Toy World September 2018

Page 1

©2018 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

September 2018 Volume 8 Issue 1

A CREW JUST FOR YOU

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FEATURING EVEN MORE SKIN TONES, BODY TYPES, HAIRSTYLES AND FASHIONS!


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The Team...

CONTENTS September 2018 Volume 8 Issue 1

John Baulch

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

32 Retail Profile: SMF Toytown

44 Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Mark Austin

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

Anita Baulch

Circulation and Financial Director anita@toyworldmag.co.uk 01923 711 439

News

Opinion

Features

05 From the Publisher 06 News 14 Industry Moves 16 Marketing World 23 Licensing World 38 Fresh 90 Allegedly

26 NPD column 28 Talking Shop 30 BTHA Briefing 58 Viewpoint

32 Retail Profile: SMF Toytown 36 Brand Profile: Zapf 42 Company Profile: Geemac 44 Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles 64 Feature: Pre-Christmas TV Advertising 82 Feature: Radio Control & Slot Racing

Contributors David Ripley | The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Jonathan Chambers | Rowena Shorey | Matt Thorpe | Paul Reader | Gez Gourley | Matthew Smith | Jim Hawker

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

82 Feature: Radio Control & Slot Racing

64 Feature: Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Casey Goodman

Editorial Assistant casey@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

Mark Crowford

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

Alakat Published by

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

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

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Toy World Magazine


O TY M TOR I V

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NETIC CA G T A

ER H C

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EXPLORE INVISIBLE FORCES ANNO CC N I T

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For trade Enquiries please contact: clivewooster@aol.com

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W

elcome to the seventh birthday edition of Toy World. In my first ever leader column, I promised that we would deliver a ‘fresh and exciting’ magazine – I hope you’ll agree that we have kept our promise. We also stated from the outset that we wanted to ‘shake things up’: I feel that we have certainly managed to do that. The word ‘disruptive’ has become de rigeur in 21st century business circles, but I think it perfectly describes the impact Toy World has had in the toy media arena since its inception.

from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

Looking back through our inaugural issue, some products, brands and licences are still going strong, while others have inevitably not managed to stand the test of time. Such is life in the toy trade; ever-changing, everevolving and deliciously unpredictable. Boys properties were very much to the fore in that first edition (Skylanders, Thundercats, Power Rangers, Doctor Who, HM Armed Forces and many others). Indeed, it used to be a commonly held perception that collectibles, movie-based products and many other toy genres were more likely to succeed if they were targeted at boys rather than girls. How times change. Fast forward seven years and while many girls ranges – in particular LOL Surprise! – are absolutely flying, the boys’ category is proving an altogether trickier proposition. One factor is increasingly being cited when discussing the tribulations of the boys’ sector: gaming – specifically Fortnite. The ubiquitous video game is being blamed for the comparatively lacklustre performance of boys’ ranges by suppliers and retailers alike – I gather one major toy company opened its latest preview by focusing on the challenge presented by Fortnite-fixated boys in their core target age group. However, in many respects, this is nothing new; remember the KGOY acronym (kids getting older younger)? As an industry, we’ve been here before, and I have no doubt we’ll face the challenge head on, as we have previously. The obsession with Fortnite is far from the only challenge that toy retailers have had to face over the past seven years; perhaps the biggest shift since the launch of Toy World has been the inexorable rise of online disruptors, especially Amazon. My comments in last month’s issue about the recent ‘Amazon Slimegate’ scandal certainly seem to have struck a chord. I have received many emails, calls and social media comments from retailers and suppliers, all agreeing that we’ve reached a tipping point where something has to be done. However, there is no escaping the fact that the situation is highly complex and workable solutions are not easy to come by. On this occasion, Amazon metaphorically taped a target to its chest, stood two metres away and offered me a free shot. I certainly wasn’t going to turn that down. But, of

course, Amazon is far from the only culprit. A recent tweet from Isaac Larian suggested that fakes can be found “in every mall in America and around the world” and went on to implicate Alibaba, Apple and even the Chinese government in the scandal! Isaac has been fighting his own battle with online Chinese marketplace TomTop, where even photographic evidence of its US operation caught red-handed handling fake L.O.L. Surprise! merchandise was not sufficient to secure a conviction. I’m also told that, despite what common sense might tell you, Amazon has supposedly already been victorious in a court of law, which ruled that it is NOT legally responsible for vendors on its marketplace platform. That being the case, you have to question if the law needs to change – arguably it no longer reflects the huge developments that have taken place in the online retail channel in recent years. But who has pockets deep enough to take Amazon on in court? And which parliamentarians would be brave enough to address the problem, especially when there are a few other minor things going on right now that might require their attention. Putting legality aside, it has been suggested to me that it would probably take a child suffering injury (or worse) to force Amazon to face up to its moral responsibility. How sad is that? Individual companies feel powerless, afraid of being singled out and bullied for adopting a strong stance. The BTHA has started a dialogue with Amazon, as has the Toy Association over in the US, but Amazon is nothing if not a slippery beast – I can’t imagine progress will be easy or quick. But should that stop us – collectively, as an industry – from trying? Absolutely not. The online sphere already resembles the wild west in so many areas; surely, we should at least attempt to rein in its worst excesses and transgressions? For example, could Amazon ever be persuaded (or, preferably, legally required) to channel all transactions through its vendor scheme, giving it at least a modicum of control over certification and regulations? There are no easy answers, but I know that there are some people out there working hard behind the scenes to get to grips with the situation. I wish them well. We have a packed issue for you this month, including a fascinating exclusive interview with Toytown’s Alan Simpson, an in-depth look at toy companies’ preChristmas TV advertising plans and a special pullout supplement dedicated to the burgeoning games and puzzles category. We’ll carry on innovating and disrupting, and most importantly, bringing you the news, analysis, opinions and insight which matters. A big thanks to our fantastic regular contributors, as well as our readers and advertisers. You have all helped to make Toy World the success it is and the past seven years the most enjoyable of my career. Thank you all and here’s to the next seven years.

HARDWORKING PR FOR TOYS & GAMES B2B & consumer-facing PR Hands-on, bespoke approach Award-winning team of senior PR professionals Specialist understanding of the toys, games & fun sector

CONTACT +44 (0)1908 299 088 www.playtimepr.com Playtime Strip Advert_v4.indd 1

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News The Entertainer expands overseas with stores in Kazakhstan and Kosovo The Entertainer opened its first store in Dostyk Plaza in Almaty, Kazakhstan in partnership with Zeta Retail. Commenting on the new partnership with Zeta, which operates three other reputable international retail brands, The Entertainer’s founder & chairman, Gary Grant said: “Kazakhstan is an exciting new market for The Entertainer, allowing us to bring our unique style of toy retailing to a whole new set of customers. Our first store is located in Almaty, but we see the opportunity for a significant number of stores across the country. We are delighted with the partnership we have with Zeta Retail and we look forward to further expansion in Kazakhstan over the course of the next 12 months.” Shortly following this news, The Entertainer also announced a partnership with retail start-up Axiom in Kosovo, marking the retailer’s expansion into its 7th international territory. The partnership will see The Entertainer open a store in the premium shopping destination Albi Mall. Axiom contacted The Entertainer to discuss the opportunity of working together to provide the local population with toys that are both good value and safe for their children to play with. As a result, customers can expect to see over 500 exclusive products plus a greater selection of the latest brands like L.O.L Surprise! when the new toy store opens. Gary Grant commented: “The Entertainer is delighted to welcome the Axiom team as new partners. Having recently announced a franchise partnership in Egypt, we’re delighted to reveal we’re soon to be opening in Kosovo. Following the success of the launch we also want to expand into neighbouring countries such as Macedonia and Albania. 2018 is all about growing our business in Europe and the Far East, and we are excited to see what the rest of the year brings.” “We look forward to finding further partners to grow The Entertainer brand globally,” he added.

$760m in debt to be swapped for Asian Toys R Us operation by lenders Toys R Us lenders are expected make an opening bid of $760m for the bankrupt retailer’s Asia operations, far less than the $1b offers the company touted just a few months ago. As reported by Bloomberg, and according to court documents, the lenders would make a so-called ‘credit bid’ by using their senior secured notes in the Asia business rather than cash, and win ownership of the unit during a September auction in New York. Noteholders eligible to participate include York Capital Management Global Advisors, Barclays Bank and Cerberus Capital Management, related court papers show. Before an auction is scheduled, Toys R Us wants a US federal judge to strip the company’s minority partner in Asia, Fung Retailing, of its right-of-first-refusal purchase option as well as forcing Fung to agree to sell its 15% stake in the joint venture. In April, a lawyer for Toys R Us told the judge overseeing the company’s bankruptcy that it had multiple bids worth more than $1b for the Asia business. Toys R Us owns nearly 85% of the venture and Fung owns the rest. Since then, Toys R Us has been unable to get one of the potential buyers to commit, according to court documents. The company blamed interference by Fung. By naming the lender group as the so-called stalking horse bidder, Toys R Us would set the ground floor for the proposed September auction.

MARKETING & DISTRIBUTING BRANDS

11 Deer Park Road, Northampton, NN3 6QD, UK

tel. 01604 678780 email. dkl@dkl.co.uk

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www.dkl.co.uk


9478 Horse Box ‚Lucky & Spirit‘

9481 Maricela

9480 Horse Box ‚Abigail & Boomerang‘

9476 Lucky‘s Bedroom

9479 Horse Box ‚Pru & Chica Linda‘

9477 Lucky‘s Dad and Waggon

• 7 new sets based on the popular DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free © theme • Now streaming on Netflix or broadcasting free to air on POP 9475 Lucky‘s Happy Home DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free © 2018 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved

• Strong TV campaign across the year from September • Consumer press advertising within key titles • Extensive PR programme


News US toy sales grow 7% in Q1 & Q2 The US toy industry grew its sales by 7% to $7.9b in the first half of 2018, according to The NPD Group. Over these six months, which included the beginning and end of the Toys R Us liquidation, there were a number of catalysts for growth. Juli Lennett, senior vice president and industry adviser, Toys, The NPD Group, commented: “It is likely that the Toys R Us news has kept toys top-of-mind for parents and grandparents when shopping for kids in general, benefitting both consumers and the industry. I am also convinced that the strong toy industry growth so far this year has been at least partially supported by the empathy that people felt towards losing a store like Toys R Us. I think it brought about an emotional response that resulted in parents buying more toys overall.” The strongest growth driver in the first half came from toys priced $5-19.99, and this was led by L.O.L Surprise!, Total Marvel, Fingerlings, Hatchimals, and Soft N Slo Squishies. The influence of these toy properties is also clear when looking at the toy industry’s performance by supercategory. Youth Electronics was the fastest growing supercategory in the market, up 43%, driven by Fingerlings, Star Wars, and Tamagotchi. Sales in Dolls grew by 17%, led by L.OL. Surprise!, Hatchimals and Barbie. These three toy properties captured over two-thirds of the supercategory’s growth. A notable turnaround to positive growth since last year primarily attributed to the Box Office, Action Figures and Accessories grew its sales by 16%. The supercategory was lifted by the movie release of Black Panther in February, Avengers Infinity War in April and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the end of June. Dinosaur and pony/unicorn themed toys grew by 77% year-to-date through June, and NPD expects these themes to be trending this holiday season. Jurassic World has been primarily driving the dinosaur trend, as well as Fingerlings and other dinosaur-related products. While dinosaur toy sales are growing at a brisker pace, pony/unicorn represents a larger portion of toy sales. Among the top 20 new items for June 2018 that are moving off shelves at the fastest rate where they are being sold, six have a dinosaur or unicorn theme. They are: Unicorn Sprinkler, Fingerlings Untamed Dino Stealth, Little Tikes Magical Unicorn Carriage, Jurassic World Roarivores Assortment, Mega Unicorn Island Inflatable and Jurassic World Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate. Juli added: Existing toy retailers have announced they will be dedicating more space and will carry more toys this holiday season both in-store and online. We’re also seeing new store formats emerge that are more experiential, and we will have new toy retailers entering the space. The industry has shown to be proactive in compensating for the dollars Toys R Us has left on the table, and more.”

Toys Galore joins Toymaster

Kids@Play to distribute Cutie Fruities in UK & Ireland Cutie Fruities is the latest collectible craze to begin in the USA and will soon arrive in the UK & Eire. The range of collectible fruit shaped plush launched in Walmart in June. A campaign focused on unboxing and sampling began in mid-June, and combined views have surpassed 2m, with one recent video securing nearly a million views within a week. US sales have exceeded expectations, and there is now a concerted push to get retailers in stock to respond to the increasing demand. Kids@Play managing director Nathaniel Southworth commented: “We have been previewing retailers to plan for a spring/summer 2019 launch. I am delighted to confirm that Cutie Fruities will be TV advertised through the Spring Summer season. We are always looking for signals that lines will work and the stats from the USA are hard to argue with – the TV ad on its own has had in excess of 350,000 views on YouTube.” All interested retailers should contact Neil Leah at neil@kaptoys.com or call the team in the office on +44 (0) 1291 429007. Stock should be available from December 2018, with price points starting at £5.99.

Graham Hurrell honoured with Golden Teddy Graham is the latest toy industry stalwart to be awarded a Golden Teddy by the BTHA. The presentation was made by former BTHA chair and president Clive Jones, and took place at the BTHA/Toy Trust golf day at Sonning Golf Club in Berkshire. Graham has worked in the industry for 45 years, with roles at Matchbox, Chicco, Marvins Magic, Vivid Imaginations and Rubies. He was proposed by Mel Hodgkins and seconded by Julian Hartfield. His proposer and seconder said of him: “Graham represents everything that the toy industry aspires to be: fun, warm and engaging. His honesty and integrity are beyond reproach, and the industry could not have hoped for a better ambassador.” Graham said he was “delighted” to receive the award.

Owned by Donald Nairn, Edinburgh-based Toys Galore is situated on the vibrant and busy Morningside Road. The store has been in operation since November 1981. Donald took over the store in 2005 and currently employs nine members of staff. The full address of the store is: Toys Galore, 193 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4QP. The shop stocks a wide range of products, from plush and puzzles, to collectibles and bath toys. For more information, contact toysgaloremorningside@gmail.com.

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

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News Re:creation builds portfolio with Engino Re:creation has entered into an agreement with Engino to exclusively distribute its range of high quality construction sets in the UK. The Engino brand is a globally established player in the world of STEM play, and Re:creation will leverage its expertise in sales and marketing to grow distribution and awareness for the brand in the UK. Re:creation marketing director Jonathan Kirkley commented: “The quality of the Engino product shines through and this well-thought out range more than delivers on its promise to introduce children to core STEM principles while having fun. The strong theming offers stand out at retail and it is clear there has never been a better time to shine the spotlight on this brand in the UK. Kaye’s of Cardiff will continue to be sole UK wholesale supplier for the product range, supplying independent buying groups such as Toymaster and AIS and supporting Re:creation in growing the UK distribution of the Engino brand, which is now available in around 50 countries. Designed and manufactured in Cyprus, the patented construction play system enables children to build large scale creations with relatively few pieces. Among the themes available in 2018 are Jurassic Earth, Greenhouse, Sea Exploration and Safari Park, as well as a JCB licensed collection.

Juratoys sells majority share to Argos Wityu Juratoys, a specialist in educational wooden toys, has announced that Argos Wityu has taken an 85% stake in the company. All Juratoy shares had been owned by American company Alex Brands since 2015, and the management team now holds a 15% stake in the company following recent negotiations. Juratoys, founded in 1970, has developed the Janod brand of wooden toys, and bought the plush brand Kaloo in 2011. The workforce has grown to 140, with turnover reaching €52.5m in 2017. The new shareholders are expected to continue the growth of the company, particularly in the US market. Juratoys’ operating strategy is based on strong development of its ranges, with approximately 200 new products released per year. The company does not sell in supermarkets, focusing instead on toy shops and other specialist retailers. Juratoys also has a direct presence in export markets, with subsidiaries in the United States, the United States, United Kingdom, Asia, Germany and Spain. Neil Montgomery, UK commercial director at Juratoys, commented: “From a UK perspective, this announcement is excellent news for Juratoys UK and we feel extremely positive about the future. With Argos Wityu, Juratoys will have increased financial resources to accelerate its growth in the developing market for high-end and educational toys. We look forward to seeing the development of new products and will of course continue to keep selling the great ranges across our current brands.” Neil added: “I would like to reassure the trade, that it is ‘business as usual’ for Juratoys UK and we will continue to service our customers in the normal way.”

Golden Bear to be master toy licensee for Waffle the Wonder Dog The creator of the new BBC children’s series Waffle the Wonder Dog has announced Golden Bear as master toy licensee. A range based on the popular CBeebies series will launch in October. The brand-new BBC live-action comedy drama by Darrall Macqueen Ltd achieved the No.1 spot in the top ten shows for children aged 4-15 when it launched in February with 30 x 11min episodes. The show is currently on air and more episodes are in the pipeline. A Christmas special is also in discussion. Golden Bear’s toy range will launch in October with a Talking Waffle Soft Toy, which features the show’s theme tune ‘Waffle Doggie’. Barry Hughes, managing director of Golden Bear commented: “We were immediately drawn to Waffle because the show looks so much fun and knew instantly that it would delight the CBeebies audience. The kids in the show beg to keep Waffle in the household, and we think parents will be happy for their children to adopt a lovely replica Waffle toy as a practical alternative to the real thing!” Billy Macqueen, managing director of Darrall Macqueen said: “We are delighted to appoint Golden Bear as master toy for Waffle. The company’s knowledge and experience in the pre-school sector is unparalleled and with an enviable reputation for the highest quality plush established over nearly four decades, they will be a wonderful asset for our new Waffle plush lines. We are looking forward to our first launch in the run up to Christmas and know that the new Talking Waffle will really capture the essence of Waffle and be hugely popular with children who want their very own wonder dog.”

New toy website ToySeek.com unveiled GameSeek went into administration in May this year, but former owner Stephen Staley has now returned to a project which he had initially conceived to run alongside the video game marketplace. Speaking to Toy World, Stephen explained more about the new site: “ToySeek.com is a specialist toy online retail website. Predominantly, we will be all about toys: we aim to offer a diverse range of specialist toy products on the site. We will also be selling arts & crafts, fancy dress and video games. We would like to work closely with all UK toy distributors and manufacturers, building long-term successful relationships starting from today. “We have a very knowledgeable team and know how to make a company move quickly online. We are also very passionate about what we do, and I believe this passion, experience and knowledge should set us apart. We have very high expectations for ToySeek. “The site has been optimised for mobile and will offer a variety of payment methods from day one, so that we can take orders from over 100 countries. Payment methods include debit and credit card, Paypal, Apple Pay, Amazon payments and a host of international payments. In the near future, we will also aim to take store credit cards and have a rapid one-click checkout. Importantly, ToySeek has no minimum basket spend to qualify for free delivery.”

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News Charles Taylor auction house offers top toy brands Charles Taylor is a specialist auction house that deals in liquidated stock, surplus and end of line product. Based in Salford, Manchester, the company has been running for over 100 years. A consistently high volume of toys come through the auctions, with top brands available including Star Wars, Shopkins, Disney, Nerf and many more. The auction offers retailers and manufacturers alike a place to stock up on, or sell, surplus product. The company caters for a wide variety of customers and bidders, from wholesalers to eBay companies, and small shops to market traders. Charles Taylor also deals in volume and sells trailers of toys at each of its fortnightly sales. Anyone is welcome to attend auctions at Charles Taylor, although bidders must be over 18. Items are available to view the day before the auction from 1pm – 5pm and from 9am – 12 noon on auction day. No appointment is necessary. Further information on upcoming auctions can be found at www.charlestaylor.co.uk, where buyers can bid in person or online with official partners www.ibidder.com.

Geomag to work with Fundamentally Children as an endorsed company Geomag will be working with Fundamentally Children as an endorsed company and will be participating in its summer festival programme within its Good Toy Zones, at locations including Under 1 Roof as well as at major family summer festivals such as Meraki and The Great British Food Festival. Geomag’s senior marketing consultant Nikki Jeffery commented: “It’s such a delight to watch the children interact so beautifully with the Geomag toys; the pure joy and looks of intense concentration is what it is all about and such a pleasure to see.” Geomag is presenting several of its core lines within the Good Toy Zones locations, including new Classic Geomag Confetti as well as the pre-school Magicube Range. The Geomag Classic platform lets kids create an unlimited number of structures using magnetic bars and steel spheres, with a wide range of colours and bright pieces. Good Toy experts commented: “Geomag is a brilliant construction toy that not only allow children to get creative, but also teaches them about the science of magnets – an area covered in Key Stage 2.” The innovative Magicube range is pre-school construction system made of magnetic cubes which attach to each other on every side. By using the invisible properties of magnetism, younger children can create different shapes and colour combinations and explore 3D building.

Wilberry details upcoming show appearances

IMC launches Cry Baby Magic Tears

Following an appearance at Autumn Fair at the NEC, new introductions into the world of Wilberry will be on display at Top Drawer at Olympia (Stand P38), plus the company will also be making its debut at Kind & Jugend in Cologne (Hall 10, Aisle 8 – Stand 71) to help grow its international business. Wilberry highlights to look out for this autumn include the Feathery Friend Owls and baby Ostrich, all made from a new material with the look and feel of real feathers. Moving into a more classic look, the Wilberry Knitted Dinosaurs and Bears have just arrived; their soft pastel colours make them an ideal gift for a new-born baby and therefore, a good choice for nursery buyers at Kind & Jugend. The soft and cuddly Wilberry Friends offering also continues to grow, with two new lambs, two new cow characters and a flamingo now available to order for immediate delivery. The Puppet Company, the parent company of Wilberry, has started working with Vicki Marler-Hausen of Elmer Marketing to raise brand awareness within the market place and also consumers. Vicki is exploring new marketing opportunities and building on what has been an excellent year of trading for the soft toy brand.

The new collectible range enjoyed a launch event in London with YouTube sensation Tiana Toys AndMe, who hosted a live unboxing of the brand-new range. The exclusive launch event for media, bloggers and influencers coincided with the product launch into UK-wide major retailers and independents. Magic Tears are miniature versions of IMC’s top selling Cry Babies dolls, which is already a leading brand in the UK feature doll category. The new blind collectibles feature cute miniature dolls and accessories, which all cry real tears and have a magical story to tell. The new launch will be supported with exclusive new animated content, with a narrative that will focus on friendship, empathy and teamwork. Each episode will highlight a different character and adventure. The first three episodes have already launched, with additional content being released throughout autumn/winter, providing 12 episodes in total. The webisodes can be viewed on the new dedicated website, www.magictears.toys and the Magic Tears channel on YouTube. Julie Ball, head of UK marketing at IMC, commented: “Following the huge success of our Cry Babies dolls, we are thrilled to be expanding into the collectibles category with the launch of Cry Babies Magic Tears. The launch is supported with our largest ever investment to deliver a fully integrated campaign including new animated series, dedicated website, intensive TV & digital media, full PR programme, and spectacular influencer programme throughout the autumn/winter season. Retail support has been fantastic with full distribution secured across all key channels. We have a long-term strategy for Cry Babies Magic Tears, with new product development already in the pipeline.”

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Industry Moves New retail development manager for Hasbro Hasbro has appointed Becky Langer to the role within its UK business. Becky joins the company from Character World where she previously held the position of head of business development, and head of licensing prior to that. In her new role, Becky will be reporting to Sally Carnota (EMEA retail development) and will be responsible for the continued momentum and development of Hasbro franchise brands at retail. Becky will be responsible for a portfolio of important retail partners where she will be building long term, commercial brand plans that ensure Hasbro continues to be on the forefront of retail relationships. Sally Carnota commented: “UK retail continues to be an incredibly challenging environment to work in and therefore it’s critical that we have the best talent in place. Becky brings a wealth of industry and business development experience plus a drive and determination that will be a huge asset to our UK team.” Holly Oldham, consumer products director, added: “We are constantly evolving to ensure our future growth and the appointment of Becky is just part of our evolution. We will continue to bolster the UK team in the near future.” Becky said: “I am delighted to be joining the Hasbro team at such an exciting time. As a licensee I was fortunate to be a part of Hasbro’s growth journey. I am thrilled to now be working with such a well-respected and driven team as we continue to strive for growth and fantastic retail executions.”

Warwick Brenner moves on from WWE Warwick Brenner, VP EMEA licensing, consumer products at WWE, has accepted an “unmissable opportunity” with McLaren. Warwick commented: “After six successful years heading up WWE’s EMEA consumer products group, I am moving on, having recently accepted an unpassable opportunity to head up McLaren’s licensing business globally. As a long term F1 and automotive fan I am thrilled and honoured to be taking on this exciting new role, which started in August.” The team at Toy World would like to pass on their very best wishes to Warwick as he settles into his new role.

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www.libertyhousetoys.co.uk Toy World 14


Casey Collins joins Hasbro as SVP and GM of Global Consumer Products Hasbro has announced the appointment of Casey Collins as senior vice president and general manager of Global Consumer Products,effective immediately. Casey assumes the role from Simon Waters, who will be taking on a new position as senior vice president and general manager of Hasbro’s recently acquired Power Rangers franchise. John Frascotti, president, Hasbro, commented: “Over the past eight years, Simon has done an excellent job building our Global Consumer Products business, consistently delivered excellent results and taking our brands into innumerable new categories and venues. Simon’s experience leading Consumer Products, combined with his highly valued franchise thinking, creative vision and entertainment experience make him the ideal person to lead the Power Rangers team and ensure full activation of the Power Rangers brand globally across our brand blueprint.” John continued: “Casey brings decades of experience and leadership in the licensing industry to the Hasbro team. He is a highly skilled and experienced licensing professional, with an impressive track record of leading high performing teams and delivering consistently outstanding results. We are excited to welcome him to the Hasbro family and look forward to his leadership as our Global Consumer Products business continues to expand around the world.” Casey most recently held the position of executive vice president, Consumer Products with Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment, where he was responsible for monetising fan engagement across Global Licensing, Ecommerce, Venue Merchandise, Gaming and Home Entertainment. He has also held senior positions at MGA Entertainment and Lucasfilm.

www.wilberrytoys.com T: +44 (0) 1462 446040 E: info@wilberrytoys.com

Stand 5 C20-D21 Stand P38 Th

Puep Co pet mp any Ltd ® .

HTI announces senior level promotion and new appointment The continued growth of HTI has seen the company strengthen its ranks. An integral cog in the HTI team and having played a key role in the success of the UK business, Lee Glickman’s dedication to the business has been recognised and rewarded. Lee has been promoted within his role of head of UK design. Having helped develop some of the company’s best-selling ranges, Lee will now work alongside head of creative, Marco Moroso, as they develop exciting new product innovations Marco commented: “Lee has proven to be a very creative and very passionate designer. His strive for innovation will be key to the development of HTI's future line-ups and we look forward to continuing to work alongside him to develop and grow the business.” The continual growth of HTI has seen further recruitment in the marketing department with the appointment of Lucy Warren as licensing and marketing assistant. Lucy will provide support across both Licensing and Marketing functions having recently graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in marketing.

www.thepuppetcompany.com T: +44 (0) 1462 446040 E: info@thepuppetcompany.com

Toy World - Vertical Half Page - The Puppet Company.indd 14

14/08/2018 12:33:35


Marketing World Tomy and Viacom partner on sponsorship deal The deal was brokered by Tomy’s new media agency Generation Media and saw Tomy sponsor the UK’s No. 1 commercial kids network VIMN Kids (Viacom International Media Networks) across its pre-school channels Milkshake! and Nick Jr. Running during August and the back to school period, the sponsorship package showcased Tomy’s Toomies and Aquadoodle collections, which both have strong appeal to Milkshake! and Nick Jr’s distinctive pre-school and family audiences, and also featured on pre-school pay TV channel Nick Jr. in the afternoon slot. By partnering with Milkshake! and Nick Jr. Tomy’s sponsorship campaign is estimated to deliver over 1,600 Housewives and Children 0-3 TVRs and reach an estimated 50% of its target audience. Tomy’s sponsorship will also be backed by a heavyweight AV campaign covering kids’ commercial channels and YouTube with the objective of bolstering sales of Toomie and Aquadoodle collections. Nicola Jenkins, head of marketing, Tomy UK, commented: “This is one of our biggest campaigns to date. Our sponsorship will drive awareness to our pre-school brands amongst our key target audience while amplifying our brand values and utilising the playful style of Milkshake’s brand idents to bring our brands to life. This is the first time we have invested at a brand level in sponsorship at Tomy and we cannot wait to see the results.” Mark Swift, SVP UK commercial and international ad sales at VIMN, added: “The sponsorship of VIMN Kids pre-school channels is an excellent way for brands to reach different preschool audiences in the commercial PSB and pay TV sectors on channels which show the very best content for British kids.”

Ben 10 Alien Party Tour visits Smyths Toy Superstores this summer Events ran across the country throughout August, including competitions, assault courses, face painting and costume character appearances. Cartoon Network has also created a digital Ben 10 Alien Party Kit so that fans can host their own themed party at home. The kit is available to download from the Cartoon Network website. The event also ran a competition to win the ultimate Ben 10 Alien Party for 30 friends at their nearest Smyths store, with exclusive access to the assault course, an Omni-enhanced augmented reality experience, costume character appearances, face painting and Ben 10 goody bags. The Alien Party Tour and competition was promoted by Smyths Toys in-store and through its social media channels, as well as the Cartoon Network website and social media channels. Graham Saltmarsh, director of licensing, Northern Europe commented: “Ben 10 is one of the most successful boys’ properties of all time and bringing it to life through our Alien Party Tour is a great way for fans to get stuck in and experience it for themselves. We know that activities like this, which engage fans of the show in a fun and meaningful way, result not only in an uplift in retail footfall and consumer product sales, but also a feel-good factor that provides fans with a deeper, long-term connection to our brand.” Ben 10 currently airs every day at 4pm on Cartoon Network. Mark Swift, SVP UK commercial and international ad sales at VIMN, added: “The sponsorship of VIMN Kids pre-school channels is an excellent way for brands to reach different preschool audiences in the commercial PSB and pay TV sectors on channels which show the very best content for British kids.”

Topps appoints Playtime PR for Match Attax Topps has hired the specialist toys and games PR agency to manage PR activity for the 2018/19 season of Match Attax. Handling both consumer and trade media relations, influencer outreach programmes and PR support for the extensive calendar of Match Attax live consumer events across the UK, Playtime will work with Topps from September on the new season launch. Topps’ marketing director Rod Pearson commented: “Match Attax is an incredibly important brand to us and we’re looking forward to working with Playtime on the new season launch, bringing the trading card collection and game to an even wider audience of young football fans.” Playtime PR’s founder and managing director, Lesley Singleton, added: “Match Attax is a phenomenal brand that attracts new fans and collectors every year. We’re looking forward to becoming an extension of the Topps team, seeking out every possible media opportunity for the brand and amplifying the fantastic marketing activities planned for the 2018/19 season.”Ben 10 currently airs every day at 4pm on Cartoon Network. Mark Swift, SVP UK commercial and international ad sales at VIMN, added: “The sponsorship of VIMN Kids pre-school channels is an excellent way for brands to reach different preschool audiences in the commercial PSB and pay TV sectors on channels which show the very best content for British kids.”

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Opinion

Look who’s watching over the shoulder viewing This month, Jonathan highlights the importance of protecting children’s airtime for children’s advertisers, while being mindful of alternative commercial non-kids options.

O

ver the shoulder TV viewing is a term that has been commonplace in the toys and games market for a number of years. Linear TV viewing to pre-school channels in particular remains a shared viewing experience between parent and child, particularly when analysing the Housekeeper with Children 0-3 audience. So much so that in July 2018, six of the top 20 TV channels in the UK ranked by percentage reach for this audience were children’s channels: UK CHANNEL

HK+CH0-3% reach July 2018

BBC1

92

ITV1

87.2

Channel 4

78.5

ITV2

63.3

C5 inc. Milkshake

62.4

CBeebies

59.3

BBC2

56.3

E4

42.8

Sky1

32.7

NJR

30.5

Comedy Central

24.7

Dave

24.7

24CHD

24.5

More4

24.3

5Star

23.4

Film4

22.1

NJRToo

20.8

Pop

20.8

Tiny Pop

19

ITV4

18.4

Source: MediaOcean/BARB August 2018

This is of course advantageous to those manufacturers and distributors within the toys and games market looking to advertise Infant/ Pre-School products. It allows for cost-effective TV campaigns to be built without the use adult focused airtime, where costs are at a premium.

Ours is not the only market looking to capitalise on low cost impacts against a lucrative target audience. Non-kids categories such as FMCG (10% of Sky Kids impacts in July 2018), Telecoms, Cosmetics, Charity and a whole host of Direct Response brands are just a selection of those commonly featuring on children’s TV in the UK. Whilst the costs they pay on these channels may commonly be higher than a child focused advert, they still represent significant value compared to the likes of ITV, Channel 4 and the Sky (non-kids) portfolio. During off-peak seasons for children’s advertisers, it is critical for sales houses to generate revenue from their inventory with nonkids advertisers. However it becomes a significant challenge in times of peak demand from the toys and games market, notably October-November. It is our responsibility as a specialist in this space to protect children’s airtime for children’s advertisers. We continually put pressure on our supplier partners to restrict non-kids advertisers during peak periods. But the shared experience works both ways. As supply of children’s impact in children’s time continues to fall and average ratings per spot become under increased pressure, we look to adult time for the answers. Data from June-July reports is heavily skewed by World Cup viewing, however there are plenty of other commercial non-kids choices that feature prominently in the pantheon of children’s linear TV viewing. For example, the average episode of Love Island on ITV2 in July 2018 averaged a children 4-9 audience of c.72,000. Comparatively, child friendly behemoth Peppa Pig on Milkshake during the same period averaged c.61,000 children 4-9 per episode. Channel 4’s Hollyoaks regularly attracts a children 4-9 audience of c.39,000 (July 2018 data), compared to the c.13,000 per episode achieve by Alvinnn!!! And the Chipmunks on Pop during the same period. Just around the corner looms The Great British Bake Off, which averaged a colossal 155,000 children 4-9 impacts per episode in 2017. So will we see children’s advertisers gate-crash peak scheduling on the non-kids channels? Arguably this would be a sensible strategy, content suitability permitting of course – Love Island may not be the most brand safe piece of content for children’s advertisers. This will enable advertisers to reach critical mass in one hit. The reality is,

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Jonathan Chambers

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

however, that only those with significant budgets should consider these spots, and even then only once commercial children’s TV has been exhausted. Premium spots command premium prices, and whilst they can deliver many more thousands of viewers, the cost per thousand of reaching them is many multiples higher (dependent on a multitude of trading variables). Through access to Kids and the Screen research, as an agency we understand the complex makeup of children’s viewing from children’s and adult’s time to On Demand Online Video consumption. We construct campaigns based on findings from our research and work tirelessly to protect the children’s commercial media market place. If you’d like to learn more about how best to construct a bespoke media approach for your brands and products, please get in touch.





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Licensing World Pyramid International partners with Activision Working with Activision, Pyramid will be distributing product throughout the UK, Europe, South Africa and Australia for some of the biggest franchises in the gaming genre, working across Activision’s business on key strategic titles including classics such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Both titles have seen significant increases in their awareness and popularity thanks to current console remastering and recent gaming anniversaries. Products from Pyramid for Crash Bandicoot and Spyro will be available alongside merchandise for one of the world’s highest grossing video game franchises of all time, Call of Duty, and for Black Ops 4, which will be released later this year. Pyramid is developing a programme in support of these properties across its product portfolio, including posters, prints, canvas & wall art, merchandise, homeware, doormats, stationery and notebooks. Mordy Beniah, Pyramid International’s licensing director, commented: “Pyramid International is known for working with some of the biggest licences in music and entertainment, so we are excited to be partnering up with one of the largest gaming companies on the planet. Our teams will be working closely together to create a comprehensive, vibrant and unique range of licensed fan merchandise in key product categories.” Product ranges are currently in development and will be available for general release in Q3. Please contact Pyramid International on 0116 284 3640 for sales opportunities.

Harry Potter comes to Hamleys In partnership with Warner Bros Consumer Products, the new Harry Potter inspired environment promises to bring all the magic of the Wizarding World to the historic London landmark. Customers will be welcomed into the newly refurbished 3000+sq2 area, in Hamleys’ lower ground floor by Hamleys in-store Experience Team. Hamleys’ world-renowned toy demonstrators will bring to life wands, brooms, sorting hats, costumes, flying golden snitches and much more, with a daily schedule of interactive product demonstrations, competitions, meet and greets with Hamleys Bear in his house scarf and Hamleys mix of fun, magic and theatre. The team from Wow! Stuff will be demonstrating in-store every day along with the Hamleys team. Ralph Cunningham, Hamleys Group CEO, commented: “We are delighted to be collaborating with one of the world’s most recognised brands to bring the magic of Harry Potter to our world-famous London toy shop. We have an assortment of Harry Potter merchandise, coupled with our unique retail proposition of delivering world class, engaging product demonstration. It will make Hamleys a destination for Harry Potter fans from all over the world. The love for both brands stretches over generations and we are positive that this new addition will bring smiles to the faces of children and families who visit our Regent St flagship store.”

Dreamworks Spirit Riding Free toys arrive in the UK Universal Brand Development has announced that toys for the popular animated series DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free are set to debut at UK retail this autumn. Just Play, distributed by Flair in the UK, and Playmobil will lead the licensing programme for the series, with full ranges available from 28th September. Inspired by the 2002 Oscar-nominated film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free recently launched on Sony’s free to air Pop TV channel, which is currently the UK’s No.1 commercial broadcaster for kids. The show is being supported by a comprehensive campaign that spans the channel and the popfun. co.uk website and includes programme trailers throughout the day, as well as interactive digital games that enable fans to further immerse themselves in the brand. The Just Play range includes collectibles, dolls and horses, playsets, plush and deluxe sets. The Playmobil line is also comprehensive, with Horse Stall sets featuring the main characters from the series alongside their horses, in addition to Lucky’s Happy Home and Bedroom playsets A 360-degree marketing campaign is in place to support the acceleration of the franchise in the UK and includes parenting blogger outreach, unboxing videos, Facebook competitions and advertising, YouTube pre-rolls and a five-week TV advertising campaign in Q4 2018. Hannah Mungo, UK and Ireland country director, Universal Brand Development says, “DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free is capturing the hearts of families and is achieving the allimportant stamp of parental approval too. The property is wholesome and has been lauded for its inspiring themes of courage, adventure and friendship. We’re delighted to be working with Just Play, Flair and Playmobil on the launch of the UK licensing programme. The quality of their respective products will extend the brand experience beautifully; UK retailers are really excited.”

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Licensing World Eaglemoss expands with Hero Collector range Eaglemoss, known for its work in partworks (a magazine packed together with a collectible item or build) has now launched Hero Collector; a new brand area that will initially focus on scale models of figurines and space ships from leading licensors such as the BBC, Universal, CBS, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox. To test the concept, Eaglemoss launched online in order to gain understanding of the best-selling ranges and characters and then produce the strongest waves to sell at retail. Discussions are now underway with distributors across the globe for an international launch at the end of 2018 and throughout 2019 with UK retailers. “Over the years we have sold millions of figurines and die-cast vehicles to collectors around the world through comic book stores, newsstands, kiosks and online, and now we want to bring our success to traditional retailers,” said Ben Robinson, Head of Hero Collector.“We pride ourselves on producing very detailed and carefully researched products that will satisfy the most demanding collectors, at a price that everyone can afford. Our products work brilliantly as one-off purchases, but importantly, they also build into larger series.” Properties currently under the Hero Collector banner include DC Comics, Doctor Who, Alien, Back to the Future, James Bond and Star Trek, with two further global mega brands about to be announced. The aim is to have consumers collecting both within the property and also right across the range. Launching in waves at retail, each range will have themed packaging that showcases the detail of the models. The current line includes resin and vinyl figurines in 1:21, 1:16 and 1:14 scale, with work also underway on a 1:8 scale range. The majority of the products come with small magazines packed with information. “We have found that our customers love the fact that they also get an illustrated guide with great editorial and reference information, giving insight into what they have bought and providing information to share with friends. Our products are great to both display and learn from, which is something collectors love.” If you are interested in stocking the line, or distributing in markets outside of the UK, please email GlynnDavies@ Eaglemoss.com

Moose partners with Epic Games on Fortnite Battle Royale collection Moose Toys will be the global partner for Fortnite branded figures 3″ and under, starting with a new line to be unveiled this autumn. In a deal brokered by IMG, The Fortnite Battle Royale Collection will give fans the opportunity to collect a huge roster of characters and miniature scale fort building sets. Mark Rein, Epic Games co-founder, commented: “We love the idea of giving fans the chance to build a huge collection of figures and forts at an awesome mini scale.” Johnny O’Neal, vice president of marketing at Moose Toys, added: “Fortnite has the coolest characters in gaming, and we can’t wait to apply our expertise in mini-collectibles to such a deep roster. Our line will feature high-quality designs, detailed accessories, buildable forts, and a truly epic range of figures to collect.” Launching in December, the Fortnite Battle Royale Collection will be available for purchase at retailers around the world. Additional Fortnite lines from Moose Toys, ranging from microcollectibles to battle playsets, will hit stores in 2019.

Posh Paws & Whitehouse Leisure to produce Swizzels plush Plush featuring Love Hearts, Drumstick lollies, Refreshers and other brands from Swizzels portfolio of confectionery will be available, with products are due to launch in autumn/winter 2019. As leading manufacturers and distributors of licensed plush toys to the retail and leisure sectors across EMEA, Posh Paws International will be targeting wide retail, while Whitehouse Leisure will be targeting the leisure industry. Laura Bull, marketing manager of Posh Paws International, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with Swizzels to create a range of Swizzels branded plush products. With 90 years of heritage we cannot wait to start working with some of the best-known confectionery brands.” Natasha Dyson, managing director at Blonde Sheep Licensing, who brokered the deal, added: “Posh Paws international and Whitehouse Leisure offer full coverage of the retail market and have some really fun ideas for the plush. The products will reflect the sentiment of the brands while also following current trends.”

Toy World 24



NPD Insight

Trends and Crazes Rory looks at the major trends and crazes of the year so far, and how they are affecting the overall toy market

A

Rory Partis

Director UK Toys & EuroToys NPD

s has already been discussed at great length this year, the UK toy market has faced some challenges in 2018, and to be honest no one can be certain that it won’t face a few more before the year is out. One thing we do know is that the toy market is constantly evolving, and although some things stay the same, there will always be changes. We get a good idea of trends and themes at the start of the year at the various toy fairs and events, so which ones have stood out this year and which may still capture imaginations in peak season?

price of over £5 - and three of those are over £10. It must be highlighted that L.O.L Surprise has been somewhat of phenomenon this year, making a major contribution to the growth in the collectible category. But overall, collectibles have evolved to become a larger part of the toy market by widening the price range and adding a range of features, in addition to purely being collected. An additional key trend in 2018 has been the rise of squishies, another product area adding to the overall collectible sector. This trend was evident from the toy fairs in the early part of the year, and took off quickly. Squishy brands combined are worth around £8m in value so far this year, with Soft N Slo Squishies from Character and Smooshy Mooshy from Bandai being the two key properties. Another key trend is slime, with over £5m in slime-related toys being seen in the data so far in 2018. What is interesting about the success of slime is that it has not all been in one category; only around two fifths of the value has fallen into Arts & Crafts, which is where

One of the key trends of 2017 was the increasing diversity of the collectibles market. We saw a widening of the definition of a collectible and with that we also saw an increase in the usual average price, collectibles were no longer just at the under £3 price band and some of the most popular items were around £10. Collectibles has continued to be a growing trend in 2018, and whilst the UK market as a whole is currently -10% in value with YTD July data, collectibles is up +21% in value over the same period. Collectibles has grown in share to now account for 15% of the total toy UK Toys YTD July 2018 market; in 2015 it was 5% £0 of the market, so has now Superhero increased threefold. Back in 2015, the top collectible Pony/Unicorn property was Shopkins, Princess with an average price of just Manga over £5, but in 2018 L.O.L Surprise has taken the helm, Dinosaur with an average price of Fairy over £10, which is quite a Pirates significant difference. In fact, in the top 10 in 2015, Mermaid only three properties had Princess/Mermaid an average price of over £5, whereas now we have seven properties with an average The NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential

I imagine most people would think the sales would go. However, there has been a good portion of sales in other categories, with 20% of value in Miscellaneous Toys and 20% in Scientific Toys. We’ve even registered slime sales in both Children’s Games and Blasters. We can’t talk about toy trends this year without discussing unicorns. There are themes in toys that are ever-present in the data: Superheroes, Princesses and Dinosaurs to name a few. But in 2018 the usual order has been upset by Ponies/Unicorns being the No.2 theme in toys behind Superheroes, with this theme accounting for over £18m this year so far. The top item for this category is the Fingerlings Baby Unicorn, which accounts for over 10% of all Pony/ Unicorn sales. A look at the top-seller list also shows an item which combines three of the top themes of the year in one item; the Unicorn Poo with Glitter from Grossman, which features Unicorns, Toilet Humour and Glitter.

Top Toy Themes

£10

£20

£30

£40

Value £m Source: The NPD Group | NPD EPOS Data | UK

Toy World 26

Generally speaking, the big trends identified at the various fairs have made a strong impact so far this year. But the market’s ability to change and adapt has helped, with the evolving definition of collectibles being a key driver. With the all-important Q4 period still to come, the industry will be looking for these trends and popular crazes to continue to capture the imagination of parents and children.


The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food/food service, home, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. To monitor what’s happening in the ever-changing toy market, NPD collects point-of-sale information from all major toy retailers. This information, combined with our analysts’ industry perspectives, delivers a comprehensive view of what’s selling and where. We also field over 12m consumer surveys annually to help industry leaders understand why consumers shop where they shop and why they buy what they buy. For more information visit www.npd.com. Follow NPD on Twitter @npdgroup.

Property Progression Entertainment Type Total Property

Rank June 2018

Rank July 2018

Incredibles

#181

#47

June saw the release of the Incredibles 2 movie in cinemas and we have seen strong sales for the licence in toys since this date. Nearly half a million in sales for the month of July made it the No.12 licence in the toy market for the month. The movie received excellent reviews and positive feedback, so we should see strong sales for the rest of the year.

Brands are still the top property type, accounting for just under a third of the toy market but TV and movies combined make up almost as much and account for around 27% of the market. Sports has seen an increase in 2018 due to the World Cup, with around £6m more being spent on sports based properties compared to the same period in 2017.

Entertainment Type

YTD July 2018

Brand TV/DVD/Digital Movie Sports Video Digital Games 0%

5%

10%

15%

20%

25%

30%

35%

Value (£MM) DocumentThe classification: Client/Third Party Confidential NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential

Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking

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Talking Shop

indie viewpoint

This month, further Talking Shop features with specialist games retailers can be found in the bumper Games & Puzzles Supplement included with this issue.

High street hassles – is enough being done?

S

mall businesses and government ministers - are we chalk and cheese or can we work together and close the gap between bricks & clicks? This was just one of the questions I put to Stephen Kerr MP for Stirling (Conservative party) and Andrew Jones (Conservative party’s Vice-Chair, with responsibility for business engagement). Business rates, minimum wages and the reluctance of larger companies to pay their fair share of tax/VAT are all points that urgently need to be looked at. When Stephen Kerr contacted me to see if I was happy to talk to him about the pressures facing small business, I jumped at the chance. I was given the opportunity to talk frankly and openly about how my business is being affected by minimum wages, business rates and the general feeling of uncertainty regarding the political climate right now. I don’t really have strong political views, but I do feel that small business is being punished for being honest and successful. There is a lot of support for start-ups, but once you’ve been trading for some time, that support gradually filters away. The pressures don’t stop though, and it can be very easy to get caught up in the business rather than spending time on the business. One of the biggest challenges facing bricks & mortar retailers today is that we aren’t on a level playing field. There are so many stories in the press about certain large retailers mis-treating staff, not paying their fair share in VAT or finding clever ways to hide profitability and avoid paying an appropriate level of tax that would be equal to the percentages small businesses have to pay. Small business has long been seen as the backbone of the British economy, but if businesses aren’t looked after and supported, they will fail, and the British high street will change forever. The opportunity to talk face-to-face with people that can influence government policy in such a relaxed setting was refreshing. There was talk of changes to level the playing field, but uncertainty over how long that will take. We all know what happens to business that can’t or won’t change with the times and all small retailers have had to be quick thinking and reactive to survive the downturn in footfall to the high street. Will the government be able to help and actually close the loopholes, and if so can they do it in time? This is an urgent issue to be addressed, but let’s face it, the government is dealing with a lot of change and may not feel it big enough or urgent enough to be prioritised. Help at government level would be welcome, but local level involvement is also needed. Are Business Improvement Districts working (they are not in our town), or are they just another tax on company owners? Although ministers and small business owners may be thinking the same things, too little action is actually being taken, with the risk that new measures may not be introduced quickly enough to ensure that small businesses can survive.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

On the road again

A

s we write this, we are travelling back down the M1 from the Peterkin showroom. Andrew Moulsher did a great job hosting us, after several years of trying to get us up there. He knew the way to entice us was to promise us food, and he did not disappoint. The pork pie was a particular highlight, along with the largest French Fondant Fancy we have ever seen! Along with the food, it was great to get to see the whole Peterkin range. Dollsworld has been fantastically successful for us, and this was the first time we had seen the range in its entirety. We have now decided on our range for the rest of the year. It’s a good time of year to visit showrooms before we get to peak trade, and also get some early views of new products for 2019. We have already seen Mattel, and they have good products coming too, with both changes to existing ranges and Toy Story 4 product looking very exciting. Trade for the last month has been very positive. With the hot weather lasting so long, we have done a great job clearing through our summer product ranges. We only ran out of pools recently but have done really well with all the accessories. We have sold hundreds of water pistols, pool inflatables, water bombs; all this type of product has been fantastic. As the weather has been so hot, it has not been ideal for footfall. Then again, it has been so hot that some people have been coming inside to get out of the heat. Other than outdoor, the highlight for us has been the launch of Harry Potter Lego. We made a real event of it in our stores, with an early opening and colleagues dressing up. It was our best launch of the year, across the sets and the Minifigures. As we have highlighted before, there has been real uplift in demand for Harry Potter products, with Lego being the most keenly sought after. With other ranges launching soon, including plush and interactive wands, we think it will be the standout licence this Christmas. Playground collectibles and crazes has been a massive area for us over the last couple of years. There are now so many collections out there, and it is quite a task to work out which ones to stock. Not everything is working, so we are finding that you do have to be a bit selective. Foam Squishies is starting to slow down, but demand for gel ball style squishies, such as Bubbleezz, is replacing some of the business. Lost Kitties from Hasbro is a new range that has started off strongly. There have been several new launches to try and appeal to the boys’ market, such as Ready to Robot and Treasure X. It is early days on these yet, but we could certainly do with something to really connect with boys. Games and puzzles is a major category for us for the final quarter of the year. Games had a slower year last Xmas, so it will be interesting to see how it performs this year. There were no new games last year that really caught the imagination to the extent of previous years. With the power of YouTube, it can only take one viral video to send a game from nothing to instant hit overnight, so it is often a question of keeping a close eye on what starts selling and then reacting swiftly. Our bestsellers will be the core evergreens, with Monopoly, Rubiks Cube and Twister being the most popular. Monopoly Cheaters Edition looks a fun twist on the classic original and has already had some good publicity. The new Strictly Come Dancing Game should be a good present for fans of the TV series. Hopefully there will be a few others that will take off this year too – we look forward to finding out what they are.

Jez Gourley - Toy Hub

Toy World 28


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BTHA Briefing

S

eptember at the BTHA means one thing, visitor registration for Toy Fair 2019 is now open! With just over four months to go until the show, visitors including retailers, licensors and the media are all able to pre-register for their FREE visitor badge on the Toy Fair website www.toyfair.co.uk, from the 4th September. Visitors can benefit from seeing renowned names in the industry such as Character Options, Lego, Bandai and Vtech, as well as smaller companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs such as Get Retro, EasyRead Time Teacher and Jumini in the Greenhouse Area. The popularity of the Greenhouse Area - dedicated to smaller, new and upcoming innovators – grows each year. This year we are already sold out and there is limited exhibition space available elsewhere in the show. If you would like to enquire about exhibiting or for more general information on the show, then please contact Chris@btha.co.uk or call 020 7701 7127. You can also stay up to date with the latest Toy Fair news by following us on Twitter @ToyFairUK. Elsewhere this month we will be hosting a FREE ‘Responsible Marketing’ training seminar on the 18th September for BTHA members at our offices. The seminar will include presentations from Ofcom, the Advertising Standards Authority, Toy Industries of Europe and Media Smart. The presentations will cover a range of topics, including the latest requirements and legislation covering unboxing and gender stereotyping, as well as upcoming marketing trends to be aware of. There is limited space left for this seminar, so if you would like to sign up, then please contact me as soon as possible by e-mailing Rebecca@btha.co.uk.

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

The Public Affairs team continues to raise the industry’s concern with the increasing sale of unsafe, counterfeit, and copycat products. As part of this work, last month the team visited the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Intelligence Hub and will be working with them to help members effectively tackle counterfeiters. The team is also continuing to work with Amazon to help all BTHA members protect their brands on the online marketplace. We will be hosting a webinar in association with the Amazon Brand Registry campaign. This is a key opportunity for companies to gain more information on how Brand Registry can help protect their brands on Amazon, particularly due to the increasing issue of counterfeits and copycats online. The webinar will take place on Tuesday October 2nd at 16:00, please e-mail me or call 020 7701 7271 if you would like to sign up. Members should have received their invitations to the BTHA’s annual Parliamentary reception on Wednesday 28th November. The event is organised to promote the toy industry and the issues most concerning reputable toy businesses with our network of Parliamentary advocates and this year will have a focus on toy safety. For more regular updates on the work of the BTHA, you can sign up to our weekly e-newsletter (exclusively for members of the Association), by contacting me. If you are not a BTHA member and would like to learn more about the benefits of membership, please get in touch with Tracey@btha.co.uk.

BTHA encourages industry to use new benefits of toys checklist in product development As part of the ongoing work the BTHA does to promote the value of play, specifically through the Make Time 2 Play campaign, a ‘Toys as the Tools of Play’ benefits framework has been launched, in association with Fundamentally Children. The purpose of this work is to help companies identify the play benefits their products can contribute towards children’s development and help them promote their efforts regarding the importance of play. Promoting the benefits of playing with toys is crucial to ensuring positive perceptions of toys in the public eye. The checklist includes a breakdown of the different categories of toys and the different benefits of play that children may develop at different stages of their childhood. For simplicity, the benefits of play have been broken down into six categories to match the Make Time 2 Play campaign; Physical, Social, Creative, Emotional, Behavioural and Inquisitive, with each category including more detailed benefits. As a call to action, the BTHA is encouraging member companies to download the explanatory chart and benefit logos from the BTHA website, and use these in any marketing material, promotions or on packaging, which will help consumers identify the benefits the toys may bring to their child. A long-term aim is for this chart to be a universal document used by toy companies across the toy industry. This will not only be beneficial to consumers, who will gain a better knowledge of the developmental benefits that toys can provide their children, but also to manufacturers themselves who can use this chart as a guideline during their product development process. Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs and communications, commented: “For years members of the BTHA have contributed to the development of millions of children through the products they develop. They have also supported our Make Time 2 Play campaign, which aims to promote the importance of play to parents and carers. The understanding of the benefits of play and the impact playing has on child development is becoming more and more popular and important to consumers, so we hope this checklist will be a simple way for toy companies to demonstrate to parents the benefits their toys can encourage in childhood.” If you would like to learn more about the Make Time 2 Play campaign please visit www.maketime2play.co.uk, or e-mail Rebecca@btha.co.uk for more information on how to get involved.

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Retail Profile

SMF Toytown

SMF Toytown -

Staying one step ahead At a time when retailers both large and small are facing a huge set of challenges, SMF Toytown is embracing a slew of expansion opportunities across the UK, now with 29 stores to its name. Toy World’s Rachael Simpson-Jones caught up with managing director Alan Simpson (no relation), to find out how the retailer is bucking the trend.

I understand that we’re to see five new Toytown stores open this year. Can you talk us through these openings, and what customers can expect from them? Ordinarily we would look to open two, perhaps three new locations in a year but when Toys R Us went, we had so many approaches that we’ve turned down more than I can count. It’s a lovely position to be in; we can pick and choose the locations we want, and step back from others that look iffy. Ten or twenty years ago, there were shopping centres

that wouldn’t even talk to us, and now they’re all over us like a rash. Opening in shopping centres increases our profile with landlords, which leads to requests to open stores in other centres. We work with Savills, which presented me with a long list of locations to look at, and we are now scheduling openings into 2019. We opened a store in Kingsway Shopping Centre, Newport, in mid-May, which offers 3,500 square feet of toys and an element of nursery. The store is trading solidly. We then took on the old Toys R Us unit in The Forge Shopping Centre, Glasgow, which has 8,000 square feet of retail space. We have experience running a unit of this size; we have one in an industrial park in Cork. It’s not what you would call prime retail space, but it does the numbers and has been trading really well over the past few years. When the old Toys R Us unit came up in Glasgow, it really was a no-brainer. We turned it around as quickly as we could, shelving it out in two days, and merchandising it in four, whilst in Newport we were in at 12.30pm on a Monday, and opened on the Thursday. In under a week, we can have a unit up and running, and looking pristine – we’re slick at what we do. Bow Street Mall in Lisburn then approached us. This unit was a 5,500 square footer that The Entertainer had looked at when the company first came over to Ireland, but evidently wasn’t keen to take up. We took it on, opened it and have been trading really well since. It’s got the space to provide a really strong nursery and toy offering. The fourth store we’ve opened this year is in Dundee’s Overgate Shopping Centre, which is quite upmarket. It’s a 3,500 square foot unit, and again offers nursery alongside toys. I’m over the moon with how well it’s performing so far. We then opened a toy-only store with just

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over 2,000 square feet of space in Wakefield last month, and we’re now preparing for an upsize in Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre, going from 1,700 square feet to 3,500 square feet, which will allow us to offer an element of nursery. Unless something too good to turn down comes out of the woodwork, that should theoretically be us done for 2018, and we’re now looking ahead to 2019.

Would it be fair to say that you prefer shopping centre locations over industrial parks or high streets? I would always favour a shopping centre with good footfall. Most shopping centres don’t actually have toy stores, simply because the margin that we make doesn’t stack up against jewellers or fashion retailers, and those types of stores are able to pay better rent. Other centres, however, are now taking the view that they need to offer a mix of stores; understanding that toy retail, with lower margins, price sensitivity etc. means landlords need to be pragmatic in doing a deal to get a toy store on site. Shopping centres focus on what other centres are doing, in terms of new ideas and fresh blood, and when we open in one centre we usually get offers from others asking us to move in. With so many retailers facing challenging times, there is plenty of space to fill, and shopping centres are having to think outside the box. There are some frustrations though. Toys R Us had been starting to look at the 3-4,000 square foot units, and so it was competing with stores that we were also considering. When it went bankrupt, the only other similar operator in the marketplace was The Entertainer. This isn’t an ideal situation, as it leaves us both chasing similar units with the inevitable situation where we end up targeting each other – a situation I had hoped we could avoid,


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Retail Profile

SMF Toytown

but only time will tell. There are no winners with having two good operators in the same centre.

The closure of Toys R Us has obviously presented you with many opportunities in terms of retail space and locations to open up in, but how do you plan to capture former Toys R Us customers? When we opened in the former Toys R Us unit in Glasgow, the consumer base was already there, and people were used to shopping in that store, while in Dundee there is a void to exploit because the Nappy Pin Toymaster has shut down, as well as the Toys R Us. People need to buy toys, but they also want an experience, not just a stroll around a giant toy supermarket. Smyths is a great operator and does what it does extraordinarily well, but it doesn’t do what we do and therefore we co-exist happily. The big store experience in units with 20-30,000 square feet of space isn’t as attractive these days and is one of the reasons Toys R us isn’t there anymore. It realised too late that it’s the 4-6,000 square foot units that work best all year round. Bigger stores are only needed for four weeks a year; the other 48 weeks of the year, a store of that size is simply a millstone around your neck. When you can bring customers across your threshold and deliver the wow factor, combined with range, pricing and all the brands they’re looking for in a really good environment, it’s very much a case of ‘build it and they will come’. Toys R Us customers are looking for an alternative place to buy toys, and that’s why we’ve moved quickly to minimise downtime before their shopping habits change. The last thing that the independent retail sector or toy trade needs is for shoppers to migrate to the Amazons of this world. There is a major lesson to be learned from the recent Which? slime scare, where every product that failed to meet boron limits came from Amazon. Amazon is risky, but your local independent toy store is bona fide, tried and trusted, and we do not take risks with product. If you play with fire, expect to get burned.

As you mentioned earlier, the retail scene at the moment is challenging to say the least. How are you bucking the trend? I’m very hands on. When I was on holiday recently, every day I would look at our numbers. That’s the nature of the beast; if you expect to do a five-day week, with 9 to 5 days, you’re going to struggle. I have three sons in the business; Brian does the buying and will be well known to a lot of suppliers; Kris is in accounting and Mark is in logistics. We continually look at what’s working and what isn’t, to stay ahead of the game. We won Overall Toy Retailer of the Year last year, which was unbelievable as an accolade. The award shows us how the trade views us. We try to have win/ win, two-way situations with suppliers, as we understand that without each other, neither can thrive. It’s important to us that when we do a deal, both people are smiling and happy at the end of the day. We take the same approach with landlords. We’re easy to work with, and we genuinely want to bring something to the centre, not just turn up to make what profit we can. We’re there to

increase dwell time and improve the experience for shoppers. The feedback we get from the centres themselves indicates that we are achieving this, and it snowballs. When you are good at what you do, people realise, but when you fly by the seat of your pants sometimes the saddle comes loose, and you fall off. We could have done 15 stores this year without a problem, but we stuck to five and we’re doing them well. We’re seeing so much uncertainty with Brexit, a government in turmoil and a currency that has fallen off the cliff. We check currency and exchange rates several times a day, something many other toy retailers wouldn’t even dream of doing, because we know it’s going to impact pricing and profitability. Business rates are an issue for so many retailers, as

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is the living wage, but the powers that be seem to have buried their heads in the sand. The number of casualties in retail at moment demonstrates that the government cannot continue with hare-brained schemes to make businesses pay for this and that. Retail is on the rack, with a huge amount more retailers to potentially disappear before the tail end of this year, simply because they can’t survive any longer. That said, there are others that are sound and run their numbers, and they are the ones who will continue to pick up the opportunities. We will be celebrating 40 years of business next November. We started in 1979, and I’ve lead from day one. If you stand still people are going to overtake you, so we will always endeavour to stay one step ahead.


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Brand Profile

Zapf

Baby love With MGA’s Zapf brand preparing to celebrate Baby Annabell’s 20th anniversary this year, Toy World spoke to Kasia Leskow, marketing manager at MGA Entertainment, about the enduring success of the doll range and the celebrations fans can look forward to as the brand marks its milestone event. How has 2018 been for the Zapf brands? We’ve seen a strong start to the year for both the Baby Annabell and Baby born brands, with good sales figures continuing. Excitement is building for multiple new products launching this autumn for both brands – Baby born will see a new core doll Soft Touch, a Mermaid Sister doll and new range Funny Faces. Baby Annabell will also see brand innovation in the new Milly Feels Better doll and My Special Day doll. We are bringing a lot of newness throughout autumn and expect strong sales ahead of Christmas.

In this special anniversary year for Baby Annabell, what do you have planned for the festive season? Baby Annabell is celebrating 20 years in the UK market this year and continues to be a standout performer within the large doll category. We have a lot of activity planned to continue the excitement, including a special edition doll, TV and digital media, and PR activities including brand partnerships. The standout products this autumn include the new Baby born Soft Touch doll – the launch will bring as much innovation as possible to the doll, following extensive research. We are confident it will be at the top of many Christmas lists, and are supporting it with strong TV, digital and PR campaigns. The Baby Annabell Milly Feels Better doll uses new technology and plays on the popular nursing play pattern, encouraging children to learn essential nurturing skills as well as helping to conquer fears surrounding illness and doctors. We will be launching the doll with major influencer activity ahead of Christmas.

What are the qualities that have made Zapf such an enduring, successful brand? Nurturing and role-play still feature heavily in the dolls market – as seen by the ongoing popularity of our Zapf Creation brands. Baby Annabell and

Baby born have seen vast expansion in their ranges over the years, with the addition of many fantastic accessories. Both dolls and their accessories appeal to children aged between 0-8+. Many parents are searching for a doll brand to take their children from new-born through to pre-school and beyond, to stimulate their child’s imagination during those important formative years. The beauty of both brands is that they offer accessories which complement the core dolls, providing a broader play pattern as children grow.

Baby dolls are seen as a traditional, classic play pattern: does this sometimes mean they can be unfairly overlooked by retailers in favour of more contemporary ranges? Ultimately, it comes down to play-value traditional play still has a huge role in the appeal of toys and learning through play is a huge part of the Zapf Creation narrative. Parents still recognise the importance of pretend and technology-free play for a child’s development – this can be seen in the ongoing success of both brands, as well as in the number of awards achieved for Zapf Creation over the years. Retailers recognise this demand and are continuing to invest and support both ranges, despite the continual development of contemporary ranges which often have a heavy tech influence. Both are evergreen brands that perform well year after year; the products are high quality and durable. The ranges benefit from a strong heritage as well as ongoing market research, and continue to bring innovation to the dolls category.

How can retailers make the most of the Zapf range and the Baby Doll category as a whole? Both brands have products for new-born babies onwards, meaning there is real opportunity for retailers and parents to embrace the brands for children of all ages. A wide selection of accessories

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stimulates imaginative role-play – from Baby born themed products to Baby Annabell items with a focus on realistic family role-play. This creates a huge opportunity for retailers to support with themed activations, as well as encouraging repeat purchases.

What plans do you have to celebrate the milestone anniversary? We’re hugely excited to be celebrating the 20th anniversary for Baby Annabell this year. To celebrate the milestone, we are launching a special edition doll, My Special Day, supported by major partnerships with Barnardo’s children’s charity and Smyths Toy Stores - £2.50 from the sale of Baby Annabell My Special Day in Smyths stores across the UK will go towards a donation to Barnardo’s Family programme, helping to support struggling families throughout the UK. The brand will also be announcing a celebrity brand ambassador later this year to drive momentum and excitement around the anniversary year. The chosen ambassador has been a huge fan of the brand since childhood and has now passed this on to her children. The anniversary will be further supported with major TV, digital and social media campaigns in the run up to Christmas.



Fresh

FRESH THIS MONTH:

Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. In September we have new releases from: Bruder, BuzzBee Toys, Guidecraft, Liberty House Toys, Mattel and Rainbow Designs.

Ducati Café Racer and Desert Sled motorcycle models Bruder 01491 412 415 | www.bruder.de For those who are passionate about motorcycles Bruder has welcomed two new Ducati motocycles – the Café Racer and the Desert Sled - to its extensive range of models. Embodying one of the most influential movements in motorcycling history, the Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer integrates contemporary elements into the original design. Design elements such as golden wheels, the exhaust and the mirrors on the end of the handlebars feature high attention to detail, while the motorcycle also boasts a steered fork and spring-loaded rear axle. The Café Racer is handled by a figure featuring authentic clothing, matching helmet and gloves. The Desert Sled is an enduro model featuring studs on its profiled off-road tyres, which are mounted on three-spoke wheels, appealing not only to veteran motorcyclists, but also to a younger generation of riders. The model features realistic wire-spoke wheels and accurate motocross elements, while the matching rider wears an authentic motocross helmet complete with peak. Available now, kids can enjoy both vehicles in 1:16 scale for hours of indoor and outdoor play.

Air Warriors Mutator Buzz Bee Toys (852) 2369 8523 | www.buzzbeetoys.com Air Warriors from Buzz Bee Toys is the latest innovation in the dart blaster category. After releasing several game-changing products in the last few years, Buzz Bee Toys continues to prove that it is a true specialist for high quality and high performance foam dart blasters. New for 2018 is the Air Warriors Mutator. The blaster can hold one 10-dart clip filled with Air Warriors long distance darts, and another 10-dart clip filled with superior PrecisePro darts for improved accuracy. Kids can load both clips simultaneously into the Mutator, and switch between them by simply extending the barrel. The look of the blaster can be further enhanced with the extendable barrel and detachable shoulder stock, while the realistic bolt action, combined with its versatility and high performance, will guarantee hours of fun. The Air Warriors Mutator includes two 10-dart clips, 10 long distance darts and 10 PrecisePro darts, and has a maximum blasting distance of 22 meters. This is just one of several innovative new dart blasters in Buzz Bee Toys’ 2018 Air Warriors range; please visit the website or contact the company to find out more.

Star Cars furniture Liberty House Toys 0151 479 3135 | www.libertyhousetoys.co.uk Growing concerns over plastic pollution have lead many parents to search for an alternative when it comes to their children’s furniture. Wooden furniture is a great alternative to plastic, providing more durable, long-lasting pieces that can be passed on or recycled. Liberty House Toys offers a wide variety of classic bedroom and playroom furniture to suit all tastes, finished in wood and designed to pass the test of time. Themed wooden furniture can be a particularly good choice, especially if a child is currently interested in a certain motif or hobby. The company has recently designed a range of wooden furniture ideal for car obsessed little ones. The Star Cars collection features a magazine rack, a table and chair set and a toy box, all available now. The range can be mixed and matched or collected for a real racing track experience. Animal, Princess and Fairy range options are also available, so there is plenty to choose from, to suit all tastes.

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Paddington Bear Classic and 60th Anniversary plush Rainbow Designs 01329 227 300 | www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk The new Paddington Bear Classic range features a range of gifts for enthusiasts and fans of the late Michael Bond’s best-selling storybook character. The new Classic collection includes the premium Large Classic Paddington Bear with Boots and Suitcase, the Classic Cuddly Paddington Bear, and the Classic Paddington Bear in a Union flagdesigned bag. Also available are the Classic Bean Toy Paddington and the Classic Paddington Key Chains. A Bear Called Paddington was first published in 1958, and 2018 marks the 60th Anniversary of the story. To commemorate the occasion Rainbow Designs has created two special edition Paddington Bears, inspired by Peggy Fortnum’s original illustrations and featuring special anniversary artwork. Rainbow’s Commemorative Paddington Bear in 60th Anniversary Gift Box is a premium quality Paddington wearing real wellington boots, duffel coat and bush hat, presented in a special edition gift box with a gold foil anniversary logo. Collectors and Paddington Bear enthusiasts can also celebrate the milestone with the new Large Cuddly Anniversary Paddington Bear with Scarf. This premium quality Paddington Bear plush sports a checked scarf and is both cuddly enough to appeal to young Paddington fans and stylish enough to look the part on a collector’s shelf.

Thomas & Friends Trackmaster Turbo Jungle Set Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.kosmosgames.co.uk Fisher-Price continues to expand its infant and pre-school ranges with innovative new offerings. Thomas & Friends introduces the TrackMaster Turbo Jungle Set, inspired by the new movie, Big World! Big Adventure! in which Thomas travels the world, including a stop in a South American jungle. The play set brings this jungle setting to life, and allows Thomas to complete a jump stunt thanks to a motorised turbo engine that can travel up to 2.5 times faster than normal TrackMaster engines. The range also includes new Light Up Mini Engines that illuminate when pressed down, while children can also grow their Thomas & Friends collections with the 2-Pack Assortment.

Grippies Shakers Guidecraft 07725 833 273 | www.guidecraft.com Grippies Shakers brings kinetic energy and sound exploration to awardwinning toddler STEM platform Grippies. Designed for children as young as 18 months, all Grippies sets combine tactile exploration, magnetic play and an introduction to the basic principles of engineering and geometry. Toddlers first discover magnetic principles by connecting magnetic rods, which come in two sizes, to each other, or combining them with the overmoulded metal balls to create a uniquely soothing acoustic building experience. The sensory beads can be observed rattling their way down the magnetic rods through clear windows. Grippies Shakers are the sixth design in Guidecraft’s toddler STEM toy system and are perfect for young children to exercise their auditory, fine and gross motor and early engineering skills all at once. Each set features four soft matt textures in exciting bright colours, and there is also a handy, sturdy container for storage.

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Company Profile

Geemac

Gerald McKay

Adam Pearson

On the bounce

Geemac has always been something of a ‘below the radar’ company – someone described them recently as “the top 10 NPD company nobody has heard of.” Toy World caught up with Gerald McKay and Adam Pearson to find out how 2018 is shaping up. What has been the key to your success thus far? Our strategy is to offer the most cost-effective route to market for the brands we are marketing. We offer direct to retail, but we also heavily market our lines. Fifteen years ago, we were predominantly known for outdoor products, but we have diversified and now our range pretty much covers all categories within the overall toy market.

What are the advantages of the Geemac set-up to your principals and your retail customers? For our principals, it’s volume sales - the FOB/ direct to retail strategy, fully supported with our UK showroom, account management, marketing and also an in-house help line. For retail, it is the margin incentive, not traditionally achievable via traditional domestic supply. Direct to retail means lower retail prices, and it also drives more volume sales

What are the main ranges you currently handle in the UK market? Sportspower, Polygroup, Zuru, Grown Up, Eolo and Feber. Each company offers specific lines and ranges which complement one another.

How big a player in the global trampoline market is Sportspower? Sportspower supply the largest retailers globally and in turn is the global leader in trampolines and outdoor metal lines.

What are the main challenges for retailers and suppliers in the trampoline category? The challenge we face every year is price versus quality and, in turn, safety. We have learnt that consumers are looking for an affordable trampoline solution, made up to a quality rather than down to a price. Investing in automation and

bulk buying steel enables us to do this. We have developed a ‘Quad-lok' system which connects the top ring, enclosure and leg into one joint; this has been independently strength tested to over two million bounces. We have also developed the patented ‘Easi-store’ enclosure, which enables consumers to fold their enclosure when not in use, which has been a huge success. As we have our own in-house helpline, we receive direct consumer feedback, enabling us to work closely with the factory to fine tune the range. We also have our own in-house design team to work on product and colours specifically for the European markets.

What are the strengths of the Polygroup pool range? Polygroup is a $600m + vertically-integrated business, which manufactures the product in its entirety, including packaging. This means assured quality and on-time shipment. We also offer ownbrand product, offering a layer of protection to the retailer, which for the UK market is key. Design and innovation in this category is so important and with over 30 in-house designers, this gives us the ability to supply anything from an armband to a 24’ above-ground pool. Consumers want to see innovation: colours are one thing but keeping your child cool in the heat is what really works. Making it fun and affordable is our goal.

I guess 2018 has been a fantastic year for pool sales – does this augur well for 2019? After having the hottest summer in over 40 years, all of our retail customers are advising that shelves are empty of both pools and inflatables, giving buyers confidence to buy into new innovation and designs for 2019. This does come with its challenges; as Polygroup is a global supplier, US retailers in particular are placing business earlier than ever, to ensure they can be amongst the first to take stock in the new year. Polygroup has a 100%

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ship and quality record in the UK; some of our competitors have had supply issues over recent years and with the sell-out summer, 2019 will definitely be our biggest year to date

Zuru is one of the fastest-growing global toy companies – what are its range highlights for this Christmas? The progression of Zuru from when we first started working with the company 10 years ago is phenomenal; it has progressed rapidly from humble beginnings to have a range of awardwinning, ground-breaking, innovative products. When you look at the infrastructure Zuru now has, it is testament to the Mowbrays’ drive and tenacity. There are so many highlights this year; X-Shot, Flying Bugs, Rainbocorns, Smashers series 2, 5 Surprise and Robo Alive, all supported with heavy marketing activity. This years’ investment will be the largest to date.

Unicorns are one of this year’s hot trends – how is Feber’s My Lovely Unicorn Ride-On going to capitalise on this consumer popularity? Feber has come up with something completely different, offering a battery-operated, fully motorised Unicorn which the child can actually ride. My Lovely Unicorn features a magic horn, style-able hair with accessories - and you can even walk your Unicorn. Argos has featured it in the top 12 toys for Christmas, and we even had Holly Willoughby riding our Unicorn on This Morning, which has given us a huge start to our launch. Unfortunately, we only have limited stock, as it is selling so well everywhere.

What are your aims for the business this festive season and in 2019? The same as every year - to deliver great product at great prices, execute the marketing support we plan and maximise sales.



Feature

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Small scale sensations The collectibles market has continued to enjoy success in the first half of the year. Casey Goodman looks at the latest trends in the category as we head towards the festive season.

T

he first half of the year is when pocket money toys and collectibles traditionally dominate the toy market; 2018 has been no exception, with slime, putty, squishies and mesh balls all enjoying considerable success. Blind bags and toys based on the ubiquitous unboxing trend remain hugely popular, driven by the astonishing popularity of L.O.L. Surprise!, ranked as the No.1 toy property in all 13 countries which are tracked by NPD. Global sales of collectibles have increased by 26%, and now account for 11% of sales in the total toy industry. Paul Reader, product manager at Toymaster, explains how growth in the category has presented its own set of challenges: “It is fascinating - and sometimes frightening - how quickly a craze can level off or simply drop out forever, which is not good for either supplier or retailer if they still have inventory. This year has seen the introduction of more collectible ranges than I have seen in a very long time. From the start of the year, slow-rising foam products, coupled with an unprecedented number of girls’ collectibles, have had us all scrambling to understand which ones we should support. One issue is that the split between girls’ collectibles and boys’ collectibles is currently, in my opinion, about 80/20. The volume of collectibles aimed at girls is huge, and looking at many line ups for next year it appears to be more of the same, yet the population gender split is roughly 50/50.” Unsurprisingly, Paul highlighted that the range which has exceeded all expectations is L.O.L Surprise! from MGA: “This is one brand with a small number of

SKUs delivering sales that exceed the total turnover of many domestic suppliers. It has to be the most sought-after product since the golden years of Ty Beanies; never before I have seen one brand dominate the market in this fashion and it does not appear to be slowing. It is a huge challenge for MGA to manage the brand and ensure that all retailers get their fair share. Let’s hope they positively discriminate in favour of those retailers that have supported them and their brands for a long time and don’t chase orders from those retailers that jump in and out of toy brands when it suits.” Andrew Laughton, senior vice president at MGA, commented: “As a brand, L.O.L. Surprise! has continued to grow - retailers are seeing exceptional results in sales and we expect to see the brand exceed expectations and targets in 2019. Retailers need to keep their eyes peeled for something BIG coming this Christmas for the brand.” Collectibles has become such a popular category that some current toy ranges have evolved by introducing lower price collectible versions of their original lines, with Spin Master Hatchimals Colleggtibles, and Jazwares Fingerlings Minis being just two examples. Conversely, collectible ranges are being expanded to include higher price point options, providing gifting or more substantial products which are ideal for the Christmas selling period, when sales of low value toys may slow down. Zuru communications manager Erika Sava explains: “Collectibles will still be popular in Q4 as they make good gifts and stocking fillers around

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Christmas. In addition, Zuru has also developed a range of playsets for the latest Smashers series, and launched the collectible plush Rainbocorns at a higher price point to provide some great brand extension options for the Christmas market.” MGA has also launched a range of collectible-related items which have been designed for the Christmas market, Andrew explains: “For most brands we have pocket money items which then build to a higher price point for playsets and more considered purchase items, especially as we look to the all-important Christmas gift.” Paul explains why the category is so important for independent retailers: “Independents thrive on playground crazes; we are quicker to react than large organisations, we are able to order straight away as we are not governed by strict range plans or in-store merchandising plans. We are then able to feedback how popular the craze is by the number of repeat orders we place. The price points suit smaller retailers, and these price points are not susceptible to the usual online scrutiny and comparison. Consumers buying from a physical toy shop get the opportunity to ensure it is the right product with all the correct markings and labels, so they can buy with confidence. Buying online from a source you don’t know is not always a wise choice. There is a vast choice of collectibles in independent stores and, as this area is dominating toy sales at the moment, we find ourselves in a good place and thank our suppliers for their continued support.” Over the following pages, Toy World presents a selection of the latest collectible products.


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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk BFF (Best Furry Friends) incorporates cute mini pets, unique blind bag storage designs and individual character personalities within each wave introduction. The six core BFFs lead a collection of colourful collectible characters including Furry, Jelly, Fluffy Tails and Metallics. Each BFF collectible pet comes with its own teeny travel bag which doubles as a fun fashion accessory, so children can pop the pets in and take them anywhere. Squeezamals collectible plush are covered in soft furry fabric, with a unique slow rise foam interior. Each Squeezamal measures around 3.5” and there are 16 to collect, plus 16 mini clip-on versions. Launching later in 2018, there will also be four larger 8” Squeezamals available to add to the collection. Children can push and pop a surprise sensation with new Pop A Lotz. Packed with collectible cuddly cuties, cheeky chips and playful pom poms, pushable Pop A Lotz Surprise Pops are a new way to collect and play. Every Pop A Lotz Surprise Pop has a reusable, pushable plunger, which pops the top and shoots out a rainbow of perfectly packed, playable, wrapped presents. Character licensed collectible range Ooshies is being expanded for autumn/winter 2018 to include new characters from DC Comics and Marvel, while collectible Crayola Washimals introduces 11 different pets to colour and wash so children can be creative time and time again.

H Grossman 0141 613 2525 | www.ozbozz.co.uk

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Brainstorm has introduced the brand new StikBot Dinos to the hugely popular social sharing toy range. The new incarnation of StikBots is not only a great impulse line; the StikBot Dino Eggs are extremely collectible with a 24 blind egg assortment in a CDU. There are seven different breeds of dinosaur and seven different colours. Each CDU also features a rare StikBot Dino with unique colours. Not only is the product collectible, it comes with an educational fact sheet and can also be used with the free StikBot App to create stop-frame animations. The innovative design has moveable legs, body, mouth, tail and neck with suction cup hands and feet, which can be easily positioned on any flat surface, so children can let their imagination go wild. In addition to the StikBot Dinos, the range comprises 12 new assorted StikBot Safari Pets including Hippo, Elephant, Lion and Rhino. StikBot Pets continues to be a popular pocket money line, as children grow their collections as well as creating more imaginative animations. StikBot single figures are also available at pocket money prices.

Grossman offers a vast range of squidgies, including new Unicorn squidgies in Summer pastel colours. Unicorn Poo has been a great sell out range, with mass media coverage of the craze. Additions to the range now include the Unicorn UV colour change putty, complete with its own UV torch. The popularity of slime and putty shows no sign of abating, so HGL has doubled its product range with all sorts of innovations. Planet Putty has planetary links and info to add to the phenomenally successful Professor Marty line.

HTI 01253 778 888 | www.htigroup.co.uk HTI continues to develop and invest in this ever-changing and everevolving category, to keep up with new trends and remain competitive. Squeez-em’s are super squishy and soft collectibles which offer children the opportunity to role-play with a variety of characters and styles which are also attached to a keychain, making them the perfect accessory. The range is also multi-sensory, appealing not only to touch, but also to smell. Each Squeez-em is slow rising and scented; the scent is released when the product is squeezed. Through touch, feel and scent, children are encouraged to delve into the huge trend of squishy toys that is sweeping the nation. The super squishy range is set to grow in popularity and demand, as a brand-new selection of styles is added to the Squeez-em’s series. Evolving with the latest crazes, the brand-new offering will include a Unicorn, Multicoloured Shell, Pink Llama and an Elephant – all in pastel colours.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Jazwares/WowWee 07595 986 916 | www.jazwares.com Fingerlings Minis, distributed by Jazwares, are cute additions to the bigger Fingerlings Friends. They come in blind bags, each containing a surprise miniature Monkey, Unicorn or Sloth, a bracelet and a tail charm. The series includes popular, rare, legendary and ultra-rare figures. They can be collected traded, and worn on the wrist or even on top of pencils. Available from summer 2018, the minis retail at pocket money prices, making them ideal collectibles.

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com YoYoFactory has over 1.6m Facebook fans and Radio 2’s Chris Evans has been extolling the virtues of the brand and the Yo Yo craze. The YoYo has been around since 500 BC and the tech behind the toy has developed considerably. Spectacular tricks at this year’s London Toy Fair included a new world record, recorded when Hans Van Elzen appeared on the Wilton Bradley stand to demonstrate his skillset. YoYoFactory has joined forces with Wilton Bradley to act as the UK distributor for its expert line of Yo Yos. YoYoFactory makes a wide range of Yo-Yos. Whatever the level of expertise, the company has a Yo-Yo to suit every skill or style. Wilton Bradley has a full product range which will provide a great throwing experience for the beginner using the TenTrick range, right up to the high grade aluminium DV888 Yo-Yo or the F.A.S.T 201, for more advanced users to master the classics.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk With kids going back to school this month, Posh Paws’ selection of plush bag clips are perfect for those wanting to accessories their bags. The clips come in a range of popular licences, including Jurassic World 2, Star Wars and more. Also at a pocket money price is Posh Paws’ Disney Collection range of glittery eyed soft toys. The sparkly plush toys feature fan favourites from both Disney’s back catalogue and most recent films. Released in squads of six, each cute character has large eyes that instantly attract. Squad C has just launched and includes characters such as Rapunzel, Piglet and Thumper which add to the already popular selections launched earlier this year. The fresh, new and stylised look and feel of the Disney Collection offers kids, teens and adults alike adorable plush that is priced as a pocket money collectible, so fans can build their own #DisneySquad. POS stands are also available to fill and refresh with new characters as they are continually released.

Character Options 0161 633 9800 | www.character-online.com Soft’n Slo Squishies caters to the super soft, slow-rising craze and delivers wave after wave of affordable collectibles to be squished. The brand-new Series 3 Fun Food collection has recently launched, with incredibly life-like Hamburgers, Hot dogs, Fries and more, that kids can squish and watch transform as they slowly rise. Also from the makers of Soft’n Slo Squishies and proving a hit at retail is Bubbleezz. Each Bubbleezz character has hundreds of Bubbleezz Beads inside, that move around as children squeeze and transform them. Power Charms are concealed inside each character, which has its own personality traits and powers. Disney Doorables is a new collectible, with Mini, Multi or Mega Stack Playsets, that can be mixed, matched, and stacked. Each pack has its own number of favourite Disney characters with glitter eyes, accessories and connector pieces that allow children to recreate magical story moments or mix up their own Disney Doorables world. Brand-new collectible Treasure X delivers a treasure hunt unboxing experience with 10 levels of adventure. Children can find the map and uncover a coin to locate which treasure they are searching for, then use the digging tool to dig and chip away the rock to reveal the bones and weapons of their Treasure Hunter. When they find and open the chest, adding water will fizz and reveal what’s inside.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Schleich 01279 870 000 | www.schleich-s.com/en From favourites Farm World and Horse Club through to prehistoric dinosaurs and new fantasy creatures, Schleich has many pocket money purchases and collectibles to choose from. One of the most celebrated collector’s themes within the Schleich portfolio is Horse Club and this year, new breeds and playsets have joined the line-up. With the same beautiful hand painted detail that the company is renowned for, brand new breeds such as the new Quarter Horse, English Thoroughbred and the Holsteiner will be introduced to the range, ideal both for collectors and as pocket money purchases. The Dinosaur range has fearsome new reptiles such as the Oviraptor, Triceratops and Tawa to collect. Refreshes on existing favourites such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor also add to the collectability of the range. Another key franchise is the Eldrador Creatures range. Under this refreshed franchise will be four key collections; Lava, Ice, Water and Stone worlds will each have three figurines to collect at three different price points such as Stone Monster, Ice Dragon and Hellhound. Each of Schleich’s play worlds also has playsets to make the whole play experience complete, as collections expand.

Funko 020 3376 3223 | www.funko.com New from Funko is the Avengers: Infinity War Pocket Pop! Keychains. The hugely successful blockbuster is available to take home on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Download in September, so Infinity War hype is bigger than ever. Pocket Pop! Keychains resemble mini Pop! Vinyl, and feature the same eyecatching stylisation – children can choose from a selection of their favourite characters including Thanos and Hulkbuster. Also available are the Avengers: Infinity War Mystery Minis – these fun and detailed mini figures come in blind boxes, adding a fun surprise element to collecting. All of children’s favourite heroes and villains are here, including Iron Man, Thor, Thanos, and Gamora. The attractive price point makes these the perfect fun collectible for Marvel fans young and old.

Magic Box Toys 01403 251286 | www.magicboxint.com SuperZings from Magic Box Toys has become a must have playground collectible craze for 2018 since the launch of Series 1 in January of this year. Series 2, which hit shelves on 29th August, brings exciting new additions, changes and range expansions. Clad in superhero capes and eye masks, there are 80 new multi-coloured characters to collect, each with a matching rival including an ultra-rare character, two gold, six silver and 24 ‘SuperCrystal’ characters – a brand new finish which kids will love to collect. Other products in the range will include SuperZing Hideouts, SuperJets, a £7 Blister Pack containing a crystal SuperBlaster, a £10 Blister pack of ten characters including an ultra-rare gold SuperZing and a Cyber Tin. The key character for series 2 is the extremely rare Professor K; the inventor of Krystaline – a special substance that creates the SuperCrystal SuperZings. SuperZings has expanded the brand offering with three playsets offering children added play value and a chance to create their very own SuperZings world, as well as giving family and gift-givers added choice this Christmas. SuperZings Series 2 will be supported by a significant launch marketing campaign including TV, digital, social, unboxings, PR and webisodes, to introduce the characters and their rivals as well as the full product range.

Jazwares 0203 598 0272 | www.jazwares.com This year sees Jazwares evolve the Feisty Pets brand to include a collectible range of 4” figures. Brand-new for autumn/winter 2018, and the perfect companion toy to viral-phenomenon Feisty Pets plush, this collection of six different Feisty Pets features a unique, interactive design. They're cute and lovable, but with just a press to the top of the head, the 4" animal figures change from sweet to feisty. The six characters available include: brown bear Sir Growls-A-Lot; bunny Vicky Vicious; Husky Sammy Suckerpunch; cat Princess Pottymouth; unicorn Glenda Glitterpoop and monkey Grandmaster Funk. The figures are suitable for ages 6+.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Zuru 01604 401 719 | www.zuru.com

Green Elephant Trading 01327 830 786 | www.greenelephanttrading.com The next few months will see the expansion of the Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty range with the addition of new regular sized and mini tins, plus three gift sets. The Classic Collection includes seven new colours, offering the avid Crazy Aaron’s collector over twenty-five different colour mini tins to collect. The best-selling Thinking Putty product so far this year has been Dino Poop. Combining some of the biggest current trends – dinosaurs, glitter and poop – the popularity of the putty shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sparkly, smooth and easy to squeeze, this putty is ideal for dinosaur fans of all ages. The new Thinking Putty gift sets should prove popular in the latter part of the year, offering a strong gifting option for Christmas as well as birthdays and other special occasions. The Greatest Hits starter set includes two large and three mini tins for a complete Thinking Putty experience right out of the box. The Neon Set provides a bolt of inspiration with five mini neon colours, while the Mixed By Me Hypercolour Kit allows putty fans to make their own creations that change colour with just the heat from their hands. The Crazy Aaron’s Limited-Edition Halloween and Christmas tins are always sought-after, and this year Halloween sees the release of the Spooktacular Howl tin as well as the Trick and Treat mini tins. The Christmas range includes the festive magnetic North Pole and sparkly Snow Day tins, alongside the Winter Cabin, Candy Cane and Snow Angel mini tins. Kids can also look out for new accessories accompanying the Howl and Snow Day offerings. Finally, for kids who want to supersize their putty play, Crazy Aaron’s also offers Mega tins of Super Scarab and Super Lava. These 1lb tins contain five times the amount of a regular Thinking Putty tin.

Following a successful Boxing Day launch of collectible brand Smashers, Zuru has unveiled a second series for the autumn/winter 2018 period. With Series 1 exceeding forecasts, Series 2 is continuing to drive the brand through its innovative Smashball element, as well as the all-new Eyeball Smashball to house a ‘crew’ of Gross Smashers characters. Offering a continued nod to the still-popular global unboxing trend, children can only discover which Gross character they’ve collected by smashing open the Smashball Eyeball. There are 100 new creatures to collect in Series 2, tapping into the appeal of all things grotesque. With Series 2 hitting shelves for the Q3 period, the Gross collection is also a timely addition to the ever-growing Halloween market. Once unboxed – or smashed – children can battle, collect, swap and score with their Gross Smashers, as each one has its own Smash Point Value allowing for extended play. Series 2 includes Odd Bodies, Icky Insects, Ooze Dudes, Awful Animals, Filthy Food, Toilet Humour, and Smash Trash, with rare, ultra-rare see-through characters and playset exclusive characters to collect. Aimed at pocket money, treats, and gifting budgets, SKUs include the Smashers one pack, three pack and eight pack, alongside bigger hero items such as the Scary Collectors’ Tin and Smashers Sludge Bus, that unfolds into a bathroom to shoot Smashers into the toilet. All come complete with Collector Guide. Zuru believes that Smashers bridge the excitement of a blind purchase with unboxing in a unique way, as well as marrying the appeal of collecting alongside the novelty of disgusting objects. Extensive marketing support is underway for Series 2 including traditional on- and offline media, unboxing influencer outreach, events, sampling and social media, and retail activations and backing. Additional webisodes and content is also in production for the dedicated Smashers YouTube channel, which has received 15.4m views to date.

Bliss Distribution Limited 0845 365 3030 | www.blissdistribution.co.uk Keeping on trend with the heavy demand for anything and everything unicorn, DeAgostini has just released the ninth series of the Magiki range, Magiki Unicorns. These will follow on from the extremely popular Magiki Princesses that released in April. There are 12 different unicorns to collect, in a variety of vibrant designs which also includes a magical colour changing feature. This successful and proven brand offers an ideal price point for impulse pocket money buys, and orders can be placed with Bliss Distribution Limited (Formerly Dracco UK), exclusive distributor for the Magiki range. Bliss also stocks a wide range of collectibles, trading cards, games and toys from the world’s leading manufacturers. All orders placed before 5pm are dispatched the same day, with a carriage paid minimum order of just £150.

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Learn More / Request a Catalogue • Tel: 01626 835400 www.wiltonbradley.co.uk • Email: sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk


Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk Pikmi Pops is already a resounding success. The sweet scented mini plushies come packaged inside iconic lollipop vessels. In September, Season 3 will be launching with all new scents and more surprises to discover as part of a brand new “style” series. Later this autumn, Pikmi Pops FlipMi will add a Flip N Pop feature, introducing fluffy, plush characters. Shopkins Mini Packs sees favourite characters from Seasons 1 – 3 return with gold, silver and bronze embossed stamps to depict their series. The cute shopping packets, from Bakery to Homewares, Frozen to Dairy are now part of the play pattern, and have become just as collectable as the Shopkins themselves, with over 80 available. Autumn will see the introduction of new collection Shopkins Lil’ Secrets. Cracking the code on the Lil’ Secrets map will unlock a world containing the littlest Shoppies and Shopkins yet. Once open, the Lil’ Secrets Locks reveal one of nine themed miniature worlds, each including one teeny Shoppie and one tiny Shopkin. The line will be TV supported. The Grossery Gang is about to enter its fifth series. Time Wars will introduce the grossest battle of all time, with 150 of the newest ‘mucky’ mob to collect. The Surprise Pack will include two Grossery Gang characters found in a toilet - complete with fizzing function. Ben-10 pocket money collectibles are also part of the line-up, with new Foil Bags that were launched in August. There are 13 2.5” mini figures to collect, which include Ben and all the Aliens and Villains from the show, available in a CDU.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk

Mattel 01628 500 111 | www.mattel.com

Spin Master continues its trend of disruptive innovation with a series of exciting new launches, such as the innovative new Twisty Petz. The launch marketing activity, which has included TV and exciting influencer partnerships, has already created strong demand for the new pocket money line and support will continue around the Back to School period and throughout Q4. With over 70 adorable pets to bring to life, like a kitten, panda or unicorn, Twisty Petz transform from an adorable pet collectible into a beautiful gem bracelet or accessory - all with a simple twist. Connecting more Twisty Petz together creates a fabulous necklace – the perfect accessory for any outfit. The Hatchimals craze continues with Season 3 Hatchimals Colleggtibles. Season 3 introduces “Hatch Friends Forever”, with over 100 new friends to hatch and collect. To extend the entertainment value beyond the reveal, fun content and episodes are available on YouTube. Fans can also download the free Hatchimals app to explore Hatchtopia, play games and more. Spin Master will continue its strong marketing support with TV, digital, influencer and a host of other PR activities to support Hatchimals Colleggtibles growth in this leading toy category.

For Q4 2018, Mattel is bringing back much-loved retro icon Polly Pocket. The original micro scale doll is back with a surprise in every compact to show girls “tiny is mighty.” The new range includes miniature compacts and larger scale compacts such as the Polly Pocket Big Pocket World assortment and Polly’s Go Tiny Room playset. The new Polly Pocket will launch a refreshed look that nods to the brand’s heritage and surprise factor, but features an updated look for the characters and scenes with new miniature worlds and miniature compact themes. The product line is accompanied by an animated series that follows Polly and her friends as they embrace big adventures in a shrunken size, thanks to Polly’s magic locket, and will air on Pop this September. Polly Pocket hits shelves in early September, and will benefit from an extensive marketing and PR campaign, inspiring girls to be capable, courageous and tenacious in their own lives, just like Polly.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

MGA Entertainment 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com New squishy collectible Smooshins takes the surprise and anticipation of unboxing to a whole new level with an exciting arts and crafts twist, with over 10,000 combinations of characters and accessories to create and collect. Children can make their own Smooshins characters using the Smooshins Surprise Maker Kit, Surprise Character moulds give the ability to reveal a different surprise animal character each time, whilst a variety of different colours and accessories mean endless mix and match possibilities. As with all MGA Entertainment products, the packaging is impressive; the Surprise Maker Kit comes as a bear shape, with a child-safe locking mechanism and flashing light so fans know when their Smooshin is ready to be revealed. Smooshins is being launched in the UK with influencer activity, a full PR campaign, and heavyweight TV and digital support.

Bandai 0208 324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk The summer has seen a resurgence of the yo-yo. Bandai’s Hyper Cluster is a range of precision-engineered, high-performance yo-yos which can be customised to match the user’s style and performance needs. Interchangeable skateboard-style skins can be combined for kids to show off their style and personality while they play, and Hyper Clusters can also be customised with high-performance ball-bearings to adjust spin, stamina or looping abilities. From the creators of Smooshy Mushy is a new breed of slow-rise creatures called Smashy Mashy. Presented in yucky, ooze-reveal canisters with lots of surprises packed inside, this collectible range will appeal to lovers of all things gross and squishy. The original Smooshy Mushy collection has also added to its line up, as Smooshy Mushy takes on a new baby theme. The cute characters are packaged in baby’s bottles, complete with their toy besties. The magic milk disappears to reveal the baby. Taking two of the hottest trends and combining them into one pocket money collection, Poo-nicorns are impulse purchase characters in bold bright colours with big eyes, and come in a CDU of Squishies, egg encased Droplings or a variety of affordable plush.

Tomy 01392 281 927 | www.tomy.com Stink Bomz is the newest collectible toy range from Tomy. The new line, set for release in autumn/winter 2018, has silly smells and unique fart noises. The Stink Bomz collection will be targeted mainly to boys aged 3+ with misbehaving characters who each feature their own unique personality. Stink Bomz will appeal to consumers, with its collectability factor and affordable price point. Stink Bomz will launch in October with eight main characters and two special ones, each featuring unique colours, dedicated scents and three naughty sounds. The range will benefit from fun packaging as well as engaging merchandising solutions, including counter holders and free-standing display units. Tomy will support the brand with a strong 360º marketing campaign that combines TV and digital advertising, social media and influencer reviews.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com IMC Toys is launching a brand-new collectible range, Cry Babies Magic Tears. Miniature versions of top selling doll brand Cry Babies, this new unboxing collection features cute little babies that cry real tears and have a magical story to tell. Each Cry Babies Magic Tears comes in one of four coloured blind Bottle Houses and is unwrapped to reveal the doll hidden inside, and six fun accessories. The perforated compartment doors in the Bottle House can be popped, to find a bottle, a bow, a dummy and a chair, plus two personalised accessories unique to that doll. As an extra surprise there will also be two surprise mystery gold accessories available to collect within special packs (one golden accessory per special pack). Fans of the range will be invited into the Cry Babies Magic Tears’ fantasy world, as exclusive new animated content comes to life on a brand-new dedicated website and YouTube channel. The launch is supported with IMC’s largest ever investment to deliver a fully integrated campaign. This includes new animated series, dedicated website, intensive TV & Digital media, full PR programme,and spectacular influencer programme throughout the AW season.

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Introducing Our New

The Home of Classic Characters

Visit our new website www.rainbowdesigns.co.uk

Collection


Viewpoint As one door closes another one opens

Paul Reader Having spent many years in toy retail buying, Paul is product manager at Toymaster, the buying group which has over 150 members with 250 independentlyowned retail stores throughout the UK, ROI and overseas.

Retail Tourist

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.

T

he sad demise of Toys R Us in the UK has affected both suppliers and retailers alike. Those suppliers that did not have plans in place up to 18 months before are facing challenging times. TRU worked with a great number of suppliers, not only in the UK but across the globe, and now many of those suppliers are having to re-think their strategies and target other opportunities. As far as Toymaster is concerned, TRU was predominantly an out of town retailer. When TRU first arrived in an area, it would have a significant impact on local independent businesses, as consumers checked out the novelty factor of a new store. In spacious locations, TRU was able to display an extended out of box range of outdoor and wheeled goods that was - and still is - very difficult for many Toymaster members to do to the same extent, so customers were attracted to that breadth of choice. The large stores were considered destination stores by many suppliers. TRU was extremely successful at certain specific toy categories; the space available instore allowed extensive range offerings. It was perceived by consumers, especially in the early days, that TRU simply

T

he retail industry continues to shock and surprise, with the recent developments at House of Fraser the latest example. When I started contributing to Toy World, way back in 2011, the UK retail industry was facing monumental change in a post Woolworth environment. I thought that things would settle and return to normal after a few big-name retailers were shaken out, however this subject is even more compelling today than it was back in 2011. Now, more than ever, we are in unchartered territory in retail terms, with a sobering 50,000 jobs removed from the UK retail sector year to date. Surely we are over the worst of the disruptive revolution? I spend a large part of my spare time snooping around retail establishments large and small, but

stocked everything. The arrival of Smyths in the UK changed the playing field significantly; however, it did appear that Smyths was targeting locations very close to TRU stores. This proved to be one of the contributing factors in the demise of TRU in the UK. Toymaster members have demonstrated that you simply cannot rest on your laurels and have been quick to adapt. By working closely with suppliers, with whom strong relationships are key, and engaging with Toymaster marketing support, the promotional programme, the FOB programme, communicating with other members via our Forum, and interacting at regional shows and the main May show, members were able to share best practice and help others put action plans in place. With the closure of a TRU branch in their location, many members are now benefitting from improved sales. The real impact of the TRU closing down sale may not be seen for a little while longer, if consumers bought product to put away for Christmas. However, given the popularity of some of our members’ Christmas clubs currently, this may not prove to be an issue. A number of TRU pop-up stores opened last year and were

considered an even greater threat; stocking a similar range at similar price points to a typical Independent retailer – at least we won’t see these this Christmas. Adapting to these challenges is nothing new to us; the key is the group pulling in the same direction, as all independents share a common goal ….to make money. I would also like to suggest we have a bit of fun along the way! At Toymaster, our mission statement is simple: “To Help Our Members Trade More Profitably.” The group is committed to helping members compete in the toy business and I would invite any independent that is currently considering how to compete and what steps they should be taking to talk to us; we are approachable and here to help. We are currently working with suppliers to ascertain how we can develop the brands that TRU were good at and maximise those sales opportunities. We have already identified several options and will be exploring many more throughout the preview season. As one door closes another one opens, our goal is to ensure that ALL our doors remain open for many years to come ………….isn’t that right Mr Arkwright?!

the opportunity to view toy ranges of any real depth is limited to my local independent toy store; 'Kids Stuff' in Hastings. This shop is doing an amazing job and keeping the flag flying for the independent toy retail sector.

under real commercial pressure, with many grocers and convenience outlets struggling to keep the tills ringing in a profitable way. This is another retail sector where company consolidation via mergers and acquisitions is also becoming increasingly common.

The wider general merchandise industry has had a tough period and is still undergoing industry-wide redefinition, but the return of the ‘When Its Gone Its Gone’ (WIGIG) initiative at Tesco will be a welcome return for non-food retail. It is also a sure sign that the ranging cycle has gone full circle, from the earliest days of Home & Wear in the 1980s to the dominant non-food era in the late 1990s and throughout the noughties. Tesco’s WIGIG initiative, coupled with the opening of a ‘value’ grocery chain, shows that innovation is required in a food sector that is also

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I am fortunate enough to be heading to Canada for the family summer holidays and unbeknown to the family, I have purposely added to the itinerary a (brief) visit to Toys R Us in St Catherine's, Ontario. I have heard great things about the Canadian TRU business, so I am going to check out the stores for myself and buy a few TRU branded souvenirs. Seeing a fully functioning and trading Toys R Us store will be a welcome sight!


Goldfish Goldie

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Viewpoint Toy safety – are you ready for changes to European standards?

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ew safety standards are not introduced very often and are generally published to reflect incident data or safety concerns in the industry. Recently two new toy safety standards were published which will affect all toys sold across the EU. There were significant changes to parts of EN71-1 and new chemical limits announced with changes to EN71-3. The biggest changes to EN71-1, which looks at the mechanical and physical safety of toys, affects cords on toys, disguise costumes and projectile toys, along with a number of other smaller changes. A recent entry in the recall notifications

Matthew Thorpe Account Manager at MTS Global: a consumer product QA service provider which offers testing, auditing and inspections.

Print is very much alive

Jim Hawker Co-founder of Threepipe agency: a team of PR, social, content, SEO and paid media experts

showed that one Trading Standards office has been very quick to take action on a costume that did not meet this. As we are in a transition period, where both the old and new versions of EN71-1 are still theoretically acceptable,

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he last month or so has been hugely disruptive. My wife and I delivered our own baby at home, completely unplanned because it all happened so quickly. Poppy joins her bigger sister Rose and the family home is now one hell of a disruption, compared to the relative calm of just having one toddler smashing up the place! Meanwhile, some of the biggest digital disruptors are continuing to innovate by…launching print magazines. Both Amazon and Facebook have, or are about to, launch print magazines this year, which many will find counter intuitive - but which makes perfect sense. Every online business I have ever worked with has been obsessed about creating a physical presence, whether that’s through pop-up shops or even wanting print media coverage over digital titles, because they see it as affirmation that something that lives online can also have an impact in the real world and make

it was interesting to see that this enforcement action had taken place. Cords can include string, ribbon, straps and elastic and so covers a variety of components. If you have cords on toys, particularly if they are for the under 3s, then a design review might be needed before the new requirements take effect. Cords on dress-up costumes now have additional requirements and will now also need to meet EN 14682, which is the standard for cords on children’s clothing. Projectile toys continue to be popular items, and the safety requirements for these are also going to change. On a positive note, the changes bring the European, Australian and US requirements closer together, but there are still subtle differences to watch out for. Projectiles fired from elastic bands (catapults) will be brought within the scope of the standard. Flying toys, such as drones and helicopters, also have new requirements for their

a true connection in a non-virtual environment. Amazon’s announcement that it will print and distribute a toy retail magazine through its Whole Foods stores won’t come as a big surprise. It is filling the hole left behind by the Toys R Us Christmas catalogue. The Argos catalogue still performs well enough for toy brands to salivate about their inclusion and rejigging of their own launch dates to coincide with the catalogue launch date – despite the distance of that from Christmas. Facebook too has joined the print renaissance. Interestingly and rather amusingly, they won’t go as far as to say it’s a magazine but instead call it ‘marketing collateral’. Print is a highly trusted medium, much more so than digital, and perhaps explains why an organisation which is suffering with trust issues would chose to push its brand through print. For Facebook and Amazon, print is an effective branding channel and, for them, one that doesn’t rely

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propellers and rotor blades EN71-3 looks at the heavy metal requirements for toys (checking for harmful effects if a component is licked or swallowed) and whilst there are no new elements being introduced, the limits for Chromium VI are being reduced and will come into effect late next year. The limits for Chromium VI are already very low compared to other elements that are assessed, but this change will make the requirements tighter. On the subject of lower limits, a new version of EN71-3 has been published with reduced limits for the migration of lead which comes into force from October. Toy manufacturers must review products to see if the new requirements affect them and give sufficient time to make any changes as needed. If there are any questions on the new requirements, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer them.

on advertising. And that’s why it ultimately makes sense for such organisations. They can afford to invest in it, without being constrained by delivering the numbers and advertising revenue that is required to prop it up. Most national print and lifestyle magazine print circulations have been declining for some time but there are a few that are bucking the trend; these tend to be more ‘quality’ journalism. There is a theory that in an age of fake news, people turn to more credible sources, but these media publishers themselves are grappling with how to split their resources between print and digital to maintain readership and advertising revenue. So, print is not dead. Print is still important. As a digital agency, we still value print, but when it is considered as one channel on a balanced media plan that is built around audience insight and understanding of what a real customer journey looks like.



Viewpoint How to attract and retain the best people for your business

Rowena Shorey Rowena is a director of recruitment specialists Tinderbox Search Consultants. Her recruitment experience spans over 11 years. The last five years have been specifically within the nursery and toy markets, recruiting sales, marketing and product development professionals.

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ttracting and retaining good people can be a costly and timeconsuming process. Nobody likes change and that can include potential candidates who fear “last in, first out” in a new job situation. Not to paint too glib a picture, but by 2025 there will be a severe shortage of people in the UK labour market: our workforce will increase by only 2.4% and has a total predicted rise of just 820,000 to help drive the UK economy. Statistics from Mercer predict there will be 300,000 fewer employees under the age of 30 over the next eight years, but there will be over 1m employees over the age of 50 as a result of falling net migration and ageing baby boomers. So, what can companies do to ensure they are making themselves as attractive as possible to lure and retain the right people for their teams? First impressions count, and the majority of candidates will begin by looking at the hiring company’s website, social sites, professional network platforms and possibly chat forums for both employee and consumer insights. They will be looking to see who works at the company and how many people have left in a certain time period, as well as gaining an understanding of the type of backgrounds the existing employees have come from. Understanding a company’s culture is pivotal to a candidate’s decisionmaking process. Here are the top ways to help attract talent to your business: 1. M ake sure your company’s LinkedIn site is up to date and all relevant department heads have their updated profiles. Similarly ensure web and social media sites are engaging and updated with regular posts. 2. I f your company has an open-door policy where all suggestions are welcomed and valued, reference this in the job advert – it will help attract Gens Z and Y in particular.

3. Team interaction and philanthropy – if your company is good at getting everyone involved to raise money for charity, then ensure your social sites are regularly updated and reference this in the job advert. It helps to foster a feelgood factor and goes a long way to team bonding, which employees and employers all benefit from. 4. Training and Development allowing staff to take time out for personal development will reward your business in spades. If you can fund or joint-fund an employee’s study costs, then even better, but find some way to buy into their long-term commitment so they don’t take their new knowledge elsewhere! 5. Rewarding hard work – the younger generation need recognition and reward for their efforts to keep them motivated. Bonuses are nice, but a monthly awards day where the whole company gets together and celebrates success is a great incentive for Gens Z and Y in particular. Think about additional ways to incentivize and reward – for smaller companies this is what can set them apart from a larger corporate. 6. Team building days – ok we may roll our eyeballs and inwardly sigh at the prospect of a team building workshop, but when done right they are dynamite, as they generally result in everyone feeling connected and understanding other department’s issues. Even a monthly team session of lunchtime tiddlywinks or hoolahooping will encourage the shyest staff member to become engaged. An engaged team culture is what drives success. 7. T he interview process should be efficient, engaged, timely and well communicated. Try to hold first and final interview dates as close together as possible to minimise losing people from the process

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Notify the candidate when you will be making a decision and contact them on that day. If they are unsuccessful, take time to provide constructive feedback explaining why. It only takes a few minutes, but it can pay back in gold. 8. It is better to show all candidates around the office building and introduce them to various staff members at first interview stage. This will help the candidate decide if the environment is right for them or not. Equally, if they snubbed the receptionist on the way in, then that feedback from your valued team member may count against the candidate. Better to cross this hurdle at the start of the race than the end. 9. O nboarding – this begins the minute your chosen candidate has accepted the offer of employment. Inviting them to attend your staff social functions is a great way to begin building team rapport on all sides. Regular phone calls and emails updating them with relevant information will go a long way to ensuring they feel connected to the business before they have even joined. Onboarding should continue into the first year of employment through regular appraisals; this is paramount with the younger generations, who need regular feedback and mentoring from their line managers. Onboarding will help prevent any threat of a counter offer scenario or other new opportunities being presented to your new recruit. Come the day your new team member starts, they will already feel like they belong. Every business has its individual needs and requirements from a staffing perspective, but businesses who have the ability to embrace and offer diversity and flexibility will be the ones who can attract and retain the widest and best talent pool and weather the perfect storm lying out on the horizon.


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Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Watch this space

As we approach the all-important fourth quarter, TV companies’ advertising campaigns ramp up considerably. Does the TV advertising route still reign supreme, or are declining audiences leading to a change in strategy? Toy World spoke to the two leading toy market agency specialists, Generation Media and Azure Media, to find out how the media landscape is looking right now. Pop continues to be the dominant channel within the commercial kids’ space, with its genderneutral approach to programming and Free To Air advantage helping it to a 13% share of the commercial children’s impacts in the market (JanJun 2018). However, when it comes to year-on-year trends, we are seeing that performance is being heavily influenced by targeting. With the expanding children’s population, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that many pre-school channels are undergoing something of a resurgence. Cartoonito has established itself as one of the fastest growing kids’ channels in the UK with +205% growth yearon-year in HWCH0-3 equivalent impacts Jan-Jun 2018. In fact, of the five channels demonstrating year-on-year growth, only Pop Max is not a preschool proposition.

Jonathan Chambers, director of AV Investment, Generation Media How are kids’ audiences looking? Any big winners / losers this year so far? Kids’ linear TV audiences continue to decline year-on-year-on-year on the UK’s commercial kids’ channels. Viewing of Children aged 4-9 has declined by -8% year-on-year, yet this figure stood at - 24% for the same period in 2017.

Boys 4-9 continue to migrate away from linear TV at an accelerated rate (-10% decline year-onyear compared to -5% for the Girls 4-9 audience). Gaming, and in particular Fortnite, forms a large part of the reason for this. This partially explains why Disney XD is the fastest declining channel year-on-year, with viewing down -38% year-onyear for boys aged 4-9. This pattern is also repeated across the Disney portfolio, with Disney Channel exhibiting a -25% year-on-year decline in Girls 4-9. Expect stronger scrutiny on Disney’s content strategy throughout the year, particularly as they prepare to support the launch of Netflix competitor NewTV.

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Do you think there will be plenty of slots / viewers to meet demand in Q4, or will broadcasters struggle to accommodate toy companies’ requirements? Trading with key kids’ stakeholders will always be a complex business. Even if the level of demand from toy companies were to drop significantly, there will be demand from other categories to satisfy the inventory. FMCG advertisers often look to reach parents “over the shoulder” via low cost kids’ airtime. There is therefore pressure on the toy market, to an extent, to ensure that the level of demand is high enough to maintain the commercial interest of sales houses in this space. This is where specialist media agencies play a pivotal role. The loss of TRU, and the prospect of no clear Brexit strategy, is likely to have an adverse effect on the market which will be felt throughout 2018 and beyond, and arguably this has made the support of the Argos catalogue (via tactically activated TV campaigns) more important than in previous years. The continued good weather has created a volatile viewing marketplace, which has meant that a number of sales houses which have not been able to accurately predict their audiences are finding it more challenging to deliver these campaigns than others. This is also potentially representative of the period. Traditionally, demand from the toys and games market does not satisfy the total inventory that sales houses have to sell until October/November.


Pre-Christmas TV Advertising They are therefore more active in selling their inventory to the aforementioned FMCG category and others. It appears this year that even as early as August in 2018, they only have the inventory to accommodate toys and games advertisers. When it comes to the highly competitive October/ November period, this is something we will keep a close eye on as an agency to protect investment for the market.

Do you think there will be the usual level of demand from toy companies, or have some cut back on budget or spent the money in other areas (e.g. digital)? TV advertising spend from the toys and games market peaked in 2016. Whilst 2017 came close to replicating this high, we do not expect 2018 to match those levels of demand. Demand from advertisers has fallen -10% year-on-year (to the 4th August), with the largest declines actually being shown in July (-46%) and August (-28% thus far). This has been driven by a number of advertisers

falling out of the market in 2018 (60 compared to 67 in 2017), resulting in 9% fewer campaigns (398 compared to 438 in 2017). However, potentially, this does not tell the full story of the remainder of the year. Amidst the financial uncertainty, it stands to reason that advertisers might withhold budgets until the core 4th quarter sales period. Whilst we may well see advertisers returning to the TV market at the back end of the year, the level of budgets deployed are unlikely to makeup the budgetary deficit versus 2017. This is because of the continued emphasis placed on Digital Online media solutions. US led businesses will be more heavily invested in the digital space, influenced by their domestic market (where TV costs are inaccessible and therefore Digital Online media is prominent). However, the UK toys and games market in general is now taking a much more progressive and localised approach to Digital Online strategy. Kids’ networks such as SuperAwesome, PlayWire and Venatus are now commonplace on media plans, whilst influencers (rightly or wrongly from a UK perspective)

The drop is not down to kids stopping watching TV altogether, but rather from them reducing the amount of TV they consume each day. Commercial kids’ TV still regularly exceeds 80% per month; however, children 4-9 currently consume only 27 minutes per day as opposed to 33 minutes last year.

Do you think there will be plenty of slots / viewers to meet demand in Q4, or will broadcasters struggle to accommodate toy companies’ requirements?

Matthew Smith, head of AV, Azure Media How are kids’ audiences looking? Any big winners / losers this year so far? The kids 4-9 audiences are still struggling: programme impacts are down 16% January to July this year. This is off the back of last year’s drastic declines. There are no absolute winners, although Sky is performing best with only a 6% decline for the year, driven by Nick Jr 2 performing well. The channel has doubled the episode count of Peppa Pig from last year, which has paid off for now, though I am not sure how sustainable that is. It is also to the detriment of other programmes and licences. The biggest losers in terms of impacts are ITVB and Disney XD, which are down 43% and 59% respectively, probably because of their older child target audience, which has seen the biggest drop off in recent years.

Demand this autumn will be as high as ever with TV stations able to sell their inventory twice over. There have been cuts in TV spend from the likes of Hasbro, Mattel and most notably Lego; however, this has been picked up by other toy advertisers and they will continue to do so in the key period. To ensure the broadcasters can accommodate all the TV campaigns, we are encouraging them to be realistic on viewing predictions and check that campaigns are deliverable.

Do you think there will be the usual level of demand from toy companies, or have some cut back on budget or spent the money in other areas (e.g. digital)? Demand remains high and the supply is slowly decreasing. It is not a case of cutting back TV spend for a campaign, it is just that maxing out on TV now comes at a much lower spend. Larger campaigns are diversifying their budgets into other media to increase awareness. Broadcaster VOD has helped spread the budget, whilst replicating the quality and impact of regular TV. The role digital plays is very different to TV: we always plan on a case by case basis, but there has certainly been more budget spread to other media this year. If we want to drive traffic or be closer aligned with a particular licence, digital helps facilitate that, although I don't believe it would be a strong enough campaign on its own - it supplements TV rather than detracts from it.

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Feature

continue to have their place. Despite these factors, the primary choice in the pantheon of Digital Online media remains YouTube, which can be incredibly powerful if harnessed correctly alongside linear TV budgets. Beforehand though, advertisers need to be diligent and agree a robust and brand safe YouTube strategy with their media agency before embarking on activity in this territory.

Does TV advertising still represent good value for toy companies during the peak period, and can it be relied upon the drive the same level of demand as it did in the past? Despite the inflationary pressures on kids’ linear TV, pound for pound it still ranks as the most costeffective media channel for delivering audio visual media to kids’ audiences. It is the only medium which delivers significant unique coverage in a single hit, and should therefore still be the cornerstone of media strategies (where budgets allow).

Does TV advertising still represent good value for toy companies during the peak period, and can it be relied upon to drive the same level of demand as it did in the past? The reason TV remains so highly in demand is because, even with the drop in TV viewing and the recent price increases on TV, it is still the most effective medium and offers the best value for money. No other media can build coverage as quickly as TV or drive the sales it can produce on its own. In terms of cost and effectiveness, it is by far the number one medium. Overall commercial TV's reach is down just over 1% for the year, so it can still be depended on to drive awareness and deliver sales.

If Disney succeeds in its attempt to buy Fox, what impact will there be on the kids’ broadcast market and will it be a good thing for toy companies or not? It is still very early days yet in this takeover, with Comcast still in the mix. However, indications are that Disney will take over Fox, with the sale completed next year. I don't believe there will be an immediate change, but by mid-2020 I would expect Sky to be selling advertising on behalf of the Disney channels. There is nothing to suggest that investment in each channel would drop: the Disney channels are likely to retain their identity and unique programming, in the same way Milkshake that has done within the Sky/Viacom portfolio. This would work the other way too, with Nick Jr and other channels retaining their independence. Milkshake could potentially gain some of the Disney programming, but it is still too early to tell. The issue arises with Sky's dominance of the children TV market: if Sky does start to sell Disney's advertising, that would take its share of the commercial impacts from around 57% to over 70%. From toy advertisers’ perspective, we would be totally at the mercy of Sky with a dominant market majority.


Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Jakks Pacific 01344 638 900 | www.jakks.com Rapunzel is one of the most popular Princesses in the Disney Princess portfolio, brought to life through Disney’s movie, Tangled, released in 2010, but more recently through the Disney Channel content Tangled: The Series or Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure. Jakks has a toy range that brings Rapunzel to life and a television advertising campaign will be launched to support it. The Playdate Disney Rapunzel is inspired by Disney’s Tangled. Standing at 32” tall and fully articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees, Rapunzel is dressed in a movie inspired purples dress and comes with shoes and a tiara. Playdate Rapunzel is the perfect complement to Playdate Maximus, Rapuzel’s trusted steed, who moves his head and makes realistic horse and trotting sounds. Rapunzel Tower Vanity is inspired by the iconic tower in Disney’s Tangled, and includes a hair brush, four hair clips and a stool. The range will benefit from the TV campaign and full marketing support.

Schleich 01279 870000 | www.schleich-s.com/en One of the most celebrated collector’s themes within the Schleich portfolio is Horse Club and both print and digital campaigns will ensure it is front of mind with the core audience. The Large Horse Stable with House & Stable will star in its own microsite that also introduces the main characters of the property; Hannah, Sophia, Lisa and Sarah. Hosted on Pop Fun, the activity will include TV promotion driving to the campaign site where kids can interact with the brand and find out more. Added to this is a girl’s magazine advertising and competitions schedule that will reach over 1million readers in the preChristmas period. The Wild and Farm Life collections will have similar activation on Tiny Pop. Children will be able to explore the features of the Large Farm House and animals, whilst at the same time learning about the Wild Life 4x4 Vehicle with Winch playset. To enhance the campaign, TV drivers will highlight the key lines as well as encourage children to take part online.

K’nex 01189 253 270 | www.knex.co.uk K’nex Ride It! Is an exciting, interactive app experience. K’nex is the first construction toy company to bring a mobile virtual reality experience to builders. Bridging the gap between physical and digital play, K’nex Thrill Rides allows builders of all ages to take their coasters to the next level with the K’nex Ride It! App. After building the coaster in the physical world, the free K’nex Ride It! app will allow the child to virtually build and ride their roller coaster either in 2D or 3D VR. As in the real world, sets can be combined and customized in countless ways within the app. New sets Bionic Blast and T’rex Fury will be TV promoted and are available in autumn 2018.

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk In addition to dedicated TV campaigns for StikBot, during the last quarter of the year StikBot will be sponsoring CITVB throughout the whole of November and December. This huge brand awareness raising campaign will drives sales pre-Christmas, alongside TV ads for the StikBot Zanimation Studio, StikBot Movie Sets and the brand new StikBot Dino collection. Brainstorm has increased its TV advertising for 2018 with products from the Brainstorm Toys range featuring throughout its Q4 TV advertising campaign. Both the T-Rex Projector & Room Guard as well as the My Very Own Solar System will appear on screens from September onwards. Q4 is a popular time for Brainstorm’s games and TV campaigns will include the popular Addict-A-Ball puzzle and Igloo Mania game from September, with adverts increasing during December which is a key purchasing time for games and puzzles. The award-winning Aqua Dragons continues to be a best-seller and will also be TV advertised in bursts throughout September, November and December.

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Rapunzel is one of the most popular princess’ in the Disney Princess portfolio, brought to life through Disney’s movie, Tangled, but more recently through the Disney Channel content ‘Tangled: The Series’ or ‘Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure’. complimentary to the content, Jakks have a fantastic toy range that really brings Rapunzel to life for aspiring little princesses.

For further details contact: 01344 638900


Playdate Disney Rapunzel Inspired by the Disney’s Tangled, Playdate Rapunzel is ready to be your best friend forever. Standing at 32” tall and fully articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees, making her perfectly poseable for any adventure. She’s also dressed in her movie inspired purples dress and comes with shoes and a tiara. In addition, girls can use the brush to style Rapunzel’s long golden locks! For even more fun, Playdate Rapunzel is the perfect compliment to Playdate Maximus! Age: 3+ years

Rapunzel Vanity Get ready for enchantment with the Rapunzel Tower Vanity! Rapunzel is known for her long, beautiful, golden locks and now you can style your hair just like hers while seated at your very own Rapunzel Tower Vanity, inspired by the iconic tower in Disney’s Tangled. Open the shutters and watch as the lantern magically rises, lights up and sings, “I See the Light”! Remove the insert to peer out of your tower, or rotate it to reveal a mirror or a beautiful image of Princess Rapunzel. So many fun ways to style your hair and play and includes a hair brush, 4 hair clips and a stool. Age: 3+ years Batteries: Requires 3 LR44 4.5V batteries (included)

Playdate Disney Maximus Have the best playdate ever with Disney’s Maximus, Rapuzel’s trusted steed. Giddy up and get ready for adventures; when you sit on his back and pull on his reins he responds by moving his head and makes realistic horse sounds, pull twice and Maximus will make trotting sounds. Offer him his apple and he can hold it in his mouth and make chomping sounds. For even more fun, brush his beautiful mane and decorate with the wear and share hair accessories, which can then be stored inside his saddlebag. Playdate Rapunzel can also sit on Maximus with you or by herself! Age: 3-7 years old (Can support up to 70lbs) Batteries: Requires 2 AA batteries (included)

jakksuk@jakks.net


Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Geomag 07831 886 997 | www.geomagworld.com The 2018 TV campaign for Geomag on its Gravity and Classic Ranges will see an increase in spend and ratings versus 2017. The TV campaign will be featured on a mix of channels, including free to air in both the UK and Eire. The TVC will air over October half term, and a second burst will support the core buying periods with transmissions throughout November and December. The result of the company’s desire to create a system that would give movement to traditional Mechanics models, the Gravity range combines the invisible forces of magnetism with those of gravity through a series of fun and original solutions. Geomag's R&D department has developed an innovative “gravity motor”, which uses the weight of the Geomag spheres to kickstart the mechanisms of Geomag Mechanics structures without using electric motors or batteries. The movement is achieved in a green and sustainable way. The use of fundamental laws of physics, such as magnetism and gravity, makes Mechanics Gravity a particularly attractive STEM category product which will stimulate and deepen children’s scientific knowledge, as they design and create moving structures. The system is made up of magnetic rods, steel spheres and elements of different shapes such as cylinders, bearings and modular parts. When assembled correctly, children can use the force of gravity to create chain reactions. Developed for the more expert players (target age 8+), the range comprises four new products: Mechanics Gravity Magnetic Track (115 pieces), Mechanics Gravity Motor (169 pieces), Mechanics Gravity Shoot & Catch (243 pieces) and Mechanics Gravity Up & Down which has 330 pieces.

Zuru 01604 401 719 | www.zuru.com

GP Flair 0208 643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk The launch on 5th October of The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy collection will be supported with heavyweight activity across all platforms, with a mix of TVCs focusing on the new figures, vehicles, Turtle Tank and Epic Sewer Lair Playset. October will also see the collection shown across the nation’s big screens with a 10 weeks cinema campaign, together with YouTube pre-roll advertising across the half term and beyond, digital activity and a series of kids’ press ads. Ben 10 will be subject to extensive activity across the entire autumn/winter period; uplifting as the pre-Christmas period begins. A series of 20” and 10” TVCs will highlight the range of action figures including the Omni Launcher Battle series, Deluxe Omnitrix and brand-new Alien Creation Chamber. Dedicated spots will also be scheduled for the Ben 10 Rust Bucket from midOctober. Supporting this will be YouTube pre-roll for the Creation Chamber from October, a full blown digital campaign on PopMax, plus a season-long schedule of print press activity. A heavyweight TV campaign promoting the new PJ Masks Super Moon Adventure range will pick up pace late September when the product launches. The entire Super Moon collection will feature in the TVC with a key focus on the Super Moon Rocketship Playset. Meanwhile, the core product range will have its own TVC to introduce new characters and the new PJ Masks Mission Control HQ Playset. Furthermore, The PJ Robot with lights and sounds takes the spotlight with his very own commercial. The Grossery Gang, Voltron and Messi Training System will also be supported with TV and broader marketing schedules, ensuring awareness is high at key points in the buying season.

Zuru has announced its pre-Christmas advertising campaigns for the 2018 Q3/Q4 period. A mix of traditional, digital, and social campaigns will hit from September onwards, with additional bursts for hero brands including Rainbocorns, X-Shot and Smashers following in November and December. With four major brand and product launches for the Q4 period, the company is taking a multi-channel approach. Business is growing, with a portfolio of ranges to appeal to all ages. Campaigns will allow the target audience to engage with the brands, by integrating traditional with emerging channels. A comprehensive TV advertising plan will be implemented for new brand Rainbocorns, which will run alongside spots for new product launches within the X-Shot and Smashers ranges. TVCs for Robo Alive, Tangle and 5 Surprise will also run throughout November and December 2018. Numerous TVCs will be executed, which will see a collection of 10”, 20” and 30” spots aired across terrestrial and satellite channels. The new Rainbocorns Sequin Surprise plush range tops the majority of the placements, reflecting the company’s commitment to supporting the new launch with a 360-degree marketing plan. In addition to the TV advertising, extensive marketing support has been scheduled to include digital targeting, unboxing influencer outreach, events, sampling and social media, plus in-store retail activations and backing. Additional webisodes and content are also in production to support dedicated brand YouTube channels for Smashers, Rainbocorns and X-Shot.

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Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

VTech 01235 546 810 | www.vtech.co.uk VTech will be TV advertising sixteen different product lines during autumn/winter 2018, targeting both children and their parents. The company predicts that, during the peak season, 88% of housewives with children under the age of three years old will see a VTech advert at least once. This equates to a unique audience of 2.2m housewives with children 0-3. Similarly, the same size unique audience total of 2.2m children between the ages of 4-6 years old will be reached, as approximately 90% of kids aged 4-6 will see a VTech advert at least once. From the end of July up until mid-December, there will be a VTech product on air every week. By having this strong presence across the most popular channels and relevant programme mix, it will be hard for both children and parents to miss a VTech advert in the run up to Christmas. With a partnership to sponsor the Tiny Pop Birthdays feature renewed for another year, viewers will see the characters from Toot-Toot Drivers and Toot-Toot Friends really come to life, six times a day, seven days a week. This will give VTech a prominent voice across Toot-Toot range delivering 350 HW+CH 0-3 TVRs. VTech will have a targeted partnership with Adsmart, focusing on households with babies between 7 - 48 months old, VTech Baby and Toddler specific adverts will be delivered around the key October half-term. VTech will also have a consistent digital presence this autumn/winter and will target mums, wherever they consume media, with engaging adverts and video content.

Jazwares/WowWee 020 3598 5119 | www.jazwares.com Continuing to support the popular and best-selling WowWee brands, Jazwares will promote all new product launches with high-level TV campaigns, social media activity, retail partnerships and PR campaigns from launch through to Christmas. Untamed Raptors launched this spring, and the new Untamed T-Rex is available now. The Untamed Cage Playset will join the range from October. Building on the tremendous success of the Fingerlings brand, Fingerlings BFF come with a mini monkey friend that can hang onto their tail or a pencil. The interactive pets can hang onto a finger, blink their eyes, turn their heads, blow kisses, swing by their tails and talk in monkey babble. Available in a variety of colours. Fingerlings Hugs have long arms for big hugs. They can record what children say and repeat in funny ways, then be thrown in the air for a silly remix. Fingerlings Minis are hangable collectibles. Each blind bag comes with a surprise miniature Monkey, Unicorn or Sloth, a bracelet and a tail charm. The series includes popular, rare, legendary and ultra-rare figures. What's that Smell is a fragrant-guessing party game where players guess the scents correctly to win or suffer the stinky consequences. WowWee toys are distributed by Jazwares in the UK and are available from toy retailers, department stores and online.

Bandai 0208 324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk Pomsies are collectible Pom-Pom pets with soft, cuddly fur faces and tails that can wrap around a wrist, hair, backpack, clothing and more. The launch in July has been a global success and Q4 will see the arrival of all-new series 2 characters. With them will come heightened marketing activity including a heavyweight TV schedule. The slow-rise Smooshy Mushy collection will be entering series 5 by the time the Christmas rush begins. This new collection will introduce a wave of characters called Sugar Fix that come in fun gumball containers complete with candy themed Besties. Retailers can be sure of huge awareness for the stocking filler squishies, thanks to a brand new TVC. Rescue Runts have tears in their eyes, dirty paws and messy fur full of fleas. The lonely strays need to be cleaned up and given a forever home. TV, kids’ press and digital activity will begin as the range hits shelves. Fans of Big Hero 6 will be sure to have the Flying and Flame Baymax on their Christmas lists thanks to a marketing drive that includes TV and unboxing videos. Packed with features, the tech toy has automatic wings, rocket fists, motion sensor sounds and phrases, and flame blasts from its feet. Finally, the popularity of Bandai’s Power Rangers range will reach new heights as the brand celebrates its 25th anniversary. TVCs for key lines in the Super Ninja Steel collection will include the Lion Fire Morpher and Deluxe Battle Gear.

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Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Mattel 01628 500 111 | www.mattel.com Launching this autumn, Mattel is bringing back much-loved retro icon Polly Pocket. The new range includes miniature compacts and larger scale compacts with the Polly Pocket Big Pocket World Assortment and Polly’s Go Tiny Room playset. New Barbie playsets include the supersized Barbie DreamHouse and the Care Clinic Playset. TV will also support the Dreamhouse Camper and new themed playsets such as the Barbie Ultimate Kitchen, Barbie Bakery Chef Doll and Playset, the Barbie Skipper Babysitters Doll and Playsets and the Barbie Club Chelsea Playhouse. TV will also support the animal bestie-themed Enchantimals Deer House Playset. Hot Wheels feature items include the Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage, Hot Wheels City Gator Car Wash and the new Corkscrew Crash. Key licensors will be supported including Aquaman 6” Figure Assortment and Deluxe Figure and Shark; WWE Tough Talkers figures, and Jurassic World with the Ultimate Villain Dino. Disney Pixar’s Cars 3 Florida Speedway and Mini Race Pinball Playset will also receive TV support. Fisher-Price presents Dance & Groove Rockit, as well as the Laugh & Learn Servin' Up Fun Food Truck and the 3-feet tall Little People Take Turns Skyway. Thomas & Friends introduces the TrackMaster Turbo Jungle Set, inspired by the new Thomas movie. The ultimate Super Station holds over 100 engines, while the TrackMaster Twisting Tornado also continues to be supported through TV advertising. Offerings from Imaginext include Jurassic Rex, while the DC Super Friends range presents the Transforming Batcave and the two-feet tall BatBot Xtreme. Fisher-Price’s character brands see TV support for the Shimmer and Shine Genie and Zahracorn Assortment, while the wider Shimmer and Shine range and Blaze and the Monster Machines Axle City Monster Stunts Track Set are supported through a Nickelodeon TV and sponsorship partnership.

Interplay UK 01628 488944 | sales@interplayuk.com Interplay will be promoting the best-selling My Fairy Garden range with an enhanced marketing programme designed to build awareness, loyalty and depth of purchase up to Christmas. High-level TV advertising, PR and social media activity and strong retail presence will continue to promote the popular brand to consumers. A My Fairy Garden sponsorship of Disney Fairy Tale Time will also run across Disney Junior from September to December. Interplay is also introducing new launches and brand refreshment into the range. The new hero item, Fairy Light Garden will be on TV from now until December. The best-selling Fairy Garden playset will be refreshed with a new look and accessories, and a new range of Garden Fairies collectible fairies will be available to complement the sets. The new Fairy Garden, Unicorn Garden and Garden Fairies TV campaign will launch in August with heavyweight TVRs.

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Trends UK 01295 768078 | www.trendsuk.co.uk Trends UK is supporting its portfolio of Peppa Pig ELAs with TV, marketing and PR campaigns. New TV commercials have been developed for Peppa Pig ELAs. Trends is also debuting a new addition for autumn: Count with Peppa, which enables kids to learn about numbers and colours. Aiming at mums with pre-schoolers, ELA TV campaigns are focused on August & September, boosting early awareness & sales. The Peppa Pig and Thomas & Friends ELAs will be supported by a major campaign with UK Mums TV featuring ELA reviews, competitions, Twitter frenzy and more, as mums talk to other mums about the learning benefits. The ELAs have also been recommended by the Good Toy Guide, an independent endorsement which will be included in all marketing communications. Sweet Pups has been a great success since first introduced in early summer. With pre-launch PR and social media campaigns promoting the toys, and TV advertising from retail introduction, Sweet Pups is flying off the shelves. Trends will continue to build and promote the brand throughout the rest of the year. Independent retailers should contact Wind Designs on Tel: +44 (0)1353 724140/Email: sales@wind-designs.com to place orders.


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Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imc.es/gb IMC has confirmed heavyweight TV support across multiple brands including, Club Petz, Play Fun, Bloopies, Baby Wee, Baby Wow, Cry Babies Magic Tears and Cry Babies. Best-selling feature plush range, Club Petz TV campaigns commenced this August. TV investment will focus on the brand-new products to market Mystery Mao, Betsy and Bowie, with a strategic TV campaign delivering nearly 3000 TVRs in total. Mystery Mao, launching in October 2018, will deliver 500 TVRs, plus a comprehensive digital campaign, including work with popular YouTube influencers. TV support for Bowie the Kissing Puppy will deliver 500 TVRs, in addition to a targeted digital campaign. Interactive doll range, Baby WOW enjoyed strong growth last year in the feature doll category; this year the brand will benefit from TV support across the range with activity planned from September set to deliver 1300 TVRs over the key Christmas sales period. The investment will support this year’s new Baby WOW sibling, Megan, and 500 of the TVRs will be dedicated to Baby WOW favourite, Chatty Emma. Top selling doll brand Cry Babies will showcase 800 TVRs across the range, featuring the brand-new wave of dolls, Nala, Dotty and Lady. TV will span August to December, in line with IMC’s ‘always on’ strategy.

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449 944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Vivid’s TV campaigns will support its new AniMagic launches; Waggles My Wigglin’, Walking Pup and Woofles My Playful Pup, as well as four animated shorts featuring the cute pups. Autumn 2018 will see the Science4You range TV advertised for the first time ever with TV spots featuring Slime Factory Glow in the Dark, Lipstick & Lip-gloss Factory and The Science of Magic. Other supported launches include Shimmeez, Squeezamals, Best Furry Friends (BFF), Wish Me and Nella the Princess Knight. Drumond Park will be showcasing 14 games from its successful children’s portfolio including new games Wally The Washer, Foxy Pants, and Super Ski Jump. Six games from the adult and family portfolio will also be supported including the ever-popular Articulate, Logo and Rapidough as well as new launch Word Bandit. Leading the way for the Crayola portfolio, the new Ultimelt Pen will benefit from strong TV advertising support from launch, as part of a 360 campaign which includes digital marketing and social media support. Also benefitting from a strong TV advertising campaign are the Washimals Pets; pets that you can colour, wash and colour, over and over again.

Siso Toys UK marketing@sisotoysuk.com | www.simba-dickie-group.com/en The Deep is the multi-award-winning series, airing on CBBC, that follows the Nekton family – a brilliant team of underwater explorers. The Deep has become one of CBBC’s top performing shows and Siso Toys UK, the new UK subsidiary of the Simba Dickie Group, will launch on innovative and exciting line of action figures and underwater vehicles this November. Siso will be supporting the launch with a mixture of TV advertising airing on popular channels including Cartoon Network, Nick Toons, Disney XD, Pop and CITV, to name a few. Key lines to be TV promoted will be the 3-inch action figures and under vehicles including the ever-popular Mag Knight and White Knight diving robots. Other support will include cinema, online and YouTube activations. Marketing activity including TV will start from November.

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk Playmobil will be hitting the small screens this year on the lead up to Christmas. The brand is launching a new advertising campaign which will focus on 14 key ranges, including popular sets such as the Furnished Children’s Hospital, Policemen with Van and Wedding Limo. There are many more themes making an appearance in the iconic brand’s campaign, such as Porsche, DreamWorks Dragons, The Real Ghostbusters and The Explorers, as well as the company’s popular Advent Calendars.

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Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Simba Smoby

01274 765 030 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en Simba Smoby is readying itself for the Christmas season with a heavyweight marketing campaign for Masha and The Bear. The brand has had an impressive year so far, with the show premiering on leading free to air broadcaster Tiny Pop. The show has ranked consistently as one of the station’s top 3 shows. Masha and The Bear also had the all new season 3 premier on Cartoonito in March, with new episodes airing in October. Simba Smoby has supported the brand and retail partners with full 360 marketing activations including TV, sponsorship, YouTube advertising and character visits. In the lead up to Christmas, Simba Smoby will be investing in a strong TV campaign for the hero Big Bear House playset, which has lights and sounds, includes two floors of play and is packed with fun features. TV starts from November and runs through December. Show sponsorships will also be included as part of the marketing efforts in the run up to Christmas. The popular Cars 3 range of 1:24 Turbo Racers has also benefitted from a 3-week TV campaign in August.

LeapFrog 01235 555 545 | www.leapfrog.co.uk

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com

LeapFrog is gearing up for its biggest TV year ever with over 2200 TVRs across five campaigns, including the Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket, Musical Rainbow Tea Party and Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart from the role-play range; new LeapBuilders interactive building blocks as well as LeapStart 3D – the latest interactive learning system enhanced with holographic animations. The TV activity is targeted primarily to mums of pre-school children throughout the UK and Ireland. Running from July right through to Christmas, it will reach approximately 71% of this audience who will see a LeapFrog advertisement on average 30 times. LeapFrog will be extending the reach of the campaign to target lighter TV viewers via broadcaster VOD and estimate that these commercials will be watched at least 3.9m times via these platforms. The TV activity will be supported by digital campaigns on social and programmatic channels. This includes two real-life teacher testimonial videos for LeapStart 3D, which reinforce the product’s support of the national curriculum.

Character Options commits to having the strongest of TV and marketing campaigns across its entire brand line up. The company is ramping up its preChristmas activity with TV advertising across the entire portfolio, including enhanced support for Pokémon, Really Rad Robots and Teksta. The eagerly awaited new Pokémon collection joined the line up in July. As the range fully rolls out in mid-autumn, retailers can be sure that it’s top of mind with collectors thanks to the heavyweight TV and marketing support that Character will be placing behind it. Action figures, role-play and plush will all be part of the focus in a series of TVCs, while the key feature plush line, Power Action Pikachu, will have its own dedicated spot from October. Teksta is a regular star of TV ad breaks on the run up to Christmas and 2018 will be no exception. An action-packed commercial will bring Teksta 360 to life, showing his tricks and electronic features including lightup emotive eyes, sounds interaction with other pets and the iconic 360 flip trick. Collectible range Really Rad Robots is packed with attitude plus great features and will be supported with its own TV, digital, pre-roll and print campaigns.

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Pre-Christmas TV Advertising

Ravensburger 01869 363 800 | www.ravensburger.com Ravensburger is launching nine Heavyweight TV campaigns across the UK & Ireland this season. Campaigns launching in September include the new and innovative STEM construction range GraviTrax, family game Make ‘n’ Break, modern classic game Labyrinth and family favourite games Bugs in the Kitchen and Buggaloop. The 20 second GraviTrax TV ad is aimed at a core audience aged 7-12 and is designed to drive demand for the track-based STEM construction range. Supporting the launch of the new game Make ‘n’ Break is a 20 second ad aimed at a core audience aged 7-12. The ad highlights the uniquely addictive game play designed to get the whole family “making and breaking”. The 20 second Labyrinth ad is aimed at families and will continue to cement the game’s place as a modern family classic with nearly a thousand 5-star reviews. Completing the TV ads starting in September is a combined 20 second ad for the thrilling and action-packed Bugs in the Kitchen and Buggaloop games. Amongst the four campaigns kicking-off in October are two separate TV ads for 3D Puzzle. The first campaign will focus on 3D Puzzle Buildings including the iconic Porsche 3D Puzzle, while the second TV ad will feature 3D Puzzle Shapes, including the range of 108-piece Sneakers. Each of the two 20 second 3D Puzzle ads will showcase the light-up Ravensburger Night Edition 3D Puzzle range. An additional 20 second ad launching in October will feature the new and much anticipated Break Free Game, where players have to race to unpick a lock and uncuff themselves from the group. The ThinkFun RushHour 20 second ad will air from October right up to Christmas. The animated, humorous ad is aimed at a core audience aged 7-12. The addictive logic-game includes 40 challenges from beginner to expert and continues to be a firm family favourite. The ninth TV campaign features a 20 second ad for Scotland Yard, aimed at families looking for a game with a unique play pattern full of twists and turns along the way.

Funrise 01908 555640 | www.funrise.com Funrise plans to deliver strong campaigns for heritage brand Tonka and the new Herodrive vehicle range. Tonka will see a TV sponsorship campaign at the core of the marketing drive. Substantial TVRs are due to be delivered during October and November in the build up to the Christmas period on Tiny Pop. The core focus of this activity will be the new Tonka Power Movers range, which brings the heritage brand into a world of innovation and reactive play. The Power Movers collection will also be the star of a Tiny Pop online digital microsite which will run from mid-October. This activity will create significant impressions as well as TV drivers to the campaign. Funrise will be marketing new pre-school vehicle range, Herodrive with a campaign centred on digital and pre-roll activity that will also see TV Promotion. Delivering awareness and providing key interaction with this new brand that features familiar DC Super Friends characters, the Herodrive collection will star in digital activity on Tiny Pop during late October. This activity will include a fully branded microsite, advertising banners and ever-important TV drivers highlighting the brand and microsite.

Jazwares 0203 598 0272 | www.jazwares.com Roblox is the largest social platform for play that allows children to imagine, create, and play together in immersive 3D worlds. Over 22 million user-generated online games have been produced on the Roblox platform, with over 64 million players visiting Roblox every month to create adventures, play games, role-play, and learn with friends in a family-friendly environment. Roblox is accessible on all modern smartphones, tablets, desktops, Xbox One, Oculus Rift, and other popular VR platforms. Jazwares’ Roblox toy line is designed to “Power Imagination” in the same way that Roblox inspires participants in their online platform to express their creativity. Fans can take apart the characters in the physical toy line and mix and match parts to create new characters, just like they can in the Roblox virtual world. The collectible characters are based on the creations of some of the most popular community developers. The Play Your Way TV campaign for Roblox toys from Jazwares invites children to power their imaginations with toys they can build, chuck, dunk, dance, hug, race, style, mix, trade and love. The heavyweight TV campaign continues to run across all commercial kids’ channels throughout September, October and November.

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Feature

Radio Control & Slot Racing

Seeing is believing

With the festive season looming, Toy World takes a look at opportunities in the Radio Control and Slot Racing category.

I

n many ways, the Radio Control and Slot Racing category epitomises the broader retail climate; some would view the sector as a ‘glass half empty’ scenario, while others would very much see it as a ‘glass half full’. With sales in this market traditionally buoyant in the run-up to the festive season, largely due to the higher price points involved, what lies ahead over the coming months? For some toy retailers, there is unquestionably an opportunity; the demise of both Toys R Us and Maplin has removed two key retail players from the equation. The Toys R Us Radio Control offer was broad, encompassing entry-level items right through to top-end product. Its disappearance will have a bigger impact on Radio Control suppliers, while also offering the greatest scope for other toy retailers to pick up incremental business. Meanwhile Maplin concentrated on high-end, hobby-level products, predominantly aimed at teen and adult enthusiasts, with drones very much to the fore in its ranging in recent years. While Maplin’s problems were many, the under-performance of the drone category could not have helped its trading situation. According to Alpha Animation’s Mark Slater-Hyndman: “Drones were predicted to be the saviour of the Radio Control sector and sadly it just didn’t materialise. To some degree, I would say the category is still suffering a huge hangover from last year’s under-performing drone market, which is why innovation is more crucial than ever. Companies such as Alpha are introducing groundbreaking new items, which can inject some muchneeded excitement into the category.” Alpha’s hot new introduction for this year is Terrasect, an exciting stand-alone radio control line in the form of an alien reptile. Its key function is that it has open-ended motion, flipping and

transforming from a creature into a rolling ball for continuous play. Meanwhile Bladez has enjoyed success with its Hot Wheels Radio Control range. According to Kieran Peoples: “Without doubt our Hot Wheels DRX Monster offers something unique in Radio Control flying toys, with its ‘3 in 1’ capabilities; it can not only drive and fly, but it also has the ability to perform on water.” As Radio Control products are traditionally bigger box items and require more shelf space, Kieran admits: “There can be a challenge getting into retailers’ range space. Nevertheless, this presents an opportunity for the larger toy specialists and independent retailers to step up and make a statement in the category. With more space available and in-store demonstration possibilities, it can really help drive sales.” Mark Slater-Hyndman agrees and points out: “Demonstration is clearly the most effective method of maximising sales. However, with space at a premium, product demonstration videos, effective placement on web sites and digital activity will increasingly play their part too.” Slot Racing products sit nicely alongside Radio Control items, and market-leading Slot Racing brand Scalextric continues to be a linchpin in Hornby’s toy channel strategy. According to Scalextric brand manager Sarah Frame: “Despite tough market conditions, sales have been consistent and to expectations. With the new addition of the Scalextric Endurance set, Scalextric is now more affordable than ever. It’s the perfect gift to start kids’ racing world, and with our track extension packs, they can upgrade the set as they go along.” There are several new additions to the Scalextric range this autumn, including the Lamborghini Centenario supercar, as well as McLaren and

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Williams F1 cars, the McLaren F1 GTR and the Ford GT. Micro Scalextric is also tipped to be a strong performer this festive season; the set features Ghost and Spark, two futuristic fantasy-style cars which have stronger magnets to help them stay on the track, but are designed to take a bashing when they fly off. With an easy to assemble loop and half pipe, this new 1:64 Sci-Fi Speedway set is aimed at the younger racer, offering all the thrills and spills of full-sized slot car racing in one of nine compact layouts, each featuring over 13 feet of track. While Scalextric has been around since the 1950s, Hornby has introduced many new features to keep the brand fresh and relevant. Sarah commented: “Using the latest in app technology, racing features and hazards once only dreamed about have been incorporated into Scalextric’s Arc Air and Pro app-based race systems. These racing features present drivers with the option of recreating adverse weather conditions, tyre wear and oil slicks, as well as customising their own driving techniques and lane changing, and all this with the added ease of wireless hand controllers.” Sarah also believes that another major advantage of Scalextric is the opportunity to involve multiple players in the experience: “We see Scalextric being played by the whole family. With Scalextric digital having up to six racers, everyone can race together.” Like Radio Control, Slot Racing can benefit from in-store activity. According to Sarah: “The dream would be to have a layout, so kids and parents alike can race and experience the fun of Scalextric. However, retail space is always at a premium, so this is where our exciting video content and in-store theatre comes into play. 2019 is going to be a big year for the brand. We have a big announcement to make later this summer and a lot of new product which will be launched at London Toy Fair.”



Radio Control & Slot Racing

Spin Master 01628 535 000 | www.spinmastertoys.co.uk

Spin Master continues to drive tech innovation with the launch of its latest product, Boxer; a real robot pal who comes to life right out of the box. With a variety of interactive features, Boxer has a lively personality with dynamic moods that evolve over time. As kids play with this loveable bot, they’ll get to know his quirky personality and full range of emotion. Boxer comes with 10 activity cards, an interactive ball accessory which lets kids play a fast-paced game of football, an IR remote control, and interactive features through gesture, sound and touch controls. Tech fans can place one of the cards in front of Boxer and let him roll over it to scan it. They can then play games like Bot Bowling, Paddle Bot and Go Kart, or use the remote control to race Boxer around and do tricks. Equipped with multiple IR sensors, a rechargeable battery and tech features, Boxer responds to hand movements and interacts in a variety of ways with real-life responses, expressions and sounds. The free-to-download Boxer app allows for extended play, with additional games that can be unlocked the more fans play. The app also features video tutorials that teach users how to interact with Boxer to unlock his full potential. With the latest launch from Air Hogs, Air Hogs Supernova, fliers can launch, push and spin a gravity-defying orb, using just their hands - no remote control or touching needed. Equipped with an intelligent on-board system and motion-sensitive lights and sensors, the Air Hogs Supernova responds to every movement. To activate, the Air Hogs Supernova is tossed into the air to launch and will levitate mid-air, awaiting command. Fans can master 30 moves and nine tricks, ranging from simple to complex. They can learn solo or pass it back and forth with friends as they send it spinning in a spiral, or make it fly circles around them. Engineered to handle the unexpected, Air Hogs Supernova is equipped with collision avoidance and stable flight technology. Both new launches will be supported by extensive TV advertising, heavyweight influencer campaigns and PR outreach targeting high profile tech, kidult and kid audiences.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com Character Options sees remote control go high tech when its new Really Rad Robots enters the portfolio this autumn. The collectible range of Really Rad Robots is packed with attitude and comes with innovative features at affordable price points. Built especially for fun and mischief, these robots have personalities that will strongly appeal to kids. Mid-Autumn will see the introduction of MiBro, a larger remote controlled buddy who’s full of mischief. Featuring smart talking phrases and over 20 sounds, MiBro can spy, listen and even talk. This electronic assistant is full of possibilities, whether it’s spying on siblings, scaring mum with the Stealth mode, or using his accessories to blast away enemies or to fetch and carry things. MiBro is just one in a whole line of Really Rad Robots that will benefit from a multi-level marketing campaign this autumn, including a full season TV campaign, high profile activity in the kid’s press and PopJam support, plus a branded digital campaign and pre-roll seeding of Really Rad short cuts.

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com IMC Toys is a leading manufacturer of innovative, high quality toys spanning across a variety of categories. IMC also partners with leading licensors on the development of extensive product ranges across many popular children’s properties. The evergreen property Toy Story continues to be a family favourite, and will be supported by IMC Toys throughout 2018 with a range that includes a remote control car. Kids can also be part of Shimmer and Shine’s magical adventures, enjoying the ride as they control IMC’s cute licensed car with their very own remote control. The Mickey Roadster Racer RC: Hot Dog is Mickey’s Roadster Racer RC Car. This full-function remote control car is capable of high-speed turns and manoeuvres, and will provide hours of racing fun.

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Hornby 01843 233 512 | www.scalextric.com The Scalextric journey begins with My First Scalextric for upper pre-schoolers. The company’s most popular product, the range is being supported with TV advertsing in 2018 following the success of last year’s TV campaign. My First Scalextric is the ideal introduction to the brand – the easy to assemble 1:64 scale set features power level controls and a raised figure of eight track. Suitable for children in the next age bracket is the Micro Scalextric range, which welcomes the new Sci-Fi Speedway set. Featuring a loop the loop, half pipe and nine track layout options, this 1:64 set is the ideal gift for the younger racer. Micro Scalextric is supported with a paid social media campaign in partnership with National Geographic Kids. The world of 1:32 Scalextric offers a comprehensive range of products at pricepoints to suit all budgets, including the hero Endurance set. This entry level affordable race set features two tough cars, and kids can easily expand upon the set with Scalextric track extension packs and the ARC (App Race Control) digital system. Other sets from the company include an officially licensed Gulf and Grand Prix set, as well as the top-end supercar set Sunset Speedway, featuring a Lamborghini, McLaren and Jaguar in Scalextric’s ARC Pro digital set up. This set can race up to six cars with lane changing capability, while the ARC app allows racers to introduce weather conditions, fuel limits, tyre wear and pit stops to the race. Sunset Speedway will benefit from a large digital media campaign, with both Facebook and programmatic advertising spreading brand awareness for the whole range alongside an adrenaline filled Scalextric advert. The product will also be supported by selected tech influencers, with an engaging product video demonstrating all the features this aspirational set has to offer.

Toy State 020 8440 5060 | www.toystate.com For the last 60 years, the team behind the Nikko brand has been passionate about designing action vehicles that deliver innovation, performance and quality. To celebrate Nikko’s 60 year anniversary milestone, the team has designed new vehicles ready for the Christmas season, including the cuttingedge Omni X and the 1:14 Elite Racing series Audi RS5 DTM. The Omni X allows radio control fans to drive, spin and drift to the finish line while they perform intense sideways sliding action with its unique Omnidirectional wheels. This dynamic vehicle also features USB charging and 2.4GHz control which allows for a fast fuel-up and interference free racing for up to 10 friends at the same time. The Omni X comes fully loaded with batteries for play right out of the box, and can achieve speeds up to 14km/h with a range of up to 35 meters. Designed for fans of the world’s toughest and most hard-fought racing series, the Elite 1:14 scale Audi RS5 DTM is an eye-catching liveried coupe. This scaled racing car will push kids’ racing skills to the limit, with full suspension and sensitive controls that allow them to enjoy a thrilling racing line. Fans can also recreate the electric atmosphere of real-life races, thanks to a 2.4Ghz frequency that allows them to compete with up to 40 players at once. With one-hour quick charging, racers can prepare their strategy for the next event, beating the competition until the championship title is theirs.

Simba Smoby 01274 765 030 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en Last year Simba Smoby’s Cars remote control range was a category leader, with its 1:24 scale Lightning McQueen becoming the No. 1 best-selling RC item by value and volume sales from June – November 2017. The range is still performing well today, a testament to how strong the Cars licence and brand popularity is. The range includes Lightning McQueen and other characters from the film franchise, starting from 1:32 scale all the way up to 1:24 scale. At scale 1:24, the RC Turbo Racers are a great option for fans of the licence. Lightning McQueen, Cruz and Jackson are all available with full driving function, multi-directional control and a turbo speed function. Bumblebee, the first spin off film from the multi-billion dollar Transformers franchise, hits cinemas this Christmas, and Simba will bring its 1:24 scale experience to Bumblebee with a 1:24 scale Bumblebee RC car. This Bumblebee will appear in his iconic Beatle form, as featured in the latest movie.

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Radio Control & Slot Racing

Bladez Toyz 02392 658 255 | www.bladeztoyz.co.uk The Bladez Toyz range of Hot Wheels RC flying toys continues to expand, further establishing its place as a go-to brand within the remote control category. With 10 items to choose from, and something for all ages and skill levels, the range is an ideal first step into flying toys for children. For beginners, the new Hot Wheels RC Tiger Shark 2 channel helicopter with built in gyro is easy to fly both indoors and out, and comes in at entry price point. Also at affordable price points are the compact 2.4ghz Hawk Quadcopter, which boats multiple race speeds and crash resistant safety guards for adrenaline-fuelled stunts, and the versatile Cage Fighter Quadcopter, which offers a drive feature so kids can get used to the controls before they engage the flight mode. Stepping up a level, the Hot Wheels RC Monster X-Terrain is a 3-in-1 vehicle ready for air, land and sea. The big brother to the successful Drone Racerz range, and winner of a BTHA 2018 Toy Hero Accolade, children can drive the Monster on the toughest terrain, switch quickly into flight mode, and even land on water. As they get more experienced, children can upgrade to the Stingray Racing Drone. Featuring advanced technology, altitude control, auto hover, take off and land, this drone is suited for all pilots from beginner right through to advanced. New for autumn/winter is the Hot Wheels Skytrackz FPV Quadcopter, which offers three ways to fly and features a HD Wi-Fi camera. With the addition of the exclusive Hot Wheels App controlled gameplay, users will be able to draw a virtual track circuit on their mobile phone, before watching their quadcopter fly on autopilot through the sky track they have created. Hot Wheels Drone Racerz continues to develop into 2019, with more stunt themes coming through the pipeline thanks to Bladez’ unique car chassis system. This system allows children to use their imaginations to create their own stunts using ramps and track, in addition to high performance flying thrills.

Vivid Imaginations 01483 449 944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Vivid continues to extend its distribution partnership with Sky Rocket Toys for 2018 with the multi-award winning Sky Viper range of products, currently the No. 1 Drone and Flying RC brand in the US. The Sky Viper Fury Stunt Drone features easy one-touch stunt controls and performs up to eight different stunts, with all-new flight assist features for auto-take off, hover and land. Kids can also fly, stream and record in high definition with the Sky Viper Scout Video Drone, which comes complete with a fitted camera to record HD footage that can be streamed directly to a phone. This allows fliers to watch their flight in real-time or record it to Micro-SD (not included). All Sky Viper drones feature flight assist features with auto-take off, hover and land, making flying a breeze.

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Little Tikes continues to develop a host of RC products within the Wheelz and Flyerz line. Designed to maximise parent-child playtime, the products are all designed to be easily accessible and user friendly for little hands, giving children the confidence to control, with the addition of lights and sounds for hours of fun. A new launch for autumn, the RC Dozer Racers is the only two-inone remote control car designed for pre-schoolers. With an easy-to-use remote control, kids can go from tearing down buildings in Dozer mode to zooming around tracks in Racer mode with just the flip of a switch. Children will be transfixed by the transformation from racing car to stunt dozer. A sell out product this year, Tyre Twister Lights is the ideal product for those looking for an action-packed playtime. Complete with lights and sirens, the police car will race forwards, backwards and can even spin 360°, whether it’s controlled inside or outside the tyre. The RC Bumper Cars can bump, crash and race. With the set of two cars with removable drivers, kids can play against their friends, siblings and parents in this head-to-head bumper car game. My First Flyer, a bright blue police helicopter, is simple to fly thanks to one-touch controls, protective propeller wings and an auto-hover mode. Ideal for any first-time flyer looking to get airborne, My First Flyer has lights and sounds that allow kids to reach new heights.

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Radio Control & Slot Racing

Tomy 01271 336 155 | www.tomy.com When it comes to remote control toys, Tomy has something for all ages, with a variety of wheeled, football and robotic themed products. Introducing farm play to toddlers, Tomy’s John Deere Pre-school collection includes top-selling RC Johnny Tractor which is an ideal first remote-controlled toy for children aged 18 months plus. The friendly tractor is made out of soft touch plastic a and allows for easy forwards, backwards and spin around control. Older children will love Soccerborg the new football themed game experience. Soccerborg combines all the competition and thrill of the beautiful game with innovative robotic technology. Fans simply use the remote controls to make the robots dribble, tackle, pass and shoot to win. Tomy will support Soccerborg with a strong digital and social media advertising campaign.

Alpha Animation & Toys 01293 804 599 | www.auldeytoys.us Terra-Sect, the innovative new RC toy from Alpha Animation & Toys, highlights the company’s ability to develop and produce cutting-edge, innovative toys. Terra Sect is completely unstoppable; it rolls, flips and crawls in any direction and is easy to manoeuvre over varying elevations with stable all-terrain navigation. Terra-Sect will slink and slither stealthily along the ground. Once activated, the relentless rolling attack mode kicks in and players can watch as Terra-Sect coils and rolls to take down its target. Terra-Sect includes a 2.4 Ghz controller with up to 150’ range for indoor and outdoor use.

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com The Wilton Bradley showstopper for 2018 is its remote control range Monster Smash Ups. The existing range of three character remote control trucks is joined by a fourth character - Black Widow. The trucks now offer further play potential, as the body of the trucks now fully explode when they hit each other or an obstacle. The driver also gets ejected from the car. Kids can then rebuild the trucks, customise them with the included stickers, and build their own track with the flags and cones. Other items available include a Battle Pack which comes with two trucks, a ramp, and four interchangeable characters and chassis. Another ramp can also be purchased separately. This product has proved popular with parenting bloggers. Testimonials and videos posted online from influential bloggers have boosted the range, as has winning a Made For Mums Award, and being featured in the national media. There will be more activity to support Monster Smash Ups throughout Q4, including a mass media campaign.

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Allegedly

Amazon’s tax affairs have been back in the headlines in recent weeks (on the positive side, at least they seem to have stopped poisoning kids…for now, at any rate). First came the counter-intuitive news that Amazon’s UK turnover and profits rose sharply last year, yet it managed to pay a paltry £1.7m corporation tax, significantly less than the previous year. I should point out that Amazon has done nothing illegal; immoral yes, but not illegal. The truth is that, ultimately, HMRC is culpable; the current tax laws have more holes than a fishing net. Compare Amazon’s pathetic £1.7m corporation tax bill with Tesco’s £176m settlement, or indeed Tesco’s business rate bill of £700m compared to Amazon’s (guesstimated) bill of £11m and tell me the system is fair and equable. Given this inequity, the fact that Amazon is actually contesting a £221m EU fine for unpaid tax struck me as more than a bit cheeky. The headlines announced that Amazon was “fighting back.” I prefer to look at it as “weaselling out of what it owes.” It has been estimated that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos would have to spend $28m a day just to avoid getting richer. I have a polite suggestion for Jeff as to how he might be able to achieve that… Toys R Us has been back in the headlines in recent weeks, as the chain attempts to tie up the loose ends of its operation around the world. There was positive news from the Iberian Peninsula, as reports emerged that TRU Spain & Portugal has been sold to a group of Portuguese investors, which hopefully ensures the continuity of the brand in that region. However, the news about its Asian operation was a little more intriguing; since the retailer’s collapse, the Asian business has been broadly acknowledged as its strongest subsidiary. Furthermore, it had been widely anticipated that minority owner Li & Fung would simply step in to take over the running of the operation. However, this week saw a report by Bloomberg which has put forward the theory that lenders could swoop in and ‘steal’ it from under their noses. Adding credence to the theory, the story suggested that Toys R Us has asked a federal judge to strip Li & Fung of its first-refusal option and force it to sell its 15% stake in the joint venture. I can’t image Li & Fung being particularly impressed with this latest turn of events. In fairness, many of us have been wondering why such a seemingly straightforward deal was taking so long to complete - now we know. Some people have suggested that this may just be a way of forcing Li & Fung to increase its offer. There have even been suggestions of ‘interference’ by L&F putting off potential other suitors, negating a competitive bidding process. The upshot is that if this story is true, rather than the business seamlessly transitioning into the care of an experienced operator which knows the business and the locality inside out, it may fall into the hands of a bunch of bankers (with a silent w), accountants and assorted Wall Street whizz-kids. Once more, I am moved to pose the question: ‘what could possibly go wrong’? The US toy industry is understandably nervous about President Trump’s ongoing threats to extend the existing Chinese tariff programme. Several separate pronouncements have added to the confusion; first, the number of categories covered by the tariffs was extended. Follow-up comments have suggested that it is possible that all Chinese-made goods may be liable for additional tariffs if the Chinese government doesn’t ‘play ball’. Toys are not currently on the list, although both cosmetics and stationery have been added, affecting a number of art & craft-based toy companies. Talking to one US supplier recently, he admitted that it would almost certainly result in prices increasing by 20-40% to the consumer, depending on the price point. Assuming that happens, sales will surely drop, businesses will be adversely affected and domestic jobs will be cut – precisely the opposite of what the tariff is (purportedly) intended to achieve. It certainly won’t create any additional ‘Made in America’ toy product. Indeed, perhaps the most ironic news report I saw

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in the wake of the President’s initial tariff announcement revealed that the price of Chinese-made ‘Make America Great Again’ hats will be increasing in price due to the tariffs. On so many levels, irony is officially dead… Warwick Brenner recently left his role at WWE after six successful years to head up McLaren’s licensing business globally. As a dedicated ‘petrol head’, it was obviously too good an opportunity to turn down, and we wish Warwick all the best in his new role. Elsewhere, former WWE executive Casey Collins has joined Hasbro to head up its global consumer products team, Jeremy Robinson has joined Fundamentally Children as head of business development, Jeremy Pateman has parted company with Tactic Games and former head toy buyer Ian Chaplin has left Argos… I was pleased to see another observer talking up the opportunity for independent toy retailers in the wake of Toys R Us’ demise: this time it was our former contributor Lutz Muller, writing on the Seeking Alpha website about the US retail landscape. Much has been made of the increase in toy space at Wal-Mart and Target, but Lutz shares my belief that TRU customers primary focus was on choice and quality rather than price, and the switch to another specialist retailer (providing there is a suitable one in the vicinity) is just as plausible as shoppers simply migrating to Amazon. Unlike the UK, not all big US toy companies have valued the ‘specialty’ sector in the past, so it will be interesting to see if some of them decide to adapt their strategy to form relationships with these stores, or whether they continue to write them off as being too complicated and costly to deal with…

Last month saw Toy World editor Rachael Simpson tie the knot with fiancé Lewis in a stunning, highly original ceremony (I’m sure she’ll tell you all about it when she returns). She will henceforth go under the name of Rachael Simpson-Jones, and is therefore going to need a much bigger business card. The Toy World team was in attendance for the celebrations, and was collectively thrilled that, among the very many thoughtful and personal touches on the day, the event included a wedding Tee-Pee shaped rather like last month’s Toy World cover star, the Harry Potter Sorting Hat. Coincidence? Congratulations to Rachael (Ravenclaw) and Lewis (Hufflepuff).


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