mean a lot to the couple, and every small donation will help.









Asmodee UK announced that the recommended retail price of iconic board game Catan has been reduced from £44.99 to £39.99. The reduction in price means that the title will now be accessible to even more consumers who can discover the joys of trading, building and expansion on the island of Catan. Catan is among six pioneering titles in Asmodee UK’s range of Modern Classics, which highlights the board games that have shaped the growth of the industry and represent essential parts of any new player’s introduction to the market – as well as any experienced player’s collection. Over 25m copies of the game have been sold worldwide since its launch in 1995. It is joined in the range by family favourites Ticket to Ride Europe, Pandemic, Dixit, Carcassonne and Splendor. “Catan is a major focus for Asmodee UK and is part of our Modern Classics range, perfect for new or experienced players,” said marketing manager Ben Hogg. “There is no doubt this price reduction will help make Catan a more attractive onshelf purchase for consumers at retail.”

Special Feature

Mojo Nation Play Creator's Festival

Grand designs The three-day Play Creators Festival, held at Emirates Stadium, London, celebrated the toy & game industries' creative communities. Toy World reports from the Toy & Game Design Conference.


his year's event, which was sponsored by Hasbro, Alpha Group and WynneJones IP, kicked off with the Toy & Game Design Conference, which brought together designers, creators and a host of other experts for a day of engaging and inspiring talks and panel discussions. Hasbro’s Rich Mazel opened proceedings with a look at the importance of storytelling when pitching an invention, before Alpha Animation's Darren Lee Phillipson offered attendees a glimpse behind the scenes at the company's product design process, and its take on the Art of the Pitch. STEM was a recurring theme throughout the day; Bethany Koby, co-founder and CEO of Tech Will Save Us, discussed the importance of allowing kids to consume tech in an imaginative, creative and playful way, pointing towards platforms such as Scratch, Roblox and Minecraft as examples of empowering tech for kids. Screens and kids is still a contentious issue – many will have read that the TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp smashed her kids’ iPads recently to stop them playing games – but Bethany’s talk highlighted the many paradoxes mobiles and tablets present to today’s parents. Rather than feel scared of technology, she said, parents should instead view it as a way to interact with their child as they learn valuable life skills. Trade mark attorney Don Pennant then hosted a lively and entertaining gameshow-style presentation; both teams engaged in some goodnatured cheating, but the light-hearted Q&A approach was certainly a novel way of making IP law fun. The final speaker before lunch was David Cadji-Newby, founder and creative director of Wonderbly, who provided a fascinating insight into the process involved in producing personalised kids' books. The afternoon Play Innovation Panel looked at the increasing impact of crowdfunding on toy &

game design and manufacture, with WowWee’s Davin Sufer noting that Toys R Us had an "appetite for new product, and the shelf space to carry it. Now it's gone, we need crowdfunding more than ever." Davin's fellow panellists concurred, adding that the ability to tell the story behind a product when crowdfunding makes it easier to pitch products at a moderate to high price point. However, this begs the question – where does crowdfunding leave retailers? By cutting out the middle-man, platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe are arguably robbing some stores of revenue, and with the high-street currently facing a number of challenges as it is, some are concerned that the approach may further squeeze out toy and game retailers. That said, several notable bestsellers have arisen from crowdfunding campaigns; Fidget Cubes and Exploding Kittens both found fame on Kickstarter, and are now carried by a number of major retailers. With influencer-led marketing on the rise, Deb Sharratt and Anne-Marie Lacey's talk on ASA and CAP guidelines was a timely reminder that working with celebrities and other influencers is not as easy as it may seem. Looking at the numerous potential pitfalls of non-disclosure in advertising, many audience members could bring to mind campaigns that seemed to breach a number of the guidelines being discussed. And with all those involved in a campaign deemed equally liable – PRs, manufacturers, retailers, agents, and influencers – it certainly provided food for thought. Keith Chapman, creator of Bob the Builder and Paw Patrol, then offered a look at the design and creation process that goes into kids' TV programmes, before the second panel discussion. The Board Game Design Panel, chaired by Playtime PR's Lesley Singleton, emphasised the need for simple and easy to follow instructions,

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while Jacob Jaskov - creator of Fog of Love - explained the creation of his game, from playtesting to hitting the shelves of Walmart. Finally, rounding out the day was Aardman's creative director Merlin Crossingham, with a look at character creation, and how the studio brings its beloved characters to life. “Having attended the Mojo event with a couple of our senior designers, we left day one inspired, excited and buzzing with ideas,” enthused James Austin-Smith, head of R&D and product design at Worlds Apart. “The talks were varied but relevant and shone a light on a lot of interesting subjects in our industry today. This, along with some brilliant talks from the likes of the incredible Wonderbly and Aardman who, despite not being toy makers brought pertinent and thought provoking ideas about how to approach characters or customisation. We certainly met some interesting people and saw some interesting things. We got a lot from the two days - we are already looking forward to next year.” And Fi Murray, founder and creative director of Making Things, noted that it was a “truly inspirational event that would get any creative excited to be part of the toy, game and entertainment industry.” The conference was followed by the Mojo Pitch on Tuesday, while Wednesday’s Mojo Nation Student Conference rounded out the Play Creators Festival. Mojo Nation founder Billy Langsworthy commented: “We’re delighted with how our first ever Toy and Game Design Conference went. The feedback we’ve had from delegates has been amazing, our speakers were fantastic (as the number of questions in the Q&As can testify to) and it kicked off our Play Creators Festival in the best way possible. We’re already looking forward to doing it all again in 2019.”

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Industry Moves Holly Oldham leaves Hasbro to join Rubie’s as UK managing director Rubie’s has announced that Holly Oldham has re-joined the company as its new UK managing director. Holly spent nine years at Rubie’s before moving to Hasbro and is now looking forward to re-joining the team. Holly has enjoyed a successful three years at Hasbro, reaching the position of UK and regional Toy & Game director through her contribution to the growth of the consumer products programme. Holly commented: “These three years at Hasbro have been a fantastic experience, working with great brands and a great team. I have learnt so much and hope that I have been able to contribute to its success over that time. The opportunity to re-join Rubie’s in this new and exciting position is something I felt I couldn’t turn down, knowing the company, the people and the industry as well as I do. I hope to bring all that I have learnt to the position and aim to drive similar success at Rubie’s over the coming years.” Holly will report to Chris Isitt, vice president for EMEA and Australia, who added: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have Holly back, taking on this key role in fashioning the future of Rubie’s in the UK. A lot has changed in the three years since she was last here, but her experience at Hasbro will be a huge asset to Rubie’s as we move forward to face new challenges.”

John Pilley joins Little Brother Books Following the last two years of growth for Little Brother Books, the company has reinforced its sales team, with John Pilley joining as head of sales. John has worked in the publishing industry for over 20 years, initially working in the travel sector before securing a position with Lonely Planet. After this he moved to Guinness World Records, which led him to take on the role of head of publishing sales for its iconic titles for ten years. John’s extensive experience in both publishing and the unique annuals market is an ideal fit with LBB’s vision and growth plans. John commented, “It’s fantastic to be back in the familiar world of publishing after leaving London to start up a holiday cottage business. The role at Little Brother Books is a perfect fit for me. Children’s books, and particularly annuals, are a perennial favourite so it’s great to be working with such a vibrant and strong, brand-led publishing house.”

Paul Lamond strengthens sales team with two new hires Paul Lamond Games welcomes Mark Jones on board as the new national accounts manager, and Jacqui Butler as the area sales manager for London. Mark brings extensive games and puzzles sector knowledge to the table with over 20 years’ industry experience. His focus will be on developing and growing Paul Lamond’s national accounts business. Jacqui is no stranger to accounts such as Harrods and Selfridges, thanks to her background of selling giftware and high-end kitchenware. She has also worked with card and gift shops following her time with Enesco. Richard Wells, Paul Lamond’s managing director, commented: “We’re delighted that Mark and Jacqui have joined our sales team and they both bring a host of skills and experience. Mark and Jacqui’s roles will reinforce and add depth to our already strong sales force.” Mark and Jacqui join Paul Lamond as the company launches some strong lines this autumn, including Kersplatt, Stupid Deaths and Reveal, as well as the new series of 250-piece Horrible Histories puzzles.

Tesco announces changes to toy buying line-up Garry Lawford left Tesco on the 2nd October for a role at Warner Bros, after nearly six years working for the retailer as a senior toy buying manager. John Hext, category manager, Toys & Nursery, commented: "While we’re sorry to be losing Garry, we are of course very pleased that he has been given this opportunity and we're sure he’ll be a big success in his new role." John was also able to share changes that Garry's departure has created within the toy buying team. Ongoing, Claire Urquhart-Deane will be senior buying manager for outdoor toys, pre-school toys and nursery, while Ladislav Gajdos will become senior buying manager for girls, boys, construction and games. John added: "Claire played a lead role in the relaunch of our Carousel brand which has been a huge success, and I know she will continue the great work Ladi and the team have done on outdoor toys. Ladi has a wealth of toy experience across UK and CE, which he will bring to his new role along with his usual passion and enthusiasm."

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The High Street is shrinking Time to Act

Solving the Problem There are others ways to sell products to the public

Global Media has devised a TV opportunity that will ensure your sales levels are maintained throughout 2019 and beyond This TV package will enable you to have the best of both worlds. To continue with your reduced retail distribution and the benefit of selling direct to the public. Securing your business for the future.



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Marketing World Nickelodeon partners with London skate park for TMNT launch Celebrity Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans visited London’s Ladbroke Grove on Sunday 16th September to visit the specially created Turtles lair and check out new skateboard trick, The Mikey, which has been created in honour of Michelangelo and endorsed by Skateboard England. The event marked the launch of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which premieres on Nicktoons and Channel 5 from 22nd September at 10am – the first UK simulcast across the Viacom-owned platforms – and also the launch of the official toy range, which hits shelves from 5th October. The immersive experience, produced by Nickelodeon, saw the turtles play havoc in Bay Sixty6 by turning the underground skate park into the Turtles Lair. Celebrities entered the event through a sewer door before navigating their way through the lair via a series of activities that paid homage to each turtle hero, such as Raphael’s Ninja Arena, Leonardo’s Light Speed Challenge, Donatello’s Music Coding, and Mikey’s Mega Half Shell. Guests were also treated to a selection of pizzas and juices whilst relaxing in Splinters TV room to watch the first episode of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and had the chance to learn ninja moves and how to skateboard in specially themed zones within the complex. Marianne James, vice president, Viacom Nickelodeon Commercial Partnerships, Consumer Products & Experiences, UK & Ireland said: “Giving celebrities and influencer families the chance to power up like the Turtles, as well the opportunity to play with the toys being distributed by our partner Flair in April’s Play and Display area, is the perfect start for the UK launch of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Spin Master builds Luvabeau awareness to support launch

Treasure X to host the world’s largest treasure hunt Treasure X, distributed in the UK by Character Options, is set to capture the imaginations of children around the world with its multi layered ‘unboxing’ process, complete with the ultimate surprise reveal – the chance to find real gold. Geocaching is a global outdoor recreational activity, where participants use navigation skills to find cleverly hidden containers called geocaches. There are currently more than three million geocaches hidden worldwide by enthusiasts who use the Geocaching app or GPS device to discover them. Moose Toys has partnered with Geocaching HQ to bring to life a global treasure hunt adventure, and in July, 3,000 special edition Treasure X game pieces were released in the game of Geocaching globally, 300 of which are in the UK. Katie DiJulio, partnerships and promotions manager at Geocaching HQ, commented: “Geocaching is a natural fit to recognize and celebrate the launch of a toy like Treasure X. The response from the geocaching community has been incredible. We saw over 10,000 requests from people all over the world, ranging from Sweden to Australia to the USA.” Ronnie Frankowski, CMO at Moose Toys, commented: “We are so excited to have launched this first of its kind partnership with Geocaching. The excitement of a real-life treasure hunt through Geocaching, combined with the opportunity to dig and discover cool action figures and real gold treasure, ensures that Treasure X will be a huge success.” Character Options marketing manager Mark Hunt added: “Geocaching is incredibly popular in the UK and the perfect fit for Treasure X. We are really excited to see where our UK Trackable Treasure X Caches end up.”

Toy World 20

After a fantastic launch year for Luvabella in 2017, October sees the introduction of Luvabeau - a new baby boy. Just like Luvabella, this interactive baby doll has realistic facial expressions and personality. Luvabeau is anticipated to be in hot demand. He already has enormous awareness through regular inclusion on Top YouTube Channels; Emily Tube and Ruby and Bonnie, where the videos have collectively gained many tens of millions of views. Luvabeau will also be supported with a fresh TV advertising campaign and PR activities – plus Spin Master has confirmed a second year’s sponsorship of The Luvabella Nursery at kids’ entertainment venue KidZania, which remains a hugely popular activity with vistors. For further information contact Spin Master on 01628 535 000.

Marketing World StikBot TV takeover announced Brainstorm continues to invest heavily in the successful StikBot range with its most intensive TV campaign to date. As well as advertising across all major kids TV sales houses during Q4, StikBot will also be sponsoring CITV Breakfast every weekday morning throughout the whole of November and December. Aimed at driving awareness and sales pre-Christmas, the sponsorship will include 16 sponsorship idents per day on the popular children’s channel, totalling 640 idents which will appear before, during and after programmes. Targeting 4-9 year-old boys, reach is projected to be over 20% during these time slots. Debra Tiffany, marketing manager at Brainstorm said: “StikBot continues to be one of our best-selling lines and it’s important that we show our commitment to the brand with support throughout the year, particularly during the crucial fourth quarter. Sponsoring CITVB is a brand-new initiative for us and we cannot wait to see the reaction to the campaign and, consequently, a spike in sales for our retailers.”


Global Media offers bespoke direct response advertising strategy Toy World spoke to advertising doyen Michael Penfold of Global Media about a new direct marketing opportunity he is offering toy companies

Can you tell us about your new advertising imitative? I have been planning and buying air-time for toy companies for over 40 years, so I think it’s fair to say that I understand how the TV business works. With a number of retailers struggling or disappearing, some toy companies will be finding it a challenge to maintain the distribution levels that they have been used to. The concept we have developed allows suppliers to trial a different strategy - direct response advertising. Suppliers can put a package of product together which is different to what is available at retail, so they won’t upset their existing customer base. One challenge with direct response advertising is that although toy companies have fantastic websites, they tend to be trade focused and not transactional. We will plan and buy a direct response TV campaign and produce a 60-second TV commercial. To produce a TV commercial, set up a two-page website and run a four-week TV campaign will only cost around £35,000. We will also offer fulfilment as part of the package. Post Box Products Ltd will handle the debit and credit card transactions, and will also be responsible for sending out the products, usually within 24 hours. We will ask the toy companies concerned to supply us a certain amount of product at the start for us to keep in stock; once that has gone, we would get in touch to replenish stock levels. Once we have built up a respectable database and mailing list, I can envisage that we could have 60,000 – 100,000 customers, who we could email with special offers and information companies want to communicate to the people who have purchased products from them in the past. My philosophy has always been buying the right air-time at the right price at the right time of the day, to reach the appropriate target market. TVRs don’t automatically mean sales - the right TVRs mean sales. When it comes to a 60 second DR TV commercial, we will offer the best return in terms of enquiry and sales. We will be able to tell clients each day what their sales are, because we’ll be able to see exactly what orders have been placed. We’re offering a great package for an affordable price: the campaign will appear on mainline children’s channels, where we will secure air-time against the appropriate target market and also secure strong rating for ABC1 housewives 25-34. This is a unique proposition which I believe could start a trend in the toy market. We’re offering suppliers a great opportunity to test the water and have this direct sales operation running alongside their traditional retail business, so they have the best of both worlds.

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Making sense of investments in Digital Online media

Jonathan Chambers

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

This month, with toy retail sales under pressure, Jonathan looks at how investments in Digital Online ad spend need to be independently accountable and benchmarkable.


eneration Media forecasts that Toys & Games Digital Online ad spend share will exceed 20% in 2018; the first time the industry will surpass this figure. Whilst this is a long way behind the wider UK ad industry (as addressed in August’s issue where the IAB estimates that 52% of all advertising spend is now in Digital Online channels), it represents a seismic shift for the toy industry, where as little as five years ago this figure would have been below 5%. This figure will vary significantly by advertiser, with traditionally larger spenders (rightly or wrongly) likely to invest more in line with nonToys and Games brands. However, whereas in previous years it is estimated that close to 50% of TV advertisers were active in the Digital Online space, this will rise to in excess of 80% in 2018. The reasons for this shift have been well documented. Declining TV audiences have created inflationary pressures on pricing and delivery, with children of all ages and genders migrating to Digital Online platforms (at differing rates of acceleration) to consume content. The challenge now for advertisers is making sense of investments in Digital Online media. The industry has evolved with, and in many ways been shaped by, response to TV advertising. When it comes to quantifying success (both from a sell-in to retail and a sell-through to consumer perspective), benchmarks are either well known or can be determined based upon campaign variables. The same is not yet true of Digital Online media. There is a plethora of opportunities available, and the prevailing approach still focuses on test and learn. With significant sums now being invested, the industry cannot afford to use campaign budgets to gather intelligence. When retail sales

are under pressure like never before, investments need to be accountable and benchmarkable. Campaign benchmarks need to be defined based upon historical results and market projections, and deliver against real world results. Relying on platform generated benchmarks is not sufficient. Too often these are lowballed estimates, arguably designed to ensure that campaigns exceed them and create a false sense of success. It is very easy to justify campaign performance (and therefore potential re-investment) if you are being told that it is performing above industry benchmarks. This can blind us to the real measures of success in terms of pre-defined KPIs such as awareness, engagement and ultimately sales (however as discussed in August this will rely on retailers accepting third party tracking through to sales completion – a contentious issue). The mix of soft and hard business objectives is more difficult, but not impossible, to measure, but this should not stop us from rewriting the rulebook on Digital Online campaign benchmarks. Let’s take YouTube TrueView campaigns as an example. Arguably, outside of TV, this will be the industry’s biggest media outlay in 2018, with many campaigns using View Through Rate (VTR) to determine success. This is the percentage of viewers which watch the ad in its entirety without skipping. Google and YouTube will tell us that a VTR of 16-23% would represent success, but this is not specific to our market, which we know is incredibly sensitive to video advertising formats. Using AI powered tech platforms and analytical contextual targeting, we believe this should be set at a minimum of 30% (with some sub-categories and target audiences closer to 45-50%). This will return a more targeted campaign, as viewers will be more engaged with content and ultimately more likely to convert to purchase.

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Looking beyond YouTube, the same approach needs to be taken with all media owners. The difficulty that arises from this is the reliance on media owner data. This is why, as an agency, we utilise ad verification and campaign management tools such as Google’s Double Click Manager (DCM). Independently verifying results provides an additional layer of integrity for all Digital Online campaigns. By tracking all impressions served, de-duplicating clicks, minimising ad fraud and maximising viewability beyond IAB standards, we can have greater confidence in attributing performance metrics to specific activations. With instant access to this level of performance data, campaign optimisations can be made faster - meaning campaigns have a greater chance of reacting to sales conditions. Generating additional layers of campaign management and verification does come at a cost, however this cost should always be manageable within the context of a media budget. The cost should be transparent and a fraction of the overall media budget. Campaigns cannot afford to spend 30% plus of the budget on ad serving and verification (as has been witnessed in other industries). A transparent agency model is critical for long term success for agencies and advertisers alike. Generation Media offers a full audit of your current approach to Digital Online media, so get in touch today to maximise your media budgets for tomorrow.

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Checkout chinwags This month a selection of independent retailers spoke to Rachael Simpson-Jones about how they are trading at the moment, which lines are currently standing out for them and how they are gearing up for the busy Christmas season.

Stephen Hartfield -

Kids Stuff Toys, multiple across Sussex and Kent

Overall during the past 12 months we have seen business growth, and we are well on our way to trading up on last year, despite some quiet periods. September to November 2017 and April to July 2018 were slower than usual; this might have been because of the closure of Toys R Us, Brexit scaremongering or all the speculation in the papers about businesses in trouble. This plays on people’s minds, and without even realising it they tighten their purse strings. Without doubt the biggest brand for us at the moment is L.O.L. Surprise! Considering this is based on five SKUs the volume of sales is incredible, and MGA is now our second biggest supplier behind Lego. We sat down at the Toymaster regionals in March and spent a long time deciding our numbers for the rest of the year. I’d like to think we’ve got it right but only time will tell; if MGA keeps bringing out innovative new versions of the product, I see this success continuing. We have also seen fantastic sales from newer products and brands such as Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty, Playfoam from Learning Resources, Squishies and slime. I believe this is largely because of popular and influential YouTube stars. Speaking from first-hand experience, this is how the latest generation of children watch TV and learn about products and trends which are popular around the world. It’s the longevity of them that is the worrying factor. One minute they are flying off the shelves, the next minute a YouTuber somewhere decides it’s not cool anymore and they move on to the next craze, which can make it very challenging for retailers. Micro Scooters has also been a big seller for us for the last couple of years, with sales boosted this year

as a result of the glorious weather. We have even sold an unbelievable amount of Adult Micro Scooters in our Putney store. We’ve also done fantastically with Asmodee this year, not only with Pokémon trading cards but with games too. We have run quite a few of their demo days, which work really well, and Asmodee staff have been training our staff on how to play and sell the likes of Dobble and Cobra Paw, which has increased sales. Summer trading was excellent for us in that we cleared all our pools and most of our outdoor stock. We did face the problem of running out of pools a little too early and not being able to source more, as most suppliers had sold out. We did, however, notice a dip in sales on some of our other lines that historically were a great back up plan for families when the weather is less reliable, such as art & crafts as well as games. Licensed toys are still very popular and are a big part of our business, but we’ve seen a shift away

Toy World 27

from films, with toys more likely to be based on TV series. We see strong sales in the likes of Peppa Pig & Paw Patrol which are easily our best selling and most consistent licences, while PJ Masks, Ben 10, Puppy Dog Pals, and Vampirina are also doing well. Most of our Christmas selection takes place at the Toymaster show in May. Once we have selected our lines we will put in our orders and then amend these as time goes on, hopefully increasing the quantity we want. This year we have been a bit later in putting some of our main season orders in, just because I feel there shouldn’t be such a shortage of stock this year. In my opinion, the top toys for Christmas will be the Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck, L.O.L. Under Wraps, Poopsie Unicorn Slime Surprise, Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Express, Barbie Clinic Playset, Polly Pocket Transforming Room, Hot Wheels Crate Track and Masters of Roblox. I’ve noticed that smaller companies are increasingly taking a bigger slice of my spend for Christmas ordering. There are a number of companies currently in my top 10 that wouldn’t have even been on the radar two years ago; the likes of Asmodee, Jazwares and Green Elephant spring to mind. Each store is slightly different in terms of events that we have planned, and they also depend on the town we are located in. In Uckfield, the first branch we opened, we have two events planned. The majority of the town takes part in late night shopping and with a population of 14,000, this is quite a big event. Our locations in shopping centres are governed more by what the centre is doing, so we sponsor Santa’s grottos and other events, and tie in with scheduled late nights. We also hold a couple

Talking Shop of VIP nights for loyalty card holders, which run until 9pm and include drinks and nibbles. These strict no-children events have been going for quite a few years and we’ve found them very successful. We are running a half price flyer in November for the first time too, and have been sourcing products for this over the last couple of weeks. We decorate all our shops with festive lights, and have a Santa that sings and dances which the kids love. We do move around certain product sections, or expand them, as Christmas season approaches; outdoor is reduced and our games & puzzles section expanded. As some of your readers will be aware, we are closing the Ashford branch as the lease was due

to expire in 2019. We moved in to the centre nine years ago in the newly extended lower part of the mall, with the assurance that we were going to be sharing the floor with a number of big names that unfortunately never materialised. It ended up just being us, Debenhams and New Look, and as they have their own lifts and escalators, we were easily missed. Then the Entertainer moved in to the centre in the upper mall, in what is probably one of the best locations in the centre. This obviously had an effect on our sales and we looked at moving units to the upper mall to compete, but there were no suitable units available. As Phil and Kirsty say, it’s all about location, location, location, and this is so true when

a competitor moves in. We were then approached by a shopping centre we’ve had our eye on for the last 10 years or so. The lack of suitable units and poor timing meant we never moved in, but we got a call to say the centre had been sold to British Land and that they were keen to work with us after seeing what we had done in our Putney store. This prompted our decision to close the Ashford store slightly earlier than planned, and to move to the Royal Victoria centre in Tunbridge Wells. We are hoping to open for October half term if all goes to plan, to take advantage of Christmas trading.

Jon Amphlett - ToyTastik, Chepstow Like a lot of retailers are finding, business is challenging to say the least. Footfall on the high street has been affected by the royal wedding, sun, rain, snow - I think we’ve had it all! The really good weather over the summer definitely had a negative effect on things. We sold plenty of paddling pools and water pistols, but sales overall were down in that period. That said, looking at the bigger picture it’s been good trading overall across the past 12 months. Melissa & Doug wooden toys have always been a good staple for us, and the Carte Blanche All Creatures plush range is popular too. Our biggest games titles are from Paul Lamond and Big Potato, with Geistes Blitz from the latter being the standout best-seller. It sold extremely well last Christmas and its popularity hasn’t waned. We’ve also linked in with a couple of restaurants and cafes, including Toast in Tutshill, which are holding games nights for their customers. We provide them with a selection of popular games, and that in turn sends customers back to our store to buy the game they particularly like for themselves, friends or family. Tourism is an increasingly important part of our business. We’ve had a property boom in the area, and are becoming more of a dormitory for Bristol. The toll on the Severn Bridge is being abolished, which will pave the way for many more people to live and work in this area. The demographic we have building up is an interesting one - mostly young families with children - so dropping into our toy shop for a look around is really appealing. Another thing we have noticed is that these customers are quite environmentally conscious: any toys which

are Fairtrade, wooden or sustainable are popular. Chepstow was also recently made a Plastic Free Town, and a lot of our products tie in with this ethos. We’ve got rid of plastic bags and other types of single use plastic where possible, and our customers have received these changes very well. However, one of the big challenges for us is that so much product is still packaged in single use plastic, and I won’t lie to customers by unwrapping them in the back before setting them out. There is a lot of focus in the media on food manufacturers, but I think the toy industry is becoming more aware now too, which is a great thing. I’m not an eco-warrior by any means, but I do notice the amount of clingfilm wrap and bubble wrap that comes in with some of our orders, and from a pragmatic, business point of view I think improvements could be made. There is also the marketing angle to consider – reducing your

Toy World 28

single use plastic gives you something to shout about and that’s a win-win for everyone. Our Christmas orders are coming in thick and fast. At 22m long and 5m wide, we have the floorspace to offer bikes and trikes. For Christmas we tend to follow what the parents and grandparents want rather than the kids; Clockwork Soldier’s Build a Giant Dinosaur kit and Origami sets by Lagoon are well received. We certainly lean more towards traditional toys that remind adults of their own childhoods. Our Christmas window goes in mid-November, but we’ll be building up to it with special evenings starting this month. At the moment we have an Irish Fairy Door window, alongside large Melissa & Doug plush in the form of a dragon and a unicorn. Rather than being centred on a particular brand or theme, our Christmas window will simply feature a range of festive products to tempt passers-by in-store. We’ll be doing late night Thursday openings as well as opening on Sundays in the run-up to Christmas, and while we do that we’ll also hold play-days and open evenings. This will usually be something crafty, like Hama Beads or PlayMais. These evenings do result in sales, but the trick is to not expect those sales immediately. Parents tend to notice their children playing with a particular product, and will then come back and buy it a few days later - perhaps when their child is back at school or away at a friend’s house. It’s usually a week or so after an event that we notice a spike in sales, but they definitely pay off in the end.

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indie viewpoint Bill Deakin - Silly Billy’s, Hebdon Bridge Summer trading wasn’t quite as good as we would have hoped; the good weather didn’t translate to footfall, as everybody seemed to be outside enjoying the sunshine. We did have increased sales of footballs and other outdoor products, but overall the good weather didn’t help us. Lego performs consistently well for us, as does Playmobil. The Orchard Toys range is easy to take for granted in our store – it sells through really well, and has always been a solid and dependable offering. I always attend London Toy Fair, and the Spring and Autumn Fairs, looking for fresh lines for the shop. This year we brought back a Lottie Dolls FSDU from Arklu which is more or less empty now, making it a gamble that has definitely paid off. People come to the store because it’s a proper toy shop, and tell me they like it so much because - and I quote - “I’m not a big shed.” We don’t stock the toys the bigger players might – the singing, dancing, squeaking, flashing Top-10-Toys-List stuff – as our locals and regulars aren’t looking for them. Looking around me right now I see die cast vehicles, Alien Eggs from Grossman, Schleich, Minecraft Lego, wrapping paper and greetings cards, Fisher Price, Lottie Dolls, pocket money from Playwrite from 50p and upwards; traditional toys. Harry Potter and Minecraft toys are popular with the local kids, so we stock a fair bit of both. I keep a close eye on the price of any Harry Potter we sell, especially with Lego. Customers will come in, look at a £60 or £70 box of Lego – and then go and buy it online because Tesco or one of the bigger multiple toy retailers will be doing it for £50. Our highest price point this year will be £40-50 for this very reason. Playmobil Explorers is what I’m putting my money on for Christmas; it’s my FSDU this year, and my current window display is Explorers too. Lego City is a perennial Christmas best-seller here. We have loads of stocking fillers in ready for Christmas; flashing globes, juggling balls, Slinkys in a number of different varieties, kaleidoscopes, marbles, kazoos, harmonicas, whistles and dice. We also have a good range of die cast models and Pokémon trading cards, including starter packs and boosters. Our new location has an outside area where we can station a full-size Playmobil figure, and for Christmas we put out a big Santa figure which the kids love. We also have a Sylvanian Families figure which goes in the window, dressed in a Santa suit, plus lights and decorations. Because stock is a little low at the end of summer I make sure to let customers know what is arriving for Christmas. Not only are you having that dialogue, you’re also reassuring them that fresh stock is on its way and that by the end of October the shop will be stocked to the rafters. I have found over the years that some people tend to “play” at business, closing two or three days a week, opening late and generally not taking it seriously. That shop then closes, and everybody bemoans the fact that another retailer has gone. Business is hard – when I first opened I vividly remember taking £24 one day, and taking nothing at all on another – but you have to give it your all if you want to be successful. One Christmas years ago, I sat and totted up my figures, and it looked very much like I would have to call it a day; in fact, one industry friend of mine advised me to have a fire sale and walk away. Obviously, I didn’t. There’s no big secret to surviving in this industry, you’ve just got to work hard and keep going. It’s tough out there for everyone, but I’d like to wish all Toy World readers the best of luck and a very merry Christmas.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

We’re gonna need a bigger store…


s we write this, we are well into Christmas delivery season. After nearly a full lorry from Lego yesterday, our stockrooms are really starting to fill up now It is always a struggle in September to get everything in, as the stock arrives a lot faster than it is selling, and there are lots of new lines to fit out, and we always keep saying to ourselves – we need bigger stores. Trade was good through August and now the kids have gone back to school, it has slowed down a bit; the calm before the storm. We tend to find that the last weekend in September is when it starts to pick up, as some people only have another two paydays before Christmas. It is now a question of waiting and seeing what really starts to move. One thing that has picked up in the last few weeks is Poopsie Slime Surprise from MGA, with a mixture of coloured slime and collectible figure, all in a package designed to be unboxed; it ticks a lot of boxes. At the moment it is difficult to pick anything out for Christmas this year. We definitely think Harry Potter products will be very popular. We have had the plush and the Sorting Hat in, and they look great. With games, it is a question of waiting to see what really captures the imagination. It could be a You-tube video that goes viral and turns a game into a hit overnight. It is a question of keeping a really close eye on what sells, and reacting to a sales spike immediately. Despite this, it is very easy to pick out our bestseller for Christmas, and that will be L.O.L Surprise! It is a phenomenon that is easy to take for granted as it just keeps on selling, and there is no sign of it slowing down. We have now moved all our stores around for Christmas – this was done as soon as the kids went back to school. In our Woolworths days, this meant moving the entire store around, and relaying every bay. Now, the main feature is to reduce our space for outdoor, removing all the summer product and bringing board games to the front of our stores. This becomes a key section for the final quarter and always looks very impactful. We also increase space for art & craft, to accommodate larger sets, as it is a very strong category for us at Christmas. We have also put in extra sale bays at the front of our stores. We take a lot of clearance products, and these will sell in good volume as easy present ideas in the run up to Christmas. With around 40% of products purchased on some kind of promotion, it is a really strong value driver at the front of the stores. Without Toys R Us, this Christmas will be different. With such a large destination gone, there is a lot of trade up for grabs, although we only had a couple of their stores near us, so are not expecting a massive uplift. It has been a year of gloom on the high street, with barely a month going by without a major chain struggling or going under. However, it is important to remember that the high street is not dead yet, and well over half of toy sales are still made in a physical shop. There are constraints on customers’ budgets, and lots of uncertainty regarding Brexit, but people do like to try and treat themselves and their children for Christmas, so we are still confident of having a successful end to the year.

Toy World 29

Retail Profile


B&M - Bigger and better Toy World was the only media outlet invited to attend B&M’s ‘Golden Quarter’ conference in Liverpool, giving us an exclusive insight into the retailer’s plans for the forthcoming festive season. John Baulch reports.


&M is one of those retailers which divides people. It has often proved controversial within the toy community, especially amongst certain retail accounts, but toy suppliers and, most importantly, consumers clearly love it: the retailer currently serves over four million of them every single week, and is expecting to add another million to this already impressive number in the run-up to Christmas. In a retail climate where many operators are finding the going tough, B&M remains one of the few bright spots: it now occupies 10 million square feet of retail space in the UK alone, and is the third-largest out of town retail space occupier, behind only B&Q and Homebase. With Homebase facing an imminent store closure programme, it is surely only a matter of time before B&M takes over second place. B&M has held an annual manager’s conference for several years, albeit initially on a smaller scale. The event stepped up a gear last year, and this year’s conference was by far the biggest yet, necessitating a move from Event City Manchester to Liverpool’s ACC Arena. The ‘Golden Quarter’ event is attended by around 600 store managers, together with area and regional managers and support staff, and the whole idea is quite simple, according to toy buyer Hayley White: “We want to enthuse them, get them hyped up for what is coming up over the next few

months. We want them to go home excited at what they’ve seen.” The conference, which takes up an entire hall, is laid-out in similar fashion to a trade show, featuring every category of merchandise stocked by B&M, with each section of the show floor dedicated to a particular product sector. Not only does this make an impressive statement about the breadth of merchandise and the number of brands B&M now stocks, it also serves a valuable, practical function; each product category replicates the optimum in-store layout, so visiting managers can see exactly how their toy section should be arranged for maximum visual impact. Having watched the recent Poundstretcher TV documentary, in which local managers had no say in the merchandise sent to the store, it is refreshing to learn that B&M operates very differently; store managers are given a tangible say in what they stock. As far as fellow toy buyer Sarah Atta is concerned, it makes solid business sense: “They know their customers, they know the local area and, crucially, they know what is selling, so giving them the opportunity to trigger their own orders allows them to maximise on the specific lines which are working well for them. We send each store all the key lines, but they can personalise the store’s range according to its location and customer demographic.”

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Retail Profile

2018 has been something of a watershed year for the UK toy market, with the demise of Toys R Us providing significant opportunities for other retailers to grow their share of the market, which Sarah acknowledges: “The demise of Toys R Us offers us a great opportunity to grow our share of the overall toy market. We’re already seeing an upturn in business - the first half of 2018 has been phenomenal and we have big expectations for the Golden Quarter.” So which ranges have been performing particularly well for B&M so far this year? Unsurprisingly, L.O.L Surprise! is the first brand which Hayley mentions: “There are no words – it has almost been too good to be true. The hot weather also meant we sold an incredible amount of pools over the spring summer period. We’ve also enjoyed amazing success with both Fingerlings and the Lego range which we introduced into stores earlier this year. B&M is now very much a destination toy store.” Not all ranges work within the B&M environment; a trial with Sylvanian Families was apparently less successful. However, a trip around any large-scale B&M store reinforces Hayley’s assertion that “There isn’t a single brand we’re not now working with that we want to be. If a brand isn’t there, it’s because we’ve taken the decision not to stock it. We have to be selective because of the space we have to work with.”


If you were surprised to see the very latest and hottest ranges from market-leading brands pop up in B&M, you might also find your preconceptions being challenged by some of the store’s customer base. According to Sarah: “We sell collector merchandise really well; we get an awful lot of collectors in-store. One of our recent best-sellers was an exclusive Doctor Who Tardis and figure set, while we have also done extremely well with Funko Pop Vinyls, Harry Potter figures, Walking Dead merchandise and even Bendy and the Ink Machine – we trialled a small range and completely sold out within days. “ Craze items have been hugely successful across the whole toy retail channel for some while, and B&M has capitalised on the category by introducing a specific Craze bay in-store. Hayley explains: “By showcasing all our best-sellers in a single bay, it allows the store manager to see what’s on trend and the customer can easily see what we have available. The bay takes up 1% of the toy aisle space, but is responsible for 5% of our sales.” Like many other specialist toy retailers, the growth of craze products has seen B&M curtail its investment in licensed merchandise this year, although it has enjoyed considerable success with a range of Incredibles product, which exceeded expectations. Sarah also believes this strong performance will continue at least through to Christmas and possibly into Q1 2019, buoyed by

Toy World 32

the launch of the DVD. While B&M has very much followed industry trends by investing in successful domestic brands and hot craze lines, it still allocates a significant amount of shelf space to FOB lines, in particular the selection which makes up its perennially popular ‘2 for £20’ promotion. The campaign runs from 1st August to Christmas Eve and, according to Hayley, “It’s still absolutely massive for us. In fact, it gets bigger every year. We don’t just visit the Hong Kong showrooms, we go into the depths of China to find great value lines for the promotional range.” B&M currently has 584 UK stores, 44 of which have opened this year, and employs over 23,000 people. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the theme of this year’s manager’s conference was BIG – specifically posing the question “How do we go from ‘big’ to ‘bigger and better’?” Acknowledging that UK consumers are finding it tough, CEO Simon Arora nevertheless set out a vision that the management believes will deliver on ambitious targets, revolving around consumer relevance and the importance of executing the company’s carefully-planned retail model. And whilst there was the inevitable – and very amusing – gentle dig at competitor Poundstretcher, there was also talk of picking up Marks and Spencer customers when its store closure programme kicks into gear. B&M may well have emerged from the value channel which gave us the likes

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Retail Profile

of Home Bargains and Wilko, but its ambitions lie far beyond its ‘clearance’ origins. Not that its company DNA has changed dramatically – it still carries a focused range which revolves around ‘just the bestsellers’ and it maintains tight control over its costs – but, as Simon pointed out in his speech, the company has now grown to “three times the size Woolworths ever reached in the UK”, so it’s no surprise that its plans are ambitious. By 2021, B&M is aiming to have 750 stores in the UK, and it is investing accordingly. It has already opened one new distribution centre in the North this year, while it is also in the process of constructing a gargantuan 1million square foot warehouse in Bedford. Once this ‘beast’ is open (at the end of 2019, if it all goes according to plan), it will give the company the ideal platform to significantly expand its presence in the South, where it is currently under-represented. B&M is also investing heavily in both people and systems, including a plan to introduce stock availability to its recently introduced and extremely popular app. And yet, with a rapidly growing store count, the toy buying team has remained refreshingly focused; it still comprises only two buyers – Hayley White, who has been with the company for eight years, and Sara Atta, who joined two years ago. The two work closely with trading director Bobby Arora to finalise all product selections, merchandising and in-store activity. It’s very much an ‘old school’ approach, but as many suppliers will readily


testify, it works perfectly. Hayley tells me: “Having such a focused team structure allows us to be reactive and to move lightning fast. We refer to it internally as ‘B&M speed’. We don’t work to ‘open to buys’, we are constantly trading.” In practice, this lean, focused structure allows B&M to enjoy the best of both worlds; the size and scale of a major, allied to the speed and agility of an independent. Nowhere was this more evident than with last year’s fidget spinner craze: like the independent channel, B&M was able to react swiftly and take full advantage of the sudden surge in demand, while many major retailers became mired in buying committees and hampered by the complexity of their ordering procedures. In tandem with his buying team, Bobby Arora clearly remains very hands-on and passionate about the role which its toy aisles play in the retailer’s ongoing quest for growth. His charismatic, enthusiastic conference presentation not only got the crowd going (encouraging a room full of company delegates to sing Liverpool football songs is not something every retail executive could successfully accomplish), but also made it abundantly clear that toys is a pivotal category for B&M: “Toys are going to play a massive part in our autumn winter growth strategy. We’re 17% up already this year, and we’re aiming high for Q4 – we want to sell £175m worth of toys over the festive season. We have the best brands, the best trends and the best TV lines. We don’t sell label slaps or

Toy World 34

toys from movies which didn’t work – just the bestsellers. We’ll sell 1 million pieces of Slime, 100,000 Hasbro games, 680,000 L.O.L. Surprise!, 370,000 Hot Wheels and 300,000 Hatchimals.” He also talks extensively about the importance of ‘return on space’, referring to it as “sanity retailing.” There has been a major shift in B&M’s marketing strategy this year, with high-profile TV advertising campaigns replaced by large-scale digital marketing activity. According to Bobby Arora, the rationale is quite simple: “Weaker retailers need to invest heavily in TV advertising to draw customers in. We don’t need to do that – people are visiting our stores every week. We need to make them aware of the great value and specific offers they can find when they get there. Digital communication is the most effective way to do that.” One part of Bobby’s speech resonated with me: “We’re a nuisance retailer. Our competitors don’t like us. I don’t mind that at all – I love being the most hated person in retail.” As someone who has never been particularly popular with my competitors, I can understand exactly where he is coming from; if your competitors are upset with you, surely that means you’re doing something very right? And having spent a day in the company of the B&M family, it’s not difficult to see why the retailer continues to be one of the few unequivocal success stories in the current retail firmament.

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Viewpoint Shifting sands in retail and licensing

David Ripley David is currently EMEA category director for Toys, Nursery, Sporting Goods & Pet Care at Groupon. His long career as a toy buyer has included stints at a number of the industry’s largest retail accounts.

A nation of shopkeepers… and you know what, we’re pretty good at it!

Nat Southworth Nat is managing director of Kids@Play Ltd, has bought toys for Asda, and held sales & marketing positions with Vivid, HTi, and Hornby. He is completing an Executive MBA at the University of Leeds.


he latest tribulations for retailers with toys as part of their offer has been focused on the department store channel, with Debenhams & Sports Directowned House of Fraser featuring constantly in the news - for all the wrong reasons. The department store format has been troubled for many years, due in part to the sheer size of footprint and the high rent locations of the majority of the stores. Proving that retail trends truly are global, this is not limited to the UK and is consistent across the EU5 markets and the US, where these store formats have struggled for many years from poor trading and high overheads. Interestingly, the format is still popular in emerging, low penetration ecommerce or ‘lag’ retail markets such as Poland and Australia. By comparison, the value channel is thriving. With Tesco launching its Jacks discount chain, it will interesting to see the range mix across food and general merchandise - and to understand what place toys will have in the range (if any),


very day, I wake up and check the headlines before setting out on my day, with a spring in my step, as I get to work in the toy industry. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is getting fatigued by the constant stream of negativity that greets me, as I try to digest the latest trials and tribulations of the Brexit decision. During my MBA we had to do a group exercise preparing a board update and we foolishly said we’d do it on Brexit. How simple, we thought – there is loads of information to read, and it is incredibly topical except nobody actually knows what is going to happen, so we spent a disproportionate amount of time hypothesising. Deal or No Deal, we will all have to carry on and make do, which thankfully as a nation we pride ourselves on being good at. One sector of our industry has had to soak up a disproportionate amount of doom-mongering for the whole fifteen years I’ve been privileged to be involved with toys: the independent sector. Napoleon is supposed to have said, ”England is a nation of shopkeepers,” but many people do not realise that

considering the store openings are perfectly timed for Q4 trading. The clear retail winners this year will be those that have formulated the perfect alchemy of convenience and value, regardless of their online or physical channels. With all these changes in the retail landscape, it will be very interesting to observe how the licensing industry is setting up to counter the potential revenue impacts. I suspect that, as retailers and suppliers consolidate and merge their operations, licensors will do the same, in order to achieve scale where possible and minimise potential exposure to any one channel or retailer. The feature wall at Toys R Us, in my opinion one of the greatest licensed-toy showcases, has now been consigned to history outside of the handful of markets still operating under the TRU banner, which may or may not include Asia in the future. It is hard to see how any retailer other than Smyths could replicate the impact of this licensing showcase; it certainly would not be something that will appear anytime soon in a retail value chain. The

he was quoting from his reading of the economist Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’, which opined: "To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers, but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers. " So here we are 242 years later, still debating shops and I am sure many shopkeepers would like to influence the government. We debate shop health, shop wealth and the capability to survive in a digital world. The headlines of the moment are featuring department stores, with House of Fraser and Debenhams tales of woe reinforcing the belief that retail is finished. Even John Lewis’ profits headline states the company is down 99%. Yet all across the country there are independent retailers. Not just in toys; in every type of sale of goods, there are people willing to give it a go with their own money. I think many of them would rise up

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online channel is yet to master or replicate the experience or impact for licensing that only physical retail can deliver. Finding licensees with the perfect spread of retail channel distribution will become increasing important, to maximise licensing revenue and brand exposure, especially for new licences with limited heritage that need the kudos of major listings across a wider range of products. Although the response to the news of the switch of venues for BLE next year to Excel has been mixed, personally I am a supporter of Excel as a venue and have attended many trade shows and entertainment events over the years. I love the Olympia building, but the public transport is always an issue, with TFL’s insistence of not running the tube even when Olympia had multiple sold out events running during BLE. The key to staging a great BLE at Excel will be in no small part linked to how the organisers align and partition the halls to generate a feeling of full occupancy. See you all at Olympia!

if I called them “entrepreneurs”, as the true meaning of the word has been hijacked by popular culture. The literal translation of the word is “to undertake”, so I’ll paraphrase it as “someone who is willing to give it a go!” A bit of grit, a belief, stubbornness and a never say die attitude. A lot of the time this isn’t glamorous; it’s a crazy amount of hard graft doing all the jobs - not just the rewarding ones. According to bira (British Independent Retailers Association), there are nearly 300,000 of these people striving to keep their shops going and turn a profit. When people succeed, such as The Entertainer, Smyths or SMF Toytown, to name three in our own industry, (there are way more quietly cracking on with it), the positive headlines seem to linger for less time than the doom. Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if we accepted or indeed embraced being a nation of shopkeepers? If we - and I include the government in this - all pondered how brave and challenging it is to achieve that profitable single store, we might give those store owners the respect and the support they deserve.

Viewpoint International counterfeiting: four action items that can help

Anthony M. Verna III Anthony is the managing partner at Verna Law, a law firm specializing in intellectual property protection, trademark, copyright, domain names and advertising law as well as global IP portfolio protection and management.


n my US-based intellectual property practice, I’ve run across many different types of infringement, with the most insidious being counterfeiting. The US Department of Homeland Security seized counterfeit goods valued at over $1.2b at U.S. borders in 2017. The European Union Intellectual Property Office calculated worldwide Intellectual Property crimes to be worth $461b worldwide. When looking at the growing problem of international counterfeiting, there are always solutions to problems that arise. Some of these solutions are based in business and some of these solutions are based in law. It makes sense to have multiple anti-counterfeiting weapons in your arsenal. The toy industry could find it difficult to enforce outside of the counterfeited trademark, as intellectual property may fall under copyright law - which could be difficult to collect damages on if the infringement is not willful - or design patents, which limits the amounts of damages to profits that a plaintiff can attribute to a part of an article of manufacture, not to the entire product itself. A colleague in the Far East suggests that counterfeiting often begins because there is a strained relationship between the factory and the brand, so make sure that the brand has boots on the ground at the factory. That said, this is a high-cost solution and not everyone is able to afford a full-time liaison making sure the factory is making the goods in the amounts allotted by the contracts, at the quality required by the contracts. It is a solution that needs to be considered – the best relationship that a brand can have with its factory can only keep that factory away from temptation to create unauthorized products. It’s important to think beyond today in terms of one’s factory relationship. Today’s great business

relationship may sour in the future. After all, the honorable laoban running a factory, sourcing agency or distributorship today may retire, turn over the company to his can’t-do-it-right heir/s, sell it on to complete strangers or else simply face new realities in terms of the profit margins that changes his attitude towards doing business with the brand. These developments can mean that decisions made long ago can have a huge impact on what happens to the future of the products from this factory. However, if you suspect your factory is leaking product designs to another factory or is making unauthorized products, I suggest sending some fake product designs. This sounds like an odd procedure – spend some time coming up with a design for a product, making the specifications just right, maybe a need for a retool – just to determine if there’s a counterfeiter at the factory. However, if there is a leak in your product design or a leak at the factory or if the factory is making unauthorized products, then this is a great way to find it. With no intent to make the dummy product, the brand will know if the dummy product is sold on websites like eBay or Alibaba, since the brand is not making the product and has no plans to do so. It seems simple, but factories do receive plans for fake products and then make them without approval for the real product. With the production of a fake product, the factory is then on the hook and the brand can probably find a new factory to do its production, or the factory can fire the people who are responsible for the leak. From a legal standpoint, it’s wise to file suit against every counterfeit seller of a product. Sometimes that may feel like playing a whack-amole game, but it is effective. First off, the costs associated with the anti-counterfeiting lawsuits can be

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recouped if the lawsuit settles early (I have seen sellers of counterfeit products write checks to plaintiffs and give information about what factories the sellers are buying from). But there is another reason to file lawsuits: the sellers often tell the factories making the unauthorized products that the intellectual property owners are enforcing. Another legal thought is that a brand needs counsel in the jurisdiction in which it is manufacturing. If the product is being manufactured in China, the intellectual property needs to be registered in China. And it should not be the sourcing agent or distributor doing the filing. Sure, it’s great to have somebody you trust helping out on the ground to save a few dollars, but having a local distributor handling something so legally central to your company and its public reputation is an unwise way to save money. Many international trademark systems, even though there are treaties to harmonize, are different. China has classes and sub-classes unlike every other country; being filed improperly in China means there will be an inability to enforce. India now allows the ability to register a trademark as well-known, which is unlike the United States and Europe, where that information is required to be shown and proven in court. Another reason to have counsel in China is to enforce in China. Having a longer-view perspective helps and having counsel in China from the start means there is an expert in intellectual property from the very beginning – from application to licensing to litigation. These tips vary and not all are applicable to all companies. However, starting with a review of how the brand is doing business to legal enforcement, finding and stamping out counterfeiting takes many different forms.

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Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In October we have new releases from: Hasbro, Craze Toys, MGA, Tobar, Stax, Creative Toys, Canal Toys, Dumel, Funrise, Spin Master and Golden Bear.

Power Dough and So Glow DIY Canal Toys 07492 411 142 | Canal Toys, the creators of the 100% Original So Slime DIY, have new brands ready for autumn and the Christmas holiday season, with an innovative selection of DIY Arts & Crafts lines. Power Dough is a STEM toy designed to suit boys and girls from 3+. The unique modelling dough play sets allow children to mould and accessorise different characters and then, using the Power Parts, add light, sound and movement to their creation to ‘Bring Your Dough to Life’. Themed sets include Monsters which are ideal for Halloween, Magic Pets, Sea Creatures and Vehicles. Suggested retail price points are from £4.99 to £19.99. Available now, the Power Dough range is supported by a comprehensive PR, TV and digital media marketing campaign. So Glow DIY offer a range of colourful themed Magic Jars to customise and decorate. Perfect as a collectible line or as pocket money treats, the So Glow DIY Magic Jar Mini Kit comes with everything required to create and customize one light-up mini jar. Children can simply mix the powders with water, add glitter, decorate with stickers and shake to light up. Each kit also includes a cute collectible surprise figure. Children can collect six colour themes representing different moods. Chill, Cosmic and Dream are the cool themes, while Happy, Harmony and Love are the warm themes. The So Glow DIY Magic Jar Studio contains everything needed to make one large and two mini Magic Jars. It comes with three bags of Magic So Glow Powder, three bags of Glitter, four bags of Confetti, three Glitter tubes, five collectible figures and three sticker sheets. It’s perfect as a birthday present or Christmas gift. The range will also be supported by a TV advertising and marketing campaign throughout the year. For more information about Power Dough or So Glow DIY please contact Canal Toys on

Who’s That Girl beauty range MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | With child-friendly products that introduce beauty in a fun and innocent format, the Who’s That Girl product range includes Glitter Roots to add sparkle to hair styling, colour-changing Mood Lips and fully washable Beauty Tattoos. Key item, the Who’s That Girl Beauty Box, has over 20 cosmetics and accessories, including exclusive items and colours, hidden for a new surprise every day. Each product comes with a miniature version for beauty on the go, or to use on the Who’s That Girl Dollface; a high spec styling head acting as a blank canvas to experiment with. Launch activity will be heavily focused on influencer support, including taking key influencers to a UK festival; Meet & Greets at key retailers and regular influencer reviews. The campaign will also be supported by heavyweight PR activity, TV and digital campaigns, and social media.

Toy World 40

Team Rudolph mini figure range Creative Toys Company 020 8664 3483 | Known for producing SoccerStarz mini football figures, Creative Toys Company is launching its Team Rudolph mini figure range. Packed in a stocking-shaped foil bag, the range lets kids collect official Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer figures that are based on the reindeer from the famous song. The range has 18 mini figures to collect, including Rudolph and other famous reindeer. Creative Toys Company will be supporting the range with TV advertising, competitions and online activity. Mark Stinchcombe, head of the toy division at Creative Toys Company, commented: “We had a soft launch of our Team Rudolph figures last year, and we knew we had a winner as soon as stock hit the shelves. This year we have extended the range and added some rare figures. There are a lot of collectibles in the market, but few seasonal collectibles for kids to collect in the run up to Christmas as they get into the Christmas spirit. Our detailed figures, offer collectors tremendous value for money at the price point, plus there are only a limited number of different figures, unlike some collectibles. This makes it easier for kids to collect the whole range. Team Rudolph is a great impulse purchase item, and we expect to see many ending up as stocking fillers.”












Little Brother Bo oks ar to partner with lea e proud ding brands and major retailer s to deliver

best-in-class ra nges, widest retail dist ribution and high bran d visibility.

All covers subject to change and approval.

Little Brother Books Ltd, Ground Floor, 23 Southernhay East, Exeter, Devon EX1 1QL

+44 (0)1392 982082





© Copyright RDF TELEVISION LIMITED 2018. Manufactured under licence from RDF TELEVISION LIMITED. THE CRYSTAL MAZE is the registered trade mark of ADVENTURE LINE PRODUCTIONS.

01420 593593

Robo Alive Dino Tobar 0844 573 4299 | Kids can experience the world of dinosaurs with the walking, roaring Robo Alive Dino from Tobar. At a height of 30cm and available in Jungle Green and Wild Amber colours, this fearsome dinosaur boasts realistic features including lifelike reflective eyes, and with the flick of a switch the T-Rex will charge forwards with a formidable roar. Part of the best-selling Robo Alive range, Tobar predicts that Dino is sure to be in high demand this Christmas.

Unlockets Golden Bear 01952 608 308 |

Stax Hybrid Stax Europe (31) 880 909 396 | Stax Hybrid construction play sets span an assortment of animals, vehicles, and accessories. Each set contains Light, Sound, and Connector Stax, along with regular bricks, to enable children to build and bring their creations to life. Animal themes include light-up eyes and recordings of real animal sounds, while the vehicles boast front, rear and cabin lights plus emergency lights (for emergency vehicles) combined with motor sounds and sirens. Accessories include a light-up spinner and keyring, both fully customisable and at accessible price points, to introduce consumers to the Hybrid range, or to further expand their collections. The range of playsets includes Stax Hybrid, Stax System, Stax Junior, and Stax Interior. Each range comprises its own power base brick with specific functions. A Power Stax wireless system controls sound and motion activation and brings each Stax Hybrid creation to life. The brand offers compatibility with other major construction toy brands, and is a cost-effective solution for extended play value.

Golden Bear is launching series 1 of Unlockets into the UK in spring/summer 2019. Aimed at girls aged 5-9, there’s loads of fun in opening these boxes and revealing the 10 or more surprises inside, one by one. Firstly, children can unwrap the Heart Key and try the different drawers to find the one it unlocks. The first drawer has charms inside. One is a special Key-Charm to open the next drawer and the excitement continues until all the charms are revealed. Children can discover the secret Heart Drawer inside, where they could find a rare, an ultra-rare or a limited-edition charm. They can then wear all their charms on the bracelet or necklace that’s included and can use the Mystery Jewellery Box with Mirror to store all their charms.

Zoomer Hungry Bunnies Spin Master 01628 535 000 | Pet loving children will love Spin Master’s latest Zoomer animal incarnation, Hungry Bunnies. Zoomer Hungry Bunnies are interactive bunnies that really eat. Children hold the paper treat up to the Hungry Bunnies’ mouth and they’ll nibble it up. From carrots to cupcakes, there are tons of yummy treats to feed the bunny. When they are all gone, children can simply make some more using the treat tracer that comes in the pack, along with a Snack Basket to keep them in. Hungy Bunnies also play games and can sing and laugh. Plus when the bunny has had a meal, he’ll even ‘poop’ a colourful confetti surprise.

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+48 22 428 21 90 |

0208 569 1234 |

Officially launched at Kind + Jugend in Cologne, new plush brand Balibazoo enjoyed great interest from visitors and distributors attending the show. Among the features that characterize Balibazoo are unique colour diversity and vividness in both product and packaging. The product and packaging combination attracts immediate consumer attention in store, with clip ring toys, hand and wrist rattles, travel spirals, teethers, soothing blankets and novelty plush animal stackers. The latter use versatile crinkling and smooth fabrics, textures and materials and include features like vibrations, windbells and music boxes, all designed to aid baby’s behavioral and manual growth. The current assortment contains about 70 products, mostly based around the concept of animals and vehicles, with around 60 new items introduced annually in other styles like shapes, fruit and vegetables, all of which contribute to play and development values for babies. A media package is available to support the distribution and sales processes, comprising of multiple video and audio resources as well as artwork.

New this October from Hasbro, is Yellies! - cute, fuzzy pets that respond to children’s voices. The spider pets are soundactivated and respond to talking, yelling, clapping, singing and even music. The louder children shout, the faster they go. Yellies! have fun surprises to discover, such as their eyes lighting up and their legs moving as they respond to the sound of voices. When talked to softly, they will move slowly, but louder voices will get them scurrying faster across the room. Each character has its own personality and unique look to inspire collectability. Playing with more than one Yellies! spider pet at a time will cause them to scurry around together.

Craze Flo Mee

Herodrive Vehicles

Craze Toys


49 721 38 13 47 |

01908 555640 |

Craze Flo Mee air drying dough is soft and easy to model. Even young children are able to complete their own creations themselves, without help from parents. No oven baking is needed as the dough is air drying. Mistakes can be easily corrected on final air-dried creations by spraying water on the dough to fix. Starter tins are available, which contain 40g of dough and are available in nine different colours. A CDU of 27 starter tins provides an easy merchandising option. More models can be made with Tube Packs, which have three starter cans inside, plus one extra free can for added value. The The tubes are packed neatly in a CDU of nine tubes. Larger Craze Flo Mee themed sets round out the range, and are available in Unicorn and Dino options. Each set contains different colours of Flo Mee; enough to create a figurine by following the illustrated printed instructions. The sets contain different modelling tools and glittering 3D plastic eyes to add the finishing touches to creations.

Combining kids' favourite DC Super Friends characters with fun and original play features, Funrise’s upcoming Herodrive line is an innovative, one-of-a-kind collection of vehicles for pre-schoolers. The range combines vehicle play with recognisable DC characters such as Batman, Superman, The Flash and more. Available in a range of sizes and styles, the vehicles in the range include; Mash Machines, a new style of vehicle that fuses together iconic vehicles such as police cars and fire trucks with DC Super Friends characters; Herodrive Power Pals plush vehicles, with wobble wheels and sounds for the youngest pre-schoolers; and Signal Squad, a collection of DC Super Friends-inspired stylized vehicles, each projecting its DC Super Hero's logo. Topping off the collection is the Batman Racer motorized vehicle, which comes with lights and Batman and -inspired sounds.

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Licensing World Boat Rocker details latest additions to kids’ brands portfolio Boat Rocker Media has seen strong growth over the past few years. Previously known for production and distribution and for producing premium brands such as Orphan Black and The Next Step, its greatly expanded portfolio has raised the international profile and status of the company. The acquisition of FMK’s children’s portfolio has provided over 800 hours of active programming and several new brands, including the STEAM-inspired animation Bitz & Bob. A ratings hit on CBeebies, Bitz & Bob is launching internationally from the autumn, and Boat Rocker is actively seeking partners across a range of categories. The world’s greatest secret agent, Danger Mouse, has been sold to 100+ territories worldwide. New episodes launched in September and it continues to attract partnerships and brand extensions, including the recent Danger Games on Nintendo Switch. In the UK, The Next Step is a huge ratings driver for CBBC, where season six successfully launched this summer. Boat Rocker is actively talking to prospective partners across apparel, accessories and publishing. BRR also represents leading Nelvana brands in the UK and Eire, including the contemporary urban fantasy animated series Mysticons. Master toy partner Playmates recently launched its new line in North America, while UK distribution rights are held by Flair. The pre-school animated adventure series Ranger Rob has proved popular since launching on Tiny Pop in March, and Boat Rocker is currently working with ID Toys and talking to UK distributors. The animated Netflix series Max & Ruby is based on the clever and colourful books by internationally acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Rosemary Wells, and is also proving popular. Finally, Soft’n Slo Squishies from Character Options has enjoyed a strong start since February’s launch. Boat Rocker Rights is actively talking to partners and retailers across a wide range of categories to extend the brand in the UK.

Rovio appoints Jazwares as global master toy partner Rovio Entertainment has announced the appointment of Jazwares as its global master toy partner. This new multi-year collaboration will deliver an innovative range of toys to fans around the world in support of Rovio’s many upcoming entertainment ventures, including the planned September 2019 theatrical release of The Angry Birds Movie 2, the hotly anticipated sequel to the 2016 blockbuster The Angry Birds Movie. Simo Hämäläinen, senior vice president, brand licensing at Rovio Entertainment, commented: “Rovio’s new multi-year entertainment and licensing roadmap is our most exciting to date, spearheaded by 2019’s The Angry Birds Movie 2. Our collaboration with Jazwares will leverage its extensive expertise with digital brands to deliver new and engagingly interactive experiences that bring the Angry Birds universe together for fans in totally cool ways.’’ Laura Zebersky, chief commercial officer at Jazwares, added: “Jazwares is excited to be Rovio’s long-term master toy partner with a focus on building an everyday characterbranded product line. This new, action-packed toy line brings the Angry Birds charisma to life with splat balls, blinds, figures, play sets and plush by Russ, for cool play value and character recognition that fans, gamers and collectors can enjoy.” Rovio is developing a long-term and diverse platform of content for its passionate global audience, including a brand-new long-form animation planned for release in 2020. Other flagship projects on the horizon include live stage shows, location-based entertainment initiatives, and animated and live-action productions for Rovio’s Angry Birds YouTube channel. The September 2019 theatrical release of The Angry Birds Movie 2 will be swiftly followed by the landmark 10th anniversary of the original Angry Birds in December 2019.

Rubie’s partners with Epic Games for Fortnite dress up In a deal brokered by IMG, Rubie’s Masquerade has announced a partnership with Epic Games to create a range of Fortnite dress up for the European market. The range will be available this autumn/winter and will feature costumes, masks and accessories. "We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the Fortnite phenomenon. Fans will soon be able to replicate their favourite Fortnite characters as they prepare for epic battles in our officially licensed costumes and accessories," said Tania Hrycko, licensing manager EMEA, Rubie’s Masquerade. “We will be launching with some of the most sought-after character costumes and accessories for tweens and adults alike and will continue to strengthen our range alongside the ever-evolving skins from Epic. We are so excited to be part of this journey with Epic Games.” "A big part of Fortnite is letting players express themselves in the game," added Epic Games co-founder Mark Rein. "We're thrilled to be partnering with Rubie's to bring fans highquality costumes and accessories, so they can express themselves outside of the game, too."

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10-16” BIKES




GLOBAL BRANDS ALWAYS IN PLAY For Licensing Inquiries: Please contact Liza Abrams, SVP, Global Licensing (732) 248-1306 or Sakar International Inc., 195 Carter Drive, Edison NJ 08817, P:1.800.637.1090 Sakar Canada- 6547 Mississauga Rd Unit C, Mississauga, Ont, L5N 1A5 Sakar Latin America - A - Avenida Kennedy 5600, Oficina 701, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, T: +562.2307.8932

Licensing World Hasbro and Epic Games partner on Fortnite Nerf and Monopoly Hasbro has announced a partnership with Epic Games to introduce a range of Fortnite inspired play experiences, including a line of officially licensed Nerf Fortnite blasters, and a Monopoly: Fortnite Edition Game, in a deal brokered by IMG. The Nerf Fortnite blasters will immerse fans into the player-versus-player action of the game, letting them play out the Battle Royale in real world settings with blasters and accessories that emulate the onscreen battles Fortnite is known for, while Monopoly Fortnite will bring a battle building twist to the iconic game. The Monopoly: Fortnite Edition game will debut at most major retailers in the US and the UK this autumn, with additional markets to follow in 2019. A line-up of additional licensed games, role-play and Nerf Fortnite blasters and accessories will be debuting in 2019. Jonathan Berkowitz, president, Hasbro Brands, commented: “Fortnite has quickly become a cultural phenomenon with legions of players worldwide, many of whom are already searching for Nerf blasters to host their own Fortnite battles. Through our collaboration with Epic Games, fans will now have the ability to experience the Battle Royale in all new ways, whether it’s the active and adventurous fun of a Nerf Fortnite blaster battle, or the exciting strategising of playing Monopoly Fortnite with friends.” Epic Games co-founder Mark Rein added: “Hasbro is well-known for bringing iconic brands to life, and we’re honoured to collaborate on an awesome line-up that delivers on the fun of Fornite. Nerf blasters are truly the best way to reenact Fortnite battles outside of the game; we can’t wait to see our fans create Fortnite stories all of their own with the iconic accessories seen in the game, or by bringing the battle off-screen with Monopoly.”

Tomy named master toy partner for new eOne property Ricky Zoom New animated pre-school series, from the producers of PJ Masks, Ricky Zoom debuted at Annecy International Animation Film Festival earlier this year, and broadcasters are lining up to air the show across multiple territories. Gulli in France, RAI in Italy and Discovery Kids in Latin America are already on board, with the first series set to premiere from spring/ summer 2019. Building on the solid broadcast platform, eOne is now assembling the consumer products programme and has appointed Tomy International as global master toy partner, with products set to launch from autumn/winter 2019. Peter Henseler, president of Tomy International, commented: “We are honoured and excited to have been chosen as global master toy partner for Ricky Zoom. The content is highly original and lends itself perfectly to creative, character-driven toy design. Our global team is building out an innovative product portfolio designed to bring all the excitement, adventure and fun that Ricky Zoom and his Bike Buddies experience in the show to life for kids around the world.” Olivier Dumont, president, family & brands, eOne, added: “Ricky Zoom is part of our strategic focus to build properties around prime original content produced by the very best talent in the business and the reaction to the show so far has been incredible. Securing Tomy as global master toy partner and top tier broadcasters at this stage demonstrates the confidence that people have in Ricky Zoom, and we look forward to meeting partners at key trade shows that can harness the potential of the property and bring it to a global audience.”Fortnite battles outside of the game; we can’t wait to see our fans create Fortnite stories all of their own with the iconic accessories seen in the game, or by bringing the battle off-screen with Monopoly.”

Shares in Hornby soar after Warner Bros. deal announced Hornby shares increased 27% after the toymaker announced it had clinched a licensing deal with the studio. The agreement will see Hornby release a range of model railway, slot car sets and die cast vehicles featuring Warner Bros. and DC franchises including Harry Potter and DC’s Super Heroes. DC Super Heroes cover a raft of famous characters including Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and the Green Lantern. The toys will be developed under the company’s Hornby Railways, Scalextric and Corgi brands. The company will display the first products developed under the partnership at the London Toy Fair in January next year. Hornby chief executive Lyndon Davies commented: “Having access to these perennially popular franchises will provide Hornby with the opportunity to apply our ability in developing and delivering a desirable range of products that will appeal to fans of the many Warner Bros characters and DC Super Heroes.” The news sent Hornby shares up nearly 27%. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is likely to raise investor spirits as the company drives ahead with turnaround plans.

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Licensing World newsanalysis

The bee’s knees

Toy World spoke to Hasbro’s senior marketing director Craig Wilkins ahead of the new Transformers Bumblebee movie, which will be released on 26th December in the UK. The latest instalment appears to lend itself particularly well to toy product – what are your expectations for the range you’ll be launching, and for the licensed merchandise which will also be available? Bumblebee is a fan favourite character and we can’t wait for the upcoming release of this film, which features an exciting and heartfelt story. We’re also excited about the upcoming Transformers: Bumblebee range across toy and consumer products. The range focuses on Bumblebee in both his Robot and Vehicle form across multiple products including apparel, dress up, wheeled goods, home, health & beauty and more.

Craig Revel Horwood puts on game face at Strictly Board Game launch

What are the key lines that Hasbro will be introducing to coincide with the movie? The key toys from the line include Power Charge Bumblebee, which allows kids to power up Bumblebee in both robot-mode and Volkswagen Beetle-mode with lights and 25+ sound effects, and DJ Bumblebee, which uses Sing-Back Tech to records kids’ voices before playing back the soundbite in sync with one of three tracks. He also dances to the beat during playback. In addition, the Energon Igniters ecosystem includes Nitro, Power Plus, Power and Speed Series variants. Each scale features classic Transformers conversion between robot and vehicle mode and works with the Energon Igniters core that unleashes driving action in vehicle mode

What can Hasbro do to avoid the ‘sequel/franchise fatigue’ that has affected other movie franchises in the last couple of years? The most important component for any film is the characters and the story it tells. We believe that audiences will fall in love all over again with the great qualities that make Bumblebee the iconic and celebrated character he is.

Friday 7th September 2018 saw the launch of Strictly Come Dancing: The Board Game from Ideal Games. Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood – whose voice features in the game – was joined by professional dancer and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two star Ian Waite at the press launch. Guests were treated to a group dance lesson, which focused on steps from the Cha Cha Cha, as well as the chance to try out the new board game. The launch came ahead of the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, which aired the following Saturday night. Strictly Come Dancing: The Board Game captures all the fun and excitement of the popular BBC show. Players pair with an in-game professional dancer and journey through training where they must answer trivia questions, take on challenges and perform mini dance-offs. The two players who make it to the game’s ‘live final’ can perform a dance to one of the six tunes that are played on the revolving glitterball speaker, or alternatively can take on the finger Cha Cha challenge. Craig Revel Horwood commented: “I think Strictly Come Dancing: The Board Game will be fab-u-lous enjoyment for all. It means everyone can join in some Strictly Come Dancing inspired, fun which gets a 10 from me.”

ITV Studios names Basic Fun! as Robozuna US toy distributor Robozuna is an action-packed Netflix Original animated series, a co-production between ITV Studios and KidsCave Studios. This original IP will launch across multiple platforms simultaneously in autumn 2018, including linear broadcast on CITV & ITV in the UK, SVOD around the globe through Netflix, YouTube Kids with short-form content, and in apps and gaming in partnership with award-winning UK-based Kuato Studios. Global social media influencers Ethan Gamer and Ali-A both star in the series and will be involved on an ongoing basis in promotion, as well as creating unique online content to supplement the series. Hengxin Shambala Kids will serve as master toy partner in China, and Bandai as UK toy distributor. An extensive toy range has been developed and will initially include a range of battling robots from the show including collectible 2.5” Battle ‘n Stack Combatabots, 5” Battling Feature Robots, Transporter Vehicle Playset, Role-Play and 12” Mega Mangle Figurine. The toy line is planned for spring/summer 2019 following the series launch in autumn 2018. Additional consumer products will roll out from autumn/winter 2019. Stephen Chernin, executive vice president of Basic Fun!, commented: “We were drawn to Robozuna because of its intriguing story line, exciting feature-centric products, and robust content strategy. Reaching kids daily across multiple entertainment touch points – from Netflix to YouTube to digital apps – is essential to success in today’s world.”

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Character Licensed Merchandise Kids@Play 01423 611047 | As part of a distribution agreement with Maxx Marketing, Kids@ Play continues to bring to market a range of licensed Warner Brothers characters and feature plush. This has got off to a flying start in 2018 with JK Rowling’s Wizarding World and the already successfully released collectible Harry Potter plush, which is available from 4” through to 8” scale. The hero product within the range is the Real Talking Sorting Hat, which has already accumulated three toy awards and featured in many national press product recommendations. The item looks set to feature highly on both adult and child Christmas lists this year. The Crimes of Grindelwald will appear in cinemas in the UK & Eire from 16th November and to complement the existing range of Fantastic Beasts product, there will be new characters to enjoy with the introduction of Baby Nifflers. With four to collect, they are sure to melt the hearts of fans of the franchise. As we move into 2019, the licensed plush range will broaden out to include characters from DC Comics, Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo. Kids@Play continues its efforts to develop a broad portfolio of toys that retailers and consumers desire, featuring licences from the world of sport with WRC, pre-school with PJ Masks and of course ride-ons featuring JCB, Landrover and Jaguar.

Bandai 0208 324 6160 | Bandai UK will be showcasing a movie range for Wreck it Ralph and a spring line up for new boy’s property Robozuna. Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet hits cinemas in November 2018 and Bandai’s film specific toy range offers a digital and connected play experience for fans to discover. With the collectible 8cm Power Pac Figures, kids can download the Pacman app and see their character come to life within the game. With the Figure Assortment they can collect key characters whilst also customising their own avatar with the mix and match pieces included. The iconic Race Vehicle comes complete with Vanellope figure, sound effects and ejector seat. The Talking Wrecking Ralph has 10 catch phrases, while the 26cm Talking Vanellope has rooted hair and says over 10 of the character’s sassy comments from the movie. A new licensed property in the Bandai Portfolio is Robozuna, an action-packed Netflix Original animated series following 14-year-old Ariston and his homemade robot, Mangle. Bandai’s consumer products rollout is planned from spring 2019, following the series launch on ITV and CITV from October 2018. The launch range will include 6cm Battle ‘n Build Figures 12.5cm Battling Feature Figures, a Team Veredus Transporter and a Mega Mangle 30cm figurine with light and sound effects.

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Crunch on critters, bush tucker trial style! Our official and exclusive I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!™ range is getting bigger with the arrival of our Dingo Dollar Quiz. Answer a trivia question right and you win a dingo dollar, but get it wrong and you’ll be munching mealworms.

Don’ t miss out, order today! tel: 01603 397 105 email: online: Bush Grub LTD, Adelaide Drive, ME10 1YB I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!™ & © ITV Studios LTD 2018. Licensed by ITV Broadcasting Limited. All rights reserved.

A World of Fun!

Character Licensed Merchandise

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 | Just launched in September is the master toy line for DreamWorks’ latest Netflix & Pop series, Spirit Riding Free. Dolls, figures and playsets feature realistic horses and their riders Lucky, Prudence and Abigail along with all the accessories needed for girls to create their own equine adventures at home. The Spirit Barn Playset has 24 pieces plus a Lucky Doll and Spirit Horse, plus an upstairs hideaway and comes with stickers to decorate the barn. The TV-promoted Spirit and Lucky Deluxe Feeding Set features a 35cm tall horse figure with realistic mouth and jaw movement. The new Super Moon Adventure theme from PJ Masks season 2 brings with it new locations, vehicles and out of this world adventures. Catboy, Owlette and Gekko can now take to the moon in the HQ Rocket Playset, featuring lights and sounds. There’s a built-in handle to fly the HQ Rocket around, then with the push of a button on landing, the ramp is released and Gekko will launch on his Space Rover vehicle. The Space Rover vehicles are also available individually as an assortment. Each comes with its own 7.5cm figure, space helmet and accessory. To complete the Super Moon adventure, the Figure and Accessory sets feature lunar themed accessories such as a telescope, laptop, or a moon crystal, and each set comes with a light-up jetpack. Further additions to the PJ Masks line-up include the PJ Robot which really rolls and beeps just like in the show, and a brand new Mission Control HQ Playset. This double sided 3-storey playset is compatible will all the existing 7.5cm figures and includes a lights and sounds control panel, corkscrew pole, Owlette feather dart shooter and trap door; as well as Catboy and Romeo figures.

Markwins 01256 374 010 | Markwins offers eight Disney Princesses flavourful, moisturizing Lip Smacker lip balms, ideal for collecting. The flavours are inspired by Disney Princesses: Magical Glow Berry, Spun Sugar Shine, Tea Party Treats, Fresh Kiwi Pie, Calypso Berry, Vanilla Sparkle, Berry Magic and Cherry Kiss. Children can experience the magic of Disney’s Frozen with Anna, Elsa and their friends in an eight-piece Lip Smacker party pack: perfect for sharing or as an addition to any Frozen fan’s collection. The pack includes eight Frozeninspired flavours: Winter Berry Frost, Summer Strawberry Glow, Vanilla Snow Cone, Frozen Banana Pop, Mint to Be Together, Blueberry Icy Pop, Orange Cream Pop and Plum Berry Tart. Other licences in the range include Emoji Minnie and Micky, and Coca Cola.

Character Options 0161 633 9800 | Character Options combines collectibles with master toy collections to bring the best in licensed toys to the market. Children will be able to discover, collect, build, and display their favourite Disney themed playsets with the Disney Doorables series of collectible mix and match, stackable playsets. With Mini, Multi or Mega Stack Playsets available, behind every door, there’s a surprise. Each pack has its own number of favourite Disney characters with glitter eyes, accessories and connector pieces to recreate magical story moments, or mix up a unique Disney Doorables world. Disney Doorables launched in August with a heavyweight marketing campaign including TV advertising, impactful instore displays, digital activation including its own PopJam channel and influencer videos, plus kids press. As a cornerstone pre-school brand, each year Peppa Pig has new themes and playsets added to the line-up. This year the “When I Grow Up” theme encourages role-play and imagination with an array of exciting playsets, including the Peppa Pig Mobile Medical Centre. This free-wheeling, 2-in-1 Ambulance playset folds out into a full medical centre where Nurse Peppa and Dr. Brown Bear can treat patients. Brand-new Nurse Peppa plush comes with many features, including an otoscope and interactive stethoscope that makes heartbeat sounds. With interactive play value and medical phrases, young Peppa Pig Fans can act out their own medical adventures. Finally, Follow Me Peppa is a new novelty item that will delight fans with its ability to snort, giggle and play music when activated through multiple touchpoints. The ‘Follow Me’ mode creates a fun, interactive game where children have to follow a sequence of fun sounds such as a snort, a laugh, a dance tune or splashing up and down in muddy puddles.

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Bruder 01491 412 415 | One of the most powerful tippers around, the Volvo A60H has now been added to the Bruder themed world of construction equipment. Just like the real thing, the model has solid articulated steering in conjunction with large balloon tyres. A play figure can be placed in the driving seat through the roof hatch of the cab, and the fully functional tipping trough can be loaded and unloaded for a realistic play experience. The cab is made from transparent, high-quality plastic in 1:16 scale and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor play.




Sambro 0845 873 9380 | This Christmas, Sambro focuses on its successful Sesame Street range with an extensive marketing campaign, supported by TV and digital. The campaign will feature classic Tickle Me Elmo and new feature animated plush – Me So Hungry Cookie Monster. Pre-schoolers will love the brand-new Me So Hungry Cookie Monster. The cuddly character comes with 15 different sounds as he munches away on his favourite cookies. Children can use their hand to move his mouth and hear him talk and make munching sounds. Tickle Me Elmo loves to be tickled and children cannot help but join in as he laughs, talks, wiggles and giggles with 20 different sounds. The relaunch of Tickle Me Elmo last year proved to be a great success and demonstrates that Sesame Street still resonates strongly with children today. The addition of Me So Hungry Cookie Monster to this year’s range will coincide with Christmas marketing to drive sales during Q4.






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11:29 AM

Thinkway Toy World spoke to Thinkway Toys about the emphasis the company places on longevity and emotional engagement when considering product development. How has 2018 been for Thinkway so far? This year, despite all the obvious challenges in the UK marketplace, has been a positive stepping stone towards what will undoubtedly be a massive year for the company in 2019, with the Toy Story franchise getting its much anticipated fourth instalment. Thinkway is renowned for producing high-quality toys which stand the test of time and are loved by consumers – what role has this ethos played in the long-term success of the company? Quality is generally measured in our industry as the standard of one toy as measured against similar toys, or against the purpose for which it was bought. Thinkway has never compromised on this ethos, producing quality toys which will provide a generation of playtime and pleasure. This is particularly critical when you are developing products based on toy characters, as with Toy Story, or working on franchises such as Star Wars, with fans that have very high expectations

of how an item should look and function, as well as its authenticity. It is uncanny how many conversations at trade shows or sales meetings will centre on the subject of product quality, and people will often remark “it’s the best quality in the business”, or “you can’t fault the quality”, in reference to Thinkway products. This doesn’t happen by accident; it takes years of development perfection to maintain a high standard that keeps customers coming back. We are honoured and motivated by the fact that our hard work and dedication is recognised by the industry and consumers alike. In a climate when some companies compromise on quality in order to hit price points, how challenging has it been to maintain your approach? It seems to become more challenging every year. The market is under increasing duress when it comes to overheads, against a perception of what a toy should cost, which sadly has been fuelled by a throwaway culture where a toy may only be for Christmas. With the constant conveyor belt of

new concepts, movie frequency and technology shifts, and as a parent myself, it is easy to see the high consumption culture our children now live in. Viewing habits have changed rapidly, and the challenge for many companies is to find concepts with both longevity and the emotional bond from fans. The trick is to then develop products that are seen as an investment rather than a quick demand satisfier, with long term playability. This is why Thinkway works with the biggest brands and studios to develop best in class products based on their blue chip brands. The fans of these franchises are looking for an exceptional product that offers them the emotional touch point they desire from their favourite character or franchise. How important is it to you that consumers emotionally engage with Thinkway toys and see them as products they will keep in the family for years? We create great products that tap into that emotional engagement, so when it comes to the annual toy cupboard cull the Thinkway line will be exempt as the toys will have become firm family favourites. Both the parents and their kids are fans

Toys that last of our toys, and seeing families bond over them is really satisfying. When you put this together with the fact the toys will survive the most boisterous of play patterns, and last for many years, they offer fantastic value for money. I’ve met many a buyer who will confess to still having their Buzz Lightyear from when they were a kid, or that their parents are keeping it safe for them back home. Thinkway has brought its experience in quality hardline development to franchises such as Star Wars, Despicable Me and Incredibles, as well as Toy Story, which has resulted in incredible toy product being developed and sold the world over. Of course there has to be product to suit all pockets, but at the same time there is a lot to be said for toys that last a lifetime and truly become a part of the family.

What can you tell us about your plans for the Toy Story 4 range? As anyone who knows the Thinkway line can attest, fans can expect great quality product that represents the broad range of characters in the movie. Thinkway has been a partner on Toy Story 1, 2 and 3; based on that history, and the great job the studio has done with the new movie, the range is going to be awesome. Expect some nice new twists in product development and toys that reflect the quality of the movie maker’s standards. Is consumer excitement already building ahead of the move launch? There is little out in the public eye at the moment with regards to the new franchise, so we anticipate that consumer reaction will come when the trailers start to drop. The retail reaction has been extremely positive, and if that is a benchmark of things to come, we fully expect to continue the success we have experienced since Toy Story 1.

What marketing investment will you be putting behind the brand? This has already begun. In a changing environment where kids are engaging digitally far more, and consuming vast volumes of content, the challenge is pinpointing where you might get the biggest bang for your buck. We are working closely with our media partners, ensuring that we are talking to our audience through the right channels and engaging with the fans via the right platforms. We recently ran a social media campaign around Toy Story and the back to school period which played on the iconic ‘You’ve got a friend in me’ strapline. Working with influential parent bloggers and tying in a cross promotion with a retailer, this campaign resonated well and created some brilliant content with the hashtag #Thinkwayfriends. We’ll certainly look to do more of this next year across content development, TV, social, in-store and PR. We’ll be working closely with all our partners to make sure we maximise opportunities across all channels in the build up to the new movie and around the excitement of its release.

Character Licensed Merchandise

Rubie’s 08453 070 707 | Rubie’s launches innovative Transformers costumes for the highly anticipated Bumblebee Movie, in cinemas 26th December. The new cutting-edge costumes for both Optimus Prime and Bumblebee are padded garments with a flip and reveal top and mask for two looks. The Truck look transforms into a Robot look in one swift movement. The quick flip top and mask sets allow children to switch instantly from being a Freightliner truck or VW Beetle into a fearsome autobot. To complete the Bumblebee movie range, a flat chested Bumblebee jumpsuit is available, which resembles the classic style and comes with a felt mask with mesh eye holes. The Deluxe Bumblebee costume is a padded chest jumpsuit with a more rustic design that still evokes the retro and recognisable style of the VW Beetle. The deluxe jumpsuit also comes with a soft mask with mesh detailed eye holes and a felt detachable sword, ready for battle.

Pyramid International 0116 284 3640 | 2018 so far has been a busy year for Pyramid International, with Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool and Jurassic World 2 leading the way with licensed products. For Q4, Venom starring Tom Hardy is added to the Heroes & Villains offering. Also coming up will be merchandise based on the second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts series, Aquaman, Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet and Spider-Man into the Spider-verse. Pyramid has seen growth in its licence and product portfolios in 2018. The addition of Activision to the company’s library has added a new dimension, giving a stronger foothold in the licensed gaming merchandise arena and consolidating the success of the Nintendo ranges. The team has been creating ranges for properties such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Call of Duty. Pyramid has seen new product additions across multiple categories including Stationery, with pocket premium notebooks and Drinkware, with innovations such as metallic and foil mugs alongside the second wave of mug gift sets. All are scheduled to be stocked for Q4, ready for the gifting season.

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449 944 | With more than 9m subscribers to her You Tube channel ToysAndMe, 10 year-old unboxer and toy reviewer Tiana introduces a range of micro toys, gifts and fashion accessories, with design input from herself. Children can build their own micro world based on Tiana and her Toys AndMe YouTube channel by becoming an unboxer and sharing their play online. The Mega Pop Box can be opened to reveal surprises inside. These collectible surprise boxes include a Mega Pop Box, and two accessories. Children can pop and unbox with Tiana’s Unboxing Studio, which contains a Tiana figure, complete with an extra three surprise accessories. With two Tiana characters to collect, her outfits can be mixed ‘n’ matched. With the Shop ‘n’ Pop Car Playset, children can take Tiana for a spin in her replica car with fun surprises inside. The set includes an exclusive Tiana figure, a car, two Pop Boxes, two accessories, and a sticker surprise. The Pop Box Party Surprise includes an exclusive Tiana figure, six Pop Boxes and six accessories. The Totally Tiana 8” Doll allows children to style their own Tiana doll with loads of accessories. Complete with heart hairbrush, rainbow headband and share wear hair scrunchie, the style and accessorise opportunities are endless.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Make It Real 01613 024 100 | GoldieBlox and Make It Real are excited to announce that fans of the popular YouTube series, “Hack Along with GoldieBlox,” will soon be able to create the unique DIY projects featured in the show. The extensive collection of DIY creativity kits for tween girls is set to launch in summer 2019, through a network of leading national and international retailers. Hack Along with GoldieBlox is an original series on GoldieBlox’s rapidly-growing YouTube channel. The show invites girls to “hack their world” through fun everyday crafts sprinkled with STEM principles. Surrounding every product that Make It Real produces is a content experience that gives young women a window into the real world of design and creativity. From magazines and online video content featuring the lives of young creative professionals to an app with live instructions and the ability to interact with the company’s design team, Make It Real is developing an unrivaled experience for creative tweens.

Sakar 732 248 1306 | Sakar continues to expand its line-up of licensed wheeled goods with the addition of Crayola, Barbie and Hot Wheels. Products include scooters, helmets, rollerblades, bikes and wagons. The lineup includes the Hot Wheels 3D moulded scooter and adjustable quad skates. Hot Wheels is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, solidifying its place in toy history as one of the most iconic toy brands. The Barbie wheeled goods line includes a 3-Wheeled Barbie Convertible 3D Scooter which mirrors Barbie’s iconic ride. Also new to the range are Barbie roller-skates, with adjustable straps to fit most children’s feet, as well as a set of knee pads for extra protection. The Crayola 3-wheeled scooter allows riders to simultaneously create a multi-coloured masterpiece. The first-of-its-kind scooter has an attachment that fits up to five sticks of Crayola sidewalk chalk that run along the ground as the scooter takes off. The helmets are covered in chalk board paint, allowing kids to create a new helmet every time they take it out for a spin. Sakar’s current line of licensed wheeled goods and protective gear includes Fisher-Price, Tony Hawk, Little Tikes, and L.O.L Surprise! Product will be available in spring 2019.

Topps 01908 800 123 | This autumn, Topps is launching brand new collectibles, trading card games and sticker collections for a number of its own character licences. These include The Garbage Gang, the disgusting trading card game featuring iconic, nostalgic artwork and over 100 characters to collect; series 2 of Ring Pop Puppies, the collectible ring and toy puppy figurine with sticker; and I Believe In Elves and I Believe In Mermaids, two distinct sticker collections tapping into both seasonal and fashion led trends. Topps also continues to enjoy long-term licensing partnerships with WWE and Lucas/Disney. With global deals to produce trading cards and stickers for two of the largest licensors in the entertainment space, Topps will once again be connecting collectors to Star Wars and WWE throughout 2019. Topps WWE Slam Attax trading card game is now in its 11th season, and saw the release of Slam Attax Live back in July. Featuring unique memorabilia and over 380 designs, the cards are collected by WWE fans young and old. 2019 sees the release of Star Wars: Episode IX, the last movie in the Skywalker saga. With a Star Wars heritage spanning 40yrs, Topps has exciting collections lined up for fans of all ages.

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The Happiness Property! NEW

plush ranges for AW18!

NEW! Molang Basic Plush Assortment

Super Soft Piu Piu

Super Soft!

Super Soft Molang

Collectible Plush Assortment

Call the sales department on 01392 281927 or email Š2018 / Hayanori / Millimages

Character Licensed Merchandise

Little Brother Books 01392 427 779 | As the only specialist annuals publisher in the market, Little Brother Books continues to lead the way in this unique and highly dynamic volume-selling category each year (top annual titles can sell over 300,000 copies). Annuals offer customers an affordable brand entry point for many of the hottest brands on the market. The value for money for consumers is hard to beat compared to many other product formats, as kids can enjoy many hours of entertainment with over 80 pages of content in each LBB annual. LBB provides retailers with a leading range of the hottest annuals around that appeal from pre-school through to tween/teen and for both girls and boys alike, so providing a one-stop promotional range for any retailer to drive incremental, impulse sales. The unrivalled focus LBB offers its retailers and licensors on annuals is key to its success. The company has already sold over 1m annuals in 2018 behind some of the hottest brands on the market such as L.O.L. Surprise, CBeebies, Minecraft, Little Mix, WWE, Shoot! and many more. This success is derived from a multi-strategy approach; from securing the hottest brands to driving leading retailer distribution, including introducing many new key/major retailers to annuals, such as Lidl, Wilko and Aldi in recent years. Another important area has been speed to react to the latest trends on the market, such as launching Pokémon Go in 2016 and L.O.L. Surprise in 2017.

Funko 020 3376 3223 | Funko has announced a brand-new addition to its vast portfolio of character based licensed products. Most known for its memorable Pop! Vinyl range, the last few years have seen the company create a host of new lines for fans of all kinds, including Rock Candy, Dorbz, and Hero World. The new 5 Star range features standout characters from some of the most sought-after licences including Disney, DC and Warner Bros. Characters are re-created in stunning detail as miniature figures and displayed in square boxes with a window opening, giving the look of an unfolding storybook. The fun characterisation and attention to detail mean these figures are perfect for fans of all ages – the articulated limbs allow them to be played with or displayed. Starting the collection was the Harry Potter collection, featuring Hogwarts students and teachers such as Harry Potter and Dumbledore. Funko has also released a DC Comics line including Batman, The Joker and Harley Quinn. The latest addition to the line features characters from the iconic stop-motion Disney animation The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Fans can choose from six iconic characters: the Pumpkin King himself, much-loved hero of Halloween Town Jack Skellington, ragdoll Sally, the nightmarish villain Oogie Boogie and the troublesome trio of Lock, Shock and Barrel.

Simba Smoby 01274 765 030 | Masha and the Bear is a cartoon series based on a Russian folk tale. Masha is a happy and kind yet mischievous little girl who turns the life of Misha the Bear upside down with her daily visits. On YouTube, the episodes of Masha and the Bear are some of the most popular videos on the planet, and Masha’s on-air presence is also impressive, with two seasons currently available on the streaming giant Netflix. This March, Cartoonito released season 3 of Masha, and the success of the show means it now ranks within the top three shows on the channel. In December 2017, Masha launched on free-to-air with Tiny Pop, becoming the No. 1 show within the first three months of launch. With the Simba Smoby toy range, kids can explore the world of Masha and Misha and recreate their adventures in a playful way. The extensive product range includes collectible figures, play sets, plush, dolls, creative kits and wooden toys. In the lead up to Christmas, Simba Smoby will be investing in a strong TV campaign for the Big Bear House play set, which includes lights, sounds and two floors. TV starts from November and runs through to December. Simba Smoby holds the licence for Disney’s Cars and Hasbro’s Transformers. Last year the company released its much-anticipated Cars 3 line with full 360 marketing support, which saw the 1:24 Lighting McQueen become the No. 1 best-selling RC item by volume in 2017. The 1:24 scale is available again this year, with Lighting McQueen, Jackson Storm and Cruz all revving their engines for Q4 sales. In December, kids will flock to the cinema to see Bumblebee, the first spin off movie from the billion-dollar Transformers franchise. Simba Smoby will support the movie release with a 1:24 scale Bumblebee RC, featuring the Autobot in his original Beetle form.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

Tomy 01392 281 927 | Tomy is building its character licensed merchandise collection by relaunching the nostalgic Big Loader Thomas & Friends themed train set. The Big Loader playset entertains pre-schoolers with simple, innovative and mechanical role-play as they recreate scenes from the popular TV show at home, using fun 3-in-1 automated vehicles. To amplify awareness around the range, Tomy will be supporting Thomas & Friends Big Loader with a TV advertising campaign starting in late October for half term, which will run for four weeks. A series of adverts will be broadcast across leading kids’ TV channels in the UK and Ireland, delivering over 300 TVRs. Older children will enjoy Tomy’s Molang collection from Millimages, which appeals to a wide audience, from four years old to tweens, teens and right up-to women in their early twenties who are fans of Japanese kawaii culture. Tomy has expanded its diverse range with new basic and feature plush characters, as well as core figure assortments - all reflecting scenes from the show, allowing fans to relive episodes whilst encouraging collectability and trading between friends. Tomy will support the Molang range with traditional media reviews as well as targeted influencer sampling.

Pioneer 01279 501 090 | Pioneer had a great start with its Jurassic World range following the release of the sci-fi adventure film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The success of the film has been reflected in sales of the new range from Qualatex, which has enjoyed great initial results across the giant 38” Raptor Microfoil shape and the 18” Raptor round Microfoil balloon, depicting images of the dinosaurs seen in the latest movie. As well as being perfect presents for dinosaur lovers, the products also lend themselves perfectly to retail window and in-store displays due to their eyecatching designs, making them an ideal choice for all party and giftware retailers looking to make an impact in store.

Siso Toys UK | The animated TV show The Deep focuses on the Nektons, a family of marine biologists who explore underwater worlds in their search for the lost city of Lemuria. The Deep is broadcast on CBBC in the UK with two seasons under its belt, which have performed exceptionally well, ranking the show within the top 3 on the channel. A third season is launching in 2019. Siso Toys is set to launch a true-to-the-series range of products highlighting the elements of action, animals and good against evil. The range will feature underwater vehicles, action figures, play sets, plush and role-play items. The launch will be supported by an all-encompassing marketing plan comprising TV, cinema, YouTube and social media. TV lines will include the collection of action figures, and the underwater robots, known as Nekbots. The 25cm tall White Knight Nekbot robot lights up, is fully articulated and offers space inside to store one figure. In contrast, the yellow Mag Knight Nekbot is equipped with a firing mechanism, as it is armed with magnetic missiles in the series. Trollhunters - Tales of Arcadia launched on Netflix in December 2016 and has garnered huge success, boasting a steller cast including Anton Yelchin, Tom Hiddleston, Ron Perlman and Mark Hamill. The third season premiered on Netflix earlier this summer. Siso Toys is now offering a range of detailed figures, play sets and role-play items that will bring the world of Trollhunters to life. The range includes various sets of figures including 3” non-poseable multi-pack figures, and 6” deluxe figures with light and sound features. Young fans can become Trollhunters with role-play products such as the sword lead character Jim wields, and the amulet which gives him his magic powers. More play sets will follow in 2019. From January 2019, Siso Toys UK will takeover distribution and marketing of Masha & The Bear, and will support the range in 2019 with full 360 marketing support comprised of heavyweight TV, YouTube, social media, digital and PR as well as bespoke retail peices to drive sell through. Also available from Siso across its licensed portfolio is a range of plush and styling heads from Mattel’s Enchantimals, as well as Wissper dolls, figures and play sets, licensed from M4E/ Studio 100.

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Character Licensed Merchandise

MV Sports 01217 488 000 | Suitable from three years, the Disney Princess Tepee is the perfect den for children as they start to explore imaginative play and independence. Decorated with all the favourite Disney Princesses, the tepee has a closed top, integrated floor and durable polyester and PVC materials, as well as water and UV resistance, so play can continue come rain or shine, inside or outside. The new refreshed design for Disney Princess is launching in January 2019 with a fresh bold colour palette. From Paw Patrol this autumn/winter, Marshall’s 6v Bubble Blowin’ Fire truck is packed full of features including a bubble machine hose, forward and reverse gears and flashing lights. Paw Patrol is going bolder and more actioned packed with a new design for 2019. MV’s hottest new licence, L.O.L Surprise! features on a sparkling wheeled range. The fixed inline scooter has colour printed grip tape, cute character plaque, sparkly glitter wheels and a set of stickers for customisation. The ultimate L.O.L glitter skates have glitter sock and glitter wheels, plus also come with a set of stickers for customisation.

Worlds Apart 01637 882 200 | From the hottest girls’ collectible properties, to evergreen preschool licences, Worlds Apart’s autumn/winter 2018 range is full of exciting new products as well as core items, including everything from brand new lighting to consumer favourite ReadyBed. Brand new to the range for this season is a L.O.L Surprise! licensed range. Having made its debut on toy shelves at the beginning of the season, the L.O.L Surprise! GoGlow Pop has proved to be a best-seller. True to the L.O.L brand, the GoGlow Pop Night Light and Torch features a surprise reveal – the torch looks like a L.O.L ball, and transforms to reveal a lantern light, complete with L.O.L doll design. The portable light features a handle for easy portability, and is ideal for sleepovers. Also new to the Worlds Apart L.O.L Surprise! range is a cool and comfy Chill Chair. This inflatable chair is the perfect tween room accessory, featuring easy inflation and a bold L.O.L print. Within its pre-school portfolio, the Worlds Apart range boasts a whole host of products ranging from play tents and trampolines, to night lights, beds and furniture. New to the Paw Patrol range for 2018 is a GoGlow Paw Patrol Marshall Buddy Night Light. A great gift for Paw Patrol fans, this soft and squishy night light and torch offers children comfort and security at bedtime. Also featuring in the Paw patrol range is proven performer ReadyBed, with My First and Junior ReadyBed designs available for autumn/winter 2018. The Peppa Pig range features a fresh new Home range which includes a toddler bed and coordinating furniture, as well as a range of items in the Outdoor category. The Peppa Pig Play Tents and trampoline offer fun both indoors and out, making them great gifts for Christmas.

Mattel 01628 500 111 |

Mattel’s character licences go from strength to strength as it continues to partner with the best; building on existing brands whilst introducing innovative new characters to the mix. Thomas & Friends introduces the TrackMaster Turbo Jungle Set, inspired by the new movie, Big World! Big Adventure! in which Thomas travels the world. The playset sees Thomas complete an exciting jump stunt with a motorised turbo Thomas engine that can travel up to 2.5 times faster than normal TrackMaster engines. The range also includes the ultimate Super Station which holds over 100 engines, combining the four Thomas toy segments; Adventures, TrackMaster, MINIS and Wooden Railway. Other additions include the exciting new Light Up Minis Engines that illuminate when pressed down. Plus, the My First Thomas & Friends Railway Pals Destination Discovery features track activation points which deliver sounds, songs and phrases. Following the launch of the new TV series on Channel 5 Milkshake, the TrackMaster, Adventures and Wooden Railway ranges introduce new characters who appear in the new Steam Team including Nia, as well as other international engines including Hong Mei and Yong Bao from China and Shane from Australia. Offerings from Imaginext include the Jurassic World Jurassic Rex which features chomping action, light-up eyes that dilate and a mouth that glows red. In the DC Super Friends range includes the Transforming Batcave and the two-feet tall BatBot Xtreme. Fisher-Price’s character brands include the Shimmer and Shine interactive Genie and Zahracorn Assortment, featuring lights and sounds, while Blaze and the Monster Machines introduces the Axle City Monster Stunts Track Set.

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© 2018 Viacom. Shimmer and Shine, Sunny Day, Nella, Top Wing © 2018 Viacom Overseas Holdings C.V. All Rights Reserved. PAW PATROL © 2018 Spin Master PAW Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved. TM & © Spin Master Ltd. All Rights Reserved. ©2018 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. JoJo Siwa is a trademark of JoJo Siwa Entertainment, LLC.

Brand Licensing Preview

Licence and licensability


Brand Licensing Europe celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Toy World takes a look at what to expect from this unmissable licensing show.


ccording to Anna Knight, BLE’s brand director, last year’s show was UBM’s biggest BLE to date, with over 7,500 visitors attending - including 37% from outside the UK. And as Anna tells Toy World, indications thus far point towards 2018’s iteration being even bigger; fitting, considering it’s a landmark year for the event. “BLE has changed so much since we launched 20 years ago,” says Anna. “We originally launched as Brand Licensing in 1999 - a small hotel-based event in London. We moved to the Business Design Centre, then to Earls Court and then to Olympia, which has been home ever since. In that time, we have become a well-established date on the licensing industry calendar attracting key industry players from all over Europe and the show was re-branded as Brand Licensing Europe in 2007 to reflect the international nature of its exhibitors, properties and visitors.” “We love the licensing industry and very much hope to be a part of it for another 20 years,” Anna says. “We will be celebrating by honouring those people who have been with BLE from the very start. We’ve also been running a brilliant 20-day giveaway which started on 19th September, with amazing prizes provided by our exhibitors.” In the last 20 years, the show has further evolved with the launch of a number of different initiatives, including the Licensing Academy and Brands & Lifestyle Seminar Theatre, Matchmaking Service, Product Showcase, Sports Pavilion, Gaming Activation and the License! This competition. “This industry can be a complex one to enter, and License This! gives new licensors exposure to experts who can help develop their brand and take it forward,” says Anna. “The mentorship and advice they receive – even if they don’t win – is worth entering for on its own, and that’s why we get so many top quality entries. This year’s competition has been expanded to two categories, with winners in both Brand & Design and Character & Entertainment, and this has been really well received with some brilliant entries. The initial judging session took place on 21st September, after which the shortlist was revealed.” The finale of License This!, during which the finalists will pitch to a live audience and the judging panel, is set to take place on the last day of BLE in the Licensing Academy, 12.30-2.30pm. This will be the final year that BLE is held at the

historic Olympia; as of 2019 the show will be held at London’s Excel. However, Anna is keen to stress that attendees should focus on the here and now of this year’s show, and not the impending relocation. “The move to Excel is really exciting and offers lots of amazing opportunities for the future evolution

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of the show,” she explains. “However, that’s not till 2019 and I think it’s really important that the focus of this year’s show is this year’s show. If it feels different it will because of the amazing content we have this year, and not because of our move to Excel.” The Character & Entertainment Zone is home to TV and movie studios like Viacom Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., Turners Cartoon Network and Universal. “We also have three massive toy companies at the show – Mattel, Hasbro and MGA – which is testament to the strong relationship between the two sectors,” says Anna. “Also, Hearts by Tiana will have its own dedicated stand, the first time an influencer brand has appeared as a standalone exhibitor; Women In Toys will be hosting drinks in the Brands & Lifestyle Bar at 4pm on Wednesday 10th October and there’s a Playing with Brands panel and a fireside chat with Tech Will Save Us in our seminar programme.” The Licensing Academy, sponsored by LIMA, sees Pam Kaufman, president at Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products, take part in the Tuesday keynote with a fireside chat covering her insights to the changing retail landscape, and where consumer products fits into Viacom’s larger strategy. Wednesday will see a panel discussion in association with Mojo Nation; chaired by Billy Langsworthy, the panel line-up includes Alpesh Patel, VP of global toy design at Tomy. Billy makes another appearance on Thursday, hosting a fireside chat with Bethany Koby of Tech Will Save Us about the company’s new venture into licensed tech for kids. With so much to see and do at BLE, Anna is keen to emphasise that attendees should ensure they make the best use of their time, making use of the Matchmaking Service and online exhibitor list. “Please, please make the most of these resources – they really will help pinpoint exactly the right exhibitors for you,” she says. “Check out the floorplan and plan your visit; find the best route for you and work that into your meeting schedule. Look at the seminar programme and work your meetings around it so you don’t miss out. And use the website – there is lots of guidance on there where visitors can download How To guides, case studies and a great handbook called ‘What is brand licensing?’.” Anna summarises: “There will be over 260 exhibitors, more than 2,500 brands and 7,500+ visitors in the halls this year - you really shouldn’t miss it!”

NPD Insight

Toys and the licensing World As the industry’s focus turns to all things licensing, this month Melissa looks at the importance of licences to the UK toy market.


s another Brand Licensing Europe Soccer licence contributing an additional £14M to arrives in London, it’s always interesting the market. While this was heavily driven by the to see the dual importance of both collectible stickers from Panini, it is an interesting licensing to the toy market and the toy example of how licences can drive high value and market to the licensing world. Licensed volume sales in a short time period. While movie toys account for 24% of the total value of UK Toys licences may bring in lower sales than they did year-to-date August 2018 (NPD POS Retail Tracking), five years ago, they remain a strong presence in outside of its core area with puzzles, games and while toys account for 25% of total licensed spending the toy market, with more than half of the fastest stickers also available. on kids aged 0-14 years, with the market worth growing licences so far this year. The fastest growing The last month has illustrated how a strong £977M in the last 12 months (NPD Licence Tracker). moving licence is Jurassic World, adding +£4.4M in licence with great product doesn’t necessarily need The licensed world has been particularly challenged incremental sales. However, there have also been the latest movie or TV programmes to sell toys. in the last couple of years after a high in 2016, when strong sales from Avengers, Black Panther and Justice Harry Potter licensed toy sales built on the 20-year both Star Wars and Frozen were at their peak, but it League licences, as well as from The Incredibles. anniversary of the first book published to become remains a vital and dynamic part of the market with There is also growth from TV Shows, with PJ the number two toy property in the UK market for heritage brands, new launches and re-imaginings all Masks adding +£5M to last year’s sales and JoJo the month (behind L.O.L. Surprise) - and the fourth battling for consumer spend. Siwa +£1.4M. Digital Games licences have also fastest growing licence this year. In the wider licensed world, clothing has had a contributed to growth, with Roblox up an additional This mix of properties shows how diverse the particularly strong period with licensed clothing +£2.5M. Even though the toys have not launched yet, licensing market is, with toy brands becoming for kids selling nearly as much as toys (20% of the success of Fortnite means that Digital Games the licences themselves, as well as looking for licensed kids spend) and has seen growth of +7%. could well drive even more toy sales in the near opportunities with characters and design, involving Video Games has also seen a resurgence in the last future. Just outside the top ten, the fastest growing sporting events and apps as well as the more year, with Nintendo Switch helping to drive new toy brand L.O.L. Surprise! is also becoming one of traditional areas of film and TV shows. software sales. However, Toys is frequently the first the fastest growing licences, as the property expands However great the licence though, it needs stop for licences wanting strong product to make the to test the popularity of consumers part with their their characters. There money – the brand itself is have been over 8,000 new not always enough. This licensed toy items released is where the licensors and so far this year across all manufacturers need to work categories, with Actions together to ensure that as well World Soccer International Figures, Building Sets and as great licence, the toy has PJ Masks Vehicles being particularly to have a high level of play strong. On top of that, Jurassic Park/World value. Licensed toys are 12% some of the fastest growing more likely to be requested Harry Potter licensed subclasses include than non-licensed toys Avengers Reusable Compounds, (NPD Consumer Panel), so Black Panther Battling Toys & Playsets and consumers who are familiar Roblox Adult Puzzles, as well as with the licence want product Justice League Collectible Stickers. related to their favourite Star Wars continues to Incredibles characters, but also demand be the top selling licence quality and additional JoJo Siwa for toys, with 10% of the features. When the balance L.O.L. Surprise! total licensed toy market between licence and product YTD, but the fastest growth 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 features is right, the result is a was driven by the 2018 winner for the manufacturer, World Cup in Russia, with Sales Gained £M licensor and of course the the World International retailer.

Melissa Symonds

Director UK Toys, EuroToys NPD

Top 11 Fastest Growing Licences across total Toys Ranked by value gained – YTD August 2018 vs. 17

Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking | YTD August 2018 vs. 17

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


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

Property Progression

Over twenty years since the first book was published in the UK, J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World is alive and well, with Harry Potter toy sales taking 2.8% value share of the market in August. This was driven by a number of new product launches, with Lego building sets the top sellers including three items in the top ten best sellers for August (Fantastic Beasts Mini-Figures, Hogwarts Great Hall and Hogwarts Express). However, there has been growth across all categories with Harry Potter Rank Rank character figures from Mattel doubling in sales, as July 2018 August 2018 well as increases in Role Play from Kids@Play and Jakks Pacific, Funko figures, Games and Plush.

Total Property (Brand + Licence) Harry Potter



Fastest Growing Subclasses in Toys

Fastest growing subclasses Playset Dolls & Collectibles growth heavily dominated by LOL Surprise Sales Gained £M success Playset Dolls & Collectibles Non-Strat Trade Cards/Collectible Stickers Miscellaneous Toys Pools Robotic/Interact Playmates Scientific Toys Special Ftr Nurturing Doll Bubble Toys/Solution Radio/Remote Control Air Adult Puzzles








Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | YTD August 2018 vs. 17

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


The subclasses showing the strongest growth year-to-date August 2018 have been dominated by innovation and new products. Playset Dolls & Collectibles is the fastest growing subclasses, where L.O.L. Surprise is No.1, but has just released a new series and variations, with UnderWraps leaping into the top sellers across total toys in first week of launch. However, August also saw the launch of Shopkin’s Lil Secrets and Hairadorables in this subclass. Miscellaneous Toys growth has been driven by Squishies and slime products, with the new Poopsie Surprise Pack Assortment the top seller for August, as well as ongoing strong sales from Squish-Dee-Lish, Soft N Slo Squishies and Smooshy Mushy.

Touching Base

All brand together Toy World caught up with a selection of BLE exhibitors and asked them about what they are hoping to discuss with visitors at BLE, the benefits to licensees in working with them and their most exciting developments for 2019.

Paul Bufton VP licensing and business development, WBCP EMEA Warner Bros. Studios is home to some of the most iconic, successful and enduringly popular entertainment properties of all time - the Wizarding World encompassing the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, the DC Comics portfolio home to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman and classic animation characters like the Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo. These are brands that defined genres, cross age, gender and geographical boundaries and are a constant part of the consumer conversation. We offer licensees and retailers innovation, originality and long-term licensing opportunities that truly stand the test of time. The Wizarding World, DC Comics portfolio of film, television and animation properties and Classic Animation favourites Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo will anchor our presentation slate at the show. The ever-expanding range of characters and stories has inspired the most robust Harry Potter licensing programme ever, with exponential growth across toys, fashion and home, and all sectors of retail. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is set for release in November and is expected to take the franchise to even greater heights. It’s shaping up to be another strong 12 months for DC Comics with Aquaman, Shazam and Wonder Woman 2 on the horizon, and we’ve just announced 1000 minutes of new content for the Looney Tunes, introducing a whole new generation of fans to the franchise and inspiring new consumer product lines across multiple categories. I’m always really excited to see how our new content plays out, how it is received by the current fans base, and how it attracts new fans and enthuses our key partners. Coming off the back of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the release of Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald, we will continue to develop the Wizarding World with exciting pan-European retail initiatives rolling out across the region. Wonder Woman 2 looks set to inspire more trend led licensing deals especially in the fashion category and Millennials have re-discovered the Looney Tunes and love the anarchic appeal of the characters. This presents a prime opportunity for reinvention and one that we’re thrilled to explore.

Russell Dever Founder, Those Licensing People Over the last 18 months Those Licensing People has increasingly developed its digital strategy which is benefiting both licensors and certain retailers directly, leading to substantial increases in royalty returns. For instance, we have established a licence for Roobarb and Custard with high-end luxury dog food, which is a B2C fully serviced product handled by TLP and marketed by us on behalf of the client. Our classic portfolio is now available through Amazon Merch while our SVOD platform has had a full makeover during the summer and launches under a new coding, enabling a vast amount of children's entertainment to reach a targeted audience. This year Those Licensing People is proud to be working with one of Britain’s national treasures. We will be presenting Sooty, Sweep and Soo. Sooty was 70 years young in the summer of this year and holds the record for being the longest continuously broadcast children's show in the entire world. Sooty is on TV twice a day every day and must be one of the most recognisable characters in British licensing. The coming year is going to see further new app development which will be mutually supportive of our brands as we seek to expand our influence within the market for classic properties and retro brands. With an emphasis on more direct sales to consumers under license from our content providers, we are looking forward to a period of expansion across a number of digital platforms.

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• Cartoon Network is the #1 Pay TV Kids channel in the UK for 7 out out of 8 months in 2018 • #1 new property YTD (NPD, June ’18) • #1 in Role play with the Basic Omnitrix (NPD, June ’18) • 85M YouTube views for Ben 10 content in Q2 2018 • Season 3 launching Q1 2019

TM & © 2018 Cartoon Network.

Touching Base Graham Saltmarsh Director of licensing, Turner Broadcasting We like to work closely with our licensees and retail partners to create bespoke designs, themes and retail activations for them. We are flexible and think ‘out-ofthe-box’, plus we own our own channels which helps guarantee that our properties get maximum exposure. We’ll be showcasing the breadth of our portfolio at BLE, including Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, and We Bear Bears, a fun new property we are introducing this year. There are also a couple of new announcements we are waiting to shout about during the show, and for the more adventurous there is Rick and Morty from the fantastic Adult Swim portfolio.

Hannah Mungo Director of consumer products UK & Ireland, Universal Brand Development Universal Brand Development is unique in its approach to building global entertainment franchises through consumer products, digital and gaming experiences, and live entertainment offerings. Licensees and retailers benefit from the great depth and breadth of content from our studios and creative partners – Universal Pictures, Illumination and DreamWorks – and our total commitment to developing an ‘always on’ content strategy that drives and maintains consumer engagement, allowing us to diversify into new product categories with year-round offerings.

We have recently signed some new licensees whom we haven’t worked with before, so we are really excited to see the products they are developing hitting retail - they are certainly going to make an impact. We are also excited about sharing some new collaborations that are still under wraps and, of course, to catch up with all our friends and colleagues in the licensing industry.

Simo Hämäläinen Senior vice president, brand licensing, Rovio Entertainment Rovio’s Angry Birds brand is widely known and globally loved, enjoying 97% brand awareness. A family brand, Angry Birds reaches audiences of all ages every day. It is also very versatile, suitable for a wide range of partnerships that surprise our fans time and again by bringing them enjoyable content throughout our core businesses - gaming and content, and product licensing. Examples of recent partnerships include Iron Maiden (Angry Birds Evolution) and Imagine Dragons (Angry Birds Match), which both have very different core target audiences.

We have lot of ground to cover. Following the phenomenal success of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this summer, the future of the Jurassic World franchise will be high on the agenda with a pipeline of new content, global immersive experiences and a deepening of product ranges, all taking place over the next few years leading up the release of Jurassic World 3 in 2021. Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets franchise is back with the release of The Secret Life of Pets 2, which is set to debut in theatres in June 2019, and Ilumination’s Minions 2 is premiering in theatres worldwide in 2020. The global popularity of Illumination’s Minions extends to fans of all ages, and we continue to see growth in the brand across many categories, with consumables as a standout example in the UK. The much anticipated next chapter in the DreamWorks Dragons franchise, DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will debut in theatres in February 2019, with Spin Master and Playmobil anchoring the multi-category licensing programme. Additionally, as we head into the theatrical release of Trolls World Tour in 2020, the breadth and scope of the DreamWorks Trolls franchise will expand into new categories with new toy lines from global master toy partner Hasbro as well. From the DreamWorks Animation TV portfolio, the Netflix original series DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free welcomes new toy partner, Playmobil, among others. The series is free to air in several EMEA territories and is fully supported by a programme that includes toys, publishing, home goods and more. There is a real sense of momentum amongst our key franchises and we’re excited to be entering 2019 with a truly diverse portfolio for fans of all ages. Whether it is movies, TV, digital, gaming or live entertainment, it’s a world class offering which will inspire consumer products for all demographics.

Also, being a digitally native brand allows us to innovate in new areas of technology and platforms. Our digitalphysical experience campaign, which we ran during the Angry Birds Movie in 2016, saw physical products come to life in an Angry Birds game by scanning them with a smartphone. We’ve also just announced that an Angry Birds game, named Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot, is now coming to Magic Leap One as well. At BLE I would like to tell people more about the amazingly strong long-term licensing roadmap we have planned, kicking off with The Angry Birds Movie 2 in 2019. We have so many new ideas in the works, and I cannot wait to tell everyone more about them when the time is right. We are planning a new long-form animation series for 2020, as well as location based entertainment and a TV-competition show. I’ll also be talking about the new digitalphysical experience we are working on for our fans. Of course, the much anticipated sequel to the animation blockbuster hit, The Angry Birds Movie, is our main focus for 2019. We have been working on the licensing programme to support the movie and were happy to announce recently that Jazwares has been named as our master toy partner. We have an impressive list of partners in place for next year and more to be announced, with Chupa Chups, Crocs and Pez already signed up. Angry Birds is turning 10 in 2019. It’s amazing how much has happened during the past decade, and we are working on something fun to celebrate this landmark achievement.

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Touching Base Francesca Lisle Director, Lisle Licensing At Lisle Licensing, we work hard to stay ahead of trends and look to bring to our licensees and retail partners innovative brands such as Smooshy Mushy. We have also been working hard to grow our portfolio to include stable every day brands, so we have a good balance and mix of properties on offer. As an agency we are always looking for ways of bringing a point of difference to our licensees and retail partners, and the fact we cover such an array of licences is one of these benefits. Each of our licences is at a different stage of its lifecycle, so we have various different opportunities to discuss with potential and existing partners while at BLE this year. I would recommend visiting our website to see what licences are currently in our portfolio, and to contact us if anything stands out - we are always open to starting new conversations. 2019 will be our 9th year in business as an agency, and we look forward to growing the business further with both our existing partners and new ones.

Louise Ramplin Senior marketing manager Topps Europe As collectibles specialists for almost 70 years, Topps has a wealth of experience in marketing to children and their families. Our Match Attax brand is the world’s best-selling sports trading card game, and children throughout Europe will be familiar with Topps’ Star Wars and WWE collectibles. As well as manufacturing millions of packets of stickers and cards each year, Topps is also extremely active in engaging with collectors both digitally and through an extensive events programme – last year we welcomed more than 200,000 children to our live events, providing engaging and meaningful opportunities for them to interact directly with our brands. We have a wealth of opportunities available to brands looking to partner with us on promotions targeting families and primary school age children. Topps has been a Star Wars licensee for over 40 years, so the release of Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019 will be a huge focus for our business. We also have some exciting developments with our Match Attax brand which is now synonymous with football collectors throughout Europe.

Cristiana Buzzelli SVP licensing and acquisitions, Rainbow We are very well known to the licensing industry and our brands enjoy strong consumer awareness. They include some of the hottest brands in world licensing: Winx Club, Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends, and the brand new 44 Cats. As a licensing partner we have long-term experience developing and managing brands. Winx Club and related projects in particular have built massively successful global licensing and promotional programmes. Thanks to our distribution network, our licensing and retail partners can count on great TV coverage on a worldwide basis, dedicated presence on digital media and strong retail programmes and marketing support. These are tools that licensing partners and retailers can enjoy and exploit. The launch and continuing rollout of 44 Cats, an entertaining and hilarious edutaining comedy for both girls and boys, will be a strong focus in 2019. 44 Cats is a brand-new show and our first pre-school property. It follows the daily adventures of Lampo, Milady, Pilou, and Meatball – four adorable kittens who are part of a music band named The Buffycats. Their adventures explore the themes of friendship and altruism: the four cats love helping others and always find creative solutions to everyday hitches by dealing with important themes like tolerance, diversity and acceptance. Another major launch is Winx Club 8, which sees the return of the world’s favourite young fairies. It’s a very special premiere as this brand-new 26-episode series will appear in 2019 – 15 years since the launch of Winx Club, a brand that today is known worldwide. There are a few challenges for licensors in the kids’ space right now. Managing multiple channels is one. Many brands, licensed products and promotions need to work with multiple channels: pay-tv, free-to-air TV, magazines, POS, social media, websites and mobile-friendly online sites, among others. Ensuring a clear message gets through to as many people as possible is challenging, and kids’ attention is attracted by multiple sources of entertainment. We have great track record in delivering ratings and sell-out of shelves, but the media scenario is more fragmented than ever and so the life cycle of a brand can be affected by various factors.

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DreamWorks Dragons © 2018 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.



Zooming in on eOne Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Katie Rollings, SVP UK licensing at Entertainment One, about the new animation Ricky Zoom, and how established properties such as Peppa Pig and PJ Masks are kept relevant year after year.

I understand that eOne is looking forward to the release of its newest animated property, Ricky Zoom. Can you tell us more about what to expect? Ricky Zoom comes from the producers behind PJ Masks. It’s a CGI action-comedy adventure that follows the adventures of Ricky, a little red motorbike, and his friends Scootio, Loop and DJ. Based in the town of Wheelford, the show is about family, community, friendship and exploration. The world is populated by bikes, not humans, but the show offers relatable adventures that will really resonate with pre-schoolers. The characters aren’t bound to a track, and it’s not just about racing – though the characters naturally have a zest for speed.

Series 1 is currently in production and we’ve already signed Gulli in France, RAI in Italy and Discovery Kids in Latin America with more broadcasters due to be announced. There is a gap in the boys’ space, but the show will by no means exclude girls; one of the main characters, Scootio, is female, and we expect the show to have even appeal from a broadcast perspective. Broadcast will begin from spring/summer 2019, and we’ll be taking a similar slow and steady approach to consumer products, as we have done for our other properties. We’re very excited to have just announced Tomy as the brand’s global master toy partner. They will be first to market with a core range which will be the initial focus for the licensing programme, before we look at rolling out across other categories. Ricky Zoom will be on the stand at BLE, and we’ll be making sure it’s on people’s radars as they look at the space they’ve got in their own portfolios. From a retail perspective, we are looking at the back end of next year and into

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2020, encouraging retailers to keep space for it. It’s important to note that for eOne, Ricky Zoom is designed to complement our preschool offering; PJ Masks and Peppa Pig are still incredibly important to us. While it’s always great to bring something fresh and new to the market, it doesn’t take our focus away from anything else. Broadening our portfolio is mutually beneficial to all our brands, as it can open doors to bigger retail and partnership opportunities.

And what plans do you have in place for marketing Ricky Zoom? We’re taking a strategic approach to marketing, staggered across different markets, and to give us greater awareness of the needs of our audience we’ll be undertaking detailed consumer research to ensure that we fully understand what’s resonating with children, so we can share those learnings with our licensing partners. Although we’ve got a clear view of what we believe the DNA

eOne of the show to be, it’ll be interesting to see what kids themselves have to say. We’ll also be looking at all of the platforms available to us, to drive awareness. TV will be a fundamental part of this, but a multi-platform marketing strategy that encompasses Facebook, YouTube, apps and other digital drivers will be key to building awareness.

How have Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ben & Holly influenced the development of Ricky Zoom? They are all unique shows, and they come from very different places, but our ability to develop great stories and characters always carries through. If you can do that, and connect with your audience, that’s half the battle won. Peppa, PJ and Ben & Holly have given us lots of experience in not only rolling out a brand, but doing so in a way that is careful and steady. Longevity isn’t gained by rushing things; we understand that it’s a competitive marketplace and we are therefore very focused on what we do, when we do it and how we do it. Balancing a new show with the rest of our portfolio is also something we consider very carefully. It’s natural for there to be some level of ‘cannibalisation’, but each brand has its own identity and place within the market. Focusing on the core values of each proposition guides you on how to develop product that best reflects the content of that show. In our experience allowing enough time for the content to be embraced by audiences is key, so people can really understand and get behind the characters and their storylines before the product launches at retail.

Peppa is celebrating her 15th anniversary next year – are there plans to celebrate this landmark year?

and Australia with 10 never-before-seen episodes, including a 2-part festival special based on this theme of family celebrations. A brand-new stage show will be hitting the road from October 2019, and we are working on retail initiatives and high-profile brand partnerships to support this. We launched 52 new episodes at the back end of 2016, which have been rolled out slowly throughout last year and into this year to ensure it remains fresh for longer, and next year we’ll be releasing batches of content from the 117 new episodes produced recently. We release around 25 new episodes a year; our new content will take us through to 2022, which offers licensees a lot in terms of refreshing their ranges. The Character Options toy range has blown us away year after year, and its focus on the core of Peppa allows us to layer on additional themes that drive sales year on year. Our ability to introduce new characters has worked well for Character Options on its figure and accessory packs, and the collectability of the range is proving popular. We’ve also seen a strong start to the year with our secondary lines from HTI, MV Sports and Trends UK. We moved partners on the puzzle side, which is never easy, but the Ravensburger range is gaining well-deserved recognition. We have close to 90 licensees on Peppa and we are incredibly lucky to have worked with some for a very long time, but we are also always looking at new partnerships. After 15 years, we are still finding partners both big and small, and it’s important for us to support those smaller businesses as well as the major players. The success we see on the Peppa Pig official magazine is second to none; Redan is doing an amazing job, and we see year on year increases. The magazine category is fiercely competitive, but Peppa Pig and PJ Masks standalone magazine titles are both doing really well, with the latter having only been on sale for just over a year.

When we first launched Peppa, the market and competition was very different. Technically speaking, we are still launching Peppa, most recently into China and Germany. A big part of Peppa’s enduring success is down to this slow build, which focused very much on the UK market before being rolled out elsewhere. Next year we will be going back to the roots of Peppa Pig and celebrating its core DNA. The anniversary will be all about family – days out, holidays – events that, for little ones, are big milestones. The celebrations will be anchored by a nationwide theatrical release in the UK


Speaking of PJ Masks, eOne ran some experiential events earlier in the year – what was the thinking behind this and how has the licensing programme developed over the past year? We carried out some research on PJ Masks at the back end of last year and the beginning of this. Kids’ desire to become a PJ Mask and to save the day came through really strongly, so the opportunity to heighten our experiential marketing activations has been increasingly important to us. We ran a series of Hero Training Academies in several intu shopping centres, and we also tied up with The Entertainer. We launched PJ Masks merchandise in February last year, and it’s totally taken off. We have around 45 licensees in the UK across all the major

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categories. Just Play is developing new vehicles and play sets, and is also starting to build some of the villain-focused SKUs. Year one was very much about Catboy, Gekko and Owlette, but you can’t have a superhero brand without villains. We will continue to build on this, which will drive the product lines forward. This autumn we have the Supermoon theme, which stems from a two-part special that was broadcast on Disney earlier this year. Just Play is launching a range of toys based upon this theme, and we are looking to expand across a range of other categories too. As you might expect, nightwear is doing very well for us and our portfolio in the publishing sector is growing as a remarkable rate. There was a huge amount of excitement for PJ Masks straight out of the gate, but, as with Peppa, we knew we had to maintain that momentum to nurture growth. For six months we only had a capsule collection of toys available, and when we launched the secondary categories we kept the line tight, with a limited number of SKUs. This year the focus has been on widening and deepening the existing categories that we have, but we’re also developing arts & crafts, and entering health and beauty too with a dental range due out later this year. We launched Series 2 in March on Disney Junior which will follow on Tiny Pop later this year. Series 3 and 4 are also in the pipeline which gives us fresh content through to 2021/22, bringing new themes, characters and locations to inspire products. We have all our themes planned through to 2021, so our partners know exactly what’s coming up, and there is a very clear roll out in place for longevity.

The pre-school market is challenging, I think it’s fair to say. How is eOne coping? To survive you have to innovate, be nimble and move quickly, but for us it comes down to ensuring we have great content and that we continue to invest in it. We also protect and roll out that content as carefully as we can. Launching new brands is always a challenge, and until they land no one can be sure how they will be received, but we have a very strong reputation in the pre-school market, based on our proven track record of success, which gives us an advantage when we introduce new properties like Ricky Zoom.



Rise and shine

Toy World spoke to Marianne James, VP commercial partnerships at Nickelodeon, about the studio’s presence this year at BLE, and what’s in store for 2019. What are the key benefits for licensees and retail partners of working with Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products? In May, we announced our plan to unify consumer products into a single, global organisation with the newly formed Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products (VNCP) led by Pam Kaufman, president. The addition of MTV, Paramount and Comedy Central to our portfolio of brands gives us the runway to develop fashion and lifestyle programmes for adults alongside our core kids’ brands like Paw Patrol and JoJo Siwa. From a company perspective we are now a much more diverse consumer products business, and that represents a key added benefit for licensees and retail partners outside the kid’s space.

What will you be hoping to discuss with visitors at your stand at BLE? Without a doubt the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles launch is a key priority. Rise is a complete re-imagining of the Turtles for a new generation of kids. With its all-new look, new weapons, new powers, new vehicles and new villains, it’s an exciting prospect. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has reinvention in its DNA, from the comic book in the 80s to the absolutely record-breaking franchise it’s been for the last five

years with Nickelodeon. This reinvention is how the Turtles stay fresh and relevant to every new generation, while satisfying the demand from its adult fans. The series will receive heavyweight Viacom support for its launch. The joint Nicktoons and Channel 5 broadcast is a first-ever for Nickelodeon and presents a unique opportunity for retailers. We also have the launch of pre-school show Top Wing and a strong range of Paw Patrol toy launches. We’re continuing to develop inroads in arts & crafts with the Addo Nickelodeon Experimake range, which consists of a wide range of SKUs highlighting three key themes - traditional science, cosmetic science, and engineering science.

What are your most exciting developments for 2019? Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a classic franchise which appeals to kids 6-11, nostalgia fans and dads. We continue our strength in pre-school with Paw Patrol, Shimmer and Shine and our latest offering, Top Wing. The show, about a diverse team of bird cadets looking to earn their wings, has performed well in the UK on Nick Jr. and research has shown that kids are drawn to the exciting action rescue themes. Additionally, the gadgets the birds use, with their high-tech feel, appeal to both genders and make the show aspirational for its 4-6-year-old target audience.

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The show has all the traits of a pre-school phenomenon. Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products will continue to diversify its IP portfolio by creating amazing characters or finding outstanding IP, like JoJo Siwa, that audiences love. Additionally, we will ensure that we are everywhere that kids are, by launching new shows on multiple platforms. Digital remains key and since launching Nick Jr. globally on YouTube in 2016, there have been more than 3.6m video views. We will continue to develop commercial opportunities with influencer talent like JoJo, using her as the benchmark for all future influencer relationships. She will be returning to Slimefest at Blackpool Pleasure Beach from 20th-22nd October, and in May 2019 we will be celebrating her sixteenth birthday across retail with a range of initiatives. Finally, there’s SpongeBob Squarepants, Nickelodeon’s most successful property ever. He will be celebrating his 20th birthday next year. The lovable sponge has grown into a pop culture icon. He’s showcased across TV, online, mobile, several apps and is a juggernaut in the consumer products space. What’s more, he made his debut on Broadway in December 2017 in SpongeBob the Musical, winning a Tony along the way. Season 12 has been greenlit, and in 2020 he’ll star in his third feature film from Paramount Pictures. SpongeBob represents a great opportunity for retailers.


Sixteen South

Claude and master Toy World spoke to Colin Williams, creative director of studio Sixteen South, to find out about its latest animation property Claude and the plans in store for licensing. Can you tell us a little about the history of Sixteen South? The studio was founded 11 years ago, with an ambition to create and produce the highest quality television for children and to see our work watched by every child, in every home, in every country. We partnered with big industry names like Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Company and BBC on our first four series, which were all live-action puppet series. Our first mixed media animated series, Lily's Driftwood Bay, airs in over 125 territories and we're in production with two series just now - Pinkalicious and Peterriffic - which air daily on PBS Kids in the US. Claude is airing in all countries in EMEA on Disney Junior.

What stands Sixteen South out from other animation houses? We refuse to compromise or cut corners. We know that kids are really smart and appreciate intelligent stories, good design and great music, so we never dumb down our work. Adults can and do enjoy our shows - sometimes as much as kids. We believe that the soundtracks to our shows should be good enough for dads to listen to in the car by themselves. We love what we do.

What can you tell us about your latest property, Claude?

What are your plans for the Claude licensing programme?

We adore Claude! He's a charming and funny dog who lives in a little seaside town called Pawhaven with his best friend, Sir Bobblysock (who is actually a sock). He's like The Fonz - everyone knows and loves him. His friends and neighbours are the most eccentric and crazy bunch of characters. It's a unique show with high design - everything has been drawn by hand. The show takes visual clues from the late 50s/60s and has a snazzy jazz soundtrack. We’ve managed to secure a brilliant British celebrity cast including Simon Callow, Shane Richie and Su Pollard. The series is based on the best-selling book series, Claude, written and illustrated by Alex T Smith.

We have an in-built advantage in terms of awareness with consumers and retailers, as Claude is based on successful books. In Waterstones, the Claude books are frequently highlighted as staff picks in store. Publisher Hachette is planning a series of TV tie-in books to take advantage of the awareness and momentum that the TV series has built. Publishing is a cornerstone of licensing, and it is a great start to know that there is so much in place already with Claude.

How have viewing figures been since the broadcast launch? Amazing - it's already Disney Junior's top-rated show in Australia, and its second highest rated show in the UK.

What is the core target audience for the programme? Boys and girls 4-6, in terms of television and licensing. I think the unisex appeal is a boost for licensing and will allow licensees to develop products to suit this audience. The style guide is being developed to reflect the target market. It is full of great NPD ideas that really dial up the core themes and values of Claude.

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As mentioned earlier the style guide has been developed with product and product ideas right at the heart of it. Licensees and retailers now want to see more developed product ideas and concepts. I think they will be pleased with the style guide and how creative it is in terms of product ideas. We are looking to develop wooden toys, plush toys, puzzles, apparel, dress up, activity-based content in magazines, stickers and gift items in the first wave of licensing. Early discussions in these categories are very promising. Licensees hold Claude in high regard - they like the fact it has a successful track record already, its success on TV and of course the character himself. We are optimistic that the initial interest will translate well into real deals and products. Claude is an easy property to like - it is charming, humorous and entertaining - all good qualities for licensing. Our plan is to be focused and build a tight knit group of licensees that we can work with proactively, and build a real sense of partnership with.

PJ Masks © Frog Box / Entertainment One UK Limited / Walt Disney EMEA Productions Limited 2014.

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Brand Licensing Preview

Alpha Animation 01293 804 599 | Stand F68 Alpha Animation and Toys UK will exhibit for the first time at this year’s Brand Licensing Europe. Bringing along core brands from its extensive portfolio, Alpha will be looking to speak to potential licensors, partners and retailers throughout the show. Alpha continues to build on its popular animation Super Wings, with long term plans in place for the top pre-school brand. With Season 3 due to launch in key European markets this autumn, and plans to expand into other territories throughout 2019, fans of the show can enjoy a new twist on the plot, featuring Mission Teams for each core character. Season 1 and Season 2 of the property are currently screened in over 100 territories with key broadcasters, and Season 4 is also in development. The Super Wings licensing programme hosts a number of international licensees, with further announcements imminent. Key focuses include Zara and PEZ, the latter preparing to launch a full line of its recognisable and successful candy dispensers. Revell and Cobi have also partnered with Alpha to develop model kits and bricks which will both complement the extensive toy line and strongly support the property’s visibility throughout 2019. Additionally, Alpha Group is currently developing many new projects including a co-production of a new pre-school TV series in partnership with DHX, with TV and CP representation in some territories.

Entertainment One 020 3691 8600 | Stand E35 Entertainment One (eOne) will be showcasing its award-winning portfolio of globally renowned preschool properties. Alongside standout successes such as Peppa Pig and PJ Masks, eOne will also present new property Ricky Zoom, which makes its licensing show debut at this year’s BLE. Peppa Pig is now one of the top performing pre-school properties around the world and generates over $1.2b in worldwide retail sales per year. With over 1,000 licensees supplying products globally, Peppa Pig has a strong retail presence in the UK, ANZ, the US, Iberia, France, CEE, Latin America, Russia and Asia, while the reaction to the brand in China has been ‘phenomenal’, according to a company spokesperson. A global partnership with Merlin Entertainments will see the first of many Peppa Pig World of Play indoor play attractions launch in Shanghai in autumn 2018, before opening in multiple locations including Dallas, Beijing and the New York area through to 2019. eOne is readying itself for the brand’s 15th anniversary celebrations in the UK and Australia in 2019, which will be marked by a nationwide theatrical release, new episodes, top tier partnerships and retail events in the new year. 2019 also marks the 10 year anniversary of eOne’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, which hails from Peppa Pig creators Astley Baker Davies. In honour of the anniversary milestone, Fiery Light Productions will be bringing back the popular live stage show for a tour of 45 theatres across the UK and Ireland from February. eOne’s animated superhero TV property PJ Masks has swiftly become a leading pre-school property both on-screen and on-shelf. The show’s universal appeal has won audiences all around the world and broadcast ratings have soared, thanks to a growing slate of FTA and VOD partners. The global licensing programme has enjoyed exceptionally strong sales led by Just Play’s master toy line, with products now available across a wide range of licensing categories in most markets. Series 2 launched on air earlier this year and fans of the show can look forward to more adventures following the news that series 3 is in production and series 4 in development, ensuring a fresh pipeline of content through to 2021. New to BLE this year, eOne will be presenting its new kids 2-5 animated TV property, Ricky Zoom. From the producers of PJ Masks, Ricky Zoom is a CGI action comedy adventure series about friendship, community and learning to stand on your own two wheels. The 52 x 11min series follows the adventures of Ricky, a little red motorbike with a zest for speed. Ricky is joined by an enthusiastic group of young bikes, Scootio, Loop and DJ, who live in Wheelford, a town where bikes are the inhabitants. Currently in production and with a global master toy partner on board, eOne is lining up broadcasters with the show set to premier to global audiences from spring/summer 2019.

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Brand Licensing Preview

Those Licensing People 08459 011 657 | Stand D112 Those Licensing People has found its niche in classic character properties. In the past year the Leeds-based licensing agency has picked up The Magic Roundabout, Roobarb and Custard, Willo the Wisp and most recently The Sooty Show, which celebrated its 70th birthday in July of this year. Each brand has seen a refreshed look with new graphics and product ideas to inspire all age groups, which the boutique agency will be showcasing at BLE. A new TV series of The Sooty Show launched on ITV in September, featuring star guest appearances from various celebrities, which will run alongside previous series until 2021. A national live tour commences in February 2019 at over 40 venues across the UK, as well as residencies at Cadbury World and Brean Theme Park. The brand has also focused efforts on its digital offering, with a fresh new website and a YouTube presence that has attracted over 11m views. TLP has also been commissioned to extend digital broadcast across all platforms. Those Licensing People has secured a pet food partnership for Roobarb and Custard which will launch in November with licensees Two Near the Bone. This new venture into online pet food starts with a series of high quality dog food products and will expand into cat food next year. TLP has been commissioned to develop a B2C campaign which will launch in October. Adding to the expanding list of TLP properties, The Magic Roundabout has also joined the current portfolio and is experiencing a renaissance in the UK, where, traditionally, retro brands have always been popular. TLP looks forward to unveiling new CGI modelling of the original Magic Roundabout puppets at BLE, which have been specifically developed for licensing purposes.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment 020 7157 6372 | Stand E20 Gearing up for its broadcast premiere this autumn is Robozuna, an action-packed Netflix Original animated series and co-production between ITV Studios and KidsCave Studios. In this kids’ adventure series, 14-year-old Ariston and his robot Mangle join a team of robot gladiators known as Combatabots. This original IP will launch across multiple platforms simultaneously, including CITV & ITV in the UK, Netflix around the globe, and YouTube Kids. Global social media influencers Ethan Gamer and Ali-A both star in the series and will be involved on an ongoing basis in promotion. The toy line is planned for launch spring/summer 19, with Bandai on board as UK distributor, and Basic Fun! in the US. Season 3 of the hit series Thunderbirds Are Go began airing this year in the UK and Australia, with strong ratings rivalling its boys’ action competitors. Multiple markets will follow, supporting the launch of the new toy line in autumn/winter 19. ITVS GE continues to sign new licensees for Watership Down, a four-part CGI mini-series from BAFTA nominated scriptwriter Tom Bidwell. With the voices of James McAvoy, Olivia Colman and Sir Ben Kingsley, the show will launch in autumn/winter 18 on the BBC in the UK, and Netflix around the world. Newly added to the slate are The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, a new, brilliantly deadpan kids’ comedy featuring the voices of Jane Horrocks and Johnny Vegas, and Top Class, a quiz show presented by Susan Calman that reached 3.4m children in 2017, with Season 4 in production.

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Brand Licensing Preview

Lisle Licensing 01937 586 237 | Stand M40 Lisle Licensing returns to BLE with an array of licenses to suit multiple categories and some new properties making their London debut. The UK based agency represents a catalogue of digital, toy, character entertainment, sport & lifestyle brands. Lisle continues to sign new deals for popular toy and game brands, recently announcing that it will customise a strategic brand and marketing programme to support the Smooshy Mushy trademark as it moves into additional categories in the United Kingdom and Europe. The Tetris Company has also announced the expansion of its UK & Eire licensing programme with Lisle Licensing. The announcement comes as the Tetris brand prepares for its 35th anniversary in 2019. Lisle Licensing is growing its licensing programme for Tetris with new partners confirmed across games, apparel, publishing, footwear and promotions. The range of merchandise includes the award winning Tetris Dual tabletop game, and a new brainteasing Puzzle Book which demonstrates the Tetris fan base’s appetite for the brand. Lisle also works with brands such as Masha and The Bear, Studio Pets by Myrna, Shoot, Art Ninja, School of Roars, SuperZings, Boxy Girls, Nitro Circus, Andy Capp and Mirrorpix. The agency prides itself on representing and showcasing a range of fun, different and stimulating brands that breathe life into the licensing industry. With over 50 years of experience, extensive contacts and market knowledge, Lisle Licensing offers its licence partners a unique and experienced service, with an internal capacity that manages all strategy development, product approvals, royalty reporting and contracts.

JCB 0800 083 8015 | Stand B50 JCB is making its tenth appearance at Brand Licensing Europe 2018 on the back of a record previous 12 months. Global sales growth has helped to cement JCB’s position as one of the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturers, an incredible achievement for a proudly British company founded by Joseph Cyril Bamford (JCB) in 1945 from a lock up garage in Staffordshire. JCB has become a byword for quality, durability and innovation, and the growing licensed product range reflects these core values. The JCB Kids licensing programme remains evergreen and has recently been bolstered by the addition of two new licensing partners. Engino has created a range of construction toys inspired by the real machines and geared for STEM learning through play for ages 6-12 years, while HRD has unveiled plush JCB machines which feature moving parts. Experience Zones continue to be a tried and tested success for the brand, and 2018 saw the latest addition to the well-established network of UK outdoor experiential partnerships. The largest JCB Young Drivers Zone opened at Springfields Adventureland in Lincolnshire, where children can build, climb, dig and drive to their heart’s content. JCB states that the show has proved to be a catalyst for development in new categories and new territories for its brand over the last few years, and is looking forward to another ground-breaking year.

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Brand Licensing Preview

Rovio Entertainment (35) 820 788 8300 | Stand F10 Rovio Entertainment, makers of the global smash hit Angry Birds games, is about to unleash a brand new range of toys. Rovio has recently announced the appointment of Jazwares as its global master toy partner. This new multi-year partnership will see both companies working together to create a highly innovative range of toy products for Rovio’s passionate fanbase. As revealed in May, the Rovio Brand and Licensing Unit team is gearing up for its busiest and most ambitious multi-year entertainment and licensing roadmap ever. This intensive schedule of activity is being driven by the late scheduled Q4 2019 theatrical release of The Angry Birds Movie 2, the anticipated sequel to Rovio’s 2016 cinematic debut The Angry Birds Movie, which made over $352m (around £270m) at the global box office. Along with next year’s tent pole state-of-the-art animated movie, Rovio is developing an intensive, long-term and diverse slate of entertainment projects for global audiences. The key highlights include a new long-form animated series which is planned to debut in 2020, an unscripted competition TV series, new live stage shows, locationbased entertainment projects, and original live-action and animated content for the highly successful Angry Birds YouTube channel, which has over 2.5m subscribers and a monthly viewership of nearly 200m minutes. In June, Rovio expanded its portfolio of activity parks, with the grand opening of its biggest theme park yet, Angry Birds World, situated in the heart of Doha, Qatar. The indoor section of the park opened earlier this summer, with the outdoor area scheduled to open later in Q4 2018. The park covers 17,000 square metres of floor space, and is home to numerous on-site retail points selling a wide range of Rovio toys and branded products. Rovio is also delving deeper into the world of augmented reality marketing. A new platform is being developed which effectively connects physical toys with the digital world of the Angry Birds. This new platform builds on the success of the 2016 animated movie’s BirdCodes campaign, which offered consumers a rich augmented reality experience, where Angry Birds game players scanned in BirdCodes to unlock in-game features like power ups, extra lives and other useful in-game assets. To date, the Angry Birds family of games has garnered over 4b downloads since launching back in 2009. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Rovio will continue its games event and partnership programme, developing bespoke in-game brand integrations. Previous partnerships include the Imagine Dragons, 2018 NFL Super Bowl, Iron Maiden and Everton Football Club.

The Pokémon Company International 0207 381 7000 | Stand C55 Pokémon is enjoying another successful year as it gears up for intense activity in November and looks ahead to 2019. The first UK collection from Wicked Cool Toys, distributed by Character Options and winner of the Editor’s Choice Award at Toy Fair 2018, is the most detailed Pokémon toy range to date. With innovative toys including new action figures, plush and role-play items, the new range launched in July to an enthusiastic reception from retailers, resulting in strong retail listings. Two new video game titles, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!, launch on 16th November exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Featuring many of the intuitive gameplay functions from the popular Pokémon Go, the games are designed for players new to the Pokémon video game world. Set for release alongside these two titles is the inventive, fun and portable new accessory the Poké Ball Plus controller, which fits into the palm of a hand and can also be used when playing Pokémon Go to search for and capture Pokémon. The UK’s leading Strategic Trading Card game, the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) enjoyed 42% growth over the previous year in the UK last year (source: NPD), helped by a series of special seasonal retail promotions. The game also collected Pocket Money Toy of the Year at the Toy Industry Awards, and this year’s quarterly Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon expansions are proving equally popular. The Movie 21 cinema release, Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us, begins a limited theatrical run worldwide on 24th November, and follows Ash and Pikachu as they rescue a seaside town from a series of threatening incidents. Further ahead, the Pokémon Detective Pikachu live action animation movie, in production for a May 2019 release, stars Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Rita Ora and Bill Nighy, and is creating excitement across the retail landscape for Pokémon toys in the film period. Character Options launches a more extensive product range for spring/summer 2019, and the next introduction to Pokémon’s popular core role play game series, which was teased last year at E3, arrives late 2019 on Nintendo Switch for the first time.

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Brand Licensing Preview

Warner Bros. Consumer Products 0207 984 6116 | Stand D30 Warner Bros. Consumer Products returns to BLE with a world-class roster of entertainment franchises, including the Wizarding World; DC’s portfolio of film, television and animation; as well as Classic Animation favourites lead by Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo. The Wizarding World continues to bring to life two powerful franchises – Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, which returns to the big screen when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is released in November. The ever-expanding range of characters and stories has inspired the most robust Harry Potter licensing programme ever, with exponential growth across toys, fashion, home and all sectors of retail. The DC franchise also brings the epic action-adventure Aquaman, the first-ever standalone feature film for the mighty half-human, half-Atlantean. Aquaman introduces an all-new, expansive underwater world this December. The next DC Warner Bros. Pictures feature film is action-comedy adventure Shazam!, which will help drive WBCP’s DC Super Hero franchise in 2019, alongside Wonder Woman in the highly-anticipated sequel to the record-breaking 2017 blockbuster release. DC Super Hero Girls remains a major focus, with an all-new animated series and new content to inspire additional licensing opportunities. WBCP will also continue to highlight Looney Tunes which will be supported by 1000 minutes of new animated content, with many more opportunities for fans to engage with favourite Looney Tunes characters. Scooby-Doo and Tom and Jerry will also offer new content for licensing partners to bring to life. At BLE 2018, the Warner Bros. stand will offer visitors the opportunity to have a photo taken with Harry Potter’s luggage trolley on Platform 9 ¾, or with the Looney Tunes in WBCP’s immersive selfie backdrops and photo opps.

Topps 01908 800100 | Stand B65 Celebrating 80 years of trading, the Topps Company will be showcasing the latest projects and opportunities for its sports and entertainment-led product portfolio at BLE. A robust licensee programme for Topps Match Attax is currently underway, with plans to further expand the offering with a new Match Attax Ultimate range, which is set for launch in November. The premium card set features 150 foil collectible cards, with exclusive autograph and memorabilia cards for the biggest names in the Premier League. Campaigns for the September launch of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League Collections will support one of the world’s most powerful sports brands. The latest season includes 595 stickers and cards for the UK and European markets and features top players, all 32 teams in the group stages and a bumper 64-page sticker album. Continued long-term partnerships with WWE and Lucas/Disney will also be a focus for the show. Further connecting Star Wars and WWE with the collectibles market, Topps has a global deal to produce trading cards and stickers for both licences, two of the largest in the entertainment space. The show will also be a platform for the company to present retail loyalty and partner promotion opportunities, with the company exploring synergistic brands to increase its current fan-base and consumer exposure.

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VISIT US AT BRAND LICENSING EUROPE For more information on licensing opportunities, please contact

Carl Lawrence, Consumer Products: / +44 (0) 207 349 1755 TM & © 2018 WWE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Brand Licensing Preview

Turner’s Cartoon Network 0207 693 1124 | Stand D50 Turner’s Cartoon Network Enterprises (TCNE) returns to BLE to showcase its dynamic brand portfolio. Following its 2017 global relaunch, the evergreen Ben 10 franchise continues to put down new roots in the boy’s category. On screen success is translating to product, with Ben 10 repeatedly ranking as a Top 10 boys’ brand in Action Figures and Role Play in key EMEA markets. The range from Playmates Toys leads the licensing programme, with the universally popular Omnitrix becoming a staple of the role play category. The Powerpuff Girls celebrate their 20th anniversary year. As culturally and socially relevant today as ever, the property has seen a global rollout of new episodes, more episodes featuring the fourth Powerpuff Girl, Bliss (voiced by local celebrities across EMEA, including Alesha Dixon in the UK), events and new licensing partnerships with a focus on fashion collaborations that target millennials. Adult Swim’s critically acclaimed Rick and Morty has had an incredible 12 months. The animated sci-fi comedy has cast a spell on TV viewers, licensees and retailers. Fans are seeking content wherever they can, creating their own, sharing and discussing it with their peers and thus generating huge demand for official licensed products. Rick and Morty Season 3 has launched exclusively on Netflix in select EMEA markets including the UK, as well as on Turner’s own channels in France, Germany and Spain. The creators and Adult Swim have also announced a further 70 episodes. Adventure Time has transitioned to a new-found classic status, buoyed by an extraordinary level of fandom, enduring partnerships and content in new formats. The multi award-winning family sitcom The Amazing World of Gumball, and Cartoon Network’s prime-time show We Bare Bears, are also on the bill alongside the first Boomerang original, The Happos Family. Visiting licensees and retailers can expect a robust choice of brands for adults, children, teens and tweens that love entertainment with an edge.

Universal Brand Development 0203 618 8360 | Stand D60 Universal Brand Development returns to BLE with a powerhouse slate of franchises from the company’s film and television creative partners, including Universal Pictures, Illumination and DreamWorks. Universal will showcase exciting and innovative partnerships with local, regional and global licensees and retailers who are on board to support the continued development of the company’s world-class roster of properties and multi-media content strategy. Universal Brand Development’s key franchises will be highlighted, including Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World, Fast and Furious and The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle; DreamWorks’ Trolls and How to Train Your Dragon; Illumination’s The Grinch, The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Despicable Me; as well as the DreamWorks TV franchise, Spirit Riding Free. Universal Brand Development is also inviting licensees and retailers to unlock the U-Vault for untapped classic brands. Universal’s U-Vault, a formidable archive which is 105 years old and contains many of the biggest movies and most popular TV shows ever made, offers new opportunities in every category – from Universal Monsters and Jaws to Back to the Future and Felix the Cat. By creating fresh assets for its heritage brands, whilst respecting their history and the relevance of nostalgia to fans, UBD plans to successfully build partnerships from halo to mass so that everyone can enjoy them.

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CHOOSE TOUGH For licensing enquiries, please contact +44 (0)1889 593499

BLE Stand B50

Brand Licensing Preview

Rainbow (39) 0717 5067 500 | Stand E10 Rainbow is bringing two of the biggest kids’ brands in global licensing to BLE 2018 – 44 Cats and Winx Club. 44 Cats is a Rainbow production in collaboration with Antoniano Bologna and Rai Ragazzi. It follows the daily adventures of Lampo, Milady, Pilou, and Meatball – four kittens who are part of a music band named The Buffycats. The protagonists live in the Clubhouse, a garage beside old Granny Pina’s house. Their adventures explore the themes of friendship and altruism: the four cats love helping others and always find creative solutions to everyday hitches by dealing with important themes like tolerance, diversity and acceptance. This eagerly anticipated show will debut on Rai Yoyo in November, whilst other broadcasting deals have been signed with Nickelodeon (multi-territorial), Discovery Kids (Latin America) and Super RTL (Germany). Major broadcasting deals in France, Russia, the UK and many other countries are also in the pipeline. Winx Club is the evergreen classic that follows the adventures of a group of young fairies as they combine school life with battling against the forces of evil. The show mixes action and adventure with comedy, and appeals to girls from four years old to tweens/teens. The brand first debuted in 2004 and now boasts 182 episodes, four TV movies and three theatrical releases. Series 8 - featuring 26 brand new episodes - will premiere at the beginning of 2019 to celebrate 15 years since the launch of the brand. The 15th anniversary will also see Rainbow launch a global marketing plan, featuring lots of engaging activities that will reach out to the millions of Winx fans across the world and involve the brand’s licensing partners. In addition, visitors to BLE 2018 can learn about Rainbow’s role as licensing representative for Santoro’s renowned Gorjuss collection across Italy, France and Turkey, where the company is building on existing success in BTS and apparel by extending the brand into additional categories. Rainbow is also enjoying success with one of the biggest brands in football – Juventus – in the Russian market. Rainbow is the exclusive agent for the property across Russia/CIS and is currently in talks across many different sectors. Deals are already finalised with Atributika and Club for apparel and accessories respectively, and more are in the pipeline across all major categories including toys, tableware and back to school.

Sony Creative Products (0081) 357 868 180 | Stand G10 Sony Creative Products (SCP) has announced that hit pre-school property Mofy will be exhibiting at BLE for the first time. The animated series, already broadcasting in over 50 countries, follows lovable and fluffy rabbit Mofy, who lives in a warm and puffy cotton ball. SCP will meet potential partners with the aim of appointing a licensing agent for Mofy in the UK, and other countries in Europe.

Sanrio Global 0207 407 6201 |

Zodiak Kids 020 7013 4300 |

Stand C60 Sanrio will preview celebrations for Hello Kitty’s 45th anniversary, while Mr. Men Little Miss has welcomed Little Miss Inventor. Aggretsuko landed on Netflix in April and a second season is on the way following success in European markets, and Gudetama the lazy egg recently enjoyed a Shoryu Ramen themed menu takeover in London, Oxford and Manchester following an Easter launch.

Stand B35 New pre-school animation series Lilybuds will be broadcast later this year on Tiny Pop. The series follows the adventures of a playful community of tiny magical gardeners. Zodiak Kids owns the worldwide distribution and licensing rights and will be rolling out a full consumer products programme.

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SEPTEMBER 2019 contact us for licensing opportunities! Rob Corney (UK)

Bulldog Licensing

Simo Hämäläinen

Head of Brand Licensing


Invesco Perpetual, Sainsbury’s third-largest shareholder, gave its backing to the ‘Sasda’ merger, saying it would “help the company to go toe-to-toe with Tesco” (although presumably that isn’t the only reason they are doing this…surely??). Buried deep in the Times article which discussed the deal, the fund manager also had this to say: “The synergy costs are conservative and could be much bigger.” A throwaway comment in the context of the piece, but a rather important point of detail: shareholders are clearly expecting significant cost-cutting as a result of the merger, either by a reduction in store count, head count or likely both. According to another shareholder, “Mike Coupe got a round of applause when he went to the Asda HQ after the merger was announced and was welcomed with open arms.” Let’s see if that is still the case next year… As much as the TRU fiasco has made banks nervous of the toy business, it has also had an impact on the trust issues between suppliers and retailers, particularly when the retailer is having financial difficulties. I read a fascinating article recently which posits the theory that the ramifications of the demise of Toys R Us will be felt far beyond the toy market – it suggested that it may well have killed the entire US Chapter 11 process, not to mention the debtor-in-possession loan system, as suppliers will be reluctant to trust a retailer in bankruptcy protection ever again. You certainly couldn’t blame any toy supplier for being once bitten, twice shy if they are ever asked to supply a retailer in Chapter 11 in good faith in the future… Details have emerged of the deal which new House of Fraser owner Mike Ashley has been trying to persuade landlords to sign up to. In some cases, he offered rent deals equivalent to 5% of the store’s turnover, while about 28 stores would not get any rent at all, but have their business rates paid for. He then publicly referred to the landlords as ‘greedy’, just to make them feel even better about the rather one-sided ‘negotiation’ process. No word yet as to how many are going to agree to Mr Ashley’s demands, but if I was inclined to speak in his defence, I might point out that at £4.6m, the bill for business rates on the House of Fraser flagship store on Oxford Street this year is apparently the same at the total corporation tax paid by Amazon in the UK last year – a situation which is quite clearly barking mad… The sale of the Toys R Us Asian operation has become incredibly complicated, as two groups of hedge funds have locked horns. One side is keen to acquire and run the Asian stores as a going concern, the other side owns the rights to the TRU name and claims that it is worth far more than it is currently being paid for its use. Minority shareholder Li & Fung is also still very much in the mix, with most in the toy community of the opinion that it would be the best option for the future survival and prosperity of the Asian operation. Expect a massive legal battle where the main winners will almost certainly be the lawyers - again… The Argos and Sainsbury’s buying teams have finally joined forces as one team in Milton Keynes. The full re-organisation not quite all done and dusted yet, as I gather that a letter sent to suppliers admits that the team ‘org chart’ is still changing on a daily basis! However, it’s certainly a major milestone on the merger journey, which suppliers will no doubt be hugely encouraged by… Bullyland has entered Chapter 12 in Germany. Sad and a little surprising, especially since the ‘new’ owners haven’t been on board all that long, but at the time of going to press, the company is said to be trading as normal and hoping to find new owners / investors to allow the operation to continue in business…

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Holly Oldham has left her role at Hasbro Licensing to re-join Rubie’s as UK managing director, while Julia Cake has replaced Ben Harper at the head of Magic Box’s UK operation. I also gather that John White has left Magformers to take up a new position heading up KD Toys, while Adrian Leafe will shortly be leaving Eduk8 and is currently looking for a fresh challenge in the national accounts field. Adrian can be contacted on 07720 275214 or at Hamleys chairman Frank Slevin has left the conmpany. Several toy people contacted me to suggest he would be sorely missed and felt he was a shrewd operator. New House of Fraser owner Mike Ashley appears to have taken quite a different view, calling for an Insolvency Service inquiry into Frank and other House of Fraser directors, accusing them of misleading suppliers and the retailer’s warehouse operator by promising them deferred payment with Chinese cash which never materialised. With echoes of Toys R Us stringing along US toy suppliers with promises of preferred creditor status providing they carried on shipping, it looks like another retail situation which could potentially get very messy… John Lewis has been in the news after revealing its first-half profits had plunged by a whopping 99% - which is a pretty spectacular reversal of fortune, whichever way you look at it. Of course, John Lewis is far from alone in its tribulations; rival Debenhams took the unusual step of issuing a denial to media reports that it was considering a CVA, whilst at the same time admitting that it would be closing an unspecified number of stores. I also hear on the grapevine that Hamleys has had issues with credit insurance being withdrawn. However, I do wonder whether the time has come for the John Lewis ‘Never knowingly undersold’ mantra to be consigned to the annals of history. The sobering set of results surely suggests that this philosophy may no longer be viable in the current retail climate. Indeed, as a business owner, I have always aimed for the polar opposite – ‘Never knowingly oversold’. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the ‘race to the bottom’ mentality, and I struggle to see how John Lewis can deliver the level of in-store experience and customer service it strives for whilst also pricematching all and sundry… Kids Stuff recently announced the closure of its Ashfor store. While the local press was quick to blame competition from a new branch of The Entertainer and a nearby Smyths for the closure, it turns out that there is more to the story; owner Stephen Hartfield got in touch to let us know that not only had the store’s lease expired, but also that there were ongoing issues with the shopping centre in which the store was located – specifically its inability to fill the lower half of the building. Kids Stuff had already been approached by another centre and decided that relocation would be the best option – the new lease is in the process of being signed and, all being well, the new branch could open as early as October half-term week. Make no mistake, the growth of The Entertainer and Smyths may well result in some indies closing, but not on this occasion… A few months ago, I mentioned a scam which was being perpetrated by fraudsters masquerading as Asda buyers. Recently, I heard that one European toy company has regrettably been taken in by the scam; if only they had been avid Toy World readers, they could have saved themselves a small fortune!

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