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December 2017 Volume 7 Issue 4


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The Team...

CONTENTS December 2017 Volume 7 Issue 4

John Baulch

Publisher and Managing Editor 01442 502 408 07932 651 207

26 Talking Shop

37 T oy Fair Spotlight: Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty

Mark Austin

Sales Director 01442 502 405

Anita Baulch

Circulation and Financial Director 01923 711 439




05 From the Publisher

24 NPD column

36 T oy Fair Spotlight: Cobi

06 News

26 Talking Shop

16 Industry Moves

30 Viewpoint

37 T oy Fair Spotlight: Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty

18 Marketing World

34 Q&A: Import Services

22 Licensing World

58 Allegedly

38 Brand Profile: Hy-Pro 40 Company Profile: Primo Toys 42 Nuremberg Toy Fair Preview 43 Exhibitor Profile: Simplay

Contributors David Ripley | The NPD Group | Jim Hawker | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Martin Doyle

Rachael Simpson

Deputy Editor 01442 502 406

42 Nuremberg Toy Fair Preview

40 Company Profile: Primo Toys

Casey Goodman

Editorial Assistant 01442 502 406

toyworld The business magazine with a passion for toys

Mark Crowford

Design and Production Manager 01442 502 405

Alakat Published by

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


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Toy World Magazine


from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

here is no denying that 2017 has been a fascinating year for the UK toy market on so many levels. There have been some subtle shifts in traditional industry norms; crazes remain integral to the health of the market, but this year they have exploded faster than ever before, spread quicker across the country, and (in some cases) have faded almost as fast as they arrived. The speed at which products have waxed and waned has been largely attributed to social media, a communication channel which also promises to radically alter the way toy products are launched and promoted. But as the year draws to a close, a series of scandals have been picked up gleefully by ‘old media’ outlets, with kid-focused online channels and even some child influencers at the heart of the controversy. Don’t expect these stories to go away anytime soon. Depending on the final outcome of the two biggest industry stories of the year, 2017 may yet turn out to be a watershed year - the year when the global toy trade changed for ever. The toy world continues to watch the progress of Toys R Us, hopeful of a successful resolution to its predicament, but wary of the repercussions if it cannot pull through. Just when you thought the toy trade had returned to a semblance of normality after the turbulence created by Toy R Us, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Hasbro had approached Mattel to propose a takeover. Of course, as those of us who have been around the trade for a while are aware, we’ve been here before – several times. Admittedly, something did feel slightly different this time, even if that is largely down to the inherent nervousness of American investors since the Toys R Us bankruptcy protection filing. However, there are still a series of massive hurdles to overcome; anti-trust legislation, both in the USA and particularly Europe, is perhaps the single biggest inhibiting factor to a potential merger. Then there are the diametrically opposite corporate cultures (I suspect that integration would be far from straightforward), not to mention the likelihood that the entire Mattel management team would fight tooth and nail to prevent any merger from going ahead. Throw in opposition from major retailers and licensors - both loathe to see too much negotiating power concentrated in one company – and the reluctance of Mattel shareholders to sell their shares when the valuation is so low, and you have a perfect storm brewing against the deal. Nevertheless, it was interesting to watch the reaction of Wall Street; both Mattel and Hasbro’s shares shot up when the news came out (as did Lego’s – owner Kjeld Kristiansen’s made a cool $2.7 billion in one day according to Bloomberg). Mattel rebuffed the original approach, but it is still possible that we’ll see further twists and turns before the situation is resolved conclusively. Talking of twists and turns brings me neatly to the

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recent NPD data; the months of October and November provided a bumpy ride, with significant fluctuations from last year’s trading patterns. The nadir was week 44, which saw a fall of 18.45%, with all eight super-categories in decline, which suggests it was a macro- economic trend, rather than the fact that certain individual ranges or categories weren’t performing. A drop of nearly £15m in the eighth week before Christmas is not what anyone would have wanted. However, with Black Friday becoming an increasingly important sales driver and the potentially huge month of December still to come, it’s where the market ultimately ends up that counts. Apparently, there were similar scenes in 2013, when a 7% decline across November and December was reversed by a huge surge in December. Let’s hope that history repeats itself over the course of the next few weeks. What I also found interesting about the NPD reports was the fact that the top items were consistently selling at full RRP, including the £100 Luvabella doll and the £60 large LOL Surprise! doll. In fact, this trend applied to around 50% of the top 25 items, a much larger percentage than might traditionally be expected, based on previous years’ experience. Perhaps the penny has finally dropped; if you have what people really want, there is no reason to discount it heavily. So even if sales end up flat or even down slightly, maybe profit will be higher? Has the toy industry finally learned the ‘flowers on Mothers’ Day’ lesson? With only weeks to go before the curtain falls on this dramatic year, our gaze is already firmly fixed on what lies ahead in 2018. This issue includes the first of our two-part guide to the Nuremberg Toy Fair. Part two will appear in our bumper January issue, which will land on your desk with an almighty thud in the early part of January. This issue will also contain the best preview of the London Toy Fair you’ll find anywhere, as well as a separate pull-out supplement devoted to Spring Fair. Speaking of Toy Fair, it’s great that the BTHA has agreed a deal for Hasbro to have a presence at next year’s show, having been absent for the past couple of years. Hasbro will be taking two conjoined rooms in the upper gallery to showcase its latest products to the independent retail trade. The focus will be on ranges that are specifically tailored for the indies, and during the recent 2018 preview I attended, I got the distinct impression that the company is working harder than ever to differentiate its ranges for individual retail channels. I think it’s great that Hasbro is taking the opportunity to engage with independent retailers at Toy Fair, helping to make their trips to the show even more worthwhile - so everyone’s a winner. We look forward to seeing you all over Toy Fair season. In the meantime, on behalf of the whole Toy World team, we’d like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

News DreamToys Christmas Top 12 Decided by a panel of leading toy retailers, The Toy Retailers Association’s DreamToys list is the UK’s most accurate and authoritative predictive list available, and provides consumers with expert insight into what will be the most popular toys this Christmas. Nerf Nitro Longshot Smash and The Original Stretch Armstrong bring familiar names to the Christmas Top 12 list, while film and TV licences are represented by PJ Masks Headquarters Playset, Lego’s Star Wars BB-8, and Paw Patrol Sea Patroller. Laser X – 2 Player Pack and the sequel to last year’s hit Hatchimals, Hatchimals Surprise, highlight the increasing creativity within the growing interactive toy market while L.O.L. Surprise! Series 2 and Fingerlings showcase the importance of collectibles to the toy market. Other products in the top 12 include Mattel’s Enchantimals Playhouse Panda Set, Hasbro’s FurReal Roarin’ Tyler and the big Christmas game for 2017, Toilet Trouble. Gary Grant, chair of the DreamToys committee and CEO of The Entertainer, commented: “This year’s DreamToys Top 12 is an exciting range of innovative toys that demonstrate the creativity of the toy industry and the magic of Christmas. This year’s list is incredibly diverse and with price points to suit all budgets. With so many products vying for a child’s attention it’s pleasing to be able to pick a list that promotes togetherness, innovation and creative play that will capture the imagination this Christmas.” Frederique Tutt, global industry analyst for the NPD Group’s toys division added: “With £1.2b spent on toys for Christmas – the equivalent of one third of total annual The full Top 12 list is as follows, in no particular order: toy spend - the toy industry is all-systems-go as the 25th December draws closer. The list chosen by the 2017 DreamToys panel reflects the increased popularity of Enchantimals Playhouse Panda Set - Mattel traditional play patterns with Games & Puzzles, Plush and Dolls as the fastestFingerlings - Jazwares/WowWee growing categories to date.” FurReal Roarin’ Tyler - Hasbro At the same time, DreamToys announced the full list of DreamToys for 2017. My Hatchimals Surprise - Spin Master Toys First Drone, Fidget Cubes, JoJo Siwa Singing JoJo doll and a Chocolate Egg Surprise Laser X – 2 Player Pack - Character Options Maker are just some of the toys that make up this year’s DreamToys list. L.O.L. Surprise! Series 2 - MGA Entertainment Frederique commented: “All year, affordable collectibles have topped the bestNerf Nitro Longshot Smash - Hasbro seller lists, with seven out of the top 10 best-selling toys since the beginning of 2017 retailing for under £10." Paw Patrol Sea Patroller - Spin Master Toys "As we approach Christmas, we’re seeing bigger toys continuing to promote PJ Masks Headquarters Playset - Flair Leisure Products traditional play patterns, often with a twist, with some ranges adopting an unboxing Star Wars: BB-8 - Lego element inspired by social media such as L.O.L. or Hatchimals; or some level of The Original Stretch Armstrong - Character Options interactivity, such as those seen in Fingerlings or FurReal’s Roarin’ Tyler.” Toilet Trouble - Hasbro The DreamToys list has been broken down into eight categories and from these the 12 Top Toys are selected. The full list is available on the DreamToys facebook page.


QUALITY CHILDREN’S BRANDS tel. 01604 678780 email. 11 Deer Park Road, Northampton, NN3 6QD, UK DKL.Toys


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News VTech's 1st-half profit surges 45%


For the six months through September, VTech's revenue grew 5.8% year on year to $1.04b, driven primarily by growth in the Asia-Pacific region, where turnover leaped 43.9%. Revenue in North America - the toymaker's largest market, contributing 48% of total turnover - climbed 5.3% from a year ago. Earnings comparisons were helped by the absence of one-time costs incurred by the acquisition of US rival LeapFrog last year. Both LeapFrog and Snom Technology - a German phone maker also purchased in 2016 - have already made positive contributions to VTech's half-year balance sheet. The Hong Kong company has stopped shipping products to Toys R Us stores, pending the negotiation of new terms following the retailer filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. VTech President Pang King-fai said VTech's sales to Toys R Us up to the date of the bankruptcy filing had been covered by credit insurance, but shipments thereafter will not be covered. While VTech is currently negotiating with Toys R Us about supplies during the holiday seasons, Pang said the stock could easily be absorbed by other retailers, with demand for toys running high globally. Electronic learning toys have become a key driver of VTech's business growth, with sales of the products improving 7.8% in the first half and contributing 34% of total revenue, according to the CFO Shereen Tong. By contrast, revenue from its traditional telecommunications products dipped 2% during the period, she added.

The Entertainer hits £150m turnover milestone In the year to 28th January 2017, the retailer generated revenues of £152.6m, an increase from £139.5m. During the year, the business opened 15 new stores, including its first in Northern Ireland. Pre-tax profits for The Entertainer have increased to £8.7m from £6.9m in 2016. In a statement which accompanied the results, The Entertainer commented: "It was a strong year, despite a turbulent political and economic backdrop. Trading conditions were tough on the high street, with unprecedented competitor activity during peak trading. Despite this backdrop, profits continued to grow, with strong margin management and cost productivity underpinning the result." In its 2017/18 financial year, The Entertainer has suggested that it will open a further 15 branches in the UK, as well as continuing its overseas expansion.

No kidding Toy World spoke to Richard Greaves, business development manager at Kidicraft, about how the company is continuing to grow, and what there is to look forward in 2018. How has 2017 been for Kidicraft? Kidicraft has grown from small beginnings in 2014 to a respected and notable supplier during 2017. The ranges now on offer include Super 3D Jigsaw Puzzles, children’s wipeable table mats, wall posters, notebooks and bookmarks. All of these products feature ‘magic motion’, which is achieved by high quality depth of photography. The images used for these products are taken from the vast National Geographic and National Geographic Kids libraries, as well as from the artwork portfolios of the highly respected British artists Howard Robinson and Kevin Walsh. Alongside the Super 3D range, Kidicraft has introduced the Stunt Jaxx comical collectibles. These creatures perform stunts and spins on any flat surface and can be battled against each other in the Stunt Arena. Our Stuntjaxx products have featured in the autumn/winter catalogues of buying groups and major retailers. National Accounts, garden centres, visitor attractions, buying groups and independent retailers have all sampled what Kidicraft has to offer, and they have all contributed to the spectacular growth of the company during 2017.

Has the growth of the company necessitated any changes in staffing? Such has been the demand for Kidicraft products, it has been necessary to expand the staff during the year. We have recently employed Stella Humphreys as marketing manager, with extra warehouse staff being taken on under the wing of Tony Tasker, our logistics manager. The office team has also been bolstered by the addition of Tom Powley who has taken on the role of sales administrator. It is important to also mention that Kidicraft employs one of the most experienced and respected teams of sales agents in the industry.

How has the move to Kidicraft’s new warehouse benefitted the company? During late 2016, it became obvious that a substantial increase in sales had led to a need for more stock and therefore more space. As a result, late in that year Kidicraft moved to a much larger purpose-built warehouse which luckily is situated not too far from the previous premises. This move has allowed much speedier picking and despatch of orders so that we can keep our increasingly large customer base happy.

What new products can we look forward to in 2018? Dinosaurs are currently very on trend, and so in early 2018 Kidicraft will introduce three Super 3D Dinosaur puzzles to our popular Selfies range. There will also be further products featuring the wonderful animal images from National Geographic, and even more comical and colourful products based on the vivid imagination of Howard Robinson. There will be also be new Space and Planet-based introductions, plus a completely new range based on the striking designs of renowned artist Anne Stokes. Annie is famous for taking classical topics and re-inventing them with strong design and impact. Retailers and consumers should also look out for our new Fantasy range, which uses images that are totally exclusive to Kidicraft. We are sure this range will take the market by storm. Visitors can come and see the new products and current ranges at London Toy Fair - Stand H30 - or NEC Spring Fair - Hall 5 Stand E01. We look forward to seeing them there.

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Drop by and visit us at any of our upcoming events where we will be showcasing our adorable Shaun the Sheep, Timmy Time and Disney Plush Ranges.

©Disney. ©Disney. Based on the “Winnie the Pooh” works by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard.

For information about the SINCO Toys’ growing portfolio of plush and collectables, please contact Sally Hunter on Tel: 07909 256 308.

OUR SPRING 2018 SHOWCASE EVENTS 3rd-12th January

Hong Kong at the Grand Stanford Hotel, Room 202

23rd - 25th January Olympia Toy Fair, Stand 162

31st Jan – 4th February

Nuremberg International Toy Fair, Hall 4, Stand E23

4th – 8th February Spring Fair, NEC, Hall 5, Row L55

©Aardman Animations Ltd 2017.

Sinco Toys Ltd, 315 Bury Old Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M25 1JA

News Toy Trust announces Big Challenge event for 2018 The annual fundraising day for summer 2018 has been confirmed for Saturday 9th June. The event will be based at Westhorpe Water Sports Centre, Little Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Plans for the fundraiser include a triathlon, which will feature an open water swim, a 50 and 80-mile circular bike ride, and 10km run/walk. Participants with younger family members are welcome to join the walking element. The 2018 event will culminate with a late afternoon BBQ and refreshments on site for all participants, and will aim to raise £200,000 for the children’s charities supported by the Toy Trust. Places are available for individuals or teams from the toy, licensing and toy retail community, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Toy Trust chair Foye Pascoe commented: “Next year’s Big Challenge promises to be another exciting event for all of the industry to get involved in. We sincerely hope the 25 teams that supported this year’s event will be back to support us again next June. As always, we hope to encourage new teams, however big or small, to get involved in what has become an uplifting and fun, team building day that raises massive amounts of money for the disadvantaged children the Toy Trust supports.” Places are available at £100 per person and teams or individuals wishing to register interest in participating should email Matt Jones at the BTHA (Matt@btha. as soon as possible.

Pioneer acquires Northstar Balloons The companies will be working with customers to achieve a smooth transfer of business. Timelines for the transition will be announced soon, but for now Northstar customers can continue to place orders as they have in the past. Ted A. Vlamis, president of Pioneer, commented: “We’re excited to be adding Northstar’s products and capabilities to the Pioneer family. It has developed a unique product personality and sharp sense for trends, and its line further strengthens our complete product offering. We’re looking forward to partnering with Northstar’s customers to mutually grow the balloon business.” Nico Wyrobek, CEO of Northstar, commented: “It has been my greatest privilege and honour to spend the last ten years with our team building the Northstar brand. Pioneer brings well-established manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and sales support and sophistication to support its continued development. I am extremely confident that the Pioneer team will be good shepherds of the Northstar brand, and I look forward to watching its growth in the years to come.”

Registration now open for The Independent Toy and Gift Show The show will be taking place at Cranmore Park in Solihull on 1-2nd May 2018. The Independent Toy and Gift show has become a firm favourite in the toy and gift buying calendar. This trade show offers a unique buying experience, with new products and ranges, from traditional toys to the latest gadgets and gizmos. Buyers can meet with a diverse range of exhibitors from across the world of toys and children’s gifts across the two show days.

Sambro opens new premises in High Wycombe Sambro South signals another key milestone for the business and demonstrates its continued expansion and commitment to its partners, many of whom are based close by. The new state of the art showroom and office allows Sambro to play host to retailer previews, licensor and supplier meetings. The new premises were officially opened on 25th October by Elmo. The esteemed guest, of Sesame Street fame, represents one of Sambro’s many new licensed properties for 2018 and beyond. The inaugural event also played host to many of Sambro’s licensing partners including Disney, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, CPLG and Universal. Sambro South is situated at Peregine Business Park, High Wycombe and has easy transport links to Central London and the rest of the UK, as well as major domestic airports. Tom Duffy, managing director at Sambro, commented: "Every year we say this has been our best year yet but 2017 was always a pivotal time for us to expand the business on a global scale. Sambro South signifies not only our intent to make a huge impact on the toy industry but is also indicative of how rapidly we are achieving this goal. We are really looking forward driving the business, and I am confident with the brilliant team we have that next year could be our best yet."

The Elf on the Shelf launches Letters to Santa Letters to Santa is a new way for parents to ensure the traditional Christmas wish list gets to Santa on time. The new Scout Elf Express Delivers Letters to Santa features Santa’s Special Paper, which shrinks letters to elf-size so that children will think the Scout Elves can hand-deliver the tiny messages to Santa. Following tradition, children write their letter to Santa on Santa’s Special Paper and, with the help of an adult, place it on Mrs. Claus’ Magic Press before putting it in the oven for a few minutes. When it’s ready, the letter will have shrunk – small enough for children to think that a Scout Elf can take it back to the North Pole that night, and personally see that it’s delivered to Santa. The letter can then be displayed on Christmas trees as a keepsake ornament. Each Scout Elf Express Delivers Letters to Santa box set comes with an illustrated storybook, eight pieces of Santa’s Special Paper, Mrs. Claus’ Magic Press, eight ribbon sashes, two markers and two sheets of parchment paper. Families can also download The Elf on the Shelf apps for games and elf tricks and tips for free from iTunes.

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• 10 metre range • Up to 4 Hours Play Time • Echo Function • Compatible with Bluetooth Music Devices & Micro SD Cards • FF/RW/Pause/Play Functions • Built in High Capacity Rechargeable Battery Learn More / Request a Catalogue • Tel: 01626 835400 • Email:

News Meccano Liver Bird unveiled at new shopping park in Liverpool

Denis Horton appointed Fence Club chair

The world’s largest Liver Bird, made from Meccano pieces, was unveiled as Liverpool Shopping Park’s first retailers open their doors. Standing 11 metres tall, the Liver Bird sculpture has been created in a nod to the area’s history as home of Liverpool-born toy-maker Frank Hornby and the first Meccano factory. A joint commission by The Derwent Group, Liverpool City Council and Spin Master, the sculpture has been designed by internationally-renowned artist Emma Rodgers. The new Liver Bird took more than a year to design and manufacture, used seven tonnes of steel, and involved more than 1000 hours of metalworking. Craned into position in October, the new Liver Bird is expected to be a popular landmark for the local community. Jo Thompson, PR and office manager from Spin Master, who has managed the project since its inception, commented: “Spin Master would like to offer thanks to all who have made this ambitious project happen, especially Andy and the team at Art Fabrications who have done an outstanding job in creating such a magnificent piece of structural art whilst enjoying re-living their childhood Meccano days in large scale.”

At the recent AGM, The Fence Club elected Denis Horton as its chair for 201718. Denis has enjoyed a successful career in the toy industry, including stints as managing director of Kenner Parker Tonka, Fisher Price and Mattel. He has also been president of international at Radica and the European managing director of Corgi, prior to its sale to Hornby. Denis commented: “I am delighted to have been elected as the new chairman of the Club, following in the footsteps of so many distinguished toy men. I am really looking forward to the coming year and the exciting functions that are planned for members and their guests. As well as having a good time, we’ll raise many thousands of pounds for children’s charities. 2018 will be a very big year for the Fence Club; it would be great if we could get towards £150,000.” Also at the AGM, Fence Club secretary Clive Jones confirmed that membership of the Fence Club is open to both men and women who work in and around the toy industry and who are prepared to support the Club’s functions during the year. Currently, to continue with membership of the club, members need to attend at least half of the six functions that are put on during the year. Membership of the Fence Club will continue to be limited to 45 members, as it has been since the club was formed in 1950. It was also announced that the club has donated over £70,000 to children’s charities this year and will be delivering £50,000 worth of toys to the charities that the club supports in the coming weeks. Anyone wanting to help by donating toys for these charities should contact Joe Kissane or David Bramford at the Character Group, which organises the delivery of the toys, on 0161 633 9800.

Managing director of KD Toys steps down Seth Bishop had been in the role since 2015. In a brief statement, KD Toys commented: “Seth Bishop has recently left the KD Group for personal reasons after two years in the role of MD for KD UK. His successor will be announced in due course.”

Green plaque honours former Palitoy factory The plaque was installed on 2nd November at the Coalville Business Park, in Jackson Street, Coalville, where the Palitoy toy factory once stood. The company manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain from 1937 to 1985 – such as Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls, and Star Wars figures - before it ceased trading. Bob Simpson, who was managing director of the factory between 1969 and 1981, attended the unveiling, along with Bob Brechin who was a chief toy designer for the firm, and nominated the factory for the county council award. Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet member for green plaques, commented: “Palitoy not only helped to stoke children’s imaginations with its classic toys

and figures, it also helped to put Coalville on the map. It is fantastic to see that 80 years on, there is still huge support from the people of Leicestershire.” In 1968, Palitoy was sold to the US giant General Mills, and by the early 80s the Palitoy name was dropped. The factory site remained in operation with the former Palitoy staff, but most of the products were developed overseas – spelling the beginning of the end for Palitoy. Bob Brechin commented: “It is 80 years since Palitoy toys were first made in Coalville and I thought the famous toy company should be celebrated with a green plaque at this special time. Next year is also the centenary of the founding of Alf Pallett’s company Cascelloid, which would become Palitoy. My hope is that the green plaque may be the catalyst for people to remember fondly such toys as Action Man, Tressy, Pippa, Mainline Railways, Girls World, Care Bears and Striker.”

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News B&M ‘well placed’ for Christmas as half-year profits climb to £86.8m The company achieved a pre-tax profit of £86.8m in the 26 weeks to 23rd September 2017, up year on year by 17.8%. Groupwide revenues, which includes sales from discount retailer Heron Foods and German business Jawoll, rose 21.7% to £1.35b. The period saw B&M UK add 20 sites to its store portfolio, including three relocations. The expansion has put the firm on track to open 50 stores, of which seven are relocations, this financial year. Chairman Sir Terry Leahy said: “B&M has delivered an excellent performance in the first half of the financial year with strong growth in revenues, EBITDA and profit before tax. Our trading momentum in the UK has been maintained, driven by more shoppers seeking out value at B&M, combined with further improvements to our offer for customers particularly in ranging, pricing and store standards.” He added: “We are well placed for the approaching Christmas season and we look forward to the remainder of the financial year with confidence.” B&M has also announced that Peter Bamford, deputy chairman and senior independent director of Spire Healthcare Group, will replace Sir Terry on the board when he retires. Sir Terry has been involved with B&M for five years, and helped steer it onto the stock market in 2014. Peter will become non-executive chairman on 1st March 2018.

Bandai UK announced as UK and ROI distributor for The Original Sea Monkeys Dragon-i’s recent takeover of the Sea-Monkey licence is the beginning of a new chapter for The Original Sea Monkeys, which first launched in 1960. The formulation of the eggs will once again be created in the US to ensure the highest product quality. Bandai UK will launch The Original Sea Monkeys range in late spring with a full 360 marketing campaign behind it. Digital, press, PR activity and more will all combine to ensure an impactful launch for the line. Furthermore, autumn/winter 2018 will see a new introduction to Bandai’s range which will also benefit from TV advertising. Nic Aldridge, general manager at Bandai UK, commented: “We’re extremely pleased to be working with Dragon-i on this exciting relaunch of The Original Sea Monkeys. The brand has really stood the test of time with over 50 years of heritage to its name. The Original Sea Monkeys and the commitment to a trusted formula that really works, will be an entry-level toy for those parents who want to teach their children about the responsibility of looking after a pet. What’s more, as STEM is quite rightly a focus area for the toy industry, we’re excited to be launching such a key property for this sector.”

Zuru announces relaunch of X-Shot range

Bertoy adds Mudpuppy to its brand portfolio Bertoy has seen double figure growth within the UK and Ireland with the brands Crocodile Creek, Tiger Tribe and Snails Nails in 2017. Now, the company has announced that as of 1st January 2018 it will be adding the brand Mudpuppy to its European distribution agreement and will be offering Mudpuppy products to both existing and new customers in the UK and Ireland. The Mudpuppy brand will be on show at the London Toy Fair, Top Drawer and Birmingham Spring in Q1. The team at Bertoy is happy to talk to interested parties regarding this new range. Further information can be obtained by contacting Philip Morris, UK and Ireland country manager, by email philip@ or by mobile – 07748 150906.

Zuru has revealed a relaunch of the award-winning X-Shot range of blaster toys. This includes a full rebrand along with new products, launching from December, and a new interactive consumer website. X-Shot is the fastest growing non-licensed brand in the category with sales of more than 8m blasters to date, 2m of which were in 2017 alone. With all major retailers on board, X-Shot has seen an average of 85% growth year-on-year over the last four years and, with the new plans in place, this growth is expected to continue. The rebrand will see new colours, competitive pricing and five new blaster launches in 2018. This includes the single shot Recoil and the auto-rotating four-barrel Fury 4 for spring, plus an X-Shot Bug Attack line-extension for autumn. The entire range has undergone improvements so they shoot further, and the dart quantity within each pack has increased. The X-Shot relaunch is backed by a global marketing push spanning trade, digital and social media, as well as presence at retail. Renee Lee, global marketing manager, Zuru, commented: “We are extremely excited about the relaunch of X-Shot. Over the past year the team has worked tirelessly to improve every element of the brand, and we look forward to seeing the response from our customers and the blaster community. Zuru is investing heavily in manufacturing automation and is now able to make a blaster from start to finish through robots. This allows us to deliver market leading quality at a much lower price which is making this category so much more accessible for children and adults alike. We’ve completely relaunched our website too, to better represent the new brand and engage our fans in our story like never before.”

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News Amazon under fire for delivering unpackaged Christmas presents The online retailer claims that it is attempting to reduce waste by cutting back on packaging. UK parents have accused the online retailer Amazon of “ruining Christmas” after the company decided to start mailing Christmas orders without its customary brown packaging. Furious parents took to social media to vent their frustration, claiming that Christmas has been ruined for their children after they unwittingly caught a glimpse of their present six weeks earlier than intended – or opened the door to the delivery driver holding their gift. Charlie Gemmell Chaildminder posted a picture of her son’s Nerf N-Strike Mega Mastodon blaster, delivered in its branded packaging, and wrote on the company’s Facebook page: “My son opened the door this afternoon thinking it was his wee friends coming out to play and saw this. No way I could lie my way out of this one. I’m so disappointed Amazon.” The company has apologised to customers, explaining that it is trying to minimise the packaging materials it uses. Victoria F., a company representative, attempted to clarify the retailer’s stance, commenting: “I’m so very sorry that your surprise was ruined. For future orders you can keep the contents of your package a surprise by selecting the gift option during checkout, or you may mark “Ship in Amazon box” on the checkout page if you don’t wish to reveal the contents.” This isn’t the first time Amazon has come under fire this festive season – it’s also been accused of ruining the magic of Christmas for children after its advert showed a parent hiding Amazon boxes of presents from his kids.

Hornby losses widen and net debt levels rise Half-year pre-tax losses have risen from £4.7m to £5.7m and net debt jumped from £2.1m to £4.7m. The company has called for £12m of additional funding from its owners after issuing its latest downbeat financial update. Around £1.6m of the proceeds will be used to buy a 49% share of Oxford Diecast, the company owned by new Hornby CEO Lyndon Davies. Despite the fact Hornby is not in breach of its banking covenants, the firm has decided to use the new funding as an opportunity renegotiate its existing covenants with lenders to align them with the company’s new strategy. Since taking over in October, Lyndon Davies has reviewed the business and is said to want to shake-up systems and practices. Changes include no longer offering large quantities of stock at discount, streamlining systems and growing the firm’s European offering. He commented: “The review of the business, operations and its strategy has revealed opportunities to improve performance. By simplifying and improving basic business process, together with better selection and delivery of the highest quality products, we will re-establish the value of our brands in the eyes of consumers and collectors alike.”

Mothercare swings to a loss Company sees adjusted loss before tax of £700,000 in the 28 weeks to 7th October from a profit of £5.9m the year before. The company said its business transformation plans are progressing, with UK like-for-like sales up 2.5%. UK online like-for-like sales grew by 5.3%, while margins rose by 34 basis points. In total, 97 stores are now in the modern “club” format, representing 75% of the store estate. But the group admitted in recent weeks it has seen a softening in the UK market with lower footfall and spend. Mothercare said international performance remains challenging, primarily driven by the key Middle East market, with constant currency sales down by 7.7%. The group’s statutory loss before tax was £16.8m compared with a loss of £800,000 the year before. Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Mothercare, said in the UK the group is reducing its cost base as it becomes “a leaner and simpler” business. “We have identified opportunities to go faster in this respect,” he said

Obituary - James O’Sullivan Popular Irish agent James passed away peacefully at home on 17th November, in the care of his wife Anne. Based in Dublin, James spent 37 years in the toy trade and has been described by one industry friend and colleague as “a true diamond.” During his time in the industry, he represented many toy companies in the Irish market, including Golden Bear, Atlantic Toys and Silverlit. James was a lively character, renowned for his cheerful demeanour and wit, as well as his fondness for loud, colourful clothes. Over the years, James was a regular in Hong Kong during the January and October trips, as well as attending many Fence Club functions and toy industry golf events. James was 58 years old when he passed away and will be missed by his many friends and colleagues in the industry.

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Industry Moves Mary Wood joins Tomy as new UK general manager Prior to joining Tomy, Mary successfully held a number of senior roles in sales and marketing within the industry including HTI, Zapf, Mattel and, most recently, Vivid Imaginations. In her new role, Mary will take on responsibility for Tomy’s sales and marketing teams within the UK and also leadership of the central marketing team, responsible for developing Tomy’s European brands such as Aquadoodle, Megasketcher, Toomies, Britains and Tomy Games, and licences such as Molang and Kazoops. Mark Foster, executive vice president, Tomy Europe, commented: “I am delighted that Mary has joined us in this vital role and at this exciting time for the company. Right now, Tomy is ‘playing to win’, and we are determined to back our brands with bolder plans. Mary will play a key part in that transformation. She brings a wealth of experience and I know her enthusiasm and motivation will make a big impact very quickly.” Mary added: “I have been very impressed by the recent changes in Tomy and the new direction, plans and ambition the company has. I am thrilled to help lead that further.”

Click Distribution announces appointment of Anna Sanfeliu The company has announced that it has reached an agreement with the former Giromax general manager. Anna's position at Click will be head of international sales. Anna started her new position in November, and is working closely with Luke Hillier, chief operating officer, to extend Click’s properties into new markets. Luke commented: “I am absolutely delighted that we have a person of Anna’s stature and ability on our team. I have personally known Anna for many years and have always had a great working relationship with her during her time at Giromax, and admired her work ethic and integrity. When I heard that Anna was moving on I immediately wanted her to be involved in our business and fortunately we were able to do this. Her relationship with customers, distributors and licensors is superb and I’m positive she will be a fantastic asset to the team”. Anna added: “I have known the Hillier family since the very beginning of my career in the toy industry, and I have always felt in tune with them. I admire the way Mark and Luke have grown the business from scratch, and I share their work values. I had no doubt when Luke asked me to join them. I am excited to be working together with Luke on the company’s international expansion, as I think he is leading a great team in a fantastic way.”

Sambro makes senior hires Sambro continues its expansion with the appointment of Gillian Adams and Ellie Griffiths to its senior team. Gillian joins the company as the new head of soft lines, based at Sambro’s new South office which opened on 25th October. Gillian will be instrumental in developing new product ranges and categories as the company continues to expand across new territories. Previously with Tesco, Ralph Lauren, and most recently PDS International where she held the position as brand director, Gillian brings a wealth of senior experience to the team. Also new to the Sambro team, Ellie joined in August as marketing manager, based in Manchester. Ellie joins the team from Cooneen where she held a key position within sales and licensing, and previously worked at Ultimate Products working alongside Disney, Marvel, and Hasbro. Ellie will oversee Sambro’s marketing function across the UK and EMEA, working with commercial director Grant Gie. Grant commented: “Sambro’s current growth is so fast-paced that it’s crucial we bring in the right people for these key senior roles. Everyone in the team is working towards our planned expansion and Ellie and Gillian fit seamlessly within that team and we look forward to them helping us achieve our goals.”

Ellie Griffiths

Gillian Adams

Posh Paws International welcomes Laura Bull Laura will be providing maternity cover for group brand and marketing director, Lauren Shipman, whose first child is due in February. Laura joins from Schleich where she held the position of marketing manager. In the role with Posh Paws, Laura will steer a series of major campaigns during 2018 for all ranges. As well as devising and implementing marketing strategies for the entire Posh Paws product range, Laura will also look after some of the strongest licences in the sector, including Disney and Universal. David Martin, managing director of Posh Paws International, commented: “From her background in retail marketing, we’re excited about the wealth of experience and industry knowledge Laura brings to the role. It will prove invaluable in light of the huge marketing plans we have going ahead in 2018 and we are very pleased to have her on board.” Laura added: “I’m thrilled to be joining Posh Paws and can’t wait to get under the skin of the brand and hands-on with the cuddly toys. Lauren’s are big shoes to fill, so I’m enjoying learning all about the business and looking forward to working on some fantastic launches in 2018.”

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Industry Moves Schleich UK takes on Karen Ionescu Karen joins from Nintendo UK, bringing years of experience and knowledge to the role. As national account manager, Karen will be instrumental in continuing the growth of Schleich UK, where she will manage a portfolio of existing key customers as well as focusing on new channels and business. Karen will work alongside fellow national account manager Kingsley Li, who joined the firm in May. Jeremy Robinson, country manager for Schleich UK, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Karen to the team at such an exciting time for the UK business. Karen’s strong knowledge within the customer base and her previous experience at Nintendo, where she contributed towards the company’s growth, made her the obvious choice for the job. 2017 has been another year of growth for us and we look forward to Karen being part of our continued success going forward.” Karen added: “I’m so pleased to be joining the Schleich team – the brand has fantastic product heritage and I’m looking forward to building on the success that has already been achieved in the UK market.”

Paul Lamond appoints new area sales manager David Meier will cover East Anglia, the South East and parts of the Midlands. He brings a wealth of experience to Paul Lamond, having worked in field sales within the greetings card industry for almost a decade. Prior to joining Paul Lamond, the company behind classic family games such as Perudo, What’s Up and Yes/No, David worked for Cardmix and Carte Blanche. David commented: “Paul Lamond has such a great range of games and puzzles featuring some really interesting licences. I’m keen to get to know what’s important to the retailers we work with, to find out how they operate and to see how Paul Lamond can fit into that. I’m fortunate to be joining a great team and a well-established company, and I look forward to playing my part in Paul Lamond’s future growth and ongoing success.” Richard Wells, Paul Lamond’s managing director, added: “David brings a wealth of valuable sales experience to Paul Lamond and there are some distinct crossovers with his former roles and this one.”

Ria Richardson joins SJR Sales Ria Richardson has joined her father Steve’s business, SJR Sales, as a director. Ria will be working with Steve across the company’s portfolio of clients, including Trefl and Dolu. She will be attending the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg in January, and is looking forward to meeting existing and potential retail customers at the event.

Julia Cake on board at Smart Toys and Games As national accounts manager, Julia will become an integral part of the team, as her role will see her responsible for managing the principle major accounts with key brands including Smart Games, Smart Max and Geo Smart. Julia brings with her over fifteen years’ experience working in the toy industry and has previously held roles at Oregon Scientific, Mattel and, most recently, Schleich. 2018 marks an exciting year for Smart Toys and Games, and Julia is looking forward to joining the team at this important time. Toy Fair 2018 will see the arrival of significant new lines across Smart Games, Smart Max and Geo Smart, and Julia will support the brand as it launches these onto the market. Julia commented: "I am looking forward to the challenges that this new role will bring. Smart Toys and Games is a world-renowned brand that has major new developments within its portfolio for 2018, and being part of the company's growth represents an exciting time in my career.” Peter Rooke, director, added: “We’re excited about the wealth of experience and industry knowledge Julia brings to the role, and we are very pleased to have her on board.”

Phil O’nion moves to Tactic Games UK as business development manager Based in the UK, Phil will work alongside country director, Jeremy Pateman and sales director Rob Fort. Phil has an extensive background in the toy industry, most recently with Fab Distributions. Prior to Fab Distributions, Phil held positions at Puzzles & Play, Cartamundi, Stadlbauer, Gibsons, Bluw, and Nikko. In his new role, Phil is responsible for growing the Tactic business in the UK through strategic partnerships and opportunities as the company prepares to embark on a busy year, with multiple new product launches and revamps slated for 2018. Phil commented, “I’m excited to join Tactic at such an exciting time for the business. I’m looking forward to strategically growing the business as we move into 2018. There’s a huge opportunity to develop the brand further and I’m confident that vision will pay off.” Rob added, “We’re preparing for our most ambitious year of growth yet, with an array of innovative new products launching next year in the toys and games categories and I’m delighted to welcome Phil who joins us with unrivalled sector experience and industry knowledge which I’m confident will be of immense benefit to the company going forward.”

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Marketing World Hama Beads to appear on TV Easter 2018 DKL Marketing is looking forward to the year ahead, with extensive marketing and PR campaigns to further broaden Hama Bead brand awareness and support its retail partners. At the heart of the activity will be the Hama Beads TV campaign, which will run over the Easter 2018 period. The advert will feature on Channel 5, Nickelodeon, Disney Junior, Boomerang, and Nick Junior, delivering in excess of 100 TVRs. Further marketing and PR will take place across the entire Hama Bead range including kids press and influencer outreach with support from newly appointed PR company, Norton PR. The objective will be to build on the existing loyal following for the brand, together with introducing more new parents to the high play value of Hama Beads, reinforcing Hama as the number one Bead brand. Having successfully completed the first ever Hama Fun Day retailer tour, there are also plans for various demonstration tours throughout 2018. Hama also recently held its first ever roadshow, which saw thousands of demonstrations and giveaways across 35 stores. Retailers including The Entertainer, Smyths, and various independents took part in the Fun Day tour, which created an average uplift in sales of over 68% on the day. The Hama Make & Take Day offered children the opportunity to create their own designs to take home with them, either by following a template or simply using their imaginations. Customers also had the opportunity to enter competitions, receive a free goody bag and a gift with purchase. David Allan, sales & marketing director at DKL, commented: “Supporting retailers has always been important for DKL and this is just one of the new marketing activities of a wider scale marketing plan we have planned to reinforce Hama Beads as the number one bead brand. We are also excited to be bringing TV advertising back into the Hama Bead marketing mix. It is however, just a small part of our plans for 2018 as we have a huge amount of new activity to announce, all of which will support our retail partners.”

Schleich rolls out larger than life installations Large in-store displays have been installed in Dublin and Brent Cross as part of major POS roll-out across multiple UK retailers. The grand scale Schleich lion displays feature at the new Toys R Us store in Brent Cross, and at Smyths Toy Superstores in Dublin’s Airside Retail Park, where the display has increased from a 1.2m bay to a 6m installation. The larger than life lions represent the company’s ongoing commitment to in-store support and follow similarly successful displays in Schleich’s German and other global markets. Paul Dearlove, trade marketing manager at Schleich UK, commented: “The recent installations in Dublin and Brent Cross are one of the many forms of marketing support we’re offering to our customers. We look forward to seeing many more of our lions popping up across the country.”

Worlds Apart partners with The Vamps

Wicked Uncle unveils Uncle Christmas campaign

The company’s partnership with the pop boyband will see a series of social posts drive further awareness of Worlds Apart’s new game, Spin to Sing. Spin to Sing is the interactive talent show game, and is all about recreating Saturday night TV talent shows live and direct from home. Players take it in turns to spin the mic to select a performer to sing one of their own downloaded music tracks through the free Spin to Sing game app. Fellow players score the performance, and the player with the highest average score at the end of the game wins. Logan Stone, senior brand manager at Worlds Apart, commented: "We're delighted to be working with The Vamps especially following the release of their single Personal, and ahead of their tour next year. The band are the perfect fit for Spin to Sing and they will be bringing the game play to life for us and their fans across their social media channels over the next month." The brand has purposefully sought out a high profile pop act and is also working with TV stars, such as Kendall Vertes, as a means to shake up the more traditional unboxing content seen in the industry and to keep in touch with where its audience is accessing content.

Online children's present specialist Wicked Uncle has officially launched its 2017 Christmas advertising campaign. As part of the rolling campaign, 2000 posters featuring the trendy Uncle Christmas have appeared across the London Underground network. Ditching the traditional red Christmas outfit for a short-sleeved blue one, the new festive character also sports sunglasses and an electric guitar. Michael O'Shea, one of the founding brothers behind Wicked Uncle, commented: "Uncle Christmas is the best new advertising idea of the millennium. Uncle Christmas is Father Christmas’s cooler, younger brother, just like the Wicked Uncle team of Liam and I - except for the cooler bit, of course." The company has also announced the launch of its USA site (www. with an office and warehouse in Lanham, Maryland. Mike added: "We are live and looking forward to a great holiday season. We are currently looking for a partner to joint venture with in Australia and we are aiming to move into Continental Europe next year. Watch this space!"

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Marketing World Lego UK launches Christmas #BuildToGive campaign Lego aims to brighten up the holidays for up to 20,000 children who will be spending their Christmas in hospital. The company is encouraging fans to build a Lego decoration and share it at #BuildToGive. To launch the campaign, content featuring Ronan & Storm Keating has been produced, showing them building their own Lego decorations and asking others to join in. Lego UK has also sent building kits to a number of influencers around the country. As part of the #BuildToGive programme, children’s charity Fairy Bricks will be aiming to visit 100 hospitals throughout the UK before Christmas Eve to hand out thousands of Lego sets, by far its biggest and most ambitious donation drive yet. Despite the theft of 2000 Lego sets from the charity’s transit van last week, the delivery plans appear to still be on track, with a Lego spokesperson stating: “We’re in contact with them to make sure their plans can go ahead.” Uma Ramanan, Lego brand director, commented: “We love to see people showcasing their building skills with Lego bricks, and this year’s Christmas campaign is a great way to encourage people to free their imaginations all in the name of a good cause. We are delighted to be working with hospitals around the country to provide extra Christmas cheer to deserving children.” Builds should be shared on social media using the hashtag #BuildtoGive, or via the Lego Life app. People can also take part in some live decoration building, at one of three shopping centres which Lego will be visiting. Duncan Titmarsh, the UK’s only Lego Certified Professional will be in attendance too. The campaign concludes with a Christmas Lego build, featuring a selection of decorations built at the events and in hospitals, being unveiled in London with Ronan & Storm.

Interplay’s My Fairy Garden success continues Interplay’s My Fairy Garden range allows children to create gardens populated by fairies and unicorns. The range is being promoted with strong TV and marketing campaigns leading up to Christmas, featuring 750 TVRs in the UK and Ireland. My Fairy Garden is also supported with a strong retail presence and prominent on-shelf placement in a wide range of stores, including toy shops, supermarkets, department stores and home & garden outlets. Launching from spring 2018, a new enhanced marketing programme for the range will be initiated, designed to build awareness, loyalty and depth of purchase. Interplay has also appointed Wire PR to handle PR for the My Fairy Garden brand. Activating a year-long communications plan, Wire PR will secure coverage for the brand across all media. My Fairy Garden will also be showcased at key blogger events and promoted via social media activity. Meric Pekcan-Butcher, marketing manager, commented: “2018 will be a very special year for My Fairy Garden. The brand is becoming an evergreen property and we are working hard to support the growth of the range with exciting new product launches. We are also delighted to be working with Wire PR to maximise the awareness and coverage for the range. More innovative marketing activity is also in the pipeline, and all will be revealed soon.”

Alpha Animation announces the launch of Super Wings on Tiny Pop Super Wings will debut on Tiny Pop on Monday 20th February, with Season 1 of the pre-school series. Season 1 comprises 52 x 11 episodes, which will be shown twice daily on weekdays, at 2pm and 4pm, and at 8.30am and 5pm on weekends. The pre-school series revolves around a jet plane named Jett, who travels the world experiencing different cultures while delivering packages to children. With every delivery, Jett encounters a new problem that he and his friends, the Super Wings, must work together to solve. The Super Wings brand, which has clocked up millions of international sales following its launch in the UK in July, is expected to hold the position of one of the top 10 new properties in 2017. Mark Hyndman, UK & Ireland general manager at Alpha Animation, commented: “Tiny Pop is the perfect platform to elevate the Super Wings brand even further following its hugely successful launch this year. We are super excited to be partnering with Sony, their enthusiasm and excitement for Super Wings is fantastic. In adding Tiny Pop to our key activity already planned for 2018, we’re certain that fans of Super Wings will not be disappointed.”

Playmobil partners with intu for Christmas campaign Shoppers who visit the Christmas grottos at six of intu’s popular retail and leisure destinations will be given a Playmobil gift. Families will also be invited to take part in a competition to win an entire Playmobil range by posting a letter to Father Christmas from branded post boxes at all 14 intu centres nationwide. Roger Binks, customer experience director at intu, said: “The success of our partnership last Christmas and over the summer has led to the creation of this new campaign. By taking advantage of the opportunity provided by intu’s prime retail and leisure destinations, the campaign will also deliver a highly effective level of engagement for this top toy brand and increase footfall to all the brands in our centres over the festive.” Jamie Dickinson, marketing manager from Playmobil, said: “We are really excited to be teaming up with intu centres again this year. We are looking forward to spreading some festive cheer to families across the UK, and encouraging imaginative, creative play by children during the holiday season.”

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Living in a digital world This month, Martin continues to compare the past versus the present, and contemplates whether 2017 was the year that the toy trade moved irreversibly towards an online only future, or the year that the toy store fought back?


is the season to be Googling. We see a steady uplift with Black Friday weekend usually the peak for searches on terms such as ‘kids toys’. As per UK ad pressure, this falls steeply a fortnight before the big day. It’s interesting, because had we tried to predict, I believe we might have expected that the internet would significantly extend the Christmas shopping season, but it’s certainly not a given. Last month I dipped into the past and looked at the demise of Children’s World in 1996 and how this compares to the current challenges faced by Toys R Us (amongst others). Statistics like those of Google search traffic mean that I’ve continued to ponder the past vs. present topic over the past four weeks. I want to be careful because I am not a retail expert and there are many factors in play behind TRU’s situation, but I do want to pose some general questions to you as the reader. The most obvious difference between the 1996 and 2017 scenario, from my standpoint, is technological. As I have previously noted, we can categorically rule the rise of the internet out of the factors that killed retailers such as Children’s World – in early 1996, less than 4% of the UK had internet access, and even fewer actually made e-commerce purchases. The online threat facing the likes of TRU is far more overbearing and ingrained. In 1996, footfall equalled sales in a far more linear fashion than it does in 2017. The rise of the ROBO shopper (research offline, buy online) is an old concept now, but has become a typical shopping habit. Data shows that 70% of UK mums now purchase at least some of their toys & games via an online retailer. The leader in this field is

Amazon, from where 42% of mums buy their toys and games. The same Amazon that has precisely zero bricks and mortar stores in the UK. Online and offline, Argos may be a close second, with 40% of mums making purchases here, but other retailers lag behind. The wolves aren’t all online either: Children’s World never had to compete in the space with the might of the grocer in the same way that today’s toy specialist retailers do. So it is essential that retailers have an online first approach to toy sales, and that they shout loudest and in the most engaging way to both children and parents through effective media campaigns. But is it just a case of mums’ purchase habits shifting, or has something changed in the kids’ mindset too, from a digital online perspective? TRU has long been a source of great excitement for youngsters, able to run free amongst the aisles and get hands on when compiling their Christmas lists and formulating birthday desires. I walk five minutes from Generation Media’s London office to Hamley’s on Regent Street, and would be forgiven for thinking that the physical toy store remains a booming market, with toy testers demonstrating toys to crowded shop floors, and in store promotions. I’m not saying that assumption is incorrect, but my question is: does YouTube now do the job of the physical toy store? Do children derive the same excitement from watching online influencers unboxing the playthings that they so desire? Has the digital world replaced the physical in this respect? The astronomical numbers that toy-focused YouTube uploads rack up would suggest so. I feel it is no coincidence that participation in physical activity amongst kids has fallen,

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Martin Doyle

Head of Digital, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7908

whilst sales of FIFA 17 exceeded 1.3m units in the UK, and eSports continues its boom in both participation and viewership. If kids can ditch playing football to instead watch a star play FIFA online, then by the same logic they can avoid a toy store and instead watch a toy being unboxed by an influencer – and perhaps this won’t damage toy sales overall. I remind you again that I’m being purposely cautious with my tread. I would prefer to focus on hypothetical questions and refrain from stating opinion as fact. I am not solely focusing on, or criticising any firm in particular. Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. I wonder how we will come to understand this period in toys & games retail and in our industry as a whole. Was 2017 the year that we lurched irreversibly into an online only future, or the year that the toy store fought back? It pains me to think that we might face a future without physical toy stores, just like the nostalgic feeling I get when I remember entering the wonderful Children’s World via that exhilarating slide. We should never forget why we do what we do: to make young people happy. From myself and everyone at Generation Media, have a wonderful festive season. I hope to see as many of you as possible at UK Toy Fair at the end of January to discuss how we can continue to share success operating as we do, living in this digital online world. Merry Christmas!

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Licensing World Aardman signs Sinco toys as new master toy licensee The agreement covers family brand Shaun the Sheep, and popular pre-school property Timmy Time. The partnership will see Sinco produce collections of plush, figurines, playsets, vehicles, games and puzzles alongside arts and crafts products. The agreement also includes certain international manufacturing rights. The initial range will be unveiled in Hong Kong in January, with first items coming to market in autumn/ winter 2018. As part of the deal, Sinco has also committed to develop a Shaun the Sheep Movie 2 toy collection to coincide with the theatrical release of the sequel in 2019, which will sit alongside classic Shaun the Sheep items and supported by a strong marketing programme, including TV advertising. Rob Goodchild, head of licensing at Aardman, commented: “We recognise in Sinco the drive and ambition to be a major player within the licensed toy business, with both strong distribution and a talented team capable of realising this.” Sally Hunter, sales director of Sinco Toys, added: “We are beyond thrilled to announce our partnership with Aardman for Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time. We are extremely passionate about both properties and strongly believe this is the perfect pairing to define who we are as a company and the direction we wish to take. Sinco cannot wait to share its stunning range with the trade.”

Posh Paws named exclusive plush partner for Hamsta World Posh Paws is on-board for retail plush, while Whitehouse Leisure will be producing amusement plush across EMEA. Lauren Shipman, group brand and marketing director, commented: “We’re delighted to be the exclusive plush partner for Happy Ink's property Hamsta World for both retail and amusement across EMEA. We immediately fell in love with the brand's humour and instantly saw its hugely collectible appeal.” Hamsta owner and creator, Saskia Keiser, added: “Spreading joy is what Hamsta is about. We see plush as a key and essential ingredient in achieving this goal with our fans and viewers. Since the very start of our cooperation with Posh Paws we have been amazed with their views, products and the natural fit with our ideas.”

Cartoon Network inks cross-category UK deal with Sambro for Ben 10 Cartoon Network has announced the signing of a new UK deal for Ben 10with Sambro. This partnership marks the first ever deal to be signed on-site at Sambro’s new southern showroom in High Wycombe, which opened its doors last month. Targeted initially at the UK market, this cross-category deal with Sambro will cover pocket money toys, creative play, stationery and backpacks, and will see Ben 10 enter new aisles and retail channels. Graham Saltmarsh, director of licensing, UK and Nordics at Cartoon Network Enterprises, commented: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Sambro who with their top-quality products, unwavering enthusiasm and commitment to creativity, make the perfect addition to our expanding licensing programme. Ben 10 is gaining significant traction in the UK market and we’re confident that fans will be eager to get their hands on this diverse range of new products when they hit shelves.” Nikki Samuels, licensing director at Sambro (pictured standing on the left of the image along with Dave Tovey, category manager - hardlines at Turner Broadcasting), added: “It’s a delight to be working with the team at Cartoon Network. Ben 10 is such a wellknown and really diverse property and our ranges will create even more retail opportunities for fans. With a variety of price points and spanning multiple categories, our Ben 10 ranges will be a great way for retailers to capitalise on the popularity of the brand by extending the purchasing possibilities.”

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Licensing World Engino and JCB team up for 2018 construction launch Engino has secured the licence to produce a range of JCB construction toys. The Engino JCB series consists of four different pack options varying in price from £19.99 - £69.99. Each pack contains three different JCB models to build, including the JCB 3CX Backhoe Loader, JCB Telescopic Handler and JCB Skid Steer Loader. The larger sets also include a motor. Model designs are available as 3D instructions though the Engino 3D viewer App and the KidCAD App shows the models in rotatable formats and allows for the pieces to be viewed in a completed or exploded view. Costas Sisamos, owner and managing director of Engino, commented: “We are thrilled to expand the Engino range with the world famous JCB brand. Construction is at the heart of both brands, so to work with JCB was such a natural fit for us. The range will be launched at Toy Fair and we are certain it will be received well by trade customers and consumers alike.” Sam Johnson, general manager worldwide licensing JCB consumer products added: “The JCB licensing programme has grown from strength to strength and we’ve known for a while that construction kits would be a great addition. When we embarked on conversations with Engino, we knew it would be a great partnership due to its expertise and innovation in construction toys and its enthusiasm for JCB. We hope the sets help to inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Disney announces new Star Wars trilogy A deal has been struck with Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In a statement, said: "In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, [Rian] Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored." Disney is also working on a live-action Star Wars series for a new online streaming service. The news overshadowed Disney's first drop in annual profits since 2009, amid steep competition from online rivals. Profits for the year to September fell 4% to $8.98b (£6.8b). Disney's shares fell initially in after-hours trading on the release of its results, but they then rallied to 1% higher on news of the new Star Wars movies.

Visitor numbers rise again for Brand Licensing Europe This year saw the biggest ever BLE, as total attendees rose by 4%, with an 11% increase in online retailers. The total number of attendees at this year’s Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) rose by 4% year on year. Attracting over 7,500 licensing industry professionals from all over the world, 2017 has been confirmed as the biggest ever BLE. Of those attendees, there was a huge rise in the number of online retailers attending – up 11% – as well as significant growth in the volume of visitors attending from outside the UK, specifically France, Spain, South America, Asia and the US, heralding the event as truly global. The show also grew considerably in size, with 289 exhibitors occupying 8% more floor space. Organiser UBM has confirmed the event will return to Olympia London in 2018, running from 9-11 October, and will expand in to the National Hall allowing exhibitors from all three licensing categories – Character & Entertainment, Brands & Lifestyle and Art & Design – to be situated together on one floor. This year’s show also raised the bar in terms of mainstream media coverage, featuring on and in BBC World News, CNBC, and Retail Gazette. Anna Knight, BLE brand director, commented: “This year’s objectives were to attract more visitors and exhibitors from Europe, expand our European content, bring in more online retailers to meet exhibitors and celebrate and shine a light on two of the untapped areas of licensing – brands & lifestyle and gaming.” “We’re very happy to say we’ve ticked all of those boxes and are already brainstorming plans to build on this year’s successes next year. We’re hoping to announce a new theme for 2018 early in the new year, so watch this space.”

Esdevium Games to distribute Dragonball Super Card Game Esdevium Games will be distributing Bandai’s trading card game in the UK and Europe from January 2018. This pioneering development marks the game’s long awaited official launch in the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, with the trading card game (TCG) having already been available in the US from early 2017 and in Japan for some time. Esdevium’s managing director, Steve Buckmaster, commented: “We are very excited to be bringing Dragonball Super Card Game to the UK and European markets, following its success in the United States and Japan. The licence brings with it a passionate fan base for a beloved anime and we can’t wait to get the game into their hands.’’ Product will be available in the traditional TCG format, including starter decks and individual booster packs, along with some special SKUs.

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NPD Insight Toy highs in December With the bulk of toy sales taking place in the month of December, NPD’s Melissa Symonds reviews consumer spending trends across the various categories of the UK toy market.


this year with the under £10 price point declining -5%, despite the continued growth of collectibles, as some consumer cut back on their impulse purchasing. Higher priced items (£50+) which tend to be more birthday and Christmas purchases remain steady, despite accounting for just 11% of toy value sales YTD October 2017. As Christmas approaches, the top selling toys for the month of October have a higher average price than we’ve seen so far this year, with Luvabella Doll from Spin Master, at an average price of nearly £100, the number two best seller for the month. In addition, both L.O.L Big Surprise! Ball and Hatchimals Surprise Egg, priced at over £50 each, are also in the top ten best-selling items. The closer we get to Christmas, the expectation is that the monthly top sellers list will have more highpriced items than the first three quarters of the year, with the market providing plenty of choice of high-priced items for consumers this year. From extensive pre-school playsets with a traditional play pattern for Paw Patrol and PJ Masks, to higher priced construction sets and blasters, as well as new innovations like Anki’s Cosmo, Fisher-Price Teach N Tag Movi and SoundMoovz, there are plenty of new products that could continue to drive the higher price point growth. A lot of these high-ticket items have an electronic or connected element. The Youth Electronic area is not only the highest average priced supercategory in the UK toy market, it is the second most seasonal area of the toy market (behind Games & Puzzles) with over 50% of annual toy sales in the final two months of the year

017 has been a year of change for the UK toy market, with the total toy market down in October 2017. Historically, this has happened before in 2013, when the UK market declined -2% in October and -7% in November. However, that year, a last-minute surge of sales drove December performance to +3% in value. Given the additional weight of the December weeks, this meant that the peak season in 2013 actually grew +1%. So, with a quarter of annual toy sales made in the final month of the year, the final year performance for 2017 could still change with the last few weeks. The types of toys purchased in the final quarter do vary from the beginning of the year. More big-ticket items and more technologically sophisticated toys start to climb the rankings from September onwards, and 2017 is no exception to this annual trend. In 2016, the average price paid for toys across the total toy market in November and December increased to over £12.16 and £11.57 respectively, compared to £7-8 average price for January to August. October 2017 has seen an average price of £10.10, as consumers start thinking of their Christmas purchases. With the national newspapers full of Brexit and the struggles of non-food categories, it is perhaps surprising to see that the fastest growing price point for toys, even before the Christmas uplift, is at the higher end of the scale. Toys with an average selling price of £50+ grew by +£8.9M YTD October 2017, up +6% on the same period in 2016. Lower priced items tend to account for a higher proportion of the total market, but have struggled

Price Points – Total UK Toys

While Under £10 accounts for 36% of total UK sales YTD October, it is the fastest declining with £20-£30 and £50+ growing

Melissa Symonds

Director UK Toys, EuroToys NPD

(compared to 40% market average). At the time of writing, the new Kidizoom Duo from Vtech and Wowee/Jazware’s Fingerlings Monkey Assortment, which both launched in the UK this year, were both in the top sellers list for October from this segment of the market. Most of the best-selling high-priced items have been introduced to the market over the last 12 months. In December 2016, half of the top sellers for the month were new items, including four of the top best sellers - and it appears that this trend will continue this year. With each week in December worth the equivalent of a whole month’s sales from January to August, the top items for this year are still up for grabs. However, it seems many consumers are willing to pay higher prices at this time of year – as long as the item has strong play value, innovation and there is stock available in retailers. Despite uncertain economic times, high-priced items continue to drive growth in the UK toy market, as parents ensure that their children have something new, innovative and different at Christmas. This means that the toy industry must continue to create and re-create exciting musthave toys through innovation and stimulating characters; if it hits all the right notes, consumers are prepared pay for them.

Top 10 Fastest Growing Subclasses across total toys Ranked by value gained - YTD October 17 vs. 16 Subclass Playset Dolls & Collectibles Strategic Trade Card Games


Miscellaneous Toys PS Vehicles


Action Figure Collectibles

£20 - £30

PS Figure/Playsets & Acc Early Electronic Learning

£30 - £50

Special Ftr Nurturing Doll Vehicle Playsets & Acc

£50 +





Value % Share






Special Feature/Interactive Plush



Yr/ Yr % Change









Sales Gained £M

Source The NPD Group | UK POS Retail Tracking YTD October 2017 vs. 16 | Price Points

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


Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking | YTD October 2017 vs. 16


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


Fastest Growing Subclass There is a strong collectibles theme to some of the fastest growing subclasses this year with Playset Dolls & Collectibles as the fastest growing so far this year, with the phenomenal success of L.O.L Surprise driving over £11M of the growth. Another new property contributing to growth in this subclass is the success of Trolls since the film release in October 2016 as well as Hatchimal’s extension to the colleggtibles range. Hatchimals is also the key driving property behind Special Feature/Interactive Plush category growth this year. Strategic Trading Cards growth year-to-date continues to be driven by the Pokémon card game, while Miscellaneous Toys growth is driven by the short lived but huge success of the spinners over the summer period. Both Paw Patrol and PJ Masks properties have helped drive PS Vehicles and PS Figures growth, while Vtech Baby and LeapFrog Baby have both contributed to the Early Electronic Learning increase in sales. Vehicles Playsets has entered the fastest growing subclasses thanks to Disney Cars, after the film release in the summer.

Property Progression: Total Property (Brand + Licence)

Group Rank Sterling Sep 2017

Group Rank Sterling Oct 2017

Match Attax



Since the start of the new football season in August, Match Attax sales have increased and reached #28 property across the UK for October, 78 positions higher than September with sales over £1.6M for the latest month. This was mostly driven by the new season trading cards at relatively low price points and continues to help fuel the collectible trend which has seen double-digit growth throughout 2017. However, in addition to the new premier league season cards, Match Attax has also launched an advent calendar in October which contributed to increased sales. Across the toy market, advent calendar sales started picking up in October with many reaching the top sellers list, as parents who are more concerned with their children’s health move to alternatives from the chocolate based offerings.Assortment is still the best-seller from the entire range and holds #17 position in terms of the value sales YTD September.

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

Talking Shop

Have yourself a merry little Christmas This month, Toy World spoke to retailers about how the year has been for them, how they maximise sales during the festive season, and what sets independents apart from their bigger competitors at Christmas. Jenna Greenacre - Toys-UK, High Wycombe

Business has been good for us so far this year, although we have just had a competitor open its doors right around the corner from us. It’ll be interesting to see whether this creates a mutually beneficial environment - encouraging competitive pricing and more customers through our doors - or not. Being a small independent, we are lucky to have loyal customers. Until now there has been little

competition in the local area, and we have had the privilege of providing toys for growing families. Many of these customers have let us know that they will continue to shop with us – evidently they value us as highly as we value them. It’s important to give back to the community in which you are situated. I do this through organising and hosting free events for children e.g. make & take days, activity days, and promotional giveaways both in store and in Kids Corner, a soft play/event space located just outside our store in the Eden Shopping Centre. I also regularly support local charities and schools through the donation of raffle prizes and materials, and get involved with national fundraising events such as Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. Not only does it feel good to make a difference, this also helps raise brand awareness. The people that come to me seeking charitable donations are always keen to list us on their promotional materials/donor lists, and all of my free events feature products that we stock in store. At our recent Halloween event we offered free face painting to promote the face painting product range we stock. The whole team also dressed up, which enabled us to promote our Rubie’s and Melissa & Doug lines. We also gave a free treat (a choice of sweets or stickers at the parents’ discretion) to any child that visited us in costume or Halloweenrelated attire. This successful event increased footfall and sales of the featured products, and promoted Toys-UK to a wider audience. We also participate in a number of loyalty schemes including Lego Minifigures, Sylvanian Families and Playmobil, which encourages our

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customers to return to us and boosts brand awareness and loyalty. MGA’s L.O.L. dolls have been a huge hit this year, with both L.O.L. Surprise! and the Lil’ Sisters flying off the shelves (or out of their FSDU dispensers, as the case may be!) PJ Masks has been extremely well received and is a fierce competitor for Paw Patrol in store. Thus far the single figure & vehicle sets and the light-up figures are performing best in terms of volume, but now that the Headquarters Playset has been listed in the DreamToys Top 12, rivalling the Sea Patroller from Paw Patrol, we may see more higher priced items making their way to our tills. The Lego Ninjago Minifigure line has gone down well, as have traditional wooden toys. Educational children’s games by the likes of Smart Games are popular all year round. Demand for Pokémon has been influenced by Trading Card Games (TCG) clubs at the local library and university, and a spike in popularity among a wider audience following the launch of the Pokémon Go! App. Furthermore, the Sun & Moon video games have generated sales in new areas such as collectible plush, figurines and backpacks as well as the core TCG range. It will be interesting to see what 2018 will offer from Pokémon as the licence moves from Tomy to its new owner, Character Options. Crazes in 2017 have very much centred on fidget products. Slime has been massive, from small pots of the stuff to kits such as Character Options’ Cra-Z Slimy range. Green Elephant’s Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, fidget cubes and spinners have also been very successful - though the latter seems to have had its time in the limelight for now.

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We are always adding new ranges and suppliers to our portfolio as it’s paramount to adapt to consumer expectations. This year we have taken on new suppliers Green Elephant, Bertoy, Engino and Smart Toys, and after Christmas we will have the opportunity to review how the ranges have performed. Attending Toy Fair allows me to see what is available, to explore new and innovative products, and to network with new suppliers and existing accounts. It’s amazing to be able to view so much under one roof and in such a short space of time - this makes it easy to weigh one brand against another, to spot trends and to make the most of show discounts and promotions. Christmas has been a long time in the making, but we’ve been out in full festive force since Black Friday. We find that each year, more and more shoppers are waiting until after this day of flash sales before they commit to making large purchases for Christmas. In these uncertain financial times mid-Brexit, more consideration is taken before customers part with their pounds. Collectibles such as L.O.L. will be in high demand this Christmas, and Wowwee’s Fingerlings are seeing early success. We already have a list of customer reservations for Luvabella, and sales of family games always peak at this time of year, as do high ticket items in most ranges, especially Lego, pre-school and dolls. We are very lucky in that the Eden Shopping Centre opens a free Elf School each Christmas which brings customers to the centre. On Christmas Eve the whole team comes into work in their pyjamas, to indicate that it’s ‘the last sleep ‘til Santa’, which is always well received by our customers these things help to increase footfall and create a bit of theatre in store. We have a range of offers on core lines such as Lego, Sylvanian Families, Shopkins and Nerf, and will be distributing Toys-UK Wishlists for customers to fill out as they explore our aisles to encourage return-visits. Additionally, we will be participating in the shopping centre’s Shop ‘til Late initiative which involves extending our trading hours to 8pm from 18th - 23rd December for lastminute shopping. Parents of today are looking for toys that are durable, educational and multi-functional, as

well as toys that embrace diversity and promote a healthy lifestyle and body image. Many parents are now choosing toys for their pre-schoolers that encourage learning through play; for example, the Playtime Bus with Phonics by V-Tech. Even those shopping for older children are looking for ways to get them off the iPad. There is an increasingly tough battle being fought between the convenience of modern tech and the enrichment benefits of traditional active play. Parents are now beginning to find role-play tech - e.g. toy smart phones and tablets – obsolete, as the age of children with access to the real thing gets lower, with many quiz and trivia games for children overshadowed by apps that offer them for free. As retailers, we must encourage active play. Understanding the benefits of educational and sensory toys, and, crucially, being able to communicate them to our customers is key. Instore demonstrations during high footfall periods are a great way to do this, as children and parents have the opportunity to experience the products first-hand. They can also ask about the features, functions and benefits of that product, which leads to increased sales and customer satisfaction. Our USP is our dedication to providing fantastic customer service. At Toys-UK, we believe that the key to success lies in creating a personal experience for everyone entering our store. This is only made possible by having a dedicated and knowledgeable team who share this vision. We endeavour to create a shopping environment that is interactive and fun, and sharing genuine and thoughtful interactions with our customers ensures a memorable shopping experience with us, every time they visit. In hosting free events and competitions for children we increase dwell time, and in utilising the Kids Corner soft play/events area we are working towards making Toys-UK a family destination, not just a store. Of course, it is difficult to compete with online retailers, especially as the weather turns colder and shopping from the warmth and comfort of your own home becomes that bit more tempting. The best we can do is remain competitively priced, to expand our product knowledge to better assist those that require advice, and to make memories with our new and existing customers. That toy you

Toy World 27

recommended to the expectant mother may turn out to be her child’s favourite. Never underestimate your customer interactions, no matter how fleeting - the personal touch will always put brick & mortar stores above an online retailer. In these difficult times as an independent retailer, it is hugely beneficial to have strong relationships with other businesses around you, no matter how big or small they may be; having others to ‘talk shop’ with is invaluable. Where your businesses may overlap you may even be able to benefit from a collaborative project. I have collaborated with our local cinema, Cineworld High Wycombe, to put on movie launch events for Finding Dory, the Lego Batman Movie and the Lego Ninjago Movie. The cinema’s vast social media following expanded our online reach 1000-fold, resulting in a fantastic turnout and increased sales for all involved.

Talking Shop Tim Evans - Toys & Games of Worcester We had a very strong start to the year - fidget spinners were massive for us. We managed to secure several reliable sources of stock and so we were able to maintain a good range throughout the selling period. The spinner craze hit other pocket money lines though, so sales of Pokémon and Lego minifigures dipped for a while. October started fairly quietly but we had a strong half term week at the end of the month, so it didn’t turn out badly overall. Our mail order service is quiet as the gaps to sell at a profit continually shrink. Bricks and mortar continues to be our focus, and it’s that that’s driven our growth over the last five years. Fidget spinners have been the standout success for us this year. Pokémon continues to sell through well, although it’s not seeing the same levels as last year. Hatchimals are performing well, and Lego continues to grow year on year. Board games and hobby games have always had a dedicated area in our store and the category continues to be successful, whilst model kits have increased in popularity. Overall, we are probably looking at our sixth straight year of growth. August bank holiday is when we start focusing on the Christmas market. By half term we have all the shop space allocated, and usually have all key lines sourced. The Christmas shop makeover is complete; our final change was another display unit from House of Marbles, which completed the window dressing, and the Christmas decorations went up the second weekend in November. In terms of what we are planning to stock for Christmas this year, there are plenty of new lines from existing suppliers to choose from, but Brio is probably the only significant addition to what we have offered previously. We expect Hatchimals to be in demand this Christmas as they’ve been strong over the last couple of months, but, like last year, we expect to see Pokémon and Lego as stand out performers, especially the Lego Ninjago Movie range. WowWee Fingerlings would do well too - if we could get hold of them. We hold an annual Christmas launch Saturday/

gala day. This year it was held on 18th November, which was a week later than usual, but it was very well attended and everyone had a great time. We have all our Christmas lines in stock and on the shop floor at these events. All Christmas promotions started on the launch day (some are one day only), and we offered competitions and goodie bags for all the kids. We supported it with a targeted advertising campaign, which worked well at raising awareness of the event. We haven’t really seen much change in shopping habits or patterns amongst our customers over the years. We target grandparents, parents, kids and mature buyers. We focus our attention at different times and through different campaigns to maximise exposure for specific product launches and seasonal availability. To maintain our place alongside online retailers or bigger chains, we simply try to be different. We're an independent traditional toy shop, not a superstore or supermarket. We may not have the buying power of these bigger stores, but we always have a smile for our customers, and a warm and welcoming shop. When establishing the business we looked at farm shops and artisan bakeries to see how they compete with supermarkets, and we even adopted green embroidered aprons to emphasise that vibe. We're not selling on price - we sell on service and availability. Kids are welcome to pick up toys and look at them, and we treat all our customers as friends.

Furthermore, we give away lots of free stuff posters, badges, stickers and samples - and the kids love it. If a kid is spending their birthday money with us then we'll give them a birthday present too. Like many retailers, we get showroomed – people come in to view a product that they then go and buy elsewhere - which is obviously frustrating. But we also get plenty of customers who come in to our shop to replace an online purchase because their parcel didn't arrive on time, or it arrived damaged. We retain these people as regular shoppers because of the level of service we provide. Of course, profit means survival, but after that, the most important driver in business is enjoyment. If I don’t enjoy it I don’t do it - Christmas is hard work but I love it. In what other job can you be Santa Claus for two months? Happy days.

Fiona Wallis - Snap Dragon, Chiswick The toy shop has been in this location for 28 years, and before that it was just over the road. I have a long-standing association with the shop and have now owned it for over 15 years, after having worked for the previous owners. My four children have grown up with the shop in the area, and now my grandchildren come in, so it is very much a family concern. My children and their friends have even worked in here at Saturday jobs over the years. Business this year has levelled out; we have had similar sales results as last year overall. We had a few months which were down and a few which were up. The lift came mostly off the back of the fidget craze. The fact that fidget spinners was a

craze propelled more by children than advertising, plus the fact that many of the fidget spinners were not originally licensed, made a big difference. The independents were able to turn around stock quite quickly, giving them the edge over the bigger boys until they got in on it. We had at least a month or two’s head start until they were able to get their stock in properly. Paw Patrol and PJ Masks have performed very strongly for us this year, and another stand out product has been the Lionel Messi football range. Lego is always a strong seller, and we have started to stock Playmobil again, and been very pleased with the results. Shopkins has also been very popular,

Toy World 28

and Sylvanian Families has been steady. With regard to pre-school ranges, the VTech Switch ‘n Go Dino has been a stand out favourite. We start planning for Christmas in January and February. Obviously it is the busiest time of year for us, and we take around a third of our turnover in those six weeks. We stock a lot of advent calendars which we order in January and February, but as space is at a premium, I can’t really take too much stock in early. I order it in when it is needed; I’d rather bring in Christmas stock steadily. There are some high-profile items which we would have needed to order months ago, such as Hatchimals, but on the whole, most of what we want is available

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indie viewpoint

now. If it’s sold out, it is sold out and would have been anyway. We stock advent calendars from October and sell quite a lot of them. We have an advent calendar window display, from Germany, which we always unveil on 1st November, once we have cleared away the Halloween window. It is a paper display, and we place branded advent calendars, such as Playmobil and Lego, around it in the window. We find that this propels a lot of sales, and also drives a lot of extra footfall as we get customers who come to the shop just to see the advent calendar. This makes a noticeable difference, and the last few weekends have been extremely busy. We then add to our window display on 1st December; I don’t tend to make the shop ‘Christmassy’ until then - although of course there would have been Christmas stock available well before. This year, alongside our usual toy ranges, we have looked at stocking more gift items that are suitable for all the family; quirky items such as quizzes, puzzles and bingo, and other products which are funny to play. The reason these products are attractive is because we get a better margin than with toys. They are a pick-up item, not quite stocking-fillers, but items which can be bought as additional or impulse purchases. It’s very difficult to predict what items are going to be the biggest hits this Christmas. Fingerlings is one product which has been frequently asked for in store, but we haven’t been able to secure stock, and the L.O.L Surprise! dolls have come and gone very quickly. I do really like the AugmentifyIt products, they are very impressive. Many people go online, try to order there, and then when their order doesn’t turn up or there is another problem with it, they often find what they want in here. This is one thing which I believe gives independent retailers like us an advantage over online retailers such as Amazon. We also try to keep most items at the recommended retail price. Everybody now has the internet in the palm of their hands, literally, and will seek out the best prices available. We are getting used to competing with online retailers, but my biggest issue is the other overheads which have increased so dramatically. Business rates and rent, plus all of the extra costs for an employer, such as having to provide a pension, add up. I believe that it is these bigger overhead costs that have made the marketplace change. We have been here a long time, so people know what they are going to get. The area is quite traditional and is a nice place for a family day out. We get people out for a stroll with the children on a Saturday or a Sunday, and they pop in. For the festive season, we are planning to stay open later one Thursday in December, to drive extra footfall, and hope to plan a Father Christmas visit.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Present and correct


s we write this, it is just under six weeks to Christmas, every available inch of storage space is full, and we have our fingers crossed on certain lines that they will start to sell. Unlike other years where we have had lots of must-have products in stock, this year there have been several lines with minimal to zero stock available. However, the LOL Surprise! bandwagon shows no sign of stopping, and our sales on this alone are equivalent to the sales on the top six bestselling lines from October last year. This has certainly helped in an October that was subdued at times, but picked up well for half term. With Dream Toys now done, Black Friday week is looming and will be a big focus for us. Whatever you feel about the tradition from the States, it is here to stay in the UK, and is the real start of Christmas buying. Being in shopping malls, customers expect an offering from us, and we will deliver on this. Even if they do not pick up anything that is in the Black Friday event, they generally pick up something at full price, which is fine with us. We run it for the whole week, as it spreads the business, and helps for peak trade. November is always the month when there is the most promotional activity around toys, and certain products are heavily subjected to this. We react accordingly, we cannot afford to be seen to be too out of line. We try to lead rather than follow on price, and have a price promise that means we will match any high street price. This was introduced last year, and gives our customers the confidence that we will match competitor prices. It is not used nearly as much as you would think, but the customers that do will generally spend on other products as well. They will also return in the future to shop with us. By the time you read this, Black Friday will be in the past, and the full December rush will be upon us. One of the standout categories this year has been pocket money, with the slime and putty crazes being a great footfall driver for us. At Christmas, this category comes into its own, with old favourites each year such as Whoopee Cushions, Fart Putty and other gross products always popular. With the store being so busy, it is easy to miss this area, but the margin is good, and these pick-up lines help increase the average transaction value. Each year, we always look at ways we can improve our service and instore experience for peak trade. The final 10 days can be equivalent to six weeks trade in the rest of the year, so getting it right is crucial. We keep our aisles as clear as possible, but will put in bulk stacks where possible, to make it easier to fulfil availability of popular lines, as long as it does not impinge on customer space. At the tills, our staff are trained to scan and bag, rather than scanning all the items, and then putting them all into the bag. It is a small thing, but it makes a big difference. Once a customer joins the queue for the till, you want to get them moved through as swiftly and efficiently as possible, so there is space for more customers. And when Christmas is all done, we are then prepared for the Boxing Day Sale, as that is a massive week for us too. The game never ends.

Toy World 29

Viewpoint The Business End or just The End?

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.

All about agility

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


nterpret the title of this month’s viewpoint column whichever way you want; with the tough economic headwinds currently buffeting the UK economy there will be very few retailers that escape from some level of negative sales impact at the business end of 2017. If the see-saw performance of the weekly NPD data is anything to judge the golden quarter by, then I am sure that toy retailers are in for a very choppy end to what hasn’t exactly turned out to be a vintage year for the industry, despite there being some great new products and some of the hottest trends in recent memory. It is exactly nine years since I had a front row seat to the beginning of the end of the Woolworths retail business when it filed for administration on 28th Nov 2008. Within seven days of the filing,


t’s that crazy time of year when we expect too much of people. Trying to ensure that retailers have all the support they need to make Christmas a success, while at the same time planning for toy fair season and devising 2018 launch plans, requires brilliant juggling ability. Gone are the days when marketing departments didn’t have the ability to help retail sales right up to the last minute though. In ‘the good old days’, media had been booked in and you crossed your fingers and hoped that the planning delivered the results the business was hoping for. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore. With digital media plans being more agile, there is the opportunity to constantly improve and adapt marketing plans. With the rise of same day delivery, consumers

Deloitte had culled 95% of Head Office staff and the stores had received their point of sale packs to commence closing down sales. Just seven days to dismantle the core of a retail giant that employed 30,000 people across a store estate of 820 outlets, which was just nine months away from reaching the milestone of a century of retailing. The winding up, played out during the highest sales month of the year, was brutal in its efficiency and as subsequent years have shown, it was not the last big retailer to cease trading in this way. Success comes from failure, and much of the fabric from the demise of Woolworths has found new application in some form; many of the staff went on to new challenges and the store estate has largely been filled. My local stores in Hastings and Bexhill have new commercial tenants: one is occupied by Sports

Direct and the other is an Iceland store. As they say, you can’t halt progress. I rarely use this column to promote the effectiveness and efficiency of the Groupon Goods retail model but if you are a supplier with significant overstocks reading this column in early December when many of the traditional retailers have shut the ‘Goods In’ doors of their warehouses, please drop me a line – we will do stock deals on Toys, Nursery, Kids Clothing, Books and Sports equipment throughout December. It is a genuine plea, so please contact me directly on or - if it is a really big opportunity - on my mobile (07738) 999210. I look forward to catching up with many of you during the trade show season. Happy Christmas!

can still make product choices on Christmas Eve, and toy companies can be there – right until the bitter end. Whether that’s focusing on geotargeted activity around key retailers or focusing on those retailers that offer click and collect or same day delivery, opportunities are there to be grabbed; which can make all the difference between a good and an average Christmas. 2018 planning has begun in earnest too and one thing that is obvious is the rise of Amazon and its consideration as part of the media mix. Amazon has been working hard to bring its media products to the attention of brands and to the agency world, and its proposition is very compelling versus incumbent media platforms. With over 50% of product searches

now starting on Amazon, this is taking more business away from Google. One of the key differences between these two ‘search engines’ is that Amazon is capturing the interest of people that are nearer the purchase opportunity, rather than Google, which can often be at the start of the product discovery process. Amazon was cited as the chief reason that Toys R Us has suffered so much but the facts have shown that is over-simplifying the situation. However, it is clear that retailers need a defensive strategy against Amazon and that brands need to adopt a healthy relationship with Amazon - and ensure that they don’t become too dependent upon it. I hope everyone has a successful Christmas and see you in the New Year!

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Featuring: Epoch Making Toys, Hornby Hobbies, Papo, Clementoni, Jazwares, Marbel, Gibsons, Kooshi & many more ...

All of these companies will not be sending out Christmas cards this year. Instead, they have generously supported the Toy Trust by donating their Christmas Card budget to the Industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s charity. In 2017 The Toy Trust will again be inviting the Industry to get involved with a number of exciting new events as well as the annual fundraising activities. Details and dates will be publicised in the New Year and updated on The Toy Trust website


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Import Services

Brexit strategy Toy World spoke to Mike Thomas, client services director at Import Services, about the potential implications of Brexit on the shipping and logistics sector, and the challenges facing the toy industry in particular during this period. Given that the situation with Brexit is changing on an almost daily basis, how is Import Services planning for our split from the EU? Import Services is in a rather privileged position, close to the container port of Southampton and with all our sites Customs bonded. This means we can hold our clientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; stocks free of VAT & Duty until distributed to UK, Continental European and overseas customers. The practice of managing order flows intra EU and outside Customs areas is already established, as indeed are our order tracking, documentation and reporting systems, for this purpose. In terms of planning we envisage a programme of expansion to accommodate the growth in demand for our services, evident now and extending beyond March 2019.

What are the biggest challenges posed by Brexit for the toy industry? The key challenge will be compliance with the new rules governing commercial transactions and the physical movement across frontiers. In terms of the former, Import Services is practised and can adapt its systems to meet new regimes; however, if a hard Brexit takes place and borders are not frictionless, the likely outcome will be a lengthening of order cycle time and potential stock build. To mitigate this, clearly the shorter the period between the arrival of a container at port, through stock receipt, order processing and pre-retailing, before distribution to end-customer, the better. We therefore believe our Southampton container port location will become ever more attractive to Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMGC). Freight corridors comprising time sensitive and seasonal spikes in activity is quintessentially the toy & games sector, and is therefore a logical fit.

How is Import Services addressing these challenges? Ensuring that our TRAC IT systems evolve swiftly, plus automating and adapting our networks which link clients (toy suppliers), retailers and carriers is the key to success. Furthermore, scale is important. The latter enables efficient freight management, particularly as ever larger container ships arrive carrying greater numbers of containers per vessel call.

Whatever the specifics of the eventual outcome, do you see higher prices in logistics post-Brexit? Naturally, this depends on the regime which emerges. However, it is inevitable that a hard Brexit will create higher costs, as order cycle times elongate, having been affected by processing between jurisdictions and physical movement across frontiers.

Are there ways to mitigate potential additional costs? Order consolidation amongst our clients is helpful, and we encourage this via our managed in-house bookings processes. As we are currently delivering to 64 Amazon sites across the UK and Continental Europe daily, consolidation and route planning, where practicable, makes sense, as indeed do fast track processes developed with vested parties. These involve electronic exchanges of documentation such as Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs), which will play a key role in mitigating cost.

Reports are circulating that postBrexit we will see huge lorry queues and long delays at our ports â&#x20AC;&#x201C; what are your views on this? This could be a real picture should a Hard Brexit materialise, and the government is already planning additional lorry holding pens for emergency purposes to maintain orderly flow. The use of other ports, apart from Dover and the Channel Tunnel, will also come into play, to reduce pressure via these high-volume freight corridors.

Do you think the situation surrounding the Irish border will have implications for both British and Irish businesses? The trading arrangements across an Irish border may well promote further use of freight hubs in the North and South, which is typically how the current model works in terms of regional trade and distribution. If necessary, clearance of freight can also take place electronically and while freight is in transit, which would alleviate cross-border hold ups.

Do you foresee Irish retailers buying directly from European suppliers to bypass British border and Customs issues? As always, market pricing will determine trading patterns. However, in our view trade between the UK and NI/Eire will continue unabated. Furthermore, we feel that the opportunities flowing from Brexit should buoy UK import and export trade. We are already seeing this materialise, developing as a European retail logistics hub, particularly for US toy and game suppliers. Therefore, the notion of Brexit doing anything but generating demand for agile logistics services, and leveraging growth at portbased locations, has not yet appeared on our radar.

Do you feel that both the UK and EU will cope with customs procedures, given that inspectors can take up to three years to train? And with a fivefold increase in customs declarations, will UK officials be able to find the extra staff required in time for Brexit? Both of these questions concern recruitment and training, plus physical capacity at borders, pointing to a lengthy transition, unless a more frictionless process involving systems based clearance can be agreed. The UKWA logistics forum has raised these issues raised directly with government and we are keen to clarify with them the practical outcome when the negotiations are further advanced.

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Building partnerships Toy World spoke to Robert Podles, CEO of Cobi, about the company’s recent partnership with distributor Added Smile, how the range of construction models has been received so far in the UK, and what new additions stockists can look forward to in 2018. How did the partnership with Added Smile come about? We were looking for someone to help us set up our business in the UK & Eire. Nat Southworth, founder of Added Smile has helped us set up our infrastructure. With the benefit of Added Smile’s experience and business contacts, we have already managed to establish business agreements with new customers.

How has 2017 been for Cobi in the UK market? It’s primarily been a year of preparation, and we have worked hard to tailor our product selection, offers and presentations for the UK market. We have learned much more about customers expectations from our experiences this year. However, 2017 was just the warmup the real work will begin at the London Toy Fair in January.

What is it about your range that stands you out from other suppliers in the construction category? We offer a wide range of construction block toys, which are completely different from our competitors in the construction marketplace; such as our historical line of military vehicles and planes from the 2nd World War. The model replicas of tanks, planes and other military vehicles are manufactured to scale. These model kits are designed to offer high play value alongside education, and provide an insight into this fascinating period of history. The range appeals to parents and grandparents, who find it

suitable for different generations. We also add licences to our models where we can, and in 2018 we will offer licensed options from World of Tanks, World of Warships, the Smithsonian Institute, Boeing and Jeep, amongst others.

Which retail channels best suit your range? Our range will work best in the independent sector, or in a toy and hobby environment. The range is vast, and we believe there is enough breadth for a wide range of national accounts to support Cobi’s business. We know this approach can work in the UK, because it works in other markets.

What are you looking for in a retail partner? Our business is based on long term relationships which are profitable for both sides. We are looking for partners who are willing to offer their customers new styles, and who are willing to diversify their selection of construction toys. For these partners, we can guarantee a bigger margin on sales, rapid stock rotation, plus interesting collections and new introductions every year. An additional benefit to working with us is the short lead time from our factory in Poland. This makes planning purchases much easier, and substantially eliminates the risk of overstocking, particularly for smaller retailers. The whole manufacturing process at our Polish factory is fully controlled and supervised by Cobi. This ensures that safety compliance, on time availability and high quality service are all integral components of the production and sale processes. Our marketing team is always ready to address any particular needs our customers may have, and we also offer standard POS materials, consumer catalogues, and in-store dioramas. Furthermore, our products are supported by TV advertising campaigns to raise awareness.

Which new products are you most excited about for 2018? There are many new introductions planned for 2018 - we are adding a wide range of new ships for a start. Submarines, destroyers, and a huge battleship under The World of Warship licence and Historical Collection name will be on offer. We will be honouring the centenary anniversary of the Great War with a new

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dedicated historical collection. Models will include a Mark I tank, Renault FT17 tank, and aircrafts like the Fokker Dr.1, Red Baron, and Sopwith F.1 Camel. It’s also the centenary of the RAF next year, so we will be introducing models of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VB and Mk. IX, Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, and Vickers Wellington Mk.I. Other kits will also be making an appearance at the beginning of 2018, including British cult plane, the De Havilland Mosquito. Available as of this month, from the World of Tanks range, is a new version of the Tiger I tank (540 pcs) as well as the British Churchill I (530 pcs). The unique Waffenträger E 100 will be out in April 2018. Our Humvee model, in both 1:35 and 1:27 scale, will be available from February under the same licence. From autumn 2018 we will be introducing an assortment of car construction models in scale 1:35, including the latest Maserati and other models. It is also worth mentioning that part of our collection is based on successful partnerships with museums all over the world, including The Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset. A selection of different historical sets will be released soon under this partnership. We are also launching a sailing ship, the USS Constitution, under the Smithsonian Institute brand.

What are your aims for 2018? Our main goal for 2018 in the UK is to build a wide distribution network and secure comprehensive retail representation for the Cobi brand. We are aware that this is a long process, but we believe that the sale of our products will see Cobi become a significant player in the UK construction category within the next few years, and we are fully dedicated to achieving this goal.

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty


Crazy right now Toy World spoke to Aaron Muderick – AKA Crazy Aaron – to find out more about the history behind best-selling brand Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, the company’s approach to manufacturing and employment, and why he thinks nothing compares to the real thing. who’ve met because of their shared love of Thinking Putty to kids coping with serious illness and trauma who use it as a therapeutic tool, we are always amazed at the deep impact Thinking Putty can have on people’s lives. To me, that impact is just as much a measure of success as our business achievements—perhaps even more so.

How did you first come up with the idea of Thinking Putty? The year was 1998. I had just graduated with a degree in computer science and was spending long hours at my desk writing code. I found myself fidgeting with little toys like the drinking bird, the Slinky, and the original kind of putty that comes in a plastic egg. I liked that putty but it left a lot to be desired and I got to thinking… what if it was bigger? Better? More colourful and exciting? That thought turned into a passion. I started buying putty in bulk and colouring it myself. At first, it was just red or blue, but as I experimented with different pigments, I realised that this was something I was really good at; something I wanted to do all the time. I also saw how happy it made my coworkers, who were my only customers at the time. They would come to my desk in search of my latest creation, and I watched with joy as my little endeavor began to change the culture of the office. Not long after that, my wife and I decided to start a web shop. We began mixing raw materials at home and set up an online store where customers could purchase directly. Within a few months, that store grew beyond our expectations. In another few years I got to leave my coding days behind me, we entered the toy marketplace, and I got to become Crazy Aaron full time.

How challenging was it to turn your idea into reality? As with anything worth doing, those early days were challenging. I had two little girls and a wife at home, and was spending literally days and nights in the factory trying to perfect my formulations and scale up production. There were many hits and misses, upswings and downturns during those first few years. I had to learn a lot about chemistry, physics, manufacturing and production, not to mention running a business. Let’s just say I definitely earned the name Crazy Aaron.

What are the benefits of manufacturing in the USA? I’m a big advocate of the think global, act local movement. Safety, compliance to international standards, and producing a high-quality product are of the utmost importance to me and I never even considered moving our manufacturing

How has the brand performed in the UK market in 2017? We have done very well in the UK market. We have a wonderful partner, Green Elephant Trading, who understands our product and our mission on the deepest levels. We’re Green Elephant’s No. 1 selling line.

What plans do you have for 2018? You’ll just have to wait and see! I will say that we have an awesome collection of holiday colours coming out with new things we’ve never tried before. We’ve also got some other big stuff we’re planning on adding to our core collection.

How do you come up with ideas for new products? elsewhere. What makes Thinking Putty unique is the “secret sauce” we put into every formula, and outsourcing production halfway across the world can really compromise your trade secrets. I’m still the one in the lab creating new products, and I personally oversee many steps of our process. I like knowing that I’m putting my stamp of approval on every tin of Thinking Putty we sell. Local manufacturing has also enabled me to give back to the community in a real and tangible way. When our business started to outgrow our living room, I teamed up with area vocational centers that help individuals with physical and mental disabilities find meaningful work. Today, we employ over 800 people with special needs and they are such a big part of our success. They love working with our putty and put a lot of care and attention into their work. I believe it shows— our product has a lot of soul.

Have you been surprised at the fantastic success you’ve achieved? In a word, yes. We get so many stories from people all over the world letting us know how they’ve used Thinking Putty to relieve stress, have fun, and be more creative. From couples

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Our whole brand is inspired by nature, and that serves as my inspiration as well. I’m an avid outdoorsman and I get lots of ideas from my many adventures. For example, I got the inspiration for our Phantoms line from a UV-reactive rock called tugtupite. I’m fascinated by the amazing natural phenomena of the world around us, whether it’s thermodynamics, magnetism, or luminescence, and base many of my creations around them.

A lot of companies have attempted to jump on the putty bandwagon – what would you say to retailers about these ‘me-too’ ranges? Thinking Putty is the only product we make and every tin we create is a work of art. From the way it’s produced to the feel of it in your hands, there’s just no comparison. We’ve seen some fierce competition this year, even almost direct replication, but trust me, these products are beyond inferior. There are a lot of companies vying for a race to the bottom because there’s nothing like the real thing. We’ve been making the best putty in the world for almost 20 years, and I plan to be in business 20 years from now. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is a passion, not a trend, and that makes all the difference.

Brand Profile


Back of the net

Toy World spoke to Ying Pickavance, senior category and brand manager at Hy-Pro, about the retail opportunities presented by the company’s official FIFA World Cup 2018 merchandise, and what retailers can do to maximise consumer awareness and interest during this popular sporting event. What is the advantage of having official FIFA World Cup merchandise, as opposed to generic football focused ranges? The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, so to be able to sell the FIFA brand leverages the huge promotional and advertising campaigns that will be happening in the run up to the tournament. It is likely to attract people into stores much more than a generic brand. Consumers associate the FIFA brand with quality, so know they are getting a good quality product.

When should retailers start ordering and displaying the product to maximise on growing consumer interest in the World Cup?

When it comes to football related merchandise, what level of increase in business can retailers expect in a World Cup year? When it comes to footballs, retail sales have peaked as much as 30% higher during the World Cup period, with the sports market as a whole increasing by 5%. Recent NPD data has shown that 40% of the growth in global sales of the sports market during the World Cup period is directly linked to football merchandise.

The biggest sweet spot for retail is 4-6 weeks before the tournament starts. Popularity is at fever pitch at this stage and from a retailer’s viewpoint, it allows enough time to see good sell through before the tournament even starts.

What do you see as the key product categories for toy retailers to stock? Footballs are a major category for us, and with the World Cup commencing at the start of the summer, it inspires kids to get out and play football throughout the summer holidays. Apparel will also be very strong. These two categories combined will account for nearly 50% of all FIFA sales across Europe.

Hy-Pro has announced the launch of its official licensed products for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The agreement has led to Hy-Pro developing a range of footballs, accessories and luggage items which will be distributed across the UK and Ireland. After spending most of 2016 planning and developing its FIFA World Cup product offering, Hy-Pro is launching its new range in Q2 2018 via major supermarkets such as Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. The collection is also expected to be purchased by wholesalers, which will increase Hy-Pro’s market share and make the range more widely available and visible across the UK and Ireland. The range features a large selection of size 1 and size 5 footballs, luggage, glassware, water bottles, key rings, games tables and many more accessories, ensuring football fans are covered throughout the World Cup. With the success of holding the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 UEFA Euros licence, Hy-Pro has the experience to deliver a vibrant and dynamic range that has previously proved successful on an international level.

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Should the focus be on England merchandise, or, with the growing awareness of global football superstars, is there scope for products to include international players? There is huge popularity for international clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona at the moment, for which stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are a major influence. However, around the World Cup, many fans will be patriotic and fully support their national team, so England merchandise will be a key driver. That said, if England do not progress very far in the tournament most fans will have a second team to support, this choice often being born out of support for a specific player. If England do win the World Cup, there will certainly be a few superstars that will emerge as a result.

01582 670100

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Company Profile

Primo Toys

Thinking outside the box Toy World spoke to Valeria Leonardi, COO of Primo Toys, to find out what drives the company, how the flagship product Cubetto has been received, and what the future holds for the STEAM specialist. Can you give us a little background to the company, and the history of Cubetto? Primo Toys is on a mission to help kids develop and realise their full creative potential by providing learning toys that utilise technology to introduce 21st-century skills like coding, engineering, and mathematics in the early years, without the use of screens. The company believes that learning time should be playtime too. Our first product, Cubetto, is already used in classrooms and homes in over 100 countries, and in 2017 became the most crowdfunded educational technological invention in Kickstarterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history, raising $2.4m from backers in 100 countries. Primo Toys has also won numerous prestigious awards, including a Best of the Best Red Dot Design Award, a Gold Cannes Lion, and a Platinum Junior Design Award, beating Lego in the 3-5 year-old category. Established in 2013, Primo Toys is headquartered in London with 17 full-time employees, as well as subsidiary offices in Japan and Seoul, manufacturing facilities in Shenzhen, and distribution centres in Holland and Chicago, USA.

What was the thinking behind the range? Cubetto has been launched at a time when many school curriculums across the globe require students to learn computing from five years old and up, and schools are starting to use toys to teach STEAM skills. However, many children still lack exposure to the fundamentals of computer science at a young age. Cubetto addresses this deficit through hands-on play that makes learning programming more approachable. Learning to program in early years is essential, but it should also be fun, playful and age-appropriate. Our mission is to help children develop and realise their full creative potential. Cubetto is an openended toy that makes learning computer programming fun and easy to grasp.

We wanted to offer children aged three and up an inclusive, interactive playset that teaches them the basic concepts of programming before they learn to read or write. We have adopted Montessori hands-on learning principles, addressing both the need for learning computational thinking, and the need for tangible, kinaesthetic learning.

What reaction have you had from consumers and retailers so far? Since November 2016, Primo Toys has sold more than 30,000 units. To date, we supply Cubetto Playsets to some of the most prestigious education chains and retailers around the world, via world-class network of distribution partners. Consumers are thrilled to have a product with a unique proposition â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a traditional-looking wooden toy that introduces digital skills to the youngest audience in history. Our online case studies prove that parents and teachers find real value in the playset as a fun way to introduce computational thinking, and children love the friendly wooden robot.

What plans do you have to expand your retail footprint in 2018? Expanding our retail footprint is our main goal in 2018. In 2017 we started working with Education companies such as Education Essential, Findel, Spring Board in the UK, Dusyma and Wehrfritz in Germany, Lekolar in Scandinavia, EasyTis in France, VicesVens in Spain, Eupheus Learning in

India, and in the US we are with Kaplan, Demco and Making amongst others, as well as Barnes and Nobles on the retail front and 80 independent toy shop scattered across the country. In Japan our stockists include ISETAN and Takashimay; in Australia, Australian Geographic and Ingram Micro and last but not least, in our home in the UK we are proud to be available at Harrods, but hope to grow our footprint here like in the rest of the world. We are actively looking to expand into retail in the UK and globally, and are open to evaluating opportunities that may arise at Toy Fair.

How can retailers best capitalise on the range? We have developed an entire world around Cubetto with our maps, storybooks and addon coding kits. Our direct experience from our e-commerce is that bundling really improves sales. Our bundles sell 2 to 1 compared to our basic products. We have also found that customers will come back to buy the latest map or kit we launch, so we highly encourage retailers to follow suit. Finally we have a very rich online playroom ( that offers added value in the form of DIY craft activities, family games, video tutorials and ideas for play. A whole world of free resources is available on our website, which customers can take advantage of.

What are your key aims for 2018? Expanding our trade in the UK and US are our key areas of focus for the coming year. Our wider mission is to have Cubetto in every one of the 2.4m early learning education centres worldwide, and in just as many homes; and to partner with the best educational publishers, distributors and governments around the world to make Cubetto accessible in the establishments in which it can have the biggest impact.

Dive into the world’s largest toy store and discover new inspiration for your business. 10 reasons to be there: David Owen, Pattern Ltd · +44 203 3758230 ·

Win an MSC cruise Info and conditions of participation: Entry deadline: 4.2.2018


Nuremberg Toy Fair

Halls of fame In 2018, the International Toy Fair Nuremberg is scheduled to take place from Wednesday, 31st January to Sunday, 4th February, with the Monday being dropped for the first time in the show’s long history. Casey Goodman explores what to look out for at next year’s show, and why it is such an important event for the international toy trade.


nternational Toy Fair Nuremberg, also known as Spielwarenmesse, continues to strengthen its position as the world’s largest toy fair. Across an area of 170,000m2, more than 2,800 exhibitors from over 60 countries will unveil their new product ideas for the coming season. Visitors are also expected to turn out in high numbers: according to estimates by the Spielwarenmesse, around 73,000 buyers are expected to wend their way to the event, from every corner of the globe. In 2017, visitors from 123 countries attended the event, with 18,586 retailers and buyers choosing the Spielwarenmesse as the only show they visited. The UK was the country with the sixth highest share of visitors, with 2,130 guests attending. Hall 3A will once again play host to the 1,000m2 TrendGallery. Appearing in a new design for 2018, the TrendGallery gives visitors the opportunity to gain their bearings in the dense jungle of products. Each year, three overriding trends, identified by the ten globally active members of the TrendCommittee, including Toy World’s John Baulch, are brought to life by corresponding products. This year, the international TrendCommittee has

identified Explore Nature, Team Spirit and Just for Fun as key trends. The Explore Nature trend brings children closer to nature, encouraging them to step outside and discover it in all its glory. Products that fall within this trend include magnifying glasses, binoculars and planting sets. Products reflecting Team Spirit are all about solving problems together. In doing so, communication is key, as is dealing with the opinions of others and reaching compromise, and the Just for Fun trend places the emphasis on fun and on playing as an end in itself. Products that encapsulate this trend often have simple rules and, with a little imagination, can easily be adapted and modified. Christian Ulrich, director marketing Spielwarenmesse eG, explains what other aspects play a key role in defining an overriding, international trend: “The right timing is really important. Looking forward, we tend to go for trends that haven’t yet taken hold in the marketplace but have already been embraced by the first few innovative toy makers. A trend can only be considered suitable if it has a high impact and enough momentum to spread.” Within the TrendGallery is The Toy Business Hub, which focuses on a different theme every day, providing specialist retailers with up-to-the-minute

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and relevant knowledge, and the presentation arena, which will host a range of guest speakers. Hands-on activities will be the order of the day at Tech2Play, found in Hall 4A. This section will feature a Multicopter Flying Cage and a Robot Racing Course, as well as an area of around 400m2 filled with technological toys newly categorized as Robot Toys, Virtual Play, RC Toys, and Electronic Learning, supporting retailers and buyers as they explore the technology segment. Other key features of the Spielwarenmesse include a special area for Baby & Infant products, including Baby Toys as one of the six product areas, as well as the new Special Show – Toys Meet Books. This will include a product presentation featuring selected exhibitors, with talks on various topics, including Best Practice presented by experienced booksellers. Over the next few pages, Toy World presents a selection of new ranges which will be unveiled at the 2018 Spielwarenmesse. There will be further coverage of the event in our bumper January Toy Fair issue, which will be published in the first week of January.

Lifestyle Products

Model Railways and Accessories

Dolls, Soft Toys

Model Construction, Hobbies

Baby and Infanct Articles

Sports, Leisure, Outdoor

Wooden Toys, Toys made from natural materials

Festive Articles, Carnival, Fireworks

School Articles, Stationery, Creative Design

Games, Books, Learning and Experimenting, Multimedia

Technical Toys, Educational Toys, Action Toys

Multi-Product Group


Simplay the best Toy World spoke to Brian McDonald, vice president of sales, Simplay3, to find out what it’s like to work with outdoor toy guru and founder of Little Tikes, Tom Murdough, and how the company plans to utilise market research in the development of new products. Tom Murdough is a legend in the outdoor toy market – are you enjoying working with him again? Tom has re-assembled many key managers and employees from his time at Step2 and even Little Tikes during this past year. Due to Tom's "Do It Right" philosophy and our history together we have ramped up very quickly as Simplay3's new team. Tom's integrity, history, and vision has made our time with him very enjoyable.

Tom is an incredible 78 years old – has he enjoyed coming out of retirement and getting back into the toy game? Tom had been retired for seven years prior to starting up Simplay3 this past year. He is a great team builder with a very insightful vision as to where opportunities are in this changing time of consumer products. He is still bringing new ideas and energy every day to Simplay3.

How does the company philosophy on outdoor products impact on your range development? Through market analysis, we see the trends that consumers are searching in outdoor toys. People enjoy innovation and new ideas that fit their lifestyle. Consumers want a great value which is expressed through quality, price, service, and innovation. We have to remember, though, that retailers also have to be able to make a fair return on their investment when they support a product.

How has the first year been for Simplay3 in the UK market? We have spent 2017 building Simplay3 from scratch since launching in February at the New York Toy Show. Our products will be available in the UK starting early 2018. Simplay3 will service UK customers from a UK based warehouse or directly via export from the US. We plan to build on our opportunities with a stand at the Nuremberg Toy Show in 2018.

What is it about your range that stands you out from other suppliers in the category? Innovation of design is central to our development with some of the top designers in this category on the Simplay3 team. Rotational moulding creates very strong and sturdy products. We have stayed loyal to this manufacturing process, which will create a great quality ranges. Finally, we recognise that consumers’ and retailers’ space can be limited, and design our products to fit into smaller spaces, assemble easily, and store away after play.

Which new product introductions are you most excited about for next year? We have had a very strong response to our In and Out Activity Table with multiple creative play opportunities and we are receiving numerous creative ways to use this table from parents on social media. My Buddy and Me, a late introduction to our spring 2018 line-up, is a multi-child push around buggy that continues to grow with the child, and features a patented foot to floor adjustment.

What are your aims for 2018 and beyond? As Tom tells us every day... to be the best.

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Rubie’s Masquerade 08453 070 707 |

Mattel 01628 500 000 |

Hall 12, Stand I-29

Stand 12.2/P15 Mattel brings excitement and innovation to the toy industry in 2018 with bold brand campaigns, content, and product. Barbie will continue to celebrate the You Can Be Anything campaign, celebrating how Barbie inspires the limitless potential in every girl. In 2018, Barbie will empower girls through sharing inspiring stories, showcasing inspiring women, and helping girls to build their emotional intelligence and confidence. New product ranges show kids You Can Be A Chef and You Can Be An Athlete. Further ethnic and body diversity will be introduced in the core Barbie Fashionistas range, and in other segments including Barbie Dreamtopia and Careers. Fisher-Price continues to build brand affinity with parents through its Let Kids Be Kids brand campaign. The campaign celebrates kids, what makes them unique and how parents can best nurture that inherent nature by just letting kids be kids. It also demonstrates how Fisher-Price offers different approaches to learning for different personalities, with toys to benefit all sorts of children. Innovative new product offerings include the BabyGear 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Centre, Newborn Kick & Play Piano Gym, Infant Laugh & Learn Sweet Manners Tea Set, and the Pre-school Think & Learn Seek & Spell Penguin. In 2018, Thomas will be introducing kids to the bigger world around them through the wonder and awe of trains, providing a trusted friend for adventure and discovery. There will be changes to the episodic series plus the release of the new Big World, Big Adventures! film. Fun new products will continue to bring the brand to life, with additions including the My First Thomas & Friends Railway Pals Track Pack, TrackMaster Twisting Tornado Set, Minis Boost ‘n Blast Stunt Set, and Adventures Robot Rescue. Thomas & Friends Wood also relaunches with new look engines. Hot Wheels 2018 gears up for an epic 50th anniversary year in 2018 with a new brand campaign Challenge Accepted - celebrating how Hot Wheels ignites and nurtures the challenger spirit that lives within every kid. A series of exciting and dynamic activations will celebrate the anniversary. Hot Wheels will also create a dialogue to communicate the value of Hot Wheels play; Hot Wheels combines competition, experimentation, and creativity to provide thrilling vehicle challenges that develop skills and confidence. The range will see the expansion of Track Builder with Stunt Boxes, the ideal kit to start a Track Builder Hot Wheels collection and the re-launch of Hot Wheels City for younger fans. Hot Wheels will also launch special edition Zamac Flames and Black And Gold 50th Anniversary cars, with a gold chaser car available to find. Enchantimals, the animal-themed girl’s property which launched in summer 2017, celebrates caring and compassion towards all living things. In 2018 it expands kids play experience, offering new character and product launches along with all new content. Family favourite Scrabble is gearing up for the 70th Anniversary celebrations in 2018. A bumper year will kick off this milestone, with a digitally lead marketing campaign, partnerships, and PR activations. The Mattel games portfolio includes games for both kids and adults including Uno, Pictionary, and new Escape Rooms Box game. Mattel ToyBox is proud to offer a dynamic portfolio of partner brands in 2018 including; Disney Pixar’s Cars 3, DC’S Aquaman, DC’s Batman, Jurassic World, WWE, DC Superhero Girls, Imaginext, Shimmer & Shine, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Bing, Octonauts, and Go Jetters.

Rubie’s range of licensed costumes continues to expand as new films hit the big screen, and the company will be showcasing the new additions at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. The third film in the Avengers franchise, Avengers: Infinity War, is scheduled for release in the UK on 27th April. The film will see over 60 different superheroes brought together, all offering a fresh new look. Visitors to the Rubie’s stand will be able to preview the company’s new licensed costume range. Following shortly afterwards will be The Incredibles 2, coming to cinemas in summer 2018. Joining the current Incredibles range will be a new Elastigirl costume. The highly anticipated Aquaman movie will be released in December 2018. Rubie’s will be launching classic and deluxe Aquaman costumes, available at two different price points. For younger kids, Rubie’s also offers a creative costume that allows them to transform just like the Autobot Bumble Bee. Alongside this, the company will be launching new Nella the Princess Knight products in spring/summer 2018. Finally, with the eagerly anticipated Jurassic World 2 appearing in cinemas from June 2018, Rubie’s is expanding its inflatable dinosaur range. Joining the inflatable T-Rex will be new blue Velociraptor, Triceratops and Pteranodon costumes.

The Puppet Company 01462 446 040 | Hall 1, Stand F-09 The Puppet Company is presenting a new collection of soft toys, under the brand label Wilberry, alongside its ever-increasing range of puppets. Wilberry is launching over 100 new designs for 2017/2018. The range includes collections from many of the world’s best soft toy designers. Each range has its own particular style, giving it a distinct visual signature. While some toys are designed to be naturalistic, others are bright and colourful – and all of them are full of character. The company’s dedicated website ( features the complete collection, and also has a section that allows customers to download a birth certificate for their new Wilberry purchase. All new Wilberry designs for 2017/18 feature the golden label branding.

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Orange Tree Toys 01242 244 500 | Hall 3 Stand E14 Orange Tree Toys has an array of new wooden toys launching in 2018, offering both own brand and licensed ranges, including Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear, and the anticipated Winnie the Pooh collection. The collection includes additions to all of the popular toys, such as a set of skittles which features Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Roo, and Rabbit, a range of push-alongs and pull-alongs, nursery items, and vehicles. On the theme of classic childhood favourites, there will be several additions in the New Year to the popular Peter Rabbit Collection, including 3D puzzles, developmental toys, and pocket money toys. The range will include a further selection of toys for pre-school children. Following on from the continued success of the Crocodile Alphabet Puzzle, a new range of toys will be launched in 2018. The range is painted in bright colours and made from chunky wood, and includes new developmental toy products as well as the usual favourites.

Eduk8 Worldwide 01434 672 336 | Hall 12, Stand C-01-02 A number of new and exclusive ranges have been announced for 2018 under Eduk8’s new brand Eduk8 n Play. At Nuremberg the company will be launching its Cargo Ship, an addition to the company’s ever popular wooden range. Also being introduced at the show will be new traditional games, a comprehensive new craft range, the Chalk & Chuckles table top games, Bounce n Catch and Fuzzee Ball, a flexible ball that won’t roll away, three large handheld Traffic Control Signs for indoor and outdoor play, the Trace and Learn Magnetic writing and drawing board, and two new designs which have been added to Eduk8’s successful play mat range. These, along with many other items in the range, are ideal for both the gift and toy sectors. Other product ranges on offer include a comprehensive wooden toy range, science toys, pocket money toys and gifts, board and travel games, play mats, tangles, craft ranges, and award winning traditional outdoor games.

Hong Kong Toy Show by appointment only January 2018

For appointment contact Malcolm Cook

Nuremberg Toy Fair Hall 12-2/P19 Jan. 31 – Feb 04, 2018

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Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | Hall 7 - A26 Wilton Bradley will be showing the latest line extensions to its award-winning Monster Smash Up range of remote control vehicles. The range will offer double packs, and vehicles will have an exploding chassis to add to the mayhem when they crash. A new ramp pack and a new vehicle and driver have been added to the best-selling line. In addition, there are new developments for 2018 in the Mi-Mic Bluetooth microphone range with innovative addons and exciting mass media marketing campaigns which are expected to add to sales in the coming year. Highlights from the company will include a new rotating LED Disco ball karaoke machine, many innovations in the Toyrific lines, along with Yo-Yo Factory and other top licensed product developments.

Geomag 07831 886 997 | Hall 6, C 19 Geomagworld, as a European leader on magnetic construction products, will present a wide collection of high quality and innovative products for all children of all ages at the 2018 Nuremberg Toy Fair. Magicube, KOR, Geomag Classic, Mechanics, and Geomag Pro-L offer a magnetic play experience. After its successful launch in 2017, and having received numerous awards, Magicube, a pre-school magnetic construction system, is expanding with more Free Building sets, as well as the new Magicube People range which can be mixed and matched to create different amusing characters. The Geomag Classic platform is also extending, by presenting an attractive, multi coloured rods and panels range called Confetti. Furthermore, an innovative new concept will be presented; Mechanics Gravity. Gravity, an invisible force of nature, together with magnetism, will provide an exciting and different play experience. The range is made up of four different Smart Playsets, featuring tracks, motor-moved by green energy like gravity, and has features such as a magnetic cannon.

Simba Smoby 01274 765 030 | Hall 6, Stand B-02 The Simba Dickie Group is known for having one of the largest stands at the Nuremburg International Toy Fair, which houses its comprehensive cross-category product range. At the 2018 show, the stand, an extension of Simba’s three-floor showroom located at the company’s head office in Furth, Nuremburg, will showcase its new licensed and own IP ranges. Simba’s 1:24 Lightning McQueen is currently the No. 1 bestselling item in the radio control sub-category by value and volume according to NPD, and Simba hopes to keep that momentum going for the Cars licence with a new 1:24 Turbo Racer radio control theme. Buyers will also get to see the new Transformers Bumblebee movie range which includes radio control, light up vehicles and die-cast. Own IP is an important strategic focus for Simba in 2018, and retailers will be shown the new girls collectible range Safiras, which was the No. 1 girls collectible in Germany in 2016. Also on display will be a new plush range called Furlocks, which has performed well in Germany throughout 2017. Core Simba ranges will also be showcased, including new developments for Steffi Love and Chi Chi.

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Nuremberg Toy Fair Hall 12-2/P19 Jan. 31 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Feb 04, 2018


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For appointment contact Malcolm Cook

Hong Kong Toy Show by appointment only January 2018

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Zuru 01604 401 719 | Hall 12, Stand H-04-6 Smashers is a new collectible range which Zuru will be showcasing at Nuremberg. Each Smashers character is housed inside a red Smashball. Kids can only discover which ones they’ve collected by smashing the Smashball open, thanks to a surprise opening mechanic created by Zuru. Once unboxed, children can throw, collect and trade Smashers, as each one has its own Smash Point Value for extended play opportunities. Series 1 is based on the world’s most popular sports going into 2018, a year that will play host to a number of global sporting events including the Football World Cup. The range includes both good and bad sport characters, along with rare Sports and Golden Trophies to find, and all Smashers appear on the accompanying Collector’s Guide and Game Sheet. Aimed at both pocket money and birthday money budgets, SKUs include the Smashers one pack, three pack, eight pack, and bigger items including the Collectors Tin and Smashers Team Bus which transforms into a football field to shoot Smashers. Zuru’s Bunch O Balloons creates over 100 water-filled balloons in 60 seconds with a patented design. In just three years, Bunch O Balloons has transformed from a Kickstarter success to a globally distributed brand, with a presence among the world’s top selling outdoor items. Constant innovation is key to the brand’s success. Zuru plans to build on the success of the line with new launches for 2018 including a new Marvel licence. The Avengers Bunch O Balloons launches to coincide with the movie Avengers: Infinity War.

Casdon 01253 608 428 | Hall 12, Stand C-04 2018 will see Casdon continue its international expansion, refreshing its roleplay toy range with multi lingual packaging and a new look. Casdon combines pretend play with internationally renowned household names to bring replica appliances and role play accessories to the play room. Building on the success of the company’s partnership with Dyson, January 2018 will see the Dyson Cord-free Vacuum added to the collection. This cordless vacuum is a direct replica of the life size Dyson and has been specifically designed to be true to life, right down to the last detail. The model features working suction, realistic sounds and twist and turn action just like the real thing. The vacuum also features spinning beads to entertain children. A further addition to the Little Helpers collection is a fresh shape for the Hetty and Henry Vacuums. These robust multi-purpose vacuums have everything kids need to help with day to day chores. Each vacuum will pick up small bits of paper from the floor, storing them in a removable drawer that is quick and simple to empty. Supplied with a T shaped nozzle, the accessories pack away neatly at the back of the vacuum. Finally, kids can help mum and dad in the garden with the Flymo Turbo Lite Lawnmower. The Flymo features a foldable handle for easy storage and a mechanical click when the mower is on the move. It also features the iconic Flymo orange base.

Sinco Toys 0161 737 7464 | Hall 4, Stand E-23 Sinco Toys is heading into 2018 with the news that the company has been signed as the master toy licensee for family brand Shaun the Sheep and popular pre-school property Timmy Time. With a soft launch planned for autumn/winter 2018, Sinco will be showcasing a range of plush toys. This will be followed by a spring/summer 2019 launch, to coincide with the release of the highly anticipated Shaun the Sheep Movie 2. Product categories will include plush, figurines, playsets, vehicles, tableware, games and puzzles, and arts & crafts. Following the success of the Disney festive plush in autumn/winter 2017, Sinco Toys will also be unveiling a range of Mickey & Minnie sentimental plush. In addition, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse, Sinco will be previewing a special edition Mickey and Minnie.

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Schleich 01279 870 000 | Hall 6, Stand C-21 Schleich will showcase its many play worlds at Nuremberg Toy Fair, with new additions promising to enhance imaginative play. Schleichâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Farm World range is the go to brand when it comes to farm-themed play. Single figurines will continue to be a key offering, and from January children can add an array of new breeds to their collections. In addition to single figurines, new boxed sets will include a variety of detailed figurines and accessories, including a Rabbit Hutch and Chicken Coop. Offering another play option for fans of Farm World, the new Wild Life lines include figurines and playsets, allowing kids to act out jungle adventures and learn about exotic animals. Since being repositioned in 2016, Schleichâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Horse Club brand is going from strength to strength, and is looking forward to the upcoming introduction of new characters. Central to the new range will be four Horse Club characters with their own respective playsets. New breeds will also become available in January, along with a fresh CDU of assorted foals - an ideal offering for impulse pocket-money buys in-store. The Dinosaur range will also be expanding with new reptiles to collect, and high-profile consumer marketing will increase consumer awareness across all collections. +44 (0) 1462 446040


Engino 0333 200 0114 | Hall 4, Stand F-06 At the Nuremberg Toy Fair, Engino will be showcasing new products, ideas, designs and a new look to excite existing customers and encourage new customers and markets. Since 2003, Engino has researched and developed a range of construction and STEM educational toys. Its goal is to focus on innovation and creativity. Engino wants to enhance children’s curiosity towards engineering and STEM. All this started from former teacher and engineer, Costas Sisamos, who identified a need to involve engineering and all STEM fields in children’s education in the most enjoyable way. In 2017, Engino introduced Qboidz. This product allows pre-school children to build models and expand their skills beyond simple towers and static structures. This year the company will be showcasing two new licensed properties, JCB and The University of Oxford. Engino has also secured the licence to produce a range of JCB construction toys, recreating many of the famous JCB machines. All Engino series, Qboidz, Inventor, Discovering STEM, and Robotics ERP, can guide preschool kids until their adolescence and provide them with the foundations to excel in the STEM and Robotics fields after primary education. Engino is successfully distributing innovative products to more than 50 countries.

Bruder 01491 412 415 | Hall 4–C–19, Stand E-90 At Nuremberg, Bruder will be showcasing its extensive range of detailed agricultural models. John Deere’s largest and most powerful track tractor so far, the 9620RX, is now available in the Bruder assortment in scale 1:16, with a unique level of detail. Just like the original, Bruder’s detailed model features four new developed track drives as well as articulated steering. The door of the cabin can be opened, and the huge folding bonnet reveals the engine, while the height-adjustable rear coupling is compatible with numerous attachments from the Bruder agriculture accessories range. The Ram 2500 Power Wagon is a heavy-duty pick-up truck manufactured by Ram Trucks, renowned for its legendary durability and off-road capabilities. This powerful vehicle with Power Wagon design has now been added to the Bruder range. Just like the real thing, the toy features a crew cab with four doors, all of which open to accommodate up to four Bruder-figures. At a scale of 1:16, this model features suspension on both axles to provide ride comfort and off-road capability, and the front axle can be steered using the steering wheel extension included. The tailgate opens to transport loads, and the loading area provides space for pallets, pallet cages, or straw bales. The Ram can also be used as towing vehicle to pull the horse trailer. With the trailer and coupling combination, kids can take their model horses almost anywhere, be it to the paddock or to a ride out with friends. This toy is manufactured from high-quality plastics and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. Also on show will be Bruder’s MB Sprinter municipal with light & sound module, worker and accessories, the MB Sprinter UPS with driver and accessories, and the MB Arocs fire engine crane truck with light & sound module.

Alpha Animation and Toys 01923 804 599 | Hall 12, Stand H-04-5 Visitors to the Alpha Animation & Toys’ stand will be given the opportunity to view the company’s full product offering across girls, boys, pre-school and RC. Super Wings continues to evolve with new products for autumn. At over 14” tall, Jett’s Super Robot Suit transforms from a free-wheeling vehicle to a free-standing figure featuring with lights, sounds, and a Transforming Jett Vehicle included. Jett’s Take Off Tower is also new to the range, offering on-the-go play as a portable 2-in-1 airport playset, while Robot Ready Jett offers pre-schoolers interaction, lights and sounds. Launching in spring, the Screechers Wild brand development steps up a level for autumn with deluxe battle Screechers and the Flip ‘n Morph Playset. With more to come for 2019, Screechers Wild will be supported throughout 2018 with 60 x 2” digital shorts, TV, sponsorship and digital partnerships. Another highlight of Alpha’s portfolio is Miximals. The Miximals collectible range will expand with new characters, mobile mix up vehicles, and playsets, allowing kids to create their very own Miximals world. Terra-Sect by Drone Force highlights the company’s ability to bring cutting-edge toys to the RC category. The relentless reptile rolls, flips and crawls in any direction, and features glowing eyes.

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08453 070707


Hauck 01978 664 362 | Hall 12.2, Stand P-19 New properties will be introduced to Hauck’s ride-on range. As with all Hauck licensed ride-on toys, each vehicle features bodywork styling representative of each character. These new products join the Nerf Battle Racer, Batmobile, and Transformer Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime go karts. Eco Uno will be launched for 2018. This easy to manoeuvre wagon has room for one child. The wagon folds flat for storage or transportation in the boot of a small car. A notable new addition to the range of Hauck balance bikes is the new Alu-Rider 12. This bike has a durable lightweight aluminium frame, 30cm wheels and an adjustable saddle and handle bars. The new pink version of the Sirocco go-kart has the same features as the original, including ball bearing hubs for near friction-free running, a free-wheel mechanism, hand brake and tool-free adjustable bucket seat. Each of Hauck’s newly introduced Hello Kitty ride-ons comes in pink and white styling. The range includes the Mini Go-Kart, designed for pre-schoolers, and includes a useful carrier for dolls and toys plus special tyres for both indoor and outdoor use. The Hello Kitty balance bike, with adjustable handlebars and saddle, also features a carrier, while the Grow With Me Trike transforms from a baby transporter to a kids trike. Hauck’s Fur Real accessories create complete lifestyle environments to enhance the play value of Hasbro’s popular pets, and the Baby Alive accessory range is already established in the US. A complete range of Hello Kitty doll accessories will be introduced in January.

Learning Resources 01553 819 380 | Hall 5 Stand B-06, C-05 Learning Resources is introducing Botley The Coding Robot, a hands-on, 100% screen free coding activity set. Complementing the multiple awardwinning Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set, this advanced coding set is complete with 77 pieces and will have young learners coding in minutes. The product is presented in a contemporary square box with sneak peek flap and window, making it easy to merchandise and eye-catching on the shelf. Children can use the remote programmer to enter commands and then press transmit to see Botley in action. Coding mats and accessories can be used to create unique mazes and challenges, and children can attach robot arms to Botley for interactive play. Advanced features include if/then logic, object detection, looping, and black line following. There are also new additions to Learning Resources’ best-selling Playfoam range. The super-squishy, sculpting material is child friendly, won’t dry out, and doesn’t stick to clothes or carpet; perfect for indoor creative play. New Playfoam Pals feature 12 collectible pods that open to reveal a unique animal character encased in Playfoam. Heads and bodies can be mixed and matched for endless character combinations; and children can also look out for the ultra-rare golden pal. The products are available in a POP display of 12 pods or a pack of two.

Primo Toys 07400 549 759 | Hall 5, Stand A-87 Primo Toys is the leading purveyor of smart STEAM toys for early years learning. Trusted by educators and parents in over 100 countries, and popular with kids, Primo Toys is providing a new standard in early years education. Cubetto is the world’s first screenless coding toy of its kind for children. The Cubetto Playset is made up of three separate elements: a friendly wooden robot, an interface board, and 16 instruction blocks that make up a programming language kids can touch. Along with these, activity storybooks and 1x1-metresquared cloth maps help to inspire play. Primo Toys also offers a series of add-on products which enhance and extend play with Cubetto. Six themed Adventure Packs are available, which include a map and storybook on cross-curricular topics - Big City, Ancient Egypt, Blue Ocean, Deep Space, Swarmy Swamp, and Polar Expedition. The Logic Bundle is a new kit that expands Cubetto’s world. It allows parents and educators to take children’s logical thinking to new levels with new books and 32 Flash Cards filled with playful challenges. Cubetto Code & Colour, the company’s newest product launch, shows that learning to code has more in common with arts and crafts than computer screens. Created in partnership with classic Italian marker pen brand Carioca, the pack includes six custom colouring pens, and is designed to let children code their first graphic design masterpieces away from the screen.

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Little ones love role play fun... in any language! NEW

multi-lingual packaging for 2018!

See us at: UK Toy Fair: Tues 23rd Jan - Thurs 25th Jan (Stand E30) Nurnberg Toy Fair: Weds 31st Jan - Sun 4th Feb (Hall 12, Stand C-04) Hong Kong Toy Fair: Mon 8th Jan - Thurs 11th Jan (Booth 1A-F32) New York Toy Fair: 17th Feb - 20th Feb (Booth 6070)

Inventors of Fun & Play! Casdon Ltd., Cornford Road, Blackpool, Lancs FY4 4QW Tel: +44 (0)1253 766411 Fax: +44 (0)1253 691486 Email:


Science4you (351) 211 316 796 | Hall 5, Stand C-23 Science4you has been capitalising on the slime craze, as evidenced by its Amazon best-seller The Science of Slime. The newly launched Slime Factory Glow in the Dark expands the category further, offering kids a neon, stretchy and squishy slime. The company is also still seeing success with the Lipstick Factory, Explosive Science and Pink Chemistry products, scientific sets that teach children how to create their own lipsticks, rockets and colourful clouds through entertaining scientific experiments. At Nuremberg, Science4you will be unveiling a variety of glow in the dark STEM toys that aim to spark children’s creativity, imagination and curiosity. Products on show will include the Crystal Factory Glow in the Dark and the Soap Factory Glow in the Dark, while a new nail studio set will be joining the company’s cosmetic line. Kids can also learn about ecology, ecosystems and the life cycle of plants with the Mini Cherry Tomato Greenhouse. This set will teach kids all about plants: how they reproduce, what influences plant growth, how many plant species there are, and how to grow their own plants. The Deltabot and Betabot robots have joined the company’s portfolio. These robots aim to unleash kids’ creativity and improve their hands-on ability by building their own first robot. Science4you has also recently unveiled new products including the Cookie Science, Magic Science and My First Science Kit, all of which will be presented to show attendees in January.

Hy-Pro 01582 670 100 |

HTI 01253 778 888 |

Hall 7, Stand C-25

Hall 12.2, Stand P-09 Teamsterz, HTI’s own extensive range of collectible die-cast vehicles, garages, playsets, track sets, and light & sound vehicles, has launched a range of new products worldwide for 2018. Inspired by UK vehicle designs, new additions to the range include racing, sports performance and city service vehicles, plus small 6” light & sound vehicles. The new range of small vehicles complements the existing larger versions. Six different chunky vehicles are available, each with their own light and sound effects. Designs include a Fire Engine, Garbage Truck, Rescue Helicopter, Police Pick-Up Truck, Police Motorbike and Ambulance. Presented in a ‘Try Me’ open box, kids can interact with the vehicles from the start. The brand will be supported by a new Teamsterz consumer website launching in Q1. HTI offers a selection of licensed wheeled toys, along with its own in-house brand, Evo. A range of scooters across all spec levels is offered, from entry level for pre-schoolers, up to the 200mm commuter scooter for adults. The Move’N’Groove or Electric 3-wheel is suitable for beginners, while the stunt scooters or Dirt Rider are aimed at experienced riders. Equipped with eye-catching graphics, Evo positions itself as a high-end range. With a multi-territory licence partnership with Artsanna across prams and pushchairs, HTI will be showcasing a range for Chicco. The new range for 2018 introduces six new products, including the Junior Activ3 Pushchair, Junior Urban Pram and Evolve Travel System. The innovative Junior Evolve travel system transforms to provide 11 functions, reconfiguring from pram to pushchair mode including all the accessories.

Hy-Pro will be returning to Nuremberg international toy fair to showcase its latest innovations with the brands Zinc, Flyte and Hy-Pro Sports. The UK’s No. 1 scooter brand will be displaying its diverse portfolio of wheeled toys, including the original hybrid scooters and stunt scooters, the electric Volt XT range, and the Smart range. At the forefront of Hy-Pro’s Smart range will be the new lithium hoverboards, which broadened the brand’s product spectrum in July 2017. The hoverboards feature CHIC technology and lithium powered batteries to aid efficiency and power them for longer. The brand is proud to be one of the companies approved to sell hoverboards in the UK. All hoverboards meet trading standards, and all are fully UL certified to offer retailers peace of mind. Hy-Pro intends to lead the charge in greener energy for battery powered products. In addition, Zinc’s latest innovations will also be revealed at Nuremberg; a selection of lithium electric vehicles, expanding the Smart Range, will make their debut. The Volt XT range is an array of electric scooters with the advantage of lead-acid battery technology which ensures an improved running time and enhances the overall performance. The growing case scooter brand Flyte will be showcased once again, with the Mini, Midi and anticipated Maxi models on display, accompanied by the plush accessories. Hy-Pro will also be bringing its wide range of games tables to Nuremberg, presenting a range of fresh new tables and game centres.

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Meet Cubetto - the screenless, wooden coding robot for children ages 3+ Suitable for children of all abilities, a friendly wooden robot teaches girls and boys to program with code they can touch. Using the colourful maps and activity books in Cubettoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Adventure Packs, little learners learn programming basics through storytelling, teamwork and adventure.

Find us at: BETT - Stand G80 Spielwarenmesse Hall 5/A87


Hamleys much-publicised Christmas parade turned out to be a mixed affair. On one level, it was a huge success – if by success you mean “a massive number of people turned up.” I have no idea if it was really 800,000 as some media outlets suggested, but it was absolutely rammed. And that’s where the problems started; mayhem ensued, which was scary enough for adults, yet alone small children, some of whom were reduced to tears. A few fights even broke out, at least one person was allegedly hospitalised, scheduled shows and appearances were cancelled to avoid making things worse and parents quickly took to social media to complain about the lack of crowd control and the overall state of pandemonium. In fairness, the queues to get into Hamleys on the day were truly unbelievable, and it was almost a good event – the shame is that perhaps Hamleys was a victim of its own success… Mothercare’s latest half-year results saw its sales increase but its profits fall through the floor, with last year’s trading profit of £5.9m turned into a loss of 0.7m, while statutory losses widened from 0.8m to a whopping £16.8m. It was a similar tale at Hornby, where half-year losses rose to £5.7m and net debt more than doubled to £4.7m. I’m also picking up rumours of major discontent in the ranks – to say that it is not a happy ship would be putting it mildly. I think we may be heading for a return to the days when Hornby was essentially a niche model company, with little to sustain the interest of the mainstream toy retail channel. Sad times, especially for the staff – but unfortunately, I can see a lot less of those in the future too… Toys R Us CEO Dave Brandon is in the money - or at least he will be, if the US court grants his request to be given a new $12m retention bonus, to add to his $3.7m salary and previous $2.8m retention bonus (which, interestingly, was approved just before TRU filed for bankruptcy protection). In the court petition - presumably to the sound of mournful violins and sobbing - it was claimed that top employees have been “asked to perform monumental tasks” as a result of the recent restructure. Or, to put it another way, “have been asked to do their jobs.” One analyst observed: “Brandon could receive nearly $15 million which is related to a bankruptcy that it was his job to prevent from happening in the first place.” Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous sympathy with TRU, particularly the store staff, but isn’t this just bankers’ bonuses all over again? I can’t believe US suppliers will be overly thrilled, especially those which have been struggling to get paid, or have faced deductions for insurance ‘excesses’ (there is a $5.4m provision in Spin Master’s latest set of accounts for this). Unsurprisingly, creditors have yet to agree to the plan, which also hands a further $16m to 20 other executives, so ‘Dodgy Dave’ may yet have to make do with his existing meagre $6.5m package… The weekend before Black Friday, savvy Toys R Us UK shoppers found themselves able to combine deals which gave them 3-for-2, a £10 gift card and a further 20% off at the till. Why they didn’t go the whole hog and tape a £20 note to each box is a mystery. I’ll bet a few toy retailers were in the queues, with a large van waiting outside… Both Amazon and Toys R Us have been in the news recently after parents complained that Christmas presents have been delivered without outer cartons, so that the product was clearly visible to any child in the vicinity. In Toys R Us’ case, the delivery cartons had the word ‘toys’ – and worse still, the name of the actual toy – emblazoned in large black capital letters across the box. Discretion was obviously not part of the service. Amazon’s approach was arguably even worse; the product was delivered with

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no outer packaging, so that children could see exactly what had just been delivered to the house. It's almost as if the magic of Christmas doesn't really mean anything in Amazon’s algorithmically-driven universe… Dream Toys put the toy market firmly back in the media spotlight last month. Alas, not via breakfast TV anymore; sadly, those days appear to be long gone. Thankfully, the tabloids and other national papers are as supportive as ever, highlighting the event and the individual top 12 Dream Toys extensively. Throw in a good spread of social media, radio and online coverage and the word was well and truly spread. There were a few controversial omissions from the top 12 list, as I had predicted in the Friday Blog several weeks before the event. Presumably the lack of stock of certain red-hot lines – Luvabella, LOL Big Surprise! and others – counted against them. While retailers will surely sell every piece of these lines that they can get their hands on anyway, I suspect the decision was driven more by the reluctance to hand the media a ‘big bad toy industry deliberately keeps the market short’ story on a plate. Harsh on those great toys, but perhaps understandable to keep the overall tone of the resulting media coverage as upbeat as possible… I understand that it has been increasingly difficult to get slots with certain major accounts’ delivery centres. One toy supplier even had to change the tag on its TV ad, as the retailer it was planning to tag had no stock and no ‘open to buy’, as it was over-stocked in that particular category… Seth Bishop has stepped down from his role as MD at KD Toys for personal reasons and Andy Friess has parted company with Toy State after 12 years, while Mothercare has put 200 employees on notice of possible redundancy... Retailers have unveiled their Christmas ads, hoping to encourage the public to start opening their wallets. B&M’s advert is simple but highly effective, focusing on product, price and value. It’s a brave move to run an ad featuring comparative prices in today’s dynamic retail pricing environment, but few would deny that it communicates B&M’s strengths perfectly. At the other end of the scale, M&S’s elaborate ad featuring Paddington Bear has drawn many plaudits, as well as resulting in much hilarity in the Good Morning Britain studio, after the presenters were convinced that a character was not saying ‘Thank You Bear’, but rather something much more offensive (which was presumably hastily redubbed after the segment appeared)… And then there is the John Lewis ad, now a legendary marker in the festive media calendar. Unfortunately, someone at John Lewis really let the cat – or more accurately, monster – out of the bag, days before the ad was due to air. This column has previously touched on the questionable practice of retailers deliberately breaking onshelf embargo dates. But this has to be the first example of a store worker messing up its own employer’s carefully-laid plans, after the Canary Wharf store filled checkouts with the £20 soft toy monster four days before the big reveal. Muppets… Ahead of Black Friday, Amazon introduced a delivery charge of £3.99 on same-day deliveries under £40, which strikes me as an eminently sensible thing to do – it surely acted as a deterrent, which presumably is exactly what the move was designed to achieve. I suspect Amazon is painfully aware that the delivery system is at breaking point, and this is one way of relieving pressure. If only they could fix their delivery centre problem too, I’m sure suppliers would be equally grateful.

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Toyworld December 2017