Toy World Magazine November 2021

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November 2021 Volume 11 Issue 3


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The Team...

CONTENTS November 2021 Volume 11 Issue 3

John Baulch

40 Special Feature: Character Options

42 Feature: Q1 Ranges

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

Mark Austin

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

News

Regulars

Features

05 From the Publisher 06 News 18 Industry Moves 22 Marketing World 108 Allegedly

24 Generation Media 26 NPD 30 Talking Shop 102 Letter from Americ 104 Fresh

39 40 42 66 70 74

Anita Baulch

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

Special Feature: Format Games Special Feature: Character Options Feature: Q1 Ranges Company Profile: Craft Buddy Special Feature: ICTI - Ethical Toy Program Feature: Outdoor Toys

Contributors The NPD Group | Mark Buschhaus Stephen Barnes | Felix Lewis | Rick Derr

Rachael Simpson-Jones

66 Company Profile: Craft Buddy

74 Feature: Outdoor Toys

Editor rachael@toyworldmag.co.uk 01442 502 406

Sam Giltrow

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

Alakat Published by

Mark Crowford

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

www.toyworldmag.co.uk @toyworldmag @baulchtweet

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Toy World Magazine

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2 from the publisher

John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

021 – the year that just keeps on giving. This past month has seen parts of the UK resemble a scene from the Mad Max movies, as brave souls wandered a dystopian landscape in search of fuel, fighting with anyone who got in their way. Within a matter of days, chaos at UK ports replaced the fuel shortages in the headlines, as Felixstowe went public to acknowledge severe delays and congestion, which it attributed largely to the shortage of HGV drivers (although, like all the supply chain issues which have blighted the UK this year, there is never one single cause behind the problems, but rather a complex web of inter-twining factors). This sparked another wave of national media stories talking about potential Christmas toy shortages. Thankfully some reporters chose to speak to people who know what they’re talking about - such as The Entertainer’s Gary Grant, Toytown’s Alan Simpson and KAP Toys’ Nathaniel Southworth – who each gave a sanguine, balanced overview of the situation, and explained the challenges and potential ramifications. Other media outlets sadly decided to go completely over the top: “Soaring bills, empty shelves and NO toys for Christmas” screamed a Daily Mail headline a few weeks back. Clearly, I am familiar with the idea of journalistic licence and the concept of hooking readers in with a hyperbolic headline – but this went more than a few steps too far. Yes, some items will be in short supply this year, and the stock situation will remain fluid and unpredictable until Christmas Eve – but there certainly won’t be empty sacks under the tree. Ultimately, I think it’s important to keep the challenges faced by toy companies this year in perspective: the supply chain issues are affecting every consumer category, and despite the backdrop of infinite chaos, there is little point in getting too hung up on things that we as a community can’t control. Thankfully there are loads of great new toys that have managed to make their way on to shelves, and over the coming weeks, we can all play our part in helping consumers to feel excited about Christmas and their impending festive purchases. Indeed, over the past month, retailers have been unveiling their predictions for this year’s festive best-sellers – although this year’s choices have unsurprisingly been a little different. Rather than being literal predictions of what is perceived to be hot,

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retailers have had to take into consideration what’s in stock (I managed to secure a container – and it has actually been delivered to store…quick get it on the list) and pricing (I only had to add 20% to the price of that line – so add it on before the price goes up). While the ongoing supply chain issues have resulted in many retailers continuing to place orders and take in stock long after they would traditionally have closed their warehouse doors, retailers have been juggling opportunities to maximise on Q4 sales with starting to plan for Q1 2022. Undoubtedly the logistics challenges will continue to be a factor as we enter the New Year, so it’s more important than ever to be one step ahead of the game and as organised as it is possible to be. We’re delighted to play our part by keeping one eye on what’s happening this side of Christmas, and the other firmly on what lies ahead in the early part of next year. Our two main features this month revolve around Spring and Summer, with an in-depth look at the Outdoor Toy category, as well as an exhaustive round-up of Q1 ranges, showcasing new ranges and line extensions which will be hitting shelves between Boxing Day and Easter. Supply challenges notwithstanding, new product development teams have certainly been busy, judging by the huge number of exciting new products being launched. This also suggests that the toy industry remains confident about consumer demand holding up, and also acutely aware of the importance of offering consumers fresh ideas to tempt them into store after Christmas. As ever, many kids will receive money or vouchers for Christmas; nestling in this edition are many of the items that they will hopefully be spending their money on. In addition to these comprehensive product features, there is also an extended Licensing World section in this edition – just flip the issue over to find all the latest news from the world of licensing, including a preview of BLE, which takes place at London’s ExCeL centre later this month. This will be the first opportunity for the licensing community to meet up in a business setting for two years, so I am expecting a similar experience to every post-pandemic industry gathering I have attended thus far - where everyone has seemed delighted to be out and about, mingling with their peers and colleagues once more. If you’ll be attending, I look forward to seeing you there.


News Lego builds on lockdown appeal as profits more than double The Lego Group saw its profits more than double in the first half of 2021 as demand for Lego continued past the ending of lockdown. Children and adults alike turned to brick building in a bid to banish boredom during Covid restrictions, and the success of the brand has continued. Sales jumped 43% to DKr23b (£2.6b) in the first six months of this year while net profits surged 140% to DKr6.3b. Despite much-publicised concern about a shortage of stock and higher prices for the festive season, chief executive Niels Christiansen said he does not foresee any problems. Niels said the company did not plan to make any ‘extraordinary’ price rises to mitigate the impact of higher freight and raw material costs, and said the group’s strong financial performance would lead it to speed up investment in environmental initiatives. The company said there has been strong progress on its sustainability agenda; Lego recently unveiled its first bricks made from recycled plastic bottles and announced paper bags would replace single-use plastic in boxes in 2022. One of the highlights in the sales increase was the tie-up with Nintendo and Super Mario. Lego Star Wars and Harry Potter were also popular choices, as were the more expensive Creator models. Sales were up by more than 10% in all markets and web sales increased by 50%, with Niels saying figures were helped by the ability of Lego’s factories to operate normally again, plus the reopening of stores. Niels said he anticipates a strong second half of the year but believes growth will slow down to “more sustainable levels” as consumers return to pre-pandemic spending patterns. Lego donates 25% of its profit to The Lego Foundation, and at the recent Global Citizen event made a $150m donation. “The single biggest motivating force for everyone at the Lego Group is knowing we can have a positive impact on future generations,” said Niels. “Whether it’s in times of acute need or helping a child develop new skills that will last a lifetime, Lego play and the Lego brand can, and will, make a difference.”

Smyths Toys UK & NI revenue holds steady According to new accounts filed by Smyths Toys UK Ltd and Smyth’s Toys NI Ltd, last year, combined revenues decreased only marginally by £1.3m from £667.874m to £666.56m, despite the Covid-19 shutdowns on the company’s bricks and mortar store network during part of 2020. The UK company last year paid out a dividend of £31m. The accounts for Smyths Toys UK Ltd show that pre-tax profits last year decreased by 24% from £12.48m to £9.5m. This followed revenues decreasing from £622.8m to £620m. Since the company’s store network has been able to reopen, the directors reported that all stores are performing strongly. The directors also stated that they are pleased with the company’s 2020 performance, “particularly given the current economic climate, the competitive market place and the outbreak of Covid-19”. Smyths Toys operates 106 stores in England, Scotland and Wales with another seven in Northern Ireland. Pre-tax profits at the Northern Ireland unit, Smyth’s Toys NI Ltd, reduced by 22% to £703,000 as revenues increased by 3% from £45.19m to £46.47m. In total, the group operates 248 stores across its entire network in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe. The directors also stated: “It is envisaged that further expansion will occur in the UK market in the coming years through the opening of new stores.”

distributor of leading brands

sales@toynamics.co.uk | +44 116 478 5230

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News SMF Toytown confirms new board structure An email has been sent to all Toytown stores, announcing the 'semi-retirement' of MD, Alan Simpson, and detailing the new board structure. This follows the news of Brian Simpson’s return to the family business. Although Alan is taking a step back, he will retain the title of executive chairman. The remaining board structure of SMF will be as follows: Managing Director - Kris Simpson Commercial Director - Brian Simpson Operations Director - Andrew Addley HR Director - Mark Simpson Alan writes: "During the past few weeks, I have been working on restructuring SMF Toytown as I prepare to take a further step back from the day to day running of the business to focus more on an overseeing role, in what I view as semi-retirement." Alan added that he is delighted to congratulate each of the new directors on their appointments and is confident that the new structure will enable the company to continue to thrive. The email concludes: "I know that I can rely on each of you to continue to give each of the directors the respect and cooperation that you have afforded me over the years. I look forward to visiting branches over the coming months and ask for your continued support as we enter the most important trading quarter, made even more challenging by the various issues we are experiencing currently. My heartfelt thanks for your efforts and support over the years, Alan." Having traded since 1980, Toytown enjoyed its strongest ever year in 2021, with the retail chain more than doubling its profit on 2019. Speaking exclusively to Toy World in September, Alan was confident that SMF Toytown would build on this success: "We enter the final few important months of trading in 2021 with so much uncertainty, but I am extremely confident that SMF is in a great position to deal with whatever curveball is thrown our way.”

Azure Media merges with Havas Entertainment and bolsters team Leading toys and games media agency Azure Media has merged with Havas Entertainment as the agency continues to evolve and extend its services to clients across media, creative, content, data and eCommerce. The agency has also announced a new senior hire, as Tamara Strange joins the team. The new company will be known as Havas Entertainment. “This is a very exciting time for the agency as we reshape the business to meet the demands of our clients and the market for the future,” managing partner, Tristan Brooks, told Toy World. “During the pandemic ,significant shifts in media and purchasing behaviour have accelerated the need for change as the traditional model of push marketing is increasingly challenged. We’ve enhanced our services to clients by harnessing our full-service capabilities under one integrated agency team. We are in the unique position of being an agency of market specialists powered by a leading international media and entertainment network.” As part of the agency’s reorganisation, Tamara Strange has joined from Generation Media as client partner. She commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining the most progressive media company at the forefront of the ongoing revolution in the advertising marketplace. Agencies need to be more than media specialists and Havas Entertainment offer clients full-service capabilities at scale. I can’t wait to start working with my new team to ensure our clients are future-proofed against an increasingly fragmented and everevolving media landscape, and to help them effectively convert fans into consumers, and consumers into fans, through market-leading, impactful campaigns.” Tristan Brooks added: “Tamara is a highly respected and rare talent, which makes her perfect for this role. Her enthusiasm for ideas and innovation is highly infectious and extremely relevant as the media landscape shifts; coupled with her extensive media knowledge which will greatly benefit our clients. She’s joining us at a very exciting time as we continue to evolve our capabilities under the one team full-service offering.”

New Hornby model show steams onto TV A new TV series showcasing Hornby began on 11th October, giving viewers and enthusiasts a glimpse into one of Britain’s best-loved model-making companies. Hornby: A Model World features some of Britain’s best model layout builders, creating miniature masterpieces in their lofts and sheds, and highlighting how dedicated model makers spend hundreds of hours building perfect replicas of towns, villages and landscapes as settings for their locomotives. Based at the company’s headquarters in Kent, Hornby: A Model World is a nostalgic look at the company, home to Hornby Railways as well as the Corgi, Airfix and Scalextric brands. Viewers will also see how the dedicated design teams build new models, from century old steam engines to the latest racing cars. Each programme follows the process from the drawing board to perfect mini replicas, and the series also observes the ups and downs of the design process as the team tries to replicate the detail perfectly, whether it’s a 1930s steam loco or the stitching on a First World War fighter plane. Hornby: A Model World, from UKTV Original, is airing on the Yesterday channel and all episodes will also be available on UKTV Play.

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News Spielwarenmesse highlights sustainability with Toys go Green area

Simba Dickie Group acquires stake in Minimax Simba Dickie Group has acquired a stake in the successful model car manufacturer Minimax. The acquisition took effect from July 1st 2021, and both companies say they see high potential in this cooperation for the development, production and marketing of their product ranges. Founded by French car enthusiast Hugues Ripert in 2000, Minimax has been present in all major markets for years. Its models are mainly produced under the brand Spark and are focused on the racing sector. The Schuco brand will be integrated into the joint model car group in order to benefit from synergies going forward. The management will be taken over by Hugues Ripert, who also holds a majority stake in the joint venture. Florian Sieber, CEO of the Simba Dickie Group, said: “We are joining forces with Minimax and plan to concentrate our model car business there in the long term. At the same time, we are bringing the Schuco brand into the newly created model car group, and will do everything to give the brand new shine, thanks to the great synergy potential.” Oliver Naumann, managing director of Dickie, welcomed the new partnership and added: “The new structure will give us the opportunity to manage the development and production of Schuco models in the future, independent of suppliers. It will be easier to ensure the production and quality of our model cars.” As managing partner of Spark, Hugues Ripert foresees new opportunities for expanding the range: “We have been very successful with model racing cars for years,” he said. “ Thanks to Schuco, we can now complement the Spark range with classic road cars, agricultural vehicles and more. We are gradually combining our production and sales activities to allow both companies to focus development on their core segments. We look forward to delighting both old and new customers with the variety and quality of our product range.”

Obituary: David Watt

With sustainability remaining a significant and much-discussed topic worldwide, Spielwarenmesse’s 13-member strong International TrendCommittee has identified it as a ‘mega trend’ for the upcoming 2022 show. From 2nd-6th February, Spielwarenmesse will be bringing the topic to life at the Toys go Green special area in Hall 3A. In consultation with experts, the team at the trade fair has identified four product categories – Made by Nature, Inspired by Nature, Recycle & Create and Discover Sustainability – which will be presented as themed islands. The Made by Nature section demonstrates that toys can be made from numerous other natural materials in addition to the wood that has been a mainstay of toyboxes and playrooms for generations. The range of raw materials that nature has to offer is broad and diverse, and includes products such as maize, rubber, bamboo, wool and cork. The Inspired by Nature segment likewise revolves around renewable raw materials. The production of plastics is heavily dependent on fossil resources such as oil, coal and natural gas. This product category demonstrates that there are other, less harmful ways to use plastics, by presenting toys made from bio-based plastics that are environmentally friendly. The Recycle & Create category showcases toys made of recycled raw materials, while also focusing on creating new toy ideas with upcycling. The Discover Sustainability category highlights learning through play, as toys help children to understand complex situations by simplifying and clarifying them. The segment displays toys that use play to explain topics such as environment and climate, and to make children aware of the issues in an accessible, fun way. In addition to the four islands, the Toys go Green area will provide concise background information on the topic of sustainability. Next door, at the Toy Business Forum, industry participants can learn about the Toys go Green mega trend from daily presentations given by experts in the field.

Toy World is sad to report that former Lego sales manager David Watt has sadly passed away. Born in Ballymena in Northern Ireland in 1944, David, who died in September, worked for Lego from 1975 until 1999 as area sales manager in Northern Ireland, calling on independent retailers as well as some national accounts. Over his 24 years at Lego, David achieved the accolade of Top Salesman multiple times, winning the coveted Silver Lego Brick trophy with his name engraved. David will be remembered fondly by customers and colleagues alike, who describe him as full of passion and integrity for his work, with a great sense of humour. He lived for ‘the brick’ and was incredibly proud to work for Lego, taking great pride in what he achieved working for the group. Many of his customers knew him as the ‘Lego Man’. David’s boss in the mid-90s, John Samson, recalled that when he joined Lego as field sales manager, David was enormously welcoming. “He was a huge character and may well have been the most dedicated brand champion that I encountered in my 10 years in the Lego Group.” Nicola Bergot, who worked with David for over 10 years, said : “Those colleagues from the late 80s and through the 90s will remember all the pictures of FSDUs, window displays and Lego logos that had to be submitted by the sales team to Harvey Jones at the Wrexham office. David always seemed to have more pictures than anyone else and would talk endlessly about his customers, who he knew inside out.” Former colleagues Alan Wood, Paul Chilvers and Darrell Shoob said they will never forget a sales force meeting in Wrexham where, in an attempt to motivate the team, Harvey Jones asked: “Why do you come to work?” David replied: “To kill a day”, much to the amusement of his co-workers. When made redundant in 1999, David soon moved back into toys, representing and building up a substantial business for Schleich in Northern Ireland before retiring a few years ago. David leaves his wife Jennie and three sons, Patrick, David and Jonny, plus nine grandchildren. Toy World would like to express its condolences to the family at this sad time.

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News Winners of Play for Change Awards 2021 revealed Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) has unveiled the winners of the 2021 Play for Change Awards. TIE created the Play for Change Awards in 2020 to recognise the inspirational efforts across the sector to champion children’s empowerment, future skills and a more sustainable future. The winning entries were announced by jury chairman and Toy World publisher John Baulch during a virtual ceremony, during which EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli underlined the important role of the toy sector in driving positive change in children’s lives. Irina Reyes, representing Mariya Gabriel, the EU Commissioner responsible for education and youth, said the Awards were a great example of what European values – such as equality and empowerment, sustainable development, and the right to education for all – mean in practice. Over 80 high-quality toys and initiatives were submitted in the three categories of Empowerment, Sustainability and Future Skills, and a shortlist of finalists was announced at the end of September. The Play for Change 2021 winners are: Empowerment category: - Gold: Miniland S.A. for Miniland Dolls with Down Syndrome - Silver: Mattel for the Barbie Message Against Racism - Bronze: The LegoGroup for LegoBraille Bricks (the Lego Foundation)

Future Skills category: - Gold: The Lego Group for Lego Education Spike Prime Set - Silver: Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. KG for the Cyborg-Hand - Bronze: Miniland S.A. for Amazing Inside

Environmental Sustainability category: - Gold: Dantoy A/S for Dantoy Green Bean - Silver: Adventerra Games Sagl for Ecologic Puzzle & Memories, Polar Adventure and Hungry Bins - Bronze: BioBuddi for BioBuddi Pixel and Create For the 2021 edition, TIE decided to also recognise toy companies who responded to the Covid-19 pandemic with actions to support children and the wider community. The Special Covid-19 Commendation was awarded to: - Learning Resources for its Home Learning support project - Mattel for its #KeepPlaying relief efforts TIE’s director general, Catherine Van Reeth, said: “With an almost 50% rise in entries this year, toy companies are clearly increasingly engaged in the issues of empowerment, sustainability and future skills. There is so much fantastic work going on in the toy sector – we can’t wait to see what the coming years will bring.” Play For Change Awards winners were selected by three juries of independent experts, chaired by John Baulch, who added: “The awards give a great opportunity for companies to demonstrate how they are rising to society’s challenges. The bar for judging was high and deciding on the winners was no easy task.” Toy companies interested in taking part in the future can register for the latest information for next year’s awards at www.toyindustries.eu or can contact catherine. vanreeth@toyindustries.eu.

Mattel says success of Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams shows ‘strength of the Barbie franchise’ Barbie has been inspiring, empowering and entertaining kids for decades. With 36 television specials, and countless episodic and YouTube series behind her, Barbie has evolved from a fashion doll to a cultural icon and, in recent years, emerged as a relatable character and role model, sharing her own story and unique perspective with the world. Always off on a new adventure of discovery, now Barbie is headed for the bright lights of Broadway. Mattel’s Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams is an allnew musical adventure movie that follows Barbie Roberts as she enrolls in a performance school in New York City and meets a fellow student also named Barbie Roberts. The pair become fast friends and quickly adopt nicknames inspired by their beloved hometowns, Malibu and Brooklyn. The movie will also stream on Netflix from March 2022, giving kids the ability to tune in any time. The movie released in cinemas this summer, and is Barbie’s biggest UK theatrical release to date, running for five weeks across 120 locations nationwide. It also premiered on Sky VIP and Amazon for subscribers, before debuting nationwide on Pop in October half term. To promote the Pop nationwide premiere, popstar Fleur East hosted an exclusive virtual event inviting kids, parents and guardians to join in the fun on the Barbie Facebook page, celebrating with exclusive sneak peeks and performances ahead of the film airing. This was complemented by Pop sponsorship and a competition spot hosted by Fleur, inviting kids to tune in to the new movie and be in with a chance of winning toy prizes. Showcasing the true franchise appeal of Barbie, partners on Barbie: Big City Big Dreams include Spotify and CP partner Just Play on a new Barbie guitar. The doll line inspired by the movie includes Barbie ‘Brooklyn’ Roberts and Barbie ‘Malibu’ Roberts in their performance costumes, plus a vehicle that transforms into a stage, with the doll line seeing a 27% POS uplift YTD in the campaign period. To support the dazzling new tentpole moment, the brand ran a 360-degree marketing campaign including product TVCs and a paid social campaign on YouTube and Pop.

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Golden Bear builds on sustainability goals Golden Bear has announced that it has taken strides towards its sustainability goals by becoming a certified carbon neutral company, supporting carbon offset projects in India, South America and Indonesia. Other initiatives for the award-winning company include solar panel and electric vehicle charging point installation, moving exclusively to soy inks for packaging as well as removing as much excess plastic packing materials as possible, and operating as a zero to landfill site. In 2020, Golden Bear committed to innovative sustainability goals to revolutionise its business and the toys it produces, focusing on reducing its impact on the planet with four pillars of sustainability; Carbon Footprint, Product, Packaging and Recycling. Golden Bear will be launching The Baby Club range of product market-wide in 2022 with all fabric being made from recycled polyester. This builds on the success of its Hey Duggee plush range which moved into recycled polyester in 2021 to a positive reception from both consumers and the toy industry. The Mr Tumble range will also be benefiting from this manufacturing change from SS22 as part of Golden Bear’s plan to convert all plush into sustainable materials over the next two years.


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News Obituary: Brian Goldner Toy World is sad to report that the Hasbro chairman and CEO passed away shortly after announcing medical leave in early October. Board member Rich Stoddart has replaced him on an interim basis. In a statement last year, Brian said he had been under continued medical treatment following his cancer diagnosis in 2014. A company statement reads: “It is with deep and profound sadness that Hasbro announces the passing of beloved leader and long-time chairman and CEO, Brian D. Goldner.” Rich Stoddart commented: “Since joining the company more than two decades ago, Brian has been the heart and soul of Hasbro. As a charismatic and passionate leader in both the play and entertainment industries, Brian’s work brought joy and laughter to children and families around the world. His visionary leadership, kindness and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched.” Brian joined Hasbro in 2000 and was appointed CEO in 2008, then chairman of the Board in 2015. Hasbro’s company statement went on to say: “Through his tireless work ethic and unwavering focus, he expanded the company beyond toys and games into television, movies, digital gaming and beyond, to ensure Hasbro’s iconic brands reached every consumer” Brian served as executive producer on 2007′s Transformers film, a movie that was credited with broadening Hasbro into a character-based, multimedia company. He then went on to produce more than a dozen titles across movies and TV including three G.I. Joe films and a My Little Pony feature. In 2019, he pioneered Hasbro’s $3.8b acquisition of Entertainment One. Since his appointment as chairman in 2008, Brian has helped boost Hasbro’s stock more than 155% and has been credited with steering the company forward through times of extreme volatility in the toy industry, achieving higher growth, higher margins and stronger capital returns. Edward M. Philip, lead independent director of Hasbro’s Board of Directors, said: “Brian was universally admired and respected in the industry, and throughout his over twenty years at Hasbro, his inspiring leadership and exuberance left an indelible mark on everything and everyone he touched.” Brian is survived by his wife and daughter. He and his wife Barbara were passionate advocates for improving systems of care for vulnerable members of society.

Mattel receives FSC award and announces reforestation partnership Mattel surpassed its target to achieve and maintain 95% recycled or FSC-certified paper and wood fibre used in its products and packaging last year, earning it the 2021 Leadership Award for Excellence from the Forest Stewardship Council. The award recognised its use of FSC-certified products and also the company’s commitment to responsible forest management. In 2020, Mattel sourced 97% of recycled content across products and packaging, as validated by the Rainforest Alliance. Recognising the importance of forests’ role in reducing carbon emissions and supporting life on earth, Mattel has also launched a reforestation Tree Equity partnership with American Forests aimed at addressing tree inequity in Los Angeles, near the company’s headquarters. Lowincome neighbourhoods across the US are often situated in areas where trees are sparse, preventing them from reaping the numerous benefits trees provide. The partnership programme provides city-dwelling communities with an improved infrastructure of trees, aiming to improve quality of life. “Responsible and sustainable sourcing is a critical component of our updated ESG strategy, and Mattel packaging teams implement various eco-design and circular economy principles in the development of our products and packaging,” said Pamela Gill-Alabaster, head of global sustainability for Mattel. “Our focus is to develop innovative products and experiences that are better for our world by integrating sustainable materials and principles of product stewardship and circular design.” The FSC accolade reflects a decade of partnership between Mattel and the Rainforest Alliance, which has supported the company’s engagement, worked with its paperboard suppliers, and provided training to help Mattel prepare for, achieve and maintain FSC certification. The Rainforest Alliance also audits Mattel’s annual paper packaging and wood fibre use by source, volume and type. Mattel aims to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in all products and packaging by 2030. In June, Mattel launched Barbie Loves the Ocean, made from recycled ocean-bound plastic and earlier this year announced Drive Toward a Better Future, its product roadmap to make all Matchbox die-cast cars, play sets, and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials by 2030. The company also launched Mattel PlayBack, a programme designed to recover and reuse materials from old Mattel toys for future Mattel products.

The Very Group reports record revenue The Very Group has announced its full year results for the year ended 3rd July 2021. Retail sales were up 24.9% to £1,535.6m, driving 13% group revenue growth to a record £2,317.1m. The group also reported that Very customers increased 12.4% to 3.82m, boosting group customers by 7.6% to 4.82m. Group profit before tax was £81.7m, up 68.8% on the prior year, reflecting increased Very retail sales and improved cost management. The group finished the year in strong financial health, with underlying operating cash flow of £245m. CEO Henry Birch commented: “I am pleased to report outstanding Group performance, including record revenue, continued profit growth and strong cashflow generation." The group credited its performance in large part to significant customer experience improvements, including the introduction of AI-powered chatbot, Very Assistant, which now handles 268,000 queries monthly on the Very website. Other customer service improvements included extending order cut off for next day delivery from 7pm to the industry-leading time of 10pm. App sales were up 45% year-on-year boosted by a more personalised, intuitive app experience. The Very Group has strengthened its executive team with the appointment of former BBC technology director Matt Grest as chief information officer and is soon to welcome Robbie Feather, former CEO of Fenwick, to the business as retail managing director. Henry Birch added: “The current environment is not without challenge, but our pandemic experience has shown us that our multi-category offer, combining leading brands with our Very Pay platform, is relevant to an increasingly wide number of customers. We are in good shape to face any future uncertainty and remain confident that we are well positioned to take advantage of a market and customer behaviour that is moving towards our model.” The Very Group operates online retail brands Very.co.uk, Littlewoods.com and LittlewoodsIreland.ie.

Toy World 14


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News Marvin’s Magic promotes the benefits of performing magic Research has shown that learning magic can provide dramatic psychological benefits and effects for children as well as significant increases in both their social skills and confidence, according to Marvin’s Magic. Noted psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, carried out research using magic with children, while another recent study from Professor Caroline Watt with Professor Richard Wiseman examined magic and wellbeing on both children and adults from around the world. The studies showed several positive effects and an improvement in many areas such as motor skills, mental health, psychological wellbeing, self-esteem, social skills, hope and self-image. Prof Wiseman said: “Learning magic requires self-discipline, an understanding of how other people think and an ability to entertain. It’s a unique way of developing an important set of psychological skills.” Marvin Berglas, the creator of Marvin’s Magic and an award-winning magician himself, added: “Unlike computer games, Magic encourages children to interact with their friends and family,” adding that games have no doubt been a welcome distraction during the Covid-19 pandemic and helped many to maintain mental wellbeing. Marvin’s Magic is approaching its 35th year and Marvin has designed tricks and sets that have encouraged and inspired the magicians of tomorrow with ‘professional magic made easy’. During the past year, he said, there has also been a huge increase in demand for the company’s innovative Magic Art and Craft range: art and craft products with a touch of magic. There have been new additions to the range which currently includes Marvin’s Magic Drawing Board, Amazing Magic Changing Pens, Glow Art and Super Bright Scratch Art. For more details on the Marvin’s Magic range email magic@marvinsmagic.co.uk

newsanalysis

Toikido – focused but flexible How has your first year in business been? I am extremely proud of what we have achieved, given the challenges in front of us - Covid, shipping costs, logistics problems, the shortage of HGV drivers and many more. We set some goals in the first month and have achieved all but one - but I’m confident we will nail that before the end of the year. We owe a lot to our amazingly supportive licensors and key partners on the journey with us, who have supported the ethos of the business from day 1.

Have things panned out as expected, or have there been some twists and turns along the way? As with any business, we have had to pivot on a couple of projects as the IP owners have adapted or changed. However, it’s this flexibility that is part of the Toikido DNA - we spin more like a speedboat than an oil tanker. The team are focused but flexible, and I’m proud that reputation is gaining traction.

Are you pleased with the performance of Among Us, both here in the UK and across the globe? Absolutely. We have enjoyed almost the perfect storm, with limited Hollywood theatrical releases, few high-profile brands launching and a user base that topped half a billion users during global lockdown. While the game itself may have slowed as others launched and the world reopened, that core fanbase remains loyal and passionate. The user-generated content on social media is getting millions of hits daily.

How will you be looking to build on the success of Among Us in ’22? I see 2022 as the true launch year of the brand. It will be when we will have reached most points of sale and have full distribution in place. Some retailers were late to the party in 2021, having been reactive rather than proactive. Those retailers that were proactive have had a very good year. We will be building on the current ranges and reflecting on what has been working best. As an example, our costumes have become an unexpected internet sensation, so we quickly had to jump deeper into their development and planning. The great thing about being the main global partner on this IP is that we can control product flow, instead of flooding the market and cheapening the brand.

What are the highlights of ’21 for Toikido? We have executed two IP launches; AmongUs with Innersloth and Back To The Outback with Netflix. We have taken both brands from contract to shelf in six months. We have shipped around the globe and have end-caps launching in most major retailers. We have also been recognised in the Kidscreen Hot 50. We have stayed humble, available and consistent in our communication.

What have you got planned for ’22? We will be building on Among Us, as well as launching Smighties, Gang Beasts and some other exciting partnerships. We will also announce the first of our own IP projects and the opening of Toikido Studios. Finally, in Q1, we will launch a truly unique global logistical project with a major digital influencer. I think that will take care of 2022, but our door is always open.

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Industry Moves Rubies welcomes Scott Pickworth as new independent accounts manager

IMC Toys boosts UK sales team as company thrives IMC Toys has announced the promotion of Lisa Cox to UK sales manager and the appointment of Kieran Smith as national account manager. In her new role heading up the UK sales team, Lisa Cox will report directly into UK country manager, Sue Barratt. Lisa, previously senior national account manager at IMC Toys, has been with the company for 12 months, with responsibility for its portfolio of hugely successful in-house developed brands – Cry Babies, Cry Babies Magic Tears, VIP Pets and Bloopies – and new brands for 2022 including Lucky Bob. Kieran Smith joins IMC Toys as national account manager and will report into Lisa Cox. He was previously at MGA, and prior to that held sales roles at Melissa & Doug and Hasbro. Sue Barratt, IMC UK country manager, commented: “We’ve seen significant change and growth over the last year and, as we brand build and continue to create amazing content combined with eCommerce through our Kitoons OTT platform, we’re investing in our team too. The new appointments will further strengthen the UK team and enable us to continue to innovate with our brands and drive sales of our best-selling ranges”.

Rubies is delighted to announce the hiring of Scott Pickworth, who will join the company as its brand-new independent accounts manager. Scott brings with him a wealth of experience in the industry. He started his career at Smiffy’s before joining Fun Shack as a startup and establishing it as a national brand. Responsible for managing Rubies independent accounts, Scott will also be the product lead on generic product development. Mike O’Connell commented: “Scott is an incredibly exciting addition to our synergetic team, joining at a crucial and exciting time due to increased business, peak seasons and our exciting internal developments. We have no doubt Scott will fit right into our team and our energetic work environment with his drive and ambition. We are excited to see the plans he has in store for account and brand optimization as well as product development.” As Rubies welcomes Scott, the company will also say farewell to Stewart Rankin and Tony Jones. The two agents have been with the company for over 20 years. Mike added: “I would like to thank them both for their service and commitment to the company throughout their tenure and wish them both the very best for the future.”

Penguin Random House Children’s appoints new commercial director David Sprei has joined Penguin Random House Children’s as commercial director for Penguin Ventures, reporting into Francesca Dow, Penguin Ventures MD. In this newly created role, David will lead the Penguin Ventures business to further growth, working in close partnership with Susan Bolsover, Global Licensing and Consumer Products director, and the Penguin Ventures team. Susan Bolsover will report into David. David joins from his previous role as director International Business Development at ViacomCBS Consumer Products, focusing on new innovative & non-traditional partnerships across the portfolio. Prior to this, David has held commercial and partnership roles at Viacom Velocity (MTV Europe), Instrumental and TBWA\Stream, London. Francesca Dow, managing director, Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “Susan has brilliantly led and managed our strong licensing business and excellent team. Now that Ventures wholly manages the licensing for Classic Peter Rabbit in-house, we are excited about exploring new and uncharted opportunities. We believe we are at an early stage in Penguin Ventures’ potential and David will help take us to the next stage of growth and commercial success. In his new role, he will act as a central commercial unifier for our owned brands, working in close partnership with our Brand and Publishing teams.”

Innovation First International (UK) appoints new marketing manager

Innovation First UK has appointed Alison Ferguson as its new marketing manager with a focus on driving consumer awareness of Hexbug toys. She joined the company on 4th October and will be responsible for the marketing and PR activity across the company’s three brands: Hexbug, Vex Robotics and Rack Solutions. Alison was previously B2B marketing manager at ACC conference and exhibition centre in Liverpool and has been tasked with accelerating growth for Hexbug and building on her experience within CRM and audience insight to gain valuable insight into the brand’s customer base. Gareth Jones, UK sales manager at Innovation First International (UK), said: “We are excited to welcome Alison onboard, and to now have a dedicated marketing specialist who is skilled in B2B and B2C marketing, brand management and partnerships. We know she will be an invaluable support to our sales team, especially as we continue to grow Hexbug and Vex Robotics.” Alison added: “I’m really looking forward to working with the fantastic team at Innovation First and learning all about the toy industry. The challenge of transferring my experience to another sector appealed to me when taking on this role.

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Industry Moves Casdon continues expansion with new senior hire Casdon Toys is expanding its team further with the appointment of Kate Watson as UK national account manager. A familiar face in the toy industry, Kate has previously held positions with Schleich UK and Hasbro, and brings a wealth of experience to the role at Casdon, where she will have responsibility for managing all national accounts for the brand. Phil Cassidy, managing director at Casdon Toys, commented: “Kate is a fantastic new addition to the Casdon family. Her stellar toy industry experience and strength in building meaningful relationships with key partners will be invaluable to the business as we continue to move forward with our next phase of growth.” Commenting on her new role, Kate said: “I am so delighted to be joining Casdon, especially at such an exciting time for the company. I’m looking forward to being part of such a fantastic team and helping grow the UK business.”

BTHA announces Kerri Atherton as head of Public Affairs Following the previous announcement, that Natasha Crookes would be leaving the association on 12th October to set up her own business, the British Toy and Hobby Association is delighted to announce that Kerri Atherton has joined the team as head of Public Affairs. Many in the UK toy industry will remember Kerri from her previous time working with the BTHA in the role of Public Affairs manager. Kerri left the BTHA at the end of 2018, to work with the London Mayor and his team, but is now looking forward to returning to the toy industry and working at the association again in this new role. She is based in London and can be contacted at kerri@btha.co.uk. Natasha is now setting up a PR and Public Affairs consultancy to take her skills forward whilst working for herself. Natasha said: “I have met many lovely people in the industry, and in the many organisations we all interact with, and hope to stay in touch with you all after the 12th October.” She can be contacted at her new company at natasha@elven.ltd. The BTHA would like to give both Natasha and Kerri all good wishes.

Kidicraft welcomes new hires and promotes from within Two new sales coordinators have joined the Kidicraft team to cover growth and ensure a smooth run up to Christmas for the company.​Emma Lund and Damian Meer will join Kidicraft as sales coordinators, bringing a wealth of experience with them. The new roles will bolster the sales team during this critical period. Emma will be the first point of call for customers based in the South West, South East and The Midlands and support the sales agents in her area. Meanwhile, Damian will be the first point of contact for customers based in The North of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland and will also support the area’s sales team. Katy Greenwood continues her development within the company, moving into a marketing support role to assist marketing manager, Annaliese Mason, with exciting new product launches to be announced soon. Kidicraft is also pleased to announce that Sarah Haslam has taken on a new role as general manager. Sarah has worked for the company for several years and is an invaluable member of the team. In her new role, she will oversee the daily operations of the company and provide direct management to the rest of the Kidicraft team. Paul Evans continues to manage the warehouse, ensuring accurate and timely product distribution. Roy Greenwood, director of Kidicraft, said: “I am delighted to welcome both Damian and Emma to the team. I’m certain that the company will benefit from the skills and experience they will bring. Kidicraft is continuing to expand with lots of new products launching soon and has invested heavily to ensure that we meet product demand, as we strive to continue to provide an exceptional level of customer service to our customers.”

Funrise appoints Caroline Webb as EMEA sales manager Funrise International has announced the appointment of Caroline Webb as EMEA sales manager. She joins the team at Funrise with a wealth of knowledge and experience, including 10 years in the toy industry, most recently with Addo Play and Worlds Apart. At Addo she was responsible for delivering growth through global strategic partners in Asia, Australia and Europe, while her role with Worlds Apart was focused on licensed products within EMEA regions. Based in the Milton Keynes office, Caroline will help lead business initiatives to further expand market penetration throughout the EMEA territories. Caroline commented: “I am thrilled to join Funrise and have the ability to help grow the EMEA business. The company has a portfolio of strong brands spanning several categories and I can’t wait to make an impact on the international side of the business.” Annie Sullivan, commercial director EMEA, told Toy World: “I am delighted to have Caroline on board during this very exciting time at Funrise. Her proven experience across the international market will help us build and develop further retailer and buyer relationships throughout Benelux, Germany and Eastern Europe.” Caroline can be contacted on carolinewebb@funrise.com

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Marketing World MGA partners with Helen Flanagan for Glitter Babyz launch MGA has joined forces with actress and mother of three, Helen Flanagan, to support the launch of new nurture doll collection, Glitter Babyz. Helen has a huge influence on families and regularly shares insight into life at home with her daughters Matilda, Delilah and baby boy, Charlie. Glitter Babyz has partnered with the former Coronation Street actress to showcase new characters Dreamia Stardust, January Snowflake, Lila Wildbloom and Solana Sunburst to fans of the range. Launched in September, Glitter Babyz focuses on developing nurturing play patterns by encouraging fans to keep the magic in their dolls alive and sparkling by feeding them a bottle, changing their nappies, giving them a bath and laying them down for nap time. MGA has reported strong sales of the Glitter Babyz range. Since launching into retail, Glitter Babyz has demonstrated huge popularity and is on track to sell-out ahead of the festive period. In addition to the partnership with Helen, MGA is supporting the range with creative PR activities that raise awareness and promote the new collection to its target audience of children ages three years plus as well as parents and gift-givers.

Birthday celebrations for Baby born at The Entertainer The Entertainer ran a major multichannel campaign to celebrate Baby born’s 30th birthday in September and October. In honour of its birthday milestone, Baby born is launching four brand-new dolls this year, with an exciting ‘magic’ function, alongside a limited-edition Happy Birthday themed range, with outfits and accessories so kids can host their own celebrations at home. Zapf teamed up with The Entertainer to spread excitement around the special anniversary, with 54 stores across the country decking out their windows for a themed birthday party, and all 171 stores marking the occasion with in-store displays. Shoppers at The Entertainer were able to receive a free backpack when they spent £50 on any Baby born products between 2nd September and 13th October. Online, the birthday celebrations invited shoppers to try their luck in a social competition to win a bundle of Baby born prizes, and the website homepage paid homage to Baby born’s big birthday. In addition, The Entertainer customers received a dedicated email newsletter about the major milestone. Kasia Leskow, Zapf Creation marketing manager, said: “We’ve pulled out all the stops for Baby born’s birthday, and we’re delighted that so many of our customers were able to join in the fun through this partnership with The Entertainer.” Geoff Sheffield, chief Commercial and Marketing officer at The Entertainer, added: “We know that Baby born is loved by grandparents, parents and children alike thanks to its 30-year legacy. At The Entertainer, we’re pleased to have inspired families across the country to get involved and celebrate the special milestone with their dolls.”

Gloworm Festival secures 2-year partnership with Playmobil UK After the 2020 Gloworm festival was postponed due to the pandemic, Playmobil UK brought some much-needed creative play to the 20,000 people who attended the event in 2021. Now, the toy company is ready to do the same over the next two years after signing a new deal. Richard Walpole, Gloworm festival director, commented: “Playmobil UK has been our headline sponsor at Gloworm for a number of years now and we are really grateful to be working with the company again. Playmobil’s zone has become a popular feature at the festival over the last four years: families are given the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in the brand, meet the characters and even party with them at the Playmobil Rave on the Main Stage. The development of Playmobil at Gloworm has been amazing and we can’t wait to share it again with customers.” Not only will Playmobil UK be hosting its now famous Playmobil Village for families to enjoy at the 2022 festival, but kids (and their grown-ups) will also get the opportunity to meet and greet larger than life characters at intervals throughout the weekend. The company will also host its popular Playmobil Rave, which is fast becoming one of the major highlights of Gloworm Festival. This exclusive event takes place on the main stage on both Saturday and Sunday and is hosted by Jack Andrews, along with some of the most loved Playmobil Characters and guest DJs. Adam Moore, marketing communications manager, Playmobil UK, added: “Gloworm has been a firm favourite with families from all over the UK since 2016. We are incredibly excited to be back for another two years. Gloworm Festival is a huge highlight of the Playmobil calendar and we really look forward to meeting all of the fantastic ‘Glowormers’ every year.” Gloworm Festival takes place at Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire on 12th-14th August 2022. Tickets are available to purchase at www.glowormfestival.co.uk.

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Opinion

What to do when the cookies crumble

In January 2020, Google announced that it would remove the use of third-party cookies from Chrome; a move intended to increase online security for its users. This will have significant impact on the way in which brands interact with audiences online, particularly when it comes to advertising. However, the deadline for action has been delayed.

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he announcement has necessitated a host of changes across the advertising industry as agencies, media suppliers and tech companies prepare solutions that will generate the best results for brands in a post-cookie world. These solutions however will no longer need to be employed until “late 2023”, as Google has delayed its plans to eliminate third party cookies to this new, vague deadline. The move has come as Google needs to “move at a responsible pace” and “avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.” Clearly, the effects of the pandemic on Google’s workforce have been in part responsible for the delay, but the impact on its bottom line is also a clear motivator (an estimated $12.3b was spent on third-party audience data in 2020). If Google does not believe the market is ready to move away from advertising models reliant on third party cookies, it recognises the potential for a significant loss in revenue. That being said, Google is at the forefront of bringing new solutions to market, so we expect there to be a significant recouperation from the new solution. But what is a third-party cookie, and what solutions will best meet brands’ needs in a post-cookie world? Third party cookies are lines of code that are created by domains which are not that of the website you are visiting. They are used (mainly by the advertising industry) to track a user’s behaviour across the internet. You will have seen these in action in your own experience when shopping online. For example, you might have been browsing for a new jacket and decided not to purchase, then you notice ads for that jacket appearing on other sites you are visiting. The use of third-party cookies can be a powerful tool in convincing a user to take action. That does not necessarily mean that advertising effectiveness will decline when Google finally removes them, although it can seem like a scary prospect (according to a recent survey conducted by Campaign, only 48% of brands

believe they are prepared for the loss of third-party cookies). We are in fact confident that the Toys & Games industry should already consider itself very well prepared. In the vast majority of cases, Toys & Games brands have been targeting children online for the past decade. Due to COPPA and GDPR-K restrictions, the use of third-party data has never been permitted. Therefore, as an agency we have developed sophisticated contextual strategies to best reach children’s audiences of all ages and interests. These strategies have been developed with unique research from Giraffe Insights, and historical campaign data. For example, our Precision DMP is the world’s first Data Management Platform built exclusively for targeting children’s audiences online, ensuring our YouTube targeting is not only brand safe, but effective at driving enhanced campaign results such as VTR and CTR versus more traditional methods. In the past, it has often felt like that this approach is more rudimentary than strategies enacted by brands targeted by older audiences, despite the fact that this anonymised data led approach has the potential to produce better results against both soft and hard campaign metrics. However, with the removal of third-party cookies, brands will look to the children’s industry to learn best practice techniques. When targeting parents, we expect to see contextual strategies become far more prevalent. This won’t be the only route forward as a whole host of techniques will arise. We recently discussed these routes with a host of industry experts in our latest Generation Academy session. Universal IDs are one solution to the demise of the third-party cookie. These use one single identifier of a user across different platforms. This solution does have its own challenges, particularly the connectivity of the different platforms and their ability to communicate. As a result, first party data harvesting will be increasingly important, and it is down to brands as well as advertisers to collect this

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Felix Lewis Associate director of digital, Generation Media. Tel: 0207 307 7906 felix.lewis@generationmedia.co.uk information safely and with consent. This has always been one of the most powerful data sets as it is verified data that users have given permission for brands to use and therefore these users are willing to be approached with advertising. This opted-in approach allows marketers to serve relevant and informative information to that user and tailor their experience in a unique way. As media owners now have time to adapt, contextual has been one of the primary avenues they have focused on. Media companies at the forefront of this avenue have adapted their own unique solutions and geared them towards a contextual route. Speaking with Captify and Mobsta, we learnt that this has in turn allowed them to push their own unique solutions even further. Although in part forced by Googles announcements, it has enabled them to provide an even stronger offering. Interestingly, the digital media space has now become more aligned with offline and the targeting solutions they have in place there. This could be down to postcode, survey, footfall and optedin data collection that the likes of OOH has relied on for years. Opportunities also arise in this space as the digital elements can be overlaid, such as device location allowing robust movement patterns to be established and highly accurate measurement. The plethora of options available can seem confusing, and perhaps even scary given Google’s looming deadline. However, there is no need to fall into the 52% of brands that do not feel prepared for the impending changes. There are successful strategies and techniques available to all, it is simply a case of aligning the right option to your brief(s). Get in touch today if you would like a free consultation on what to do when the cookies, finally, crumble.


W W W. M O O D B E A R S . C O . U K INFO@MOODBEARS.CO.UK 07772939821


NPD Insight

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

Finished your

Christmas Christmas shopping yet? Christmas sales can make or break a year in the toy market and Melissa looks at how the early shopping message is likely to affect sales this year.

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he last three months of the year traditionally account for the largest share of annual toy sales, with 46% of all toy value in 2020 and 38% of toy volume. So, it’s no surprise that the whole UK toy market focuses on Q4 performance and the lead up to Christmas each year. Historically, each week in December is worth 6-7% of annual toy sales, the equivalent of a whole month of sales in the rest of the year, from January to September. The first three quarters of this year have seen a mixed performance:

message to consumers. Fortunately, consumers heeded the call to purchase early, and NPD’s annual Christmas Study showed that 35% of parents started their Christmas shopping in September or October, up from 31% in 2019. However, the biggest evidence for early shopping was that 30% of parents said they had finished their Christmas shopping by the end of November, up from just 18% in 2019. This behavioural change was reflected in sales: we saw strong monthly growth from September through to November, with sales up +9% to +13% for these months.

Monthly Share of Annual Toy Sales in 2020

Strong growth from September to November, but a decline in December

Yr/Yr Growth %

Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | UK | YTD Dec-20 Document classification: Client/Third Party Confidential

1

The NPD Group, Inc. | Proprietary and confidential

we’ve seen more volume purchased but flat value, driven by consumers returning to stores. However, they are purchasing lower priced categories and items compared with their purchases in lockdown last year. As ongoing supply and delivery issues continue to make headlines in the UK (impacting not just the toy market), there is a strong message to consumers this year to shop early for Christmas to ensure the most wanted gifts are purchased. It will be interesting to see how this will impact sales over this critical period. Last year, due to the uncertainties of a second lockdown and social distancing needed in stores, the toy industry also put out a shop early for Christmas

Unfortunately, December, which usually represents a quarter of annual toys sales, was down -8% in value. This was in part due to the second lockdown and tier systems which limited in-store purchasing at this time, which was reflected in the types of items purchased. While higher priced toys continued to perform well in December, toys under £15 saw a sharp drop of -£33m for the month. This accounted for 75% of the decline, as many stocking filler toys or additional gift purchases were missed. Hopefully, this year we will see stores remain open throughout December and those lastminute impulse sales for Christmas will come back.

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Melissa Symonds

Director UK Toys, EuroToys NPD

Given the strength of the early shopping message in 2020, its difficult to see just yet how the similar message - although this time round for very different reasons - is playing out this year. While September 2021 was down -6% compared to 2020, it was still up +2% compared to 2019, a typical pre-Covid early Christmas shopping period. The value decline in September this year can be explained by different promotional calendars in 2021. However, the strength of Advent Calendar sales in September (over £1.5m sales compared to £848k in September 2020) and the increase of purchases over the £20+ price point suggests that consumers are already starting to think about Christmas. Purchases over £20 accounted for 36% of sales in September compared to 32% in August, and there were two items priced at over £200 in the top ten best-selling items for the month – Mattel’s Barbie Dreamhouse and The Lego Group’s Technic Bugatti Chiron. Another sign of early shopping in September was the strength of the Games & Puzzle supercategory. PreCovid, Games & Puzzles was more reliant on December sales, with 39% of annual sales in the last month of the year. September 2021 saw this supercategory grow +13% on 2020 performance and an impressive +30% on 2019, with Strategic Trading Cards like Pokémon, Card Games, Family Strategy Games and Brainteasers all showing double-digit growth versus last year. Christmas sales can make or break a year in the toy market, and there is some early indication that the early shopping message is being heeded again this year. Last year we saw that parents spent an average of £244 on Christmas gifts for their children, up from £229 in 2019. With 2021 continuing to be a challenging and different year, parents may decide to continue with the high spend at Christmas to treat their kids after another tough year. Hopefully the continued growth of higher priced items over the next few weeks, combined with the return of the ‘lost’ impulse purchases for stocking fillers in December will see the UK toy market finish the year strongly.


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NPD Insight Item Progression: Item Description

Corporate Manufacturer

Aug Rank #

Sep Rank #

Star Wars Advent Calendar 2021

The Lego Group

6720

4

Starting the seasonal shopping early, Toy Advent Calendars had a very strong September performance selling over £1.5m, nearly doubling sales compared to September 2020. The Lego Star Wars Calendar was not just the top seller in the category, but the fourth best-selling toy in the total market for the month. Last year Advent Calendars sold over £8m between September and December, with Harry Potter the No.1 property for Advent Calendars, followed by Star Wars and Lego City. However, Pokémon, Playmobil, Funko Pop Pocket and Barbie all also enjoyed high sales. Heeding the shop early for Christmas message, consumers started with their advent calendar purchases in September.

Fastest Growing Licences in Toys Year-To-Date, licensed toys has grown +7% in value and reached its highest monthly share of the year in September, with 29.9% of all toy sales spent on a licensed product. While the largest growth licence is still European Soccer International, driven by Panini Euro Stickers over the summer, the last few weeks have also seen the National Soccer Club licence growing. The start of the new Premier League season has seen Panini Premier League Football Stickers and Adrenalyn Cards performing extremely well in the last quarter. A year on from the second season release on Disney+, The Mandalorian continues to perform well with Building Sets, Action Figures and Plush all continuing to show strong growth. Marvel Other has also seen nearly £3m growth this year, driven by the strong performance of the Heroes of Goo Jit Zu and Playskool ranges, as well as Funko collectibles returning to growth. Minecraft continues to grow, with its Building Sets still accounting for two thirds of toy sales. However there has also been strong growth from the Action Figures Collectibles and Stickers ranges this year. CoComelon remains a strong performer this year, with Toddler Figures and Plush accounting for three quarters of all sales. The Looney Tunes licence has done well too, with the new minifigures from Lego, as well as the release of the new Space Jam movie, adding to a revival for these traditional characters. Outside of the top ten growth licences, Bluey has enjoyed one of the strongest pre-school launches for the last three years, selling over £1.4m in the last three months alone. It is comfortably on track to become the biggest new property this year in the UK. Sales are particularly strong in Pre-school Figures and Plush.

Fastest growing Licences by Value

These 10 licences have added over £33m to the UK toy market this year Sales Gained £M

Source: The NPD Group | Retail Tracking Service | YTD September 2021 vs. 20

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Talking Shop

Fab-yule-ous! Toy World’s Sam Giltrow spoke to a selection of indies as they gear up for the all-important festive trading season, although this year many are finding that the Christmas rush is already well underway.

Linda Robinson Grovers Toymaster, Northallerton

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e are getting very busy in the run up to Christmas and people do seem to be acting on the ‘buy early’ message. However, we have inevitably been experiencing some stock shortages.

Schleich is a very popular range for us, across everything from dinosaurs to wildlife and farm animals. We like to keep our display topped up, which has proved something of a challenge recently. As the range is one of our best sellers, we are placing big orders and just hoping that as much as possible comes through. In fact, keeping many of our traditionally bestselling ranges in stock across the store is an issue this year. I’m assuming that with all the shipping problems, stock is just stuck in containers, and will arrive eventually. All we can do is keep putting in orders and see what turns up. However, I have just received a large order from Ravensburger, and we’ve had stock from Zapf Creation and Orchard Toys this week, so thankfully there are suppliers who are able to keep pace with what we want. In terms of what is currently selling well, dolls seem very popular, particularly the bigger dolls such as Baby Annabell. Barbie is also still a massive draw, and we recently took stock of the Barbie Fashionista Doll with Wheelchair and Ramp, which has sold out already. In terms of licensed product, Peppa Pig continues to sell well along with Paw Patrol ranges, which we get from VTech and Spin Master. Our Lego and Playmobil lines just sell themselves. The Lego City range is the most popular, along with Technic and Friends. We tend to stick to the more reasonably priced sets but bring in some bigger ones nearer Christmas. We are in a rural area, so we sell a lot of farmingrelated toys such as tractors. The Britains range is particularly popular.

booklet for the town, and quite a few people take us up on it.

It’s difficult to predict what are going to be best sellers this Christmas – it might be a case of whatever we can get. We run a Christmas Club in store, but numbers for this have gone down over the years. I guess it’s because of the way people spend now, using credit cards and the like.

In terms of what is coming up in Q1, it’s the new Schleich launches that we look forward to. However, right now, it is difficult to look too far ahead, because everything we receive is just going straight onto the shelves - our stock room is empty. We need to get Christmas out of the way before we can start thinking about next spring and summer.

We offer a voucher promotion to try and encourage people back into the shop in the New Year; based on their spend before Christmas, they get a voucher towards purchases made in January. This is in a local

We are expecting that games will sell well again this year as families get together. We carry a wide range which doesn’t usually pick up until December when people are looking for things to do over Christmas, but

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customers are stocking up on them already. However, this is an area where stock levels are good, so we are not worried about supply. The classic games are the ones which seem to be selling best, such as Monopoly and Scrabble. Even though many people already have them, they get refreshed and many people are looking to replace old sets they have had for many years. I think people are worried that they won’t get what they want this Christmas, and the television and media reports are not helping. I’m sure nobody will go without and there will be something, even if it’s not exactly what they are looking for. We are happy to suggest alternatives to customers from the stock we have in.



Talking Shop Gavin Rosenquest - owner/CEO, Toys ‘N’ Stuff, Hull

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e opened just a few weeks ago and so far, trading has been going really well. I run the shop with my wife, Julie, and although this is our first shop and everything is new to us, we have had a really positive response from the local community and a wide range of customers through our doors.

It has been a long-held dream to have my own shop. I was previously working as an operations manager in the food industry, so have a good understanding of how businesses work from the ground up. While we were looking for premises, we started an online shop, which we managed to get up and running a few weeks before we opened. I suppose you could consider it a brave move to start

a new business in the current climate, but I wanted to capitalise on the fact that people were pleased to get back into shops following the lockdown. I decided to strike while the iron’s hot. In Hull, we are unique. There aren’t many places that carry the range that we offer in a small shop; we have even had someone travel from Manchester to visit us. We are in a great location on a main road leading into the city centre, and there’s a bus stop right outside – you can see people craning their necks to see what we have in the shop window. We stock a wide variety of product including mainstream toys, infant toys and collectibles such as DC and Marvel figures, and we sell American confectionery. We carry a lot of licensed lines, and Spider-Man is particularly popular. Hasbro’s Ghostbuster Plasma Series figures are also in demand; the detail on these is incredible and a real hit with collectors. We have a full corner dedicated to Ghostbusters, which also includes Ghostbusters Monopoly and Proton Packs. The franchise spans generations, and with the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie coming out soon, we’re expecting this area to be even more popular. We haven’t really experienced many stock shortages yet, just a small delay in some deliveries getting to us because of the driver shortage. Our customers are buying earlier for Christmas though. We run a Christmas club, so they have been able to put toys away and pay them off gradually. We have an oldfashioned book where we keep a record of what’s been bought, and I like doing that the traditional way; the main reason I wanted to open the shop was to get some kind of 1980s feel back into toys and shopping. I want my customers to have the same experience that I did when I was a child. Looking ahead at what will sell well this Christmas, I expect Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn So Big Sis and So Big Puppy will be popular. He-Man looks to be in demand, and several customers have put away the Masters of the Universe Origins Castle Grayskull Playset. We are working with a few company reps about expanding our offering with new ranges; we have another part of the shop which will open up after Christmas and will double the size of the shop floor. We will then be able to introduce more tabletop games and board games. Although this is an ongoing learning curve, I am very excited to see how we can build on the early success we have enjoyed.

Sarah Borastero - Kids Stuff, Wells

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eople are most definitely shopping early for Christmas this year. We had an unbelievable August – the best for many years - which rolled into a spectacular September, followed by a strong October. Back in August, many customers told me they were starting their Christmas shopping, buying gifts to put away just in case they couldn’t get hold of them later or we go into another lockdown. The ‘shop local’ message got through to many people over the course of the pandemic and has become a lasting change in the way they now shop. During the first lockdown, we offered a free delivery

service for those spending over a certain amount. People were absolutely delighted with this, and local support was brilliant. Many customers now tell us that they don’t want to buy their toys online, as they would rather get them from us and support local businesses where they can. One of the main benefits we can offer compared to online sellers is that we can provide advice and suggestions for anyone coming into the shop looking for something in particular – if it’s not in stock we can usually offer an alternative. Going into a physical shop allows customers to see what else is on offer. This year Toymaster has launched an initiative to

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help members encourage customers to come back in store in the new year. We have £5 vouchers to give to customers spending a certain amount in the run up to Christmas; I believe it’s the first time they have done this since I became a Toymaster member 12 years ago. We also have our own loyalty card scheme, but I think the voucher will be very helpful and is a brilliant idea. Kids are sending their parents and grandparents in for certain toys for Christmas, and we unfortunately can’t get hold of everything requested. However, they seem to accept that if they can’t get a particular item, they will just have to get something else, which means we keep their custom. We have known about the


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Talking Shop

indie viewpoint

supply chain problems for months, so in the early part of the year I was ordering more than I normally would, which has built up stock on key lines. We are very much a traditional toy shop and everyone that comes in appreciates that. In the Christmas run-up this year, we have seen customers going back to traditional toys and games, as they did last year. Board games, arts and crafts and Lego are all selling very well - people seem to want a nostalgic Christmas with familiarity. Family party games have been selling particularly well, especially Shut the Box, which has been trending on TikTok - I’ve been selling them by the boxful. Classic games like Scrabble, Cluedo and Monopoly are also popular, as are games from Orchard Toys, which have sold amazingly well this year. Dolls are always strong sellers for us too, both girl and boy dolls, and buggies in pink and blue. I’ve sold just as many newborn dolls for boys as I have for girls this year; I feel it is important that boys should be able to play with dolls. Plush toys remain popular, and we’ve been really impressed with the Keeleco range from Keel Toys which has sold phenomenally well. The animals are really appealing with their big eyes, and at an excellent price point too. It’s lovely that the kids come in and read the labels and see that the toy is made from old plastic bottles. Pocket money toys are also flying out the door as many people are buying these to give to their children throughout December instead of buying advent calendars. However, there are some fantastic toy advent calendars, in particular the Playmobil Novelmore Dario’s Workshop, which is a castle. It’s huge, and amazingly good value for someone wanting an inexpensive castle starter set. We are very much looking forward to the new year and already thinking ahead to next spring and summer. We had a fantastic summer this year; we get an awful lot of tourists visiting Wells, stopping on their way down to Cornwall or visiting nearby Glastonbury. Because lots of families stayed in the UK this year, it really boosted business for independent toy shops, which is absolutely fantastic. Now that many have re-discovered the joys of family holidays in the UK, I am very hopeful this will continue for next year.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus

Thinking ahead

B

y the time you read this we will be in the final two months of 2021, and it really does feel like this year has flown by. This time last year, we were about to enter another sudden lockdown and start what became a very bleak winter for retail. This time around, there is plenty more to look forward to, and although there will surely be some bumps along the way, hopefully things will be more “normal” than last year. Media headlines have moved on to the current distribution issues - we’ve been fielding calls from journalists and seeing various well-known toy industry figures on TV at regular intervals. Although there is no sign of panic buying to the extent there was at the petrol pumps last month, there has been a noticeable uptick in sales as some customers bring forward their shopping. We have been honest and open with our customers, telling them we have lots of stock (which we do), but that the range is likely to become more limited closer to Christmas. Overall, sales have been good over the past month, and customers seem determined to enjoy this Christmas more than the last one. The new Pokémon Celebration launch was a huge success; although demand massively outstripped supply, it resulted in a bumper few days. Other than Pokémon, L.O.L. Surprise! continues to sell strongly, with new lines continually added to the range. Anything from the Godzilla films is still in high demand – they have been our most popular action figures this year. Mini Brands from Zuru and Goo Jit Zu from Character remain really popular. We are starting to look at lines for the early part of next year. Given the known stock issues, having new lines for January will help to freshen up the store and provide reasons for customers to come to our locations. A key issue that continues to rear its head is price rises, and we expect there are more to come next year, due to the high cost of container shipping and raw material costs. An advantage of getting in new lines is there is less price expectation, so it can be easier to manage our profit margins. With existing lines, there is only so much movement on price we can take before it really harms sales. We are previewing SS22 lines later than usual this year due to the all the recent disruption but have seen some exciting Lego lines, including additions to the models targeted at older fans, which should help drive sales, along with new lines across all the key themes. For the first couple of months of the year, new Lego lines make up a significant proportion of our sales and are a great footfall driver. We were impressed by the new lines from Character, including a link-up between Treasure X and Minecraft, which seems like a very good fit and is sure to sell well. There are some great new Jurassic World lines, which we expect to be very popular with the new film releasing next year. We are due to see more new ranges in the next few weeks, and it will be a priority to place orders and get them in where we can. We have already started to think about outdoor toys for next summer. This is a category that may well be hit hard by price increases on the larger lines. We have managed to take in a good supply of paddling pools to store for the summer season, just so we can keep the prices down for our customers. You always have to think ahead in this game…

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Format Games

Special Feature

A winning format The brainchild of TV and radio presenter Matt Edmondson and his business partner/brother-in-law Laurence Emmett, Format Games took a major leap forward recently after striking a global distribution deal for its titles with Asmodee. Rachael Simpson-Jones talked to Matt and Laurence to find out more. If you were to pick up one of our games and turn it over, you’d be treated to a little taste of the gameplay with a breakdown of the mechanics and an example question. I love buying games, and I know the sorts of games I like: the ones with personality. If you’re in a store looking for the perfect party game, something like Ansagrams is going to draw you in. Word of mouth is also very important. Every game I’ve ever enjoyed has been recommended to me, and I would hope people will recommend our games too.

What can we expect from Format Games in 2022 in terms of growth and portfolio development?

Matt, some would argue that becoming a games designer is an unusual career move considering your TV and radio work. What prompted this, and how have you found the process?

Matt: It might seem like a departure, but I’d argue there’s actually a lot of crossover. I run a TV production company, requiring ideas that are simple to explain, easy to understand, and have a clear format. It’s the same with my first game, Obama Lama (made with Big Potato), which was conceived as a TV show, but the idea was just too good to waste while I waited for that to happen. I had to find another outlet for it, so the boardgame was created. When you’ve done anything once, you become convinced you can do it again. More successful game ideas came through, and more are waiting in the wings. Laurence: The pandemic gave me some free time to play with, so we thought ‘why not give designing another game a go?’ Ansagrams was the result. While Matt learned product design, I embraced the manufacturing and distribution side of things, and the first shipment sold out in just weeks.

Following this success, you’ve landed a major distribution deal with Asmodee – what does this mean to you both?

Matt: It’s very exciting. We enjoyed a smooth ride with Ansagrams, which opened numerous doors for us: our meeting with John Lewis about stocking it, our meeting with Amsodee about distributing it. Everything has happened rapidly. Laurence describes the process as busking on Brighton Pier one day and the head of Sony Records offering you a contract the next. We’re only just scratching the surface of where we could go with Format Games.

We’re learning quickly and have all the necessary mechanisms to really go places. Our deal with Asmodee will no doubt be a big part of our future success.

What do your latest games, Egg Slam and So Wrong It’s Right, offer players and retailers?

Matt: My favourite games tend to be the ones you can place in front of a friend you know doesn’t really ‘get’ games, because you’re sure they’ll love it. So Wrong It’s Right is a trivia game, something I’m not normally a fan of unless there’s a twist - and this game has that twist. The trivia isn’t tricky; players are asked one question they will almost certainly know the answer to. The challenge lies in the different ways you might have to answer. If the answer to the question ‘Who sang No Woman, No Cry?’ is Bob Marley, maybe you’d have to say ‘Marley Bob’, ‘Ob Arley’, ‘Mob Barley’ and so on – it’s a test of whether your brain and your mouth can keep up. You can take it anywhere, pick it up and put it down again whenever you like, and it’s great for parties because it’s hilarious. Egg Slam fits into the Snap/Dobble/pairs bracket. I designed it with the help of my five-year-old daughter. We call it a ‘Pizza Express’ game: you’d play it with your family at a restaurant while you’re waiting for your doughballs to arrive, then simply put it away again when they do. It’s a perfect stocking filler. I have a strong social media following, so retailers who stock our games can benefit from a ready-made audience of players. I have a head-start on other start-up games companies; I’ve made games before so I’m not a complete newcomer to the category, and I have followers that will buy them. Those are two strong reasons to stock the Format Games range.

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Matt: We’ve got a backlog of game ideas yet to be revealed, one of which will give players a meatier experience: more content, more components, and a mechanic with all the personality I mentioned earlier. The greatest game I’ve ever played, Noggin, is out for spring/summer. You would expect me to say it’s the greatest as I invented it, but I can promise you it’s like nothing else out there, and once you’ve had a go it’ll be the only thing you want to do all day. I came up with the idea on a rainy holiday and played it with some friends who aren’t really boardgamers, and they just couldn’t stop. Noggin deserves to be the biggest game in the whole world. If I hadn’t come up with it myself, I’d have been furious. Luckily, I did. Laurence: We’ve all been completely absorbed by this game. It’s quick and easy, but very clever. Noggin is part of the catalogue Asmodee USA was interested in, and it has such confidence in it, it’s ordered twice as many units as it has of all our others. From a business perspective, the fact Noggin isn’t language driven makes it hugely accessible and suitable for a wide range of global marketplaces. Matt: We’re also looking at several family-friendly game ideas around the Egg Slam price point, which provide the same level of fun combined with mechanics that aren’t just a rehashed version of pairs. One in particular is a character-driven game that will lend itself well to licensing later down the line.

What else should our readers know about Format Games?

Matt: Laurence and I really want to meet people. Whether you’re a buyer for a major grocer or an indie with a single shop, we’d be delighted to arrange interactive Zoom play-throughs of our games and answer any questions you have. Drop us a line at hello@format-games.com – we’d love to talk to you.


Special Feature

Character Options

Pet shop toys Toy World spoke to Character Option’s marketing manager, Mark Hunt, and The Point 1888’s Gabbi Langdorf about new property Morphle.

Mark, tell us about Morphle – what’s it all about, who is it aimed at and what are its core strengths as a property? Morphle is a 2D animated comedy, adventure series for kids aged three to six. Available in 12 languages, it teaches lessons about friendship, problemsolving and creativity. Mila's dad runs a magic pet store and has gifted Morphle to his daughter. An energetic little red creature, Morphle can morph into anything: a puppy, a giant truck, a dinosaur or anything that Mila can imagine. Together, the best friends use Mila’s boundless imagination and Morphle’s powers to help the community and have plenty of adventures along the way.

What attracted Character Options to sign the brand? Morphle is an established brand within Moonbug

portfolio, which is capitalising on changing dynamics in kids’ media by taking IPs and transforming them into global franchises. They had exciting plans to take Morphle to the next level, and we believed we were best placed to create a toy range that supports that growth plan. With a story about a magical friendship that is perfect for pre-schoolers, Morphle has all the attributes we look for in a property and the potential to become a long-term success.

What have the viewing figures been like so far? We are in a strong position with Morphle. As well as reaching 24m subscribers on YouTube, achieving over 80m views this year in the UK alone, and increasing viewership across the EMEA markets month-by-month, Morphle is also available on the three biggest streaming platforms: Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV+, ensuring that children can find Morphle on whichever platform they wish. This will be boosted by the launch of Morphle on terrestrial TV this winter, allowing a brand-new

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audience to follow Mila and Morphle on their adventures. One of the biggest trends to come out of the pandemic is that children are consuming content in a brand-new way. The rise of streaming means that our previous reliance on TV and prime slots isn't as necessary as it used to be. Moonbug has led the way in providing digital content to children around the world, and retail buyers have recognised that, and responded positively as a result. Terrestrial broadcast is still a huge benefit, and we're delighted that Morphle will be launching on terrestrial TV this winter, to complement the existing strong streaming presence.

How do you see Morphle fitting alongside the more established brands in your pre-school portfolio? Our pre-school portfolio has a healthy mix of classic and on trend properties: Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, Postman Pat and Teletubbies are all established and have a strong following. They feature characters that resonate with children, as well as storylines and messaging that pre-schoolers really engage with – just like Morphle. Morphle has everything we look for in a pre-school property and we see it fitting seamlessly alongside the other brands and enhancing our overall offering in this category.


How will the initial launch range be structured, and what are your longerterm plans to extend the range? As the nature of the lead character, Morphle, is to morph into many different things, it offered us so much scope for toy development. The core categories we’ll be launching with are plastic, plush and activity. The range includes highly collectable two-and-a-half-inch moulded figures and mini vehicles, which are scaled for pre-schoolers and designed to encourage imaginative play. Available across a variety of price points, children can collect Mila and Morphle as a Dog, a Cat, a Shark, T-Rex, Race Car, Dumper Truck and more. A range of soft toys includes an eight-inch talking Morphle featuring authentic Morphle styling - kids can press Morphle’s tummy to hear giggles and speech sound effects. There’s also a Morphle to Orphle Transforming Soft Toy which is reversible, so kids can start with the cute and cuddly red Morphle, then flip it the other way to discover Morphle’s naughty green twin, Orphle. In terms of activity play, we will also be launching a Morphle Travel Magnetic Scribbler and the Morphle Dough Carry Case. Further development is already underway, which includes extensions to existing categories, including a musical bus and a feature playset for Christmas.

How have you found working with The Point 1888 and Moonbug to develop the toy range? It’s as though we have worked together for years; in such a short period of time, we’ve developed a real family feel to our way of working. Both teams have vast experience in bringing licensed pre-school brands to retail. With Moonbug, from a product development perspective, we’ve aligned from day one. We both aim to create shows and product ranges that appeal to both kids and parents, and we have fun whilst we do it. It’s been

quite magical watching the line progress so quickly, and we are very happy with the result. The team at The Point 1888 is equally ambitious; they have their own way of working that gets the best results for manufacturers like Character Options, and it’s been a real pleasure to formulate a plan together that translates to retailers and consumers.

Gabbi, why does The Point 1888 consider Character Options the right fit for this property? Quite simply, the company is the best around, and was our number-one choice for Morphle. Some of our team have launched pre-school brands to market with Character Options previously, and we were confident that Character would be the perfect partner to translate the magic, ingenuity, fun and creativity of Morphle into a wonderful toy line. The reality has definitely lived up to the expectation. It's been a pleasure working with them, the Morphle toy line looks brilliant, and we're so excited for it to launch at retail.

CoComelon has been a huge success – what have been the main challenges in launching another pre-school brand at the same time as managing such a runaway hit? We are proud at The Point to represent many fabulous brands - our brilliant team works hard on securing licensees, retail activations and product development across our whole portfolio, so we are used to managing different brands at the same time. We have had a number of our brands secured and launched on joint space at retail, with fantastic sales for both brands. Additionally, we have been working with our supportive licensor Moonbug for the last year, so have been able to use our experience working with them on CoComelon to plan our launch for Morphle.

What do you feel will stand Morphle out in the pre-school space, both as a programme and as a licence? Along with an enviable broadcast and streaming presence, Morphle is a series with friendship and teamwork at its heart, appealing to both children and parents alike. Children love the fun,

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imaginative and child-centred adventures, while parents appreciate the values at the heart of the show - kindness, teamwork and a community spirit. For our licensees and retail partners, the creative opportunities are endless, as Morphle's magical powers allow him to turn into anything that he or Mila can imagine. It is a truly collectible, toyetic property with a huge amount available for customers to enjoy season after season.

How will you be collaborating with Character Options to establish and grow the brand – and what is your long-term aim for Morphle? We are already working with Character Options on new product development for next year, as well as planning the roll out of the toy range into EMEA for 2022. We will be working closely together on a range of retail activations and marketing initiatives throughout next year, along with our network of sub-agents across EMEA to ensure a strong launch for Morphle in these markets. Our long-term aim is for Morphle to be a top performing pre-school brand across EMEA, year after year. Moonbug continually invests in new content and local language dubs. Along with Character Options, our network of subagents and our licensees, we are confident we have everything in place to achieve this.


Feature

Q1 Ranges

A fresh start With all the problems that 2021 brought for suppliers and retailers such as lockdowns, increased container rates and shortages in both stock and drivers, there is huge anticipation that the new year will herald a fresh start and more stability. Sam Giltrow finds out more.

T

he toy community spends much of its time, energy, focus and budgets to ensure that Christmas purchases are maximised. This is not surprising, given the percentage of annual sales that come in the final couple of months of the year. However, far from resting on its laurels after the festive season finishes, the toy market is a veritable hive of activity in the early weeks of the New Year. Toy Fair Season inevitably grabs the headlines, as suppliers exhibit their new lines in a variety of locations, aiming to encourage retail buyers to select their ranges for next year’s all-important autumn winter period. However, Q1 also sees a host of new ranges and line extensions launched into the retail market, starting on Boxing Day and carrying on all the way through February Half Term and on to Easter, which falls over the weekend of 15th-18th April next year. This makes Q1 an important retail period on a number of levels: it allows suppliers to seed new ranges, traditionally starting with lower priced items to familiarise consumers with concepts, before an extended range featuring higher priced items comes to market in the second half of the year. It also helps retailers to maintain post-Christmas momentum, while crucially giving consumers fresh items on which to spend Christmas money and vouchers. So, while it is important to get Q4 right, it is also crucial to get the year off to a good start with strong footfall and sales in Q1.

2022 will see the toy community attempting to start the New Year with a bang, while simultaneously getting to grips with the fallout from this year’s ongoing supply chain issues. The challenges with logistics have blighted every retail sector – not just toys. However, it is the very fact that the problems are being felt across the whole supply chain that makes it difficult to predict what lies ahead next year in this thorny area. This is a challenge for every consumer market which imports product into the UK. In the run-up to Christmas, toy suppliers were fighting with companies with far deeper pockets – such as Apple – for container space, places on ships and for raw materials such as computer chips. Thankfully, much of the new product launched in the early part of the year involves lower cost, lower tech items. It is a time of the year when pocket money lines, collectibles and other affordable items come into their own. Schleich UK believes that the whole toy industry could receive a welcome lift in Q1, as Paul Dearlove, trade marketing manager, explains. “After the many challenges of 2021, we’re hoping for a bit more stability in the market. With widespread product shortages across many categories this Christmas, there is likely to be a level of unfulfilled demand. Hopefully, we will see consumers looking to satisfy that, giving the whole toy industry a lift at the start of the year.” You only have to look at all the new Q1 ranges in this issue to see that, compared to the start of

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2021, many suppliers plan to begin the new year by launching fresh lines into the market. The collectibles category in particular looks set for a bumper start, as it continues its recent postlockdown resurgence. Paul tells us that, as always, January is an exciting month for Schleich, as it is the time of year when most of its new figurines are released. “Suppliers and retailers are always keen to get off to a strong start at the beginning of any new year, and much of that is driven by new product releases and items that weren’t available at Christmas,” he says. “Schleich collectors eagerly await the new releases at the turn of the year, and with almost 50 new figurines releasing in January alone, across all Schleich collections, we hope to get off to a great start with all our retail partners.” Sue Barratt, UK country manager at IMC Toys, agrees that although Q4 remains the most important period for toy sales, it is essential that fresh and innovative product hits shelves post-Christmas in order to drive interest and footfall. “Creating innovative products is crucial to the steady growth of the business and the continued success of our brands,” she says. “This is especially notable in the collectibles category, which is enjoying something of a comeback following lockdown. We are reinforcing this upward trend by introducing fresh product, line extensions and new characters.” For Q1 and across the rest of the year, IMC Toys is looking to its first boys’ collectibles range, Lucky


Bob, to be a huge success. “Lucky Bob is hugely significant for the business,” Sue continues. “As with our other best-selling IPs, including Cry Babies, Cry Babies Magic Tears and Bloopies, Lucky Bob has a strong backstory and ethos, and in addition to being supported with its own YouTube series and app, we'll be implementing a robust full marketing campaign including strong content, TV and schools sampling to kickstart the big reveal.” However, Sue believes there will still be many challenges facing the industry in 2022. “Invariably we will still see issues surrounding container prices, shipping delays and the knock-on effect leading to price increases and challenges to margins. We will continue to work with our partners and supply chain to support our retail partners and consumers.” Of course, one of the advantages of introducing brand new lines is that consumers don’t have a price perception on new items, unlike carry forward lines, many of which may need to increase significantly in price next year. Suppliers and retailers are understandably nervous about the impact of raising prices on established lines in case it impacts sales velocity, while new items are not judged against previous price points, but solely on whether they offer intrinsic value. Alison Downie, Global Licensing & Brand director, HTI Group, says that after the buzz of Christmas, it is important to entice customers back into stores with new products, especially as many will have Christmas cash and gift cards to spend. Plus, with new trends emerging all the time thanks to the increased popularity of platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, there is ongoing demand for new lines. “Skilful reaction to these key trends, combined with a considerable investment in tooling, means that HTI

can continue to evolve ranges with new and exciting products.” Speaking about the year ahead, she adds: “We are hugely excited for 2022 and hoping for a more ‘normal’ year in terms of restrictions. UK manufacturing awareness is increasing at retail with significant support from partners and here at HTI, we are excited for the 2022 expansion of our UK Bubble factory, the opening of which marked a significant point in our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. New for SS22, we will be introducing a range of licensed Bubblz machines featuring three of the top’s children’s TV characters: Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and Hey Duggee.” 2021’s trend for fidget toys shows no signs of slowing, adds Alison, enhanced by children watching unboxing videos on YouTube and TikTok, while another growing trend for 2022 will be green toys. “Toys made of wood and recyclable materials will be of huge importance to consumers, as will be the manufacturing and delivery process. Traditional wooden toys are set to enjoy a surge in popularity, not only for their green credentials, but also to balance out the over-sophistication of the digital age.” Of course, not every toy company will be rolling the dice on new items in the first quarter. Suzie Howes, marketing manager at Epoch Making Toys, believes there will be more investment in existing brands for ’22, as suppliers look to consolidate and get behind proven, successful concepts. At Epoch, the hugely popular Sylvanian Families brand will be introducing a whole new play pattern. While it’s top secret at the moment, Suzie says the team is very excited for the launch, describing the developments as “major plans”.

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“Freshness is the lifeline of any evergreen brand. To keep your customers interested and loyal to the brand is one of the hardest things to achieve,” she explains. “I think people expect new products even more these days. The life span of a toy is a lot less as children grow up faster and faster. But the new year always represents a fresh start for retailers.” However, she admits that much of the early part of 2022 could be spent dealing with the fallout from the problems of 2021. “It looks more and more likely that we will have to deal with the aftermath of the current shipping issues that we face. There may be a lot of products arriving so late that suppliers will have to deal with that stock before they can deal with spring summer new ranges.” Playmobil’s Adam Moore is feeling positive about the start of 2022: “With a full trading quarter in Q4, it is looking good for a fantastic end to the year.” Playmobil has seen strong sales over the last year for its zoo and animal sets, and Adam says this success should continue into 2022, with new product being released to complement the trend. Q1 is always an exciting time at Playmobil, he adds, and the company has new, but traditional, play themes such as ponies and horses. Meanwhile, a brand-new owned property, Duck on Call, will focus on popular Playmobil themes from its emergency services range and introduce a new duck character, supported by a animation series. “Releasing new products gives consumers a real buzz,” Adam adds. “Sometimes it can be a new version of an existing idea, or something completely new. Each time though, children and parents get to feel like they are experiencing something for the first time.”


Q1 Ranges

Bandai UK 020 8324 6160 | www.bandai.co.uk The company’s CoComelon licensed toy range, manufactured by Jazwares and distributed in the UK and Europe by Bandai UK, has proved a runaway hit since its autumn 2020 launch. Q1 2022 brings a collection of new SKUs including the Musical Family Car and the Yes Yes Vegetable Basket, plus a new wave of character figures, plush, play set, and vehicles. CoComelon, which has the largest kids’ channel on YouTube with over 117m subscribers, teaches children how to take on everyday activities and positive behaviour with a sense of enthusiasm, and the new lines are all designed to embrace a child’s learning while keeping them entertained. The CoComelon Musical Vegetable Basket allows youngsters aged 2+ to engage with toy versions of their favourite foods. When the basket’s nose is pressed, it plays wellknown CoComelon song “Yes Yes Vegetables” and other fun sounds. For pre-schoolers aged 3+, the CoComelon Family Fun Car is a brightly coloured, interactive, push-along vehicle. When the CoComelon logo on the side of the car is pushed, children will hear fan favourites such as the CoComelon Intro Song “Are We There Yet?” plus real car sounds. A JJ figure is also included, allowing children to recreate fun adventures both within the car and beyond. With Miraculous set to make its feature film debut in Q2 2022, Bandai UK is introducing new movie-related lines for spring. The multi-channel animation series is currently the number one for Europe in its category and regularly tops the Top 10 children’s TV shows in the UK. The range will see new additions to the crosscategory collection of fashion dolls, play sets, roleplay, plush and collectibles, and will be supported by a robust marketing campaign to include TV, digital, social, PR and experiential. Tamagotchi is back and celebrating 25 years since hitting the UK market. Tapping into the retro toys trend, Tamagotchi gets children, and adults, raising and nurturing their virtual reality ‘pets’. Two new styles will be unveiled for the latest Tamagotchi inception – Tamagotchi Pix – while the original lines will be refreshed with new spring designs. The launches will be supported by a mix of digital, YouTube and social activity, plus a stand-alone Instagram community.

8th Wonder 01942 829 811 | www.8thwonder.co.uk 8th Wonder has seen great expansion this year with many new licences and ranges, and there’s much more to come in 2022. Delighted with the products it already offers through its collaboration with Barbie, 8th Wonder has designed some soft Barbie plush dolls, due for launch in Q1. There are three different plush doll designs to choose from: Mermaid Barbie, Barbie Best Friend and Fairy Barbie. The beautiful designs all have colourful outfits and bright, long hair for hours of play. Also coming in Q1 is the New Nerf Den Kit, a must-have for all Nerf fanatics. The Nerf Den Kit comes with everything needed to build the ultimate den and includes canvas tarpaulin tent material with opening windows, rope, bunting with printed targets on, a groundsheet, two capture flag posts, a mallet and 12 metal tent pegs. When the fun is over, all of this can be stored away in the handy storage bag provided. Kids make their den by hanging the material provided over the rope before stretching it into shape and pegging into position. The target shaped bunting can be used for firing practice and kids can peep through the windows to spy on their opponents or fire through the holes in the tent. The set can also be used for a game of capture the flag, where the aim of the game is to win without being hit. Finally, for SS22, the new Paw Patrol Wooden Crazy Golf set comes with everything needed to have hours of fun on a rainy day indoors, or outdoors in the garden. The 15-piece set comes includes two wooden golf clubs, two balls, bridges, tunnels, scorecards and more. A sound is made when a ball is putted.

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, Sparkling Unicorns With A Slime Surp rise! n

12

TO CO LLECT

Sweet

NEW surprise unboxing experiences Packed with Goodies to collect & play




Q1 Ranges

HTI 01253 778888 | www.htigroup.co.uk With over 25 years’ experience in the games category, Epic Fun is a rapidly emerging brand for HTI, offering a range of games and puzzles that include classic family favourites as well as modern, on-trend themed games. Dino Dentist is a new game in which each player takes it in turn to push down a tooth, hoping that Dino doesn’t snap his jaws; if he does that player is out. Other hugely popular lines for Epic Fun include Whack-A-Mal, where players must catch the animals before they duck, and Rocket Drop. This is a tense game that requires skill; players must delicately remove stacked sticks from the rocket to avoid the balanced marbles dropping. The player with the most marbles at the end is the loser. Distinctive to all Epic Fun Games is the bright illustrative design packaging. HTI has focused on creating an exciting on-shelf presence, ensuring products are instantly recognisable. With recycling and sustainability of huge importance to the company, HTI has introduced FSC certification on its collection of Epic Fun games and puzzles, and recyclable packaging is supplied with all board games as standard.

Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk Frenetic fun for all the family is promised in the Ka-Blab! Game from Hasbro, that takes classic category gameplay over the top. A roll of the dice determines how many items in a given category that player has to blurt out, but they have to think fast - if the randomised ticking timer goes off they will be out and must give up a scoring token. Questions include How many cartoon characters can you name? How about ways to get detention? Sea creatures? Science things? The player keeps rolling and guessing until it's time to pass the dice to the next player, and the last player with any tokens wins the game. The game includes 200 category cards for lots of surprises and challenges and is suitable for ages 10+

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com The Academy of Music offers an introduction to the world of music for children wanting to take their first musical steps. The instruments are specifically tailored to smaller hands, making learning music accessible to users as young as three years of age. The AOM T100 Keyboard makes a great first instrument for little musicians and features 200 tones and rhythms, five percussion settings and the ability for children to record and play back their creations children. Suitable for beginners, other features include 40 stored songs, a built-in metronome, volume control, grand piano feature with 16 note polyphony, auto accompaniment, teaching function, two speakers, LCD display, USB connection, speaker headphone jack and microphone jack . Also included are a music holder and headphones. The keyboard is powered by DC cable or batteries.

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Q1 Ranges

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 01620 674 778 | www.simba-dickie-group.de/en sales@sisotoysuk.com Simba Smoby Toys UK will continue to drive momentum in 2022 with a new wave of first quarter releases across all categories. Available from January is a new line-up of dolls – the B-Kind collection – which has been designed not only to be eco-conscious but also to promote positive messages of kindness, creativity and compassion. The dolls are made from recycled materials and dressed in eco-fashions. They come boxed in reusable packaging, and a ribbon that serves as the box handle can later be used as a bracelet. Families can also use the packaging to construct their own Kindness Board - a space to share kindness goals through drawings, photos and more. The range launches with five characters: Brianna, Koral, Ivy, Nora and Daisy (B.K.I.N.D.). Each character encourages creativity through play that reflects the dolls’ passions for going green, saving the oceans, ending bullying and more. Each B-Kind doll features a DIY craft activity, such as making an upcycled outfit for the doll and creating a set of BFF bracelets. SS22 will also see the introduction of new brand Pamper Petz. The posable babies, with soft touch skin and sparkling eyes, can drink real water from their bottle and will pee in their nappy, which changes colour to let kids know it needs changing. There’s also a “magic paw” colour gender reveal. Pamper Petz come packaged in a plastic-free pack, with an adoption certificate and three accessories. The collection launches with three pets to collect: a rabbit, a kitten and a puppy. The new year also sees the launch of Simba Smoby Toys UK’s collection of Majorette die-cast vehicles. Small in size but big on detail, the 3ins scale cars boast opening doors, suspension, transparent front lights and interiors. The collection already comprises a strong portfolio of licensed cars to collect including Mercedes, Lamborghini, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Volvo construction vehicles and more. Fresh die-cast themes and ranges will be added for 2022 including new Gift Box Sets: Limited Edition Camouflage, Italian Dream Cars and a Best of British Collection.

PMI +972-52-4614444 | www.pmi.co.il omer@pmi.co.il PMI has signed an agreement with Australian-based Mejjjet PTY for the purchase of the Zzzopa Fidget Spinner Ball Brand. Much more than just a ball, and far from your average fidget spinner, the Original Zzzopa and its little brother, Mini Zzzopa, are the brainchild of Australian inventors Eddie Holden and his partner Steve Woods. Billed as “The Ball That Does It All “, the inventors say the fidget line is a true world first. The launch of two different options of the Zzzopa Fidget Spinner Ball is set for Spring ’22 and will include a sports-based line and a fun line. The original Zzzopa and the compact mini Zzzopa version, which is designed for smaller hands or higher agility, have both been engineered for both indoor and outdoor play. Zzzopa encourages social activity, group and team play, physical activity and endless play, game, challenge and trick options. Playing with Zzzopa can also improve cognitive capabilities, hand eye coordination, physical fitness, agility and even help develop imagination. These benefits are in addition to the calming effect that fidget spinners offer in fighting stress, anxiety and boredom. PMI has huge plans for distribution of this product, which has been patented in 100 countries.

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Q1 Ranges

Playmobil 01268 548 111 | www.playmobil.co.uk Multiple product launches are on the horizon from Playmobil including the Country World of Horses, which is equipped with everything little equestrians could possibly need to enjoy looking after and caring for their horses and ponies. The theme will be supported with an extensive media campaign across TV, digital and social media and will include in-store support. Window displays, point of sale and Playmobil’s famous large figures will also be available to support retailers. Kids can also enjoy the ultimate holiday experience with the Playmobil Aqua Park range featuring seven new sets focusing on the fun of a water park holiday. The main set, the Water Park with Slides, includes two fun water slides, both with their own style, and can also be used for water play. The new range will be supported by a large-scale media campaign starting at Easter. Playmobil will also launch a brand-new range of collectibles in Q1. Special Plus, Fi?ures, Duo Packs and Playmo-Friends will all have new additions and are perfect pocket money toys. All the new products are suitable for children aged 4+

IMC Toys 01904 720 908 | www.imctoys.com | info.uk@imctoys.com Two new collectible ranges from IMC will hit UK shelves for the Q1 2022 period. Bubiloons are collectible characters hidden in gum-ball style capsules which are revealed once the heart key is turned and the ‘gum-balls’ drop. The Bubiloons world is inhabited by cute animal characters who navigate their way through experiences and challenges using their imagination and blowing bubbles. There will be 12 x one-minute animated episodes available on IMC’s official Kitoons YouTube channel, helping to build awareness of the brand. With 13 to collect, each character blows up balloons, which can then be customised with hidden accessories and displayed in the open capsule. Lucky Bob is a new range of collectibles based on a boy who finds himself in many comical situations. Supported with a Lucky Bob YouTube channel at launch, there will be short form content and toy play episodes for series 1, with longer-form content planned throughout 2022. Initial SKUs for the UK launch include packs containing one, two or five figures complete with accessories, plus character cards for scanning and linking to content and the Lucky Bob app. There are 60 common, rare, ultra-rare, exclusive and special finish versions of Bob to collect. Best-selling doll IP Cry Babies sees further brand expansion with the launch of Fun & Sun Ella, whose freckles appear on her face if she is exposed to sunlight or bright light. When placed in water, strawberries appear on her swimming costume. As with all Cry Babies, Ella cries real tears and makes realistic baby sounds. Suitable for toddlers aged 18m+. Cry Babies Magic Tears are smaller, collectible versions of Cry Babies. Following the success of the recent launch of the new Cry Babies Magic Tears Dress Me Up range, a second wave is planned for Q1 2022. Cry Babies Magic Tears Happy Flowers features surprise-reveal characters in cute flowerpots with each character styled as a flower with a sweet, floral scent. When their tears drop onto flowers in the bottom of the pot, smiley faces appear. Also for Q1, VIP Pets and VIP Mini Pets Spring Vibes will see the hair-styling dolls feature super long colourful hair and flower tattoos for children to create the perfect festival looks. Bath-time collectible dolls range Bloopies will introduce Mermaids Magic Tails, complete with removeable tails which reveal a swimming costume, tattoo decal detail and a marine pet. Both the Mermaids and their sea creature pets double up as squirters for extended water play. All IMC Q1 Ranges will be supported with robust marketing plans to include TV advertising, digital content and social, PR and experiential activations, plus IMC’s new Over-The-Top (OTT) platform which provides branded custom content.

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Grow your early years range!

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For more information, contact your Learning Resources Sales Manager call 01553 819380 email sales@learning-resources.co.uk www.learningresources.co.uk


Q1 Ranges

Learning Resources 01553 762276 | www.learningresources.co.uk | sales@learning-resources.co.uk Following on from the success of the best-selling Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog, the world of Spike is now even bigger with more ways to play and learn. The range now offers five new Spike toys that help pre-schoolers develop a variety of early years skills through play. The award-winning original Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog helps young children practise essential fine motor skills, as well as colour and number recognition through hands-on, tactile play, and the hedgehog toy is now available in a new pink colour choice. There are six ways to fidget with Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog Fidget Friend. Each time a child spins the wheel, turns the crank, presses the button, twists the knob, pushes the plunger, and moves the switch, they’re learning essential fine motor skills through tactile and fun fidget play. Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog Puzzle Playmate is a two-in-one puzzle and shape sorter toy that offers five ways to learn while playing: fine motor skills, logic and reasoning, and shape, colour and number recognition. The puzzle board has different shapes and textures and is great for sensory, tactile play. Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog Rainbow Stacker is a colourful stacking toy children can stack vertically or horizontally. Each of Spike's stacking cups comes with tactile ridges that promote pre-school sensory skills, and the toy can also be used for water play. Children can sort the five hedgehogs in the Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog Sensory Tree House by texture and colour as they play and learn. The back of each hedgehog has a different colour and texture and offers several ways to play and learn. With growing sales in the developmental toys category as more parents look for toys that teach, the range offers retailers a unified collection of pre-school developmental toys at accessible prices for consumers. The colourful packaging has instant shelf-appeal, and interactive, sensory nature of these toys make them ideal for creative instore merchandising and displays. To grow brand awareness, Learning Resources is supporting the new launches with a multi-channel marketing campaign including digital advertising, social media collaborations, product sampling, email newsletters and PR outreach. To support retail customers, a variety of marketing assets is available to customers via the company’s online Marketing Resource Centre.

Winning Moves 01706 558539 | www.winningmoves.co.uk sales@winningmoves.co.ukw This winter sees Winning Moves launching nearly two dozen products, and between January and March, even more products will be hitting the shelves. Winning Moves collaborates with many of the hottest licences, one of which is Peaky Blinders. In anticipation of the release of season six, Peaky Blinders Risk will take the country - and Birmingham - by storm, plus there will also be an exclusive Peaky Blinders Monopoly and Limited Edition Top Trumps. In the run up to the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Winning Moves has reinvigorated its much-loved World Football Stars range of products. The latest addition is the forthcoming World Football Stars Guess Who which now has a host of new faces. This will be joining a host of other football-based games such as the best-selling Top Trumps, the Top Trumps Quiz, Top Trumps Match, Monopoly and a 1000-piece puzzle. Another highlight of the Q1 launches is the Animal Crossing Whot! Card game. With over 30m copies of the latest video game sold worldwide, Winning Moves has partnered with Nintendo to bring the licence to an even bigger audience, adding to the existing Top Trumps Match and 500- and 1000-piece puzzles. All of the above, and many more exciting new developments, will be exhibited at London Toy Fair at Olympia.

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Series 22 Q1 202

Lava

StONE

ICE

JUNGLE

17 Mini Creatures to collect, including rare GOLD figure! Great pocket money purchase! – RRP £2.99 Robots combine with Mini-Creatures for extra battle play! For more information, please contact your Schleich® representative, or contact us on 01279 870 000 or orders@schleich-s.co.uk

© Schleich

ELDRADOR MINi CREATURES COLLECTIBLES!


Q1 Ranges

Flair 0208 643 0320 | www.flairplc.co.uk | sales@flairplc.co.uk Mindful Lil Minds is an Australian designed line that focuses on educating kids on the importance of creating an everyday meditation practice and learning how to become more present. Studies have shown the positive effects of practising mindfulness from a young age, which include decreasing anxiety and increasing cognitive performance. Soft and comforting, and scented to smell like eucalyptus, the interactive plush koala makes for an ideal breathing meditation buddy. Young children can follow as the koala takes them through a five-minute guided breathing practice, copying as the bear’s belly expands and retracts. The cuddly koala has floppy limbs and a weighted bead bottom to make him more comforting. Meanwhile, for the doll aisle, Unique Eyes are dolls with magical eyes which follow the gaze of those observing them. There are three core characters – Amy, Sophia and Rebecca – who also feature soft, brushable hair and realistic, articulated bodies that can stand alone. Inspired by popular fashion trends, each character has a distinctive style and is available to purchase individually, styled in a removable outfit. Alternatively, the characters can also be bought as Total Look sets, which come with an additional outfit option. A fresh concept in arts and crafts will encourages kids to upcycle and transform their scrap and decorative paper into all manner of things. Paper FX lets fashionable tweens and ecoconscious families create beautiful accessories, gifts and decorations from old magazines, wrapping paper, posters, junk mail and more. The Paper FX weaving machine recycles and transforms any sheet of paper or card in minutes. Children can tear the sheets, crease them, weave them and make their own creations, such as handbags, purses, wallets, belts, mats and coasters. All of the products will be supported with substantial PR and marketing campaigns for 2022.

Character Options 0161 633 9800 | www.character-online.com sales@charactergroup.plc.uk The Heroes of Goo Jit Zu brand remains a top priority for Character Options next year, with continued investment and new themes to drive collectability. The latest in the collection is the Dino X-Ray Series, which sees the existing Heroes go X-Ray following the discovery of a new meteor. These Dino Heroes are gooey and feature X-Ray bone filling; when stretched and squished, their X-Ray bones can be seen bulging out. Included in this wave is Smashadon, an exclusive, ultra-rare character with a translucent, glow-in-the-dark X-Ray finish. There are seven Dino Heroes to collect. There are two Heroes of Goo Jit Zu Dino X-Ray Versus Packs to collect in the Series: Fossil Faceoff in which X-Ray Thrash takes on Chomp-Attack Verapz and Stone Age Rampage that sees Tritops go head-to-head with Chomp-Attack Shredz. The exclusive figures and special finishes are only available in these packs. Supagoo Dino: Dinogoo Tyro has evolved into the ultimate Goo Jit Zu fighter with chomp attack jaws and attack lights and sounds when stretched. Spring will also see Character Options extend its licensed collection of Eco Plush. Having successfully launched this year with the Peppa Pig range, new pre-school favourites are now set to join the line-up. Made from 100% recycled materials, with FSC certified packaging, the range will be expanded with new 8ins scale characters from the worlds of CoComelon, Blippi, Barney, Teletubbies and My Little Pony, as well as Peppa Pig. Produced to the highest of standards and suitable for ages 18 months plus, each toy features a green leaf emblem to indicate that they’re an eco-conscious option and the platform box, in which each is supplied, also highlights that the toys are manufactured from 100% recycled materials. Another new arrival, Jiggly Pets Elephant features full body movement, music and sound effects, and lifts his trunk to the beat of tunes when he walks. He also features head and rear sensors that activate him when he is touched. Jiggly Pets Elephant joins the portfolio following the introduction of Tan-Tan the Orangutan and the Jiggly Pets Pups and Koalas, which launched this year. The Character Options portfolio will be supported with substantial PR and marketing campaigns.

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Q1 Ranges

Brainstorm 01200 445 113 | www.brainstormltd.co.uk Brainstorm is adding several new lines to its growing collection of STEM products, along with additions to the eco-friendly Eugy range and Klikbot assortment. My Bedtime Story Torch & Projector will make night-time routines entertaining and relaxing as the set includes six stories with 12 different story discs that can be easily identified by their colours. When the QR codes are scanned, stories are played while projecting large story images on walls. Alternatively, children can use their imagination and tell the stories themselves by following the projected images. New for 2022 is the unique My Super-Fun Voice Changer, a chunky, hand-held mini megaphone device that adds eight different sound effects to voices; echo, slow, low, high, squeaky and two robot voice sounds. As well as having fun hearing their voice sound so different, children can use My Super-Fun Voice Changer to play back and record what they say. A Zoetrope is one of the earliest forms of animation tech and Brainstorm has created a version to entertain young children. The scientific toy features 18 animation strips plus six draw your own strips; children simply add a strip into their Zoetrope, spin and watch them move. The Amazing Balancing Unicorn is a gravity defying model that can balance on the tips of fingers or on small surfaces. The popular Torch & Projector range will also see a magical Wizard & Dragon torch added, following on from the launch of the Paw Patrol Torch & Projector and Blue’s Clues & You! torch. Brainstorm will also add to its 3D craft model Eugy range throughout 2022, starting with Bumblebee and Rhino models. The range has been successful thanks to its sustainability and all-important collectability factor. Klikbot Guardians are new for 2022. Four characters: Sabre, Blitz, Tempest and Barrage, come in single packs featuring weapons, interchangeable hands and a Klik separator to adapt characters. This sci-fi inspired range of characters will help children become even more creative with their stop-frame animations. The popular Klikbot Kreatures will also now be available in a Combo pack including a Hero or Villain with accessories alongside a mystery Klikbot Kreature. All Klikbot packaging now uses plastic free materials.

Magic Box 01403 251 286 | www.magicboxint.com KookyLoos is a new introduction of mini dolls from Magic Box, and the brand launches with Series 1 KookyLoos Express Yourself, a collection of 12 dolls, each with three different facial expressions that can be changed with a simple click. The range will also include a collection of mix ‘n’ match accessories hidden in little paper envelopes that children can discover and use to create each doll’s fashion look. Two mini play sets complete the opening range and Kookyloos will be supported by a full marketing campaign including TV and digital investment, in store POP and PR. Following the summer 2021 launch of the completely new concept T-Racers, Series 2 is due for launch in February. Each T-Racer car can be taken apart providing over 500 Mix & Race combinations and Series 2 will see eight new pilots and cars to collect along with two exciting play sets to add to the T-Racer universe, each with an exclusive character and vehicle. A comprehensive marketing programme supported the summer 2021 launch and is further strengthened for the final quarter with significant TV and YouTube investment along with T-Racers webisodes as Magic Box gears up for the launch of Series 2. Super Things, the popular hero vs villain brand, is now in its fourth year, and in August Magic Box launched Series 8 Kazoom Kids. In January, the brand will release Series 9 which sees a further 80 new characters unleashed from Kaboom City as well as six all new Kaboom Kids with crystal effect, plus an additional 12 vehicles available to collect. The range, which will also include two giant robots, will be supported by a heavyweight TV and digital campaign. A new season of dedicated webisodes will also be uploaded to the Magic Box YouTube Channel.

KAP Toys 01635 255725 | www.kaptoys.com Following the phenomenal rates of sales achieved in its Among Us line, in early 2022 KAP Toys will continue to focus on getting as many retailers as possible stocked with the products. The team at Toikido and YuMe toys have worked hard to develop a global line that KAP Toys represents in the UK & Eire and as demand keeps on growing, there are many opportunities on existing lines. There will also be new introductions from product categories including collectibles, plush and dress up, at a wide range of price points. Also for 2022, KAP Toys will offer ranges developed with Nickelodeon in the form of Baby Shark and other hero licences. Backed by hours of programmatic support and the catchy theme tune, the Baby Shark licence continues to perform strongly, and a newly developed range will encompass products for children from birth. KAP Toys is also excited to get its hands on the next collectible mystery capsule programme from YuMe toys developed from the Stranger Things show on Netflix, a recognised driver of pop culture trends. More details will be revealed about the range in due course.

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Vivid 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk

Q1 Ranges

Epoch Making Toys 08435 574 062 | www.epochmakingtoys.com Sylvanian Families is extending its core range in Q1 2022 with the introduction of two new families. The Husky Family is welcomed into the range after the father, Vincent Husky, was elected mayor of Sylvanian Village by global fans of the brand. The Husky Family will be the first set to be released with triplets included alongside parent figures, a new move for Sylvanian Families. The Sheep Family is also joining the village, with new complementary baby and twin sets. In spring, the Ready to Play lines are set to be expanded, including sets with figures and accessories or furniture that allow children to start playing straight away. The new lines will build on Sylvanian Families’ success in reaching new audiences by helping newcomers to the brand to start growing their collection right away. These Ready to Play sets include the Tandem Cycling Set, the BBQ Picnic Set, the Weekend Travel Set, Party Time Tea Set and the Princess Dress Up Set. Epoch’s crafting brand, Aquabeads, will kick off spring 2022 with an update to popular products in the core range. The Beginners Carry Case will replace the existing Beginners Studio with updated features and beads, all contained in a secure, portable case, ready to be taken on the move. The set serves as a starter kit for new Aquabeads fans, as everything needed to get started is included. The Mystic Unicorn Set also releases in spring and is a revamp on the popular Magical Unicorn Set. The all-in-one kit will be fully updated, with the addition of star beads, design pegs and a creation display. The set allows children to make enchanting scenes with dynamic, movable unicorns.

Vivid will carry forward construction and domino brand, Reaxion to SS22. Featuring the latest innovation in domino construction, the tiles are an X shape which allows them to connect together. The included linX small connectors can be used to help construct even larger structures. With Reaion, kids can create domino runs like no other, as well as many different designs from the tiles, or can add in the accessories such as a zipline or swings to create different levels and motion. After building, kids can watch their structure collapse in the coolest way with stunts and triggers adding maximum effect. The Xplode set is a great place to start and over the SS22 season the lower-priced Xpand and Xtra sets are likely to be in high demand. Crayola’s hugely successful range of Colours of the World launched this year and will continue into ‘22 with a range of Crayons, Pencils and Markers bolstered by a new colouring book. From Q1, Colour Wonder will introduce the much-anticipated licence Bluey to an already strong portfolio of pre-school character favourites. Making a splash in ‘22, Colour 'n’ Style Friends will dive under the sea with a range of magical mermaids that allow kids to enjoy even more hair play and stylish mermaid themed creations that can be redesigned again and again. The gravity defying Paint-sation range sees the introduction of a new Flip 'n’ Spin Artists Palette to allow budding artists the opportunity to paint anytime, anywhere with this spill proof painting system. Vivid will also offer new ranges for Ryan’s World, most notably the Teeny Treasure Chest and Micro Mystery Wheel playset alongside a Series 8 refresh of the popular Mystery Figures with all-new figures to collect. There is also an expanded range from Love Diana, one of the top new properties to hit the toy market in 2021, building further on collectability with series refreshes of the mini dolls and pets.

Chicco 020 8953 6627 | www.chicco.co.uk Chicco has a variety of new products launching for Q1 2022 in its new sustainably and responsibly sourced Eco+ range . The new light and soft Animal Teethers are perfect for soothing little gums and are made of bioplastic from plant sources, making them lightweight and easy to grasp. Suitable from 3 to 18 months, the teethers are available in four different colourful animals, including Burt The Frog, Molly The Snail, Owly the Owl and Charlie The Dog. Owly the Rattle is a new lightweight and easy to grasp rattle which features six colourful and textured rings, helping to develop manual coordination skills and create a stimulating playing experience for infants from 3 to 18 months. There are also new Stacking Cups, which include five cups and five colourful shapes to sort, helping to develop hand-eye coordination skills, while Stone Balance is a new stackable toy, inspired by the art of balancing stones. Children can stack and play with the five stone-shaped pieces – each a different shape, size and colour - stimulating their cognitive and manual coordination, whilst using their imagination. Also good for hand-eye coordination, the new Baobab Shape Sorter challenges children to place four coloured shapes, which feature different animals’ faces, into the right place on the tree. Suitable from 6 to 36 months, it also features three sliding rings between the crowns of the Baobab for additional fun. Stimulating children’s creativity and manual skills, the 2-in-1 Transform-a-Ball has 10 detachable colourful slices, allowing little ones to build their own creations and characters, including cars and animals, by assembling the pieces together. Afterwards, they are challenged to rebuild the ball in the correct chromatic order to make it roll. The 2-in-1 Rocking Dino offers three activities to help develop children’s’ cognitive and manual skills. For the balancing activity, children have to place each of the six colourful cylinders on the dinosaur in the correct position in order to make it balance, whilst the sorter activity challenges them to find the corresponding holes. The cylinders can also be stacked on one another to build a tower. All Around is a ride-on toy with swivel wheels that features a compartment under the seat, mechanical horn and stickers to customise it and is suitable from 1 to 3 years.

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Q1 Ranges

Mattel 01628 500 000 | www.mattel.com Mattel’s new Hot Wheels City range will feature a brand-new system of play allowing kids to connect the new tile pieces and track together to unleash their creativity and create their own personal Hot Wheels City. The new products will feature QR codes on packs which will illustrate the Hot Wheels City in digital format. New to the city range is the Hot Wheels City Nemesis Lab Assortment, Hot Wheels City Super Twist Tire Shop and Hot Wheels City Dragon Drive Firefight. New to the Track Builder segment is the Fuel Can Stunt box, while the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks range continues to expand with the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Blast Station Playset and the new Glow in the Dark range which includes the 1:64 assortment and Epic Loop Playset. Barbie will kick off Q1 2022 with new Color Reveal Mermaid series for Barbie & Chelsea. New to the Careers segment is a Bakery Playset and Ice Cream Shop Playset, while the Twinkle Lights Mermaid doll will add a touch of magic to the toybox. New products in the Fisher-Price Infant range include the 123 Crawl with Me Puppy, plus the new Let’s Connect Laptop, while Little People introduces the Little People Big ABC Animal Train. There will be new releases in the Thomas & Friends range, including the Race for the Sodor Cup Playset, inspired by the movie and new look content. Thomas fans can also create their own adventures with the new Fix’em Up Friends Playset. Polly Pocket, the original micro doll, adds the Teddy Bear Purse to its large wearable compact assortment, along with all new themed compacts in the Pocket World assortment. With the release of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe on Netflix, The Masters of The Universe Franchise is releasing a new line of kid targeted product in Q1. Highlights include the He-Man and The Masters of the Universe Action Figure Assortment, He-Man and The Masters of the Universe Battle Cat Action Figure and the HeMan and the Masters of the Universe Power Sword. The Mattel WWE toy range continues to grow with the Bend n Bash Figures, and the refreshed Wrekkin’ segment has everything needed for a Superstar battle, with the Wrekkin ATV with Big E. The Minecraft toy range continues to grow with new Minecraft core figures, the Minecraft Transforming Turtle Habitat and Minecraft Fireball Ghast, while fans of Disney Pixar Cars will enjoy the new Radiator Springs Race & Carry Playset. Fisher-Price Imaginext will be introducing the Bat-Tech Bat-Signal Multipack and Gotham City Jail: Recharged to its DC Super Friends collection, while the Mega range will see new additions in the shape of the Mega Construx Pokémon Build & Show Eevee, and Mega Paw Patrol: The Movie Chase’s Patrol Car. Mattel Games will launch Uno All Wild! in Q1, and the new Marvel City Swinging Spider-man Plush arrives in February 2022.

Posh Paws 01268 567317 | www.poshpawsinternational.co.uk | sales@poshpawsinternational.co.uk For the New Year, Posh Paws will be increasing its popular range of licensed Jurassic World soft toys ahead of the brand-new Dominion movie that hits cinemas on 10th June and the new season launches of the hit Netflix animated series Camp Cretaceous. The new additions will include a range of dinosaurs that will appear in the new movie and as well as fan-favourites from the Camp Cretaceous series such as Bumpy, the Indominus Rex; a Triceratops and the giant Mosasaurus dinosaur. When Sing 2 hits UK cinemas on 28th January, kids will be able to get their hands on the first consumer soft toys to market for this animated musical comedy, with an assortment of the four lead characters, Buster Moon, Johnny, Ash and Meenah, in 7” sizes and with realistic detailing. E.T celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022 and Posh Paws is bringing the magic of this cult classic to life with a soft toy that is perfect for new and loyal fans of the iconic character. Ahead of the long-awaited release of the Minions: Rise of Gru movie in July, Posh Paws will have a range of soft and cuddly toys including 7” and 10” options, as well as new costume characters that will appear in the new movie, ready to order in spring The growing Sesame Street range will welcome a brand-new Talking Cookie Monster soft toy in Q1, which features 15 fun sounds and iconic phrases. The new feature plush sits perfectly with the Talking Tickle Me Elmo and standard soft toys that launched this summer. In addition, a new range of super soft and squidgy Sesame Street toys will be available from spring 2022 for fan-favourites Cookie, Elmo and Big Bird. Offering high quality and eco-friendly plush gifts, the BBC Earth range is popular with animal lovers of all ages. New for 2022 is the beautiful British Wildlife Collection which includes a European Rabbit, Red Fox, Fallow Deer and Red Squirrel, all made with a realistic look and premium fabric. The Swizzels Love Hearts plush continues to be a popular choice for teen and adult gifting and for spring, Posh Paws will be introducing a new collection of characters to spread love and positivity with their fun, sentimental and cheeky messages, such as the ‘Clever Sausage’ Dog, ‘Best-Tea’ Cup, ‘Bee-Mine’ Bumble Bee and ‘Let’s Hang’ Sloth.

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Amusement Park

Spooky Surprise House

Royal Carriage Baby Star Carousel

Heavy TV support through Q4

d Supporte by Digital and r Influence activity

©EPOCH

Strong dia social me and PR s Campaign

FOR SALES AND ENQURIES:

EMAIL: SALES@EPOCHMAKINGTOYS.COM • PHONE: 0208 049 1377


Q1 Ranges

Schleich 0303 040 1123 | www.schleich-s.com/en/GB orders@schleich-s.co.uk 2022 will get off to a lightning quick start for Schleich with the release of the Greyhound into its Farm World collection, alongside a Stork, Ram and Ragdoll Cat. The Wild Life world will see the addition of the more laid-back Slow Loris, joined by a Cougar, Emperor Scorpion, Iguana, Mandrill and Tapir. All these figurines launch in January. In a huge year for Dinosaurs, Schleich is also releasing five new prehistoric giants, including the striking Majungasaurus from Madagascar; the amphibious predator, Nothosaurus; and herbivorous Syracosaurus, perfectly complementing the expanding range of Dinosaurs play sets. Meanwhile, new horse and pony breeds joining Schleich Horse Club world include the Oldenburger family and the Criollo Definitivo horses from Argentina, which are perfect January additions to the many best-selling play sets sold over Christmas. In the magical world of bayala, the Marshmallow Unicorn family is joined by a range of candy themed unicorn foals. Series Three of the bayala collectible unicorns has seven different candy unicorn figures, including Donut, Ice Cream and Candy Cane, all with mouth-watering colours and candy tattoos. In the world of Eldrador, the battle for the superweapon continues, with the launch of the Stone Dragon and Jungle Emperor. Series Two of Eldrador Mini Creatures builds on the highly successful launch from this August, again supported by TV and digital campaigns, as another 13 mini creatures are let loose.

Zuru info@zuru.com Due to the global success of the 5 Surprise Mini Brands series of collectible capsules, Zuru’s evolution of the best-selling brand is the introduction of 5 Surprise Mini Fashion which launches in January 2022. Tapping into the current catwalk micro trends, the Mini Fashion collectibles introduce premium miniature designer handbags. The all-new larger capsule includes five surprises to unwrap, peel and reveal including a handstitched Mini Fashion handbag, plus four tiny, glamourous accessories. Including over 40 deluxe fashion surprises to discover in Series 1, the collection features 11 collectible handbags, including two rare metallic bags. A second series of 5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands will hit UK shelves for Q1 2022. Bringing some new iconic miniature toy favourites to the minis’ collection, each 5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands capsule includes miniature versions of toybox favourites along with shopping accessories. There are over 120 miniature toys and accessories to collect including rare glow in the dark and shimmery minis, plus super-rare gold minis. Kids can collect them all to display within their own Mini Toys Collector’s Case and create their own mini toy store. Launching earlier this year, Puppycorn Surprise, saw a new series addition to the Rainbocorns surprise egg range, further strengthening the plush brand, and Series 2 features seven new Puppycorn characters to collect, including Chiquita the Chiwawa and Wrecker the Schnauzer. Housed in bright, reusable eggs, complete with all new puppy ears, children hatch open the eggs to reveal seven surprises including new Puppycorn plush characters, a Peel ‘n’ Reveal Heart, Puppycorns Stickers, miniature collectible Puppycorns, magical jelly-slime Puppycorn Poop and Collectors Guide. Zuru’s value-driven robotics line, Robo Alive, offers a new dinosaur play experience with the Robo Alive Dino Fossil Find. Children crack open the dino egg and then use an excavation tool to dig through rock, sand and slime to find one of four hidden dinosaur fossils. Once discovered, children assemble their fossils to create a T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops or Ankylosaurus skeleton which is then brought to life with its light up eyes and realistic roars. All brands will be supported by PR and marketing campaigns, including global TV commercials, plus digital and social media content across all channels.

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FUN-FILLED LICENSED SOFT TOYS NEW PRODUCTS LAUNCHING FOR 2022!

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TM and © 2021 Sesame Workshop. © Universal City Studios LLC. All Rights Reserved. © UCS LLC and Amblin. Swizzels and Love Hearts are registered trade marks of Swizzels Matlow Limited. BBC logo © and TM BBC 1996. BBC Earth logo ©and TM BBC 2008. Licensed by BBC Studios. CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG™ & ©The Norman Bridwell Trust. All rights reserved. ©2021 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


Company Profile

Get crafty Craft Buddy founders Dino and Gary Wadhwani chat to Toy World’s assistant editor Sam Giltrow about the meteoric rise of their hero product Crystal Art, new licences and gaining a firmer foothold in the UK toy sector.

S

itting in the offices of arts and crafts company Craft Buddy, it’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago, Dino and Gary were doing business from a shed in their parents’ garden. The rise of the company from humble beginnings is something of which the brothers are incredibly proud, along with the fact that they have followed in the footsteps of their father, who set up his own arts and crafts concern in the 1990s, supplying products to schools. Dino explains: “As teenagers, we would always be involved in our father’s business somehow, whether we were attending retail or trade fairs with him or helping in the warehouse – that was how we spent our summers and our holidays.” As the boys grew older, Gary went into a consulting career while Dino, just prior to starting university, spent his gap year working full-time in his father’s business, learning the trade and networking with arts and crafts buyers. Gary went on to work in Amsterdam for five years with a large Dutch retail group in a buying and sourcing capacity, during which time he visited manufacturing hubs like China, Vietnam and Indonesia several times each year. Although their father had been importing his products from Indianbased wholesalers, Gary began to see that the major emerging manufacturing hub was the Far East. It was this experience that sowed the seeds for the brothers eventually launching their own business in 2010 . That year, while both still working in other full-time jobs, they undertook their first sourcing trip together, visiting China and finding factories to supply arts and crafts items which Dino had identified were not yet

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Company Profile being offered for sale in the UK. While initially selling on eBay and Amazon, the brothers exhibited at their first creative trade show in 2011, displaying an initial range of arts and crafts items such as stick-on gems and accessories for papercrafting. Their first big success in building a trade customer base came with the UK QVC shopping channel in 2012 and this was followed with QVC Germany the following year. Swiftly, they also built up some important trade customers including John Lewis, Paperchase and Hobbycraft, creating own- brand art & craft products for these retailers. They saw the opportunity to create and develop their own arts & craft brands and, in 2016, decided to take the business in this direction. “2016 was a pivotal year, for several reasons” says Gary. “Firstly, we decided to focus on trademarking and developing our own arts & crafts brands. Secondly, I’d been working with other businesses until then, but decided to focus on Craft Buddy full time. And finally, we decided to move our operations from a London storage unit to a purpose-built office and warehouse facility in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. We remain here today, and now house twenty-five employees across two sites, both within five minutes’ drive of each other”. In 2017, Craft Buddy launched its Crystal Art brand, capitalising on the trend for diamond painting, which first gained popularity in the Far East. As Dino explains: “That’s when things really started to take off.” “With our Crystal Art Card Kit, we were the first in the UK to bring out a diamond painting product, and we had tremendous success,” he adds. “We quickly received orders from major TV Shopping and retail customers, and at consumers fairs, people would buy the kits from us. Today, we have developed a much broader and more sophisticated offering, but even in its basic form, people loved the Crystal Art product. It’s so pleasing to see how far the brand has come.” Internationally, The Crystal Art brand first became popular in Holland and Belgium, and in 2018 Craft Buddy appointed a specialist toy distributor for those countries. Fast forward to the present day and Craft Buddy now has a network of 11 international distributors covering territories far and wide, including North America, Australia and New Zealand, and most major EU countries. Crystal Art is now a staple in major toy stores across France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia. Following this success across the international toy market in the last three years, it is the UK toy market where the company is now seeking to gain a stronger foothold, and this has been hugely helped by the company gaining its Disney licence in July 2020, with the first Disney Crystal Art collection launched in March this year. Crystal Art products now have distribution in many major retailers such as John Lewis, Smyths Toys, Hobbycraft, Rymans, The Range,

and ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade, as well as more than 200 independent gift, craft and toy shops in the UK. “Fortunately, it’s going fantastically well, and the Disney Crystal Art collection has been really well received by both our trade and consumer audience. In September this year, we launched our second Disney collection, this time a festive range,” says Gary. “The licence has opened so many doors for us. It makes people pay attention to your company – it’s like a stamp of approval. We’ve now added other licences and have exciting new announcements planned for the first quarter of 2022 - not just for Crystal Art but for some of our other brands too.” Andrew Welch, head of marketing at Craft Buddy, adds: “What’s great with Crystal Art is that it is a product that can be enjoyed by all ages - from children through to adults. It’s a very wholesome hobby, with the final Crystal Art creations looking fantastic when complete. With the addition of the Disney range earlier this year, we are now getting more parents buying for their kids. From a marketing perspective, this is a huge opportunity. Our consumer base is very interactive with whatever we put up on social media, with consumers keen to share their latest crafting makes.” Gary explains that, along with using independent artists, licensing is a growing part of how Craft Buddy sources its art. Early next year, the company will be adding new licences including Peter Rabbit and The Smurfs, plus more from Disney, as part of a long-term deal. These new additions will help underpin Craft Buddy’s growth strategy for next year, in which the company is aiming to offer a varied portfolio of art & craft products to the toy, hobby and gift sectors, which includes Crystal Art, Paint by Numbers and their popular Forever Flowerz range of do-it-yourself flower kits, which has been a hit with its adult crafting consumer base. . “We want to be known for our other craft brands too, because they are really great products as well,” says Gary, who added that the licences will be extended to run across other brands, not just Crystal Art. “Although we are becoming much better known in the UK toy market, we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be. But we’re delighted that more and more toy retailers are coming to us, and we are growing our presence in the toy market.” TV has played a huge role in Craft Buddy’s achievements, with the company enjoying massive success on shopping channels QVC and Create and Craft. During the pandemic lockdowns, the company also hosted twice weekly Facebook Live streams to demonstrate and show Craft Buddy products. “It was something for people to look forward to, at a time when they had time on their hands and might have felt isolated and bored,” explains Dino. “We were delighted to connect with our customers in this way, and pleasingly we saw a big increase in sales too. Alongside puzzles and board games, crafting in general was a massive pandemic hit, and interest in our Crystal Art, Forever Flowerz and other brands spiked during this time. Fortunately, we’ve been able to sustain this momentum and it shows no sign of slowing down.” Another big launch for Craft Buddy in

November is Paint By Numb3rs, a series of high-quality paint by number sets that come with canvases mounted on a wooden frame, so the artwork is ready to display once completed. Also being released are 3D colour-in and wooden jigsaw puzzles. Trade account manager Lisa Rayner says the new launches have been in response to feedback from retailers, who, based on the success of Crystal Art in their stores, want more from Craft Buddy. “Our aim is to be more of a one-stop shop of art & craft products for our toy and hobby accounts,” she tells us. Dan Ward, head of sales, says that the company has been boosted this year by becoming a supplier to AIS and Toymaster members. “With Toymaster, we have got off to a very good start,” he says. “We already worked with a few AIS members, including garden centres, and we are also looking at going into more department stores with big toy sections.” Dino adds that Craft Buddy’s independent customer base is very important, and he hopes the company can get back to hosting an annual indie get together at its showroom, as it did pre-Covid. “This gives us the opportunity not only to showcase our latest products, but also gives our independent customers the chance to discuss how we can best serve them.” Summarising the year ahead, Gary says it is looking bright, with the chance to grow the Craft Buddy name even more and expand distribution in different parts of the world. “Our strategy for next year is to sign even more licences, something which is already underway; to develop and grow the product portfolio and following for all our art & craft brands and to enter more international territories. We are already in 25 countries but there are certain pockets where we could be doing more, and the US is one. Most of all, we want to be known by the end of 2022 as an arts and crafts specialist who serves the toy and hobby industry with fantastically compelling and engaging products for both children and adults.”


Miko Launches Children’s Robot Companion: Bringing the Best of AI Technology to Young Learners for Holiday Season Global technology company, Miko, is launching the latest product in their portfolio of children’s robots, Miko 3. With its spunky personality and deep learning AI, Miko 3 keeps children engaged and makes learning fun. Starting today, Miko 3 is available for pre-order at Miko.ai for $299 and ships in November with a guaranteed arrival by the holidays. With an increase in learning loss and social isolation, parents are in search of a trusted and safe solution that

bridges the knowledge gap and provides a source of companionship. “As a father, I understand the stresses parents are feeling and the need for technologically driven products that support children both emotionally and educationally,” says Sneh Vaswani, CEO and co-founder of Miko. “Miko 3 is our most advanced robot to date, the product is rooted in artificial intelligence that allows it to grow and adapt to each child, detect moods and encourages learning, all while building strong companionship with its owner.” Developed by a team of educators and data scientists across a variety of disciplines, Miko 3 is an educational resource for children that grows and learns alongside its owner, becoming more personalized. The robot initiates conversation and displays a variety of emotive facial expressions, in addition to following and automatically facing its owner during play time. With its rich

educational database, the Miko 3 is ready to tutor and quiz children on a wide range of topics and is ever evolving with new apps and services updated monthly.

Visit: www.miko.ai

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Special Feature

ICTI - ethical toy program

Cost-effective Solutions to Power Start your ESG Performance Sarah Ng of the ICTI Ethical Toy Program shares how companies can successfully communicate their ESG story, highlighting specific services which can help those at the start of their ESG journey, or those who want to make further progress. Leverage technology to tackle geographic limitations

Background Businesses are facing increasing regulatory, investor and consumer pressure to measure, report and improve their ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) performance, while executives are looking for ways to kickstart their ESG journey with confidence. For many of us, ESG reporting seems daunting - but it doesn’t have to be. What’s more, it can be very valuable.

Problem Did you know 40% of UK manufacturers are operating without a sustainability policy? In a recent survey, 95% of respondents said they were planning to introduce one by summer 2022 (Presmedia). On a broader scale, a survey conducted

by KPMG found that 80% of companies worldwide now report on sustainability. This trend indicates a likely surge in ESG Reporting. In addition, multiple studies have proven that a company’s non-financial ESG performance can directly correlate with its profitability and the growth potential of the business. ESG reporting indicates whether an organisation has the capability and the management systems in place to identify and manage its regulatory, reputational and organisational risks successfully. The ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) constantly engages with the toy industry to understand its needs and is supporting programme members to develop their capability regarding ESG reporting. Using insights gained from our work, we’d like to share our experiences of how companies can successfully and confidently communicate their ESG story. This article will also introduce specific services which are helping companies at the very start of their ESG journey, or who want to make further progress.

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Toy brands, retailers, vendors and manufacturers are all seeking effective solutions that are not bound by their borders: in other words, solutions that work in all countries and regions where their business activities and partners are present. Technology solutions that enable user-friendly and interactive data collection, and that streamline workflows and processes, are required. Using such technology lowers operational costs and reduces resource requirements, enabling a company’s people to focus on product development, marketing and sales. Digitising data collection can optimise the gathering of specific information, helping to drive ESG reporting forward. For example, closed questions which offer a distinct set of pre-defined responses help ensure data quality for more accurate insights. Open questions can help provide more qualitative data. For data to be tangibly useful, you need to know what data to collect and then be able to collect it efficiently. Furthermore, with the unpredictable spectrum of Covid-19 outcomes and circumstances, a digital platform which can be deployed at scale cost efficiently, and is accessible anytime and anywhere, is of great value.

Flexibility of choice reduces duplication, allowing both independent and integrated reporting


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Special Feature Confusion is one of the common issues shared between businesses at the beginning of their ESG reporting journeys, which can impact investors looking to include ESG goals (e.g.: carbon emissions, forced labour, business ethics and more) in their portfolios. For example, larger companies in Europe are required to disclose information on how they operate and manage social and environmental challenges. The stock exchanges in many countries also require such disclosure from listed companies. However, there is no standardised format for the required report, so the focus and topics contained within vary dramatically between companies and reports. This variation makes it difficult to compare and assess companies accurately. Data and insights that have had independent validation are therefore valued. They can be adapted for various reporting formats avoiding duplication of effort, and additional cost. Collaboration is key - by working together, more can be achieved, and transparency increased.

Map a path for improvement Understandably, businesses are nervous about uncovering risks that may hide beneath the sustainability iceberg, but it is important to remember: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure”. When becoming more responsible for its environmental and social impacts, the first step for a company is to understand what it is already doing. From there, it can develop a roadmap for improvement. Apart from measuring its direct impacts and improvements, it should also consider the different tiers within its supply chain and seek to achieve the required transparency. Technology can help here. Companies are often nervous about their ability to manage issues in their supply chain, but support is available to make it possible for all, no matter their size or budget. A company’s customers expect it to know who it does business with and will hold it to account. IETP is the only specialist toy industry programme that helps companies create their plans and deliver them. We provide the necessary training and support to enable them to reduce the risk of disruptive issues, saving them time, money and resources in the process.

Cost-effective and time-efficient solutions IETP has developed a range of solutions for businesses of all sizes and sectors looking to kickstart their ESG

ICTI - ethical toy program

performance analysis, and for those in search of supplementary support to enable data collection and oversight, both globally and at scale. 1) For the “E” - Environmental Questionnaire Back in the 1990s, there were around 70 different Codes of Conduct ethical toy manufacturing, making it very difficult for toy factories to comply with the varying standards of all their customers. This created significant duplication of effort and increasing costs, which is why an industry-wide ethical manufacturing standard - The ICTI Ethical Toy Program - was called-for. The toy industry and other sectors are now facing a similar challenge with environmental data. While the demand for measuring environmental impact is high, businesses are collecting diverse data, translating figures into multiple metrics, and having to use many different platforms duplicating effort, time, and resources for those with multiple businesses partners and customers. With its trusted reputation, achieved through our factory social certification and assessment programmes, a demand to provide an aligned and scalable environmental questionnaire was presented to the ICTI Ethical Toy Program. Companies want a one-stop service provider for social and environmental data gathering, support in getting it right, and expertise in responding to challenges. We have therefore created an online Environmental Questionnaire. The questionnaire has been developed with the support of a dedicated group of responsible sourcing experts representing all parts of the global toy industry and covers a range of topics such as Environmental Management Systems, Energy Usage, Water Use and more. It has been designed to enable businesses to kickstart their environmental reporting. Through a newly created technology platform, we will also enable the collection of a uniform set of data which can be used by any company for internal and external reporting as well as to identify opportunities for further environmental improvements. 2) F or the “S” - Social Impact Assessment (SIA) In 2020, we responded to industry requests and developed a new service. The Social Impact Assessment Program is a remote assessment that verifies a vendor or supplier’s ability to identify, manage and mitigate labour standards risks in their business and their supply chain. It assesses the capability of the management systems in place to manage the social impact an organisation has on people and communities as a result of its actions, activities, projects, programmes, or policies. A company can have a positive or negative social impact - this assessment programme helps ensure it has a positive impact. The programme is welcomed by manufacturers, agents, distributors, and licensees who tell us they have found the assessment process valuable. It offers a lowcost solution for companies who want greater visibility

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of their partners capability and processes, for those who want to increase oversight beyond Tier 1 suppliers, and as a development and education programme for suppliers who may never before have participated in any form of labour standards programme. The assessment process is supported with a userfriendly online portal to make self-assessment and data-driven-analytics easy. Following completion of the assessment, each participating company receives a tailored development plan, identifying areas to focus on and specific recommended actions it can take in each area to improve. The Social Impact Assessment is a stand-alone tool, but it can also create a pathway to our factory social certification programme. 3) F or the “G” – Self-Assessment Questionnaire To support good corporate governance, IETP will be delivering a new solution for global suppliers in response to the significant demand for remote monitoring and assessment. We are investing in technology designed to enable greater efficiencies and plan to launch a new online platform in early 2022. This platform will collect policy and procedure information from factories ahead of an on-site visit, reducing the audit man-day requirement without reducing quality or transparency. This new platform will enable easy reporting, supported by documentary evidence of areas such as responsible recruitment, processes to ensure no forced or child labour, and other examples of good corporate governance. It will also capture insights directly from workers, further validating standards at the factory. The required data will be collected via a SelfAssessment Questionnaire, completed at the supplier’s convenience prior to an unannounced on-site audit. This innovative data collection platform will be available to suppliers that have demonstrated good social performance and transparency in the factory certification programme as recognition of their genuine engagement. IETP understands businesses need support to start their ESG journey with confidence. We provide that support through solutions that can be deployed at scale, efficiently and cost effectively. IETP is the only specialist programme created by the toy industry for the toy industry. We are the best partner to support your ESG journey.

To find out more about our services and how we can help you, get in touch at info@ ethicaltoyprogram.org or visit our website www.ethicaltoyprogram.org.§


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Feature

Outdoor Toys

On active duty The demand for toys that get kids outdoors and active remains high, with parents and caregivers more aware than ever of the benefits of play outside of the home. Rachael Simpson-Jones discusses the breadth of product currently available and the increasing role social media plays in securing sales.

T

he Outdoor Toys category is astonishingly varied, encompassing everything from trampolines and go-karts to water tables and bubble machines, scaled-down versions of essential gardening get-up, kidand battery-powered scooters, giant garden games and much more. Wheeled toys of all descriptions remain best-sellers, with many families having experienced the joys of family days out on two/three/four wheels during the pandemic. Bikes such as United Wheel’s Huffy range - now available in the UK following much success stateside - offer one option for getting out and about, but with each passing year the category welcomes a slew of innovative and increasingly high-tech ride-ons. For DGL, bringing cutting-edge technology to market has long been the bedrock of the company’s success in the marketplace, particularly with its Hover-1 hoverboards. Always looking to push things further and explore new areas, DGL continuously freshens up its existing products while also developing fun new lines that take it into new categories. “By far and away the product I am most excited about at the moment is the Hover-1 Trak, an electric motorbike for kids aged 8+,” enthuses Pritesh Dave, EMEA sales manager at DGL. “This is something brand

new not only to our range but this product area as a whole. Our US soft launch garnered some phenomenal feedback – people, as expected, love the product, and we cannot wait to launch it in 2022 across UK & Europe.” E-scooters also remain a popular choice (and, among adult riders, may be even more attractive now following Fuelgate 2021). Within its own brand portfolio, MV Sports’ new range of Li-Fe and wired e-scooters will ‘take the category to the next level’, according to joint MD Phil Ratcliffe. At the time of writing, the use of e-scooters on anything bar private land is still illegal, unless part of a certified hire-scheme being trialled in some major cities, but demand is high regardless. When legislation allows their use on the roads, as is expected following pressure from organisations including climate action groups, sales will likely soar further still. The big wide world also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor role-play. Wilton Bradley has bolstered its Playhouse brand and built on the strength of its awardwinning range of outdoor Mud Kitchens with the new Make ‘n’ Mend Workbench, which is made from wood and designed to blend perfectly into any garden – ideal if kids want to make and fix along with a DIY/upcyclingobsessed parent during the summer months. Scott Eden, design director at Wilton Bradley, explains: “It’s

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no secret that when it comes to outdoor play, kids need no help in creating their own imaginary worlds. Our Playhouse brand of garden play furniture complements the desire to imagine and dream, and, as they are made from wood, the products also blend perfectly into any outdoor setting. Our Playhouse products provide kids with all the tools necessary, literally and metaphorically, to develop exceptional cognitive skills, co-ordination and more, seamlessly blending learning and play to create a range of stimulating experiences kids will love whilst playing and exploring textures, shapes and colours.” Little Tikes, a leader in outdoor role-play, launched its Growing Garden range in March. Aimed at aspiring mini gardeners, the true-to-life range is designed for little ones with a love of the outdoors and is an ideal range of toys to enjoy alongside green fingered family members. Featuring a Watering Can & Gloves for tending to newly planted seeds, the collection also includes a Garden Hand Tools Bag for storing all the smaller gardening essentials. A Large Tool Set contains all the bigger tools every budding gardener needs, including a shovel, rake and garden hoe, and there's also a Wheelbarrow and Shovel; the wheelbarrow is designed with an easy-rolling front wheel which allows for endless hours of gardening fun. All sets include a



Feature

Outdoor Toys

Gardening Tips Booklet to help kids learn as they go, and the Growing Garden product boxes are dual-use and can be turned inside out and transformed into planters. Following the success of Growing Garden, and the continued strength of the Fountain Factory Water Table, Michelle Lilley, head of marketing – UK Little Tikes, is looking forward to launching a completely new theme. Foamo, she explains, takes the outdoor play table concept in a ‘whole new direction’ by providing new play opportunities for children aged two and up. “It’s disruptive; we’re expecting it to really drive excitement with media, just like when we launched inflatables,” she says. “The range includes a Foamo machine - who wouldn’t want their very own foam machine? - and the Foamo 3-in-1 Water Table. The latter is my personal favourite. It combines the wonder of water, foam and bubbles – every kid’s favourite things. It will be supported by an exciting heavyweight marketing campaign including PR, social media and advertising support and has all the makings of a huge success. I can’t wait to see it launch.” While foam play might be a relatively new entrant to the outdoor play category, bubbles have been a mainstay for generations. Whether they’re attempting to blow the largest bubble possible, racing to pop them before they touch the floor, or trying to land them delicately on an outstretched palm, kids are captivated by bubbles in all their shapes and sizes. Funrise’s Gazillion Bubbles brand has been a staple within the outdoor category since its initial launch almost 20 years ago. Demonstrating the company’s approach to the best in bubble tech, Q1 2022 welcomes the Gazillion Bubbles Twirlin’ Bubble Wand and the Giant Gazillion Bubbles Big Bubble Loop, among other new offerings. According to Craig Mair, national account manager, UK & Ireland, Funrise International, parents turned in even greater numbers to Gazillion Bubbles in 2020, for screen free play and time well spent with their kids during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to impressive 37% growth. He adds: “2021 has been even

more impressive, despite the end of lockdown and a particularly inclement summer, delivering another 35% growth in the first half alone. Even in these unprecedented times Gazillion Bubbles has proven to still be parents’ go-to for bubbles, definitely meeting and exceeding our expectations for the year.” “We always strive to provide nothing short of the best products to our consumers and retailers,” continues Craig. “We make sure we are constantly progressing with innovative brands and products and are always trying to stay ahead of the game. We work very closely with our retailers to make sure they have everything they need, from new and ground-breaking toys that will deliver strong sales and profits on shelf, to tailored solutions and making sure they have product inventory even during these unprecedented times.” These are unprecedented times indeed. Unless living under a rock, everyone reading this will be aware of the disruption suffered by the supply chain in recent months – container prices and shortages of HGV drivers among the leading culprits - and these troubles look like they won’t be going away any time soon: by some expert’s estimates, KPMG’s Don Williams among them, until at least mid-2022. Anecdotally, we’ve been hearing from retailers that the shipping crisis has galvanised them to bring in their outdoor stock earlier than ever before, something Pritesh at DGL and Phil at MV Sports have both seen for themselves. “I think the major issue right now is getting full containers out of factories,” says Phil. “We have a healthy forward order book, not only because customers are ordering earlier but because retailers are in need of stock as soon as possible.” Pritesh, meanwhile, says DGL has, as a supplier, also been bringing orders forward, as have its retailers, ruefully noting that this year’s ‘plans of its own’ have resulted in new challenges. These challenges have extended product lead-times to beyond that which Pritesh would ever have imagined. He adds: “I’ve actually kept up to speed thanks to the regular updates from our friends at Toy World magazine.”

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Irrespective of logistics issues, all our contributors tell us they’re placing strong marketing behind all their latest outdoor launches. Funrise supports Gazillion Bubbles, like all its brands, with robust marketing campaigns that drive sell-through and repeat purchase, working with its Global Brand Marketing team and externally with PR agencies. New brand commercials are created each season to promote the newest Gazillion products, and are placed on both linear and digital platforms. Social media forms a significant part of the company’s marketing efforts: this includes working with social media influencers with high engagement and followings to secure space in the everevolving world of social media. Social media marketing is also a major focus for Little Tikes. The company will be increasing its marketing spend for the remainder of 2021 as well as for spring 2022, and a large portion of that spend will go towards social campaigns. “It’s important to us as a brand,” explains Michelle Lilley, when asked why social plays such a big role for Little Tikes. “Communicating daily with our customer base in real time is priceless, and a key part of our marketing strategy. We have nearly 600,000 followers on Facebook alone (over 803,000 across all UK social channels), and the UK’s largest preschool Facebook following too. Social media also provides a great opportunity to create exciting content and innovative campaigns. We partnered with LadBaby this year to pull a hilarious prank on LadBabyMum – both influencers known for their sense of humour, with a hugely engaged audience of parents. By surprising her with a special edition of ‘the UK’s bestselling car’ – an oversized Cozy Coupe – we reached 13.8m people, including 6.3m video views.” MV Sports, meanwhile, is driving new marketing content across all key items, with Dream Dens as well as its Spider-Man and Disney Princess wheeled toys appearing on TV until the end of this month, and Wilton Bradley says it has ‘big plans’ in the pipeline for the official launch of its new outdoor product, Water Wall. First announced at the start of September, Water Wall teaches kids about gravity, angles and water flow, offering limitless combinations so they can enjoy a different creation every time they play, simply by moving the components. Julian Marsh, marketing coordinator at Wilton Bradley, comments: "The Water Wall is a must have for households with imaginative toddlers. With a multitude of modular accessories included, kids can have fun creating their own water flows and seeing their problem-solving skills come to life as they pour water from the top." Over the following pages, Toy World readers can discover the other new products getting kids outside and active across the nation.


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Outdoor Toys

MV Sports 01217 488 000 | www.mvsports.co.uk MV offers a range of CoComelon wheeled toys including bikes, scooters, ride-ons and tepees, all emblazoned with bright, bold colours and the show’s main character, JJ. An ideal first scooter, the Deluxe Tri-scooter has an impressive array of features. The fully printed anti-slip foot plate not only ensures safety, but also features iconic graphics and has smooth sides to prevent ankle knocks. The wheels are constructed from wide puncture-proof tyres with deep treads, ensuring both optimal grip and stability for riders. The forks are protected for additional safety and durability, and the rear axles are covered to prevent injury. The handlebars adjust in height as riders grow and sport a cute custom-shaped character plaque and stem wrap. The Bobble ride-on features favourite characters JJ, TomTom, YoYo, Kiki and Ello. Perfect for kids just finding their feet, this ride-on is not only designed for comfort, with its moulded seat and soft handlebar grips, but also for safety, with a double rear wheel design that provides extra anti-tip stability and a sturdy steel frame. The easy grip handlebar with responsive movement makes this product perfect for beginner riders, helping to develop coordination and core balance. The perfect first bike for any CoComelon fan, and replete with colourful character graphics, the 2-in-1 10" training bike converts easily from a training to a balance bike in a matter of minutes. Stage one is the pedal bike: riders can get used to pedalling and steering with the aid of rear stabilisers. Stage two is the balance bike: the pedals and stabilisers are removed as core coordination, strength and skill improve, allowing kids to push-off and balance while freewheeling. The wide EVA moulded wheels with mag wheel inners provide extra stability, while the deep tread tyres offer a strong yet comfortable ride with excellent grip. Both the saddle and handlebars are adjustable in height to suit children as they grow and gain in confidence, and are soft enough to provide additional comfort while learning. Designed with a bright, all-over character print, the CoComelon safety helmet combines durability with comfort for scooting, skating, bike riding and more. The adjustable straps and rear size dial ensure a snug but secure fit for head sizes 46-54cm, while the ventilated shell and removable pads give a soft, airy feel when riding. For additional safety and convenience, the helmet features an easy to use quick-release buckle.

Character Options 01616 339 800 | www.character-online.com sales@charactergroup.plc.uk Character Options has reimagined some of its fresh-air favourites for a new generation to enjoy, including Moon Shoes, the original and iconic mini trampolines for feet. With Moon Shoes, kids can have fun as they jump with anti-gravity effects, while developing their balance and coordination skills. Made of quality, high-density plastic, with adjustable Velcro nylon closure straps, Moon Shoes feature a self-centring shoe platform and a non-skid grip surface. Jump It is a game combining jumping and skipping and is very easy for kids to master. They simply connect Jump It to one ankle, spin the ball and jump the cord. Jump It records the laps, so kids can concentrate on jumping and trying to beat their last score. It will keep track up to 1,000 laps, and is ideal for kids aged six and over – plus, no batteries are required. The popular KickerBall has special panels which channel air in ways standard footballs can’t. Made with revolutionary aerodynamic materials, budding football freestylers can learn to swerve, bend and curve the ball with ease. Kids can kick the side of the ball from the left to swerve it right and vice versa, while striking the ball in the centre, using just the right kicking power, will bend it. The ball is struck gently from below to bump it to other players, while a powerful kick from below will send it soaring sky high.

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Outdoor Toys

Waboba 01380 872950 | www.virtual.waboba.com sales@tkcsales.co.uk Waboba is set to release two new backyard games in early 2022 which will build on the success of its newest bestsellers — the Airlyft glider and the silicone Wingman disks. Both items will be shown at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in January. Driven by the knowledge that consumers are spending ever more time outdoors, Waboba created Throwback and Backnine to further grow its portfolio. The company is also using its current products to put a spin on classic games. Throwback recreates the classic Velcro paddle game from the early 90s and introduces a new version of the Airlyft hollow glider. This next generation Velcro catch game features two soft, flexible paddles and an Airlyft glider with Velcro around the ring. Flying over 30 meters, the Velcro paddles make it fun to run, jump and stretch in an effort to catch the Airlyft on impact. Waboba will be supporting Throwback with a 90s-style social media campaign, with images, product information videos and social clips inviting retailers to take part in the fun. Backnine is a 1-4 player outdoor game that combines the best bits of bocce and disc golf. This nomadic disc golf game set includes one flying target ring and four different coloured Waboba Wingman discs. Simply throw the target ring and play from where it lands, throwing far or close to set the course challenge level. Each player then takes turns throwing their Wingman disk, trying to land it on or in the ring in the least number of throws. A scorecard is included to keep track of the throws, and the ring features three zones so players create their own fun rules that apply when a disc lands in a certain area. Backnine comes packaged in a carry bag, making it portable and lightweight for travel, and can be played on grass, sand and even snow.

Mookie Toys 01525 722 769 | www.mookie.co.uk TP Toys is launching a range of potting benches, giving children their very own garden station where they can experience the joys of growing their own vegetables from seed. Each TP Potting Bench is packed with a variety of functional play value accessories including a viewing window so children can peek and see how their vegetables are growing and when they are ready to pick. Due to popular demand, the premium TP Infinity Trampoline range is expanding with the addition of the Infinity Rectangular and Infinity Round trampolines. Built to last, the high spec trampolines deliver a superior bounce performance and feature outstanding safety features. Exclusive to the Infinity range is the Intelligent YOYO Enclosure System, meaning the enclosure can be taken down by one person in less than a minute. Children can also get active on the TP UFO Climb and Swing, a climbing frame on which they can release their energy before relaxing in the cosy den or enjoying some swing action.

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www.ses-creative.com www.ses-creative.com For more information please contact For more information sales@ses-creative.co.uk or callplease 01304contact 746 030 sales@ses-creative.co.uk or call 01304 746 030


Outdoor Toys

Little Tikes 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Little Tikes’ new Foamo 3-in-1 Water Table features both a bubble machine and a foam machine with a motor. The centre tower fills up with foam, which overflows out of the openings. Cool water play accessories, including a ferris wheel that spins while picking up foam as well as a foam clapper, offer even more fun. Making play more accessible and affordable, any soap or bubble solution will work with the machine and hand pump. The Little Tikes Dirt Diggers Excavator Sandbox has a construction theme and a lid that doubles as a truck ramp. The excavator really works: kids can scoop, dig and dump real sand as they play. With six sand accessories, including the Dirt Digger, little ones will have more than enough tools to keep playing and digging. While the sand is not included, the Little Tikes Dirt Diggers Excavator Sandbox can hold up to 46kg of it. The Foamo Foam Machine brings the party home, with everything kids need (bar water) to start making mountains of foam within minutes. The unique, non-toxic foam solution creates stacks of foam that leave little to no residue behind and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Foamo is perfect for birthdays, holidays and everyday play. For many children, outdoor play begins in the garden. Thanks to the Growing Garden range, this can include learning about the natural world and helping adults to look after an outdoor space. Each product in the range includes a Gardening Tips Book to help make gardening easier, and most product boxes can be turned upside down to transform them into planters. The Growing Garden Large Tool Set includes a shovel, rake and garden hoe, sized for young gardeners and made of durable and lightweight metal and wood. Elsewhere in the range, the Growing Garden Hand Tools & Bag provides durable and lightweight metal tools for endless hours of use, and the child-sized tote bag is perfect for storing and carrying tools. The Growing Garden Wheelbarrow & Shovel makes it possible for children to get stuck into big jobs, thanks to their small size and lightweight, durable metal design. All items will be supported by a robust media campaign, with products appearing on screens ahead of the summer season.

Wilton Bradley 01626 835 400 | www.wiltonbradley.com The Xootz BMW Z4 Roadster Electric Ride-On from Wilton Bradley is an officially licensed BMW ride-on for kids featuring all the details of the full-scale powerhouse. The kidney grille, sculptured bonnet and working front lights all add style while the slow start function, 3-speed drive and reverse gear mean little ones can practise their driving in the ultimate driving machine. If they are too young to take the wheel parents don’t need to worry, as the included carry handle under the car head, training wheels under the rear bumper and remote control allow them to take control. Inside the vehicle is an MP3 player with AUX input, while beneath the bonnet is a rechargeable 12V battery. Great for indoors or outdoors, the Xootz BMW Z4 Roadster Electric Ride-On can make light work of carpet, garden terrain or smooth tarmac thanks to its front wheel suspension. The car is suitable for kids aged 3 to 6 years. Wilton Bradley’s new Xootz wheeled toy additions include the Venom Go Cart, a new development based on the award-winning Viper Go-Kart which has a distinctive look, with its front “Pincer” mouldings. The kart features a tough steel frame, ERVA tyres and forward, reverse and freewheel (coasting) gears. It caters for a range of sizes, from 5 to 10 year-olds – up to 50Kgs, as it has two adjustable seat positions.

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Outdoor Toys

Simba Smoby Toys UK 01620 674 778 / 01620 674 778 www.simba-dickie-group.de/en sales@sisotoysuk.com The Smoby brand continues to go from strength to strength, with Simba Smoby Toys UK reporting massive growth for its outdoor toy collection this year. And next year promises to be no different, with a host of new launches and significant investment into the range. Included in the SS22 portfolio is the Sweet Corner Playhouse, a themed set which looks just like a pop-up ice cream parlour and is packed with features to make roleplay in the garden as realistic as possible. The set up comes complete with a ‘Sweety Corner’ sign with sprinkles, as well as a sliding exterior sign to draw up the menu. Kids can invite customers to place their orders at the window before pretending to prepare their treats and handing the coffees and ice-creams across the external countertop. The set comes complete with 18 accessories. Also in Smoby’s outdoor portfolio is the Garden Kitchen, an outdoor kitchen set-up which allows kids to host their own barbecue summer parties. From the grill to the fryer, all the way through to the sink with water pump, children will have all the tools they require to pretend play at cooking up a treat for their friends and family. The set comes with all the utensils and pretend sauces required for an outdoor feast.

Vivid 01483 449944 | www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk Vivid will be launching Australia’s top outdoor brand Wahu in the UK in 2022. The range features sport items such as Wingblade, a 10” throwing ring and Wingblade Pro, a 13” throwing ring. The rings feature performance stabilisers which create accuracy and lead to incredible flying distances. There is also Zoom Ball and Zoom Ball Hydro, the zip it to rip it flying ball, plus Rip Rocket, the bouncing ball with tail for flight and great bounce height. Zoingo Boingo will be relaunched; the pogo stick with a boingo ball featuring a wider base that helps younger children balance whilst they bounce on whatever type of ground they want. The familiar and very successful Phlat Ball, frequently in the top 5 items in NPD Outdoor Sports Category, is also now available in eye catching new Wahu packaging. The range includes the Phlat Ball Junior, Phlat Ball Classic and the Phlat Ball Flash. The Wahu range also includes a range of fun inflatable garden items for the summer months. The Bash N Splash is a 1.2-metre-high punch bag that connects to hoses for continuous water blast and bounce back action. Also in the range is Splash N Snake, a 4-metre-long snake which projects water in all directions, and Hop Skip N Splash, the classic game with a blast of water. There’s also Super Slide, a 7.5-metre-long water slide, and Score N Hoop, the ultimate inflatable garden game centre with hoops, targets and nets. Super Wubble, the amazing bubble ball which is super squishy, squashy and lightweight, continues into 2022 after continuous year-on-year success. It is available with or without pump in either pink or blue. Following on from the sell-out success from this year’s launch, Wubble Rumblers are available as a Wrestler or a Ninja which each inflate up to 3ft tall. All brands are supported by TV advertising from March throughout the whole of summer.

Chicco 020 8953 6627 | www.chicco.co.uk Chicco’s inflatable Panda Coach is a fun and friendly character that allows children aged 2-5 to express their emotions whilst improving their motor and precision skills. With two large targets, children can play by themselves or challenge their friends. Each successful contact landed on one of the targets will be rewarded with fun sounds, offering extra encouragement as kids play. With its inflatable body and waterfilled base, the Panda Coach never lies down, meaning children can enjoy hours of fun. Forming part of Chicco’s sustainable Eco+ range, the new Balance Bike is the first to be made of recycled plastic. Suitable from 18 months to five years, the bike has soft anti-puncture wheels and ergonomic handles, helping little ones acquire the necessary balance on two wheels before moving onto a bicycle with pedals. Inspired by nature, the bike has a strong focus on sustainability and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, providing an enjoyable playing experience for kids wherever they are.

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Outdoor Toys

Dantoy (45) 96 574 100 | www.dantoy.dk akh@dantoy.dk Dantoy’s new Tiny line has been designed with the needs of babies and toddlers at its heart. Scoops, spades and rakes, buckets of various sizes, cups, plates and moulds make outdoor handson play accessible and fun, as Tiny’s colours, shapes and functions help develop kids’ senses, coordination, concentration and motor skills. In line with Dantoy’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainability, the Tiny range is made of sugarcane bioplastic, a residual product from sugarcane production that would otherwise go to waste. Dantoy’s bio products bear the Swan Ecolabel and are produced in Denmark. Safety is ensured through meticulous testing procedures and certifications schemes, meaning all items are safe for contact with food. They are also dishwasher safe for easy clean up once play is over.

DKL-Beysal 01604 678 780 | www.dkl.co.uk DKL-Beysal’s outdoor play range, K3yriders, features a variety of animal themed scooters and 3D helmets, with designs including a shark, dalmatian, lion, dinosaur and unicorn. The range includes 3D design helmets and plush accessories and is suitable for children aged 3+. The K3yriders 3-wheeled plush scooters are foldable and extendable and are available with matching 2-in-1 plush helmets; these can be used as a protective helmet alone or with the plush cover for some fun. There are also 3D shark and unicorn helmets, providing protection while transporting children into a fantasy world. The scooters boast additional features such as light up wheels, which will keep kids amused for hours while staying active and exploring the outdoors. Stock is available now for immediate delivery.

Geemac 01604 401719 | Sales@geemac.biz Geemac is pleased to offer the leading outdoor brand Sportspower, which remains in-demand among parents looking to keep their kids active. The range focuses on five key areas of outdoor play: trampolines, outdoor metal, constant air, wood play and goals. Next year sees Geemac launch its largest product portfolio to date, which will include an additional licensed offering from pre-school brand Fisher Price. Following a strong 2020, Geemac has invested back into new product and lifestyle photography, component assets and instructional videos to support online growth, while national marketing campaigns will further drive sales. Items can now be supplied direct FOB, domestically or home delivered, and all Sportspower products will also be supported by the company’s in-house helpline.

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www.wiltonbradley.co.uk

sales@wiltonbradley.co.uk

01626 835400


Outdoor Toys

KAP Toys 01423 368 888 | www.kids-at-play.com KAP Toys continues to offer a strong line-up of robust branded ride-on vehicles via its manufacturing partner, Falk. The company’s established French factory is able to cater to both large and small volume orders and can develop a programme to suit any retailer in their pursuit of the summer ride-on business. A particular standout within the UK & Ireland market is the licensed JCB range. The KAP team believes the multi-award winning JCB Excavator should be a mainstay in any credible ride-on toy line, and - based on its 2021 success for the company – is ideally complemented by the JCB Foot-to-Floor ride on. Both feature the iconic yellow and black colour scheme JCB is known for and feature sturdy wheels for hours of outdoor fun. KAP Toys can also offer a wide selection of other lines across the Claas, New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Voltra and Landini brands, all of which offer kids robust play featuring favourite real-life vehicle brands.

HGL

01416 132 525 | www.ozbozz.com The exuberance and skill of the Tokyo Olympics skateboarding stars have added to the interest in this sport. To cater to the increasing demand for boards and accessories, this year will see Ozbozz launch an updated skateboard offering. Eye-catching new designs on the brand’s wooden boards will complement the bright neons of its plastic boards range, which is available in all sizes. Building on a portfolio of award-winning scooters, 2021 welcomes two new Light Twist 3-wheeled scooters in blue and pink colourways. These striking designs incorporate a light-up deck for added appeal. The Tie Dye Scooter with Flashing Wheels and the Rainbow Scooter with Flashing Wheels each tap into two of the latest design trends in scooters. When kids start moving, the lights in the wheels automatically turn on, illuminating the front and back of their ride. There is also a foot brake located on the back wheel for extra control. The scooter folds flat for easy storage and transportation. For younger children, learning to ride a bike is a key moment. Ozbozz offers two balance bikes to help kids find their way on wheels, in two different colourways. The perfect transition between a ride-on and a stabilised bike, these balance bikes feature strong, puncture-proof EVA tyres, soft-grip handles and a durable steel frame that makes them lightweight to transport. The adjustable seat means children won't grow out of them any time soon. Older children are catered for with the Big Wheel Torq Ruff Scooter. This sturdy scooter is suitable for on- and off-road riding thanks to its large 200mm front and rear wheels. The bigger wheels allow it to more easily traverse rougher terrain, like cobblestones, potholes and kerbs. A handy kickstand keeps the scooter upright once kids reach their destination, while the convenient folding design makes it easy to store and transport. With its slightly smaller 145mm wheels, the Vyper Folding scooter still gives a smooth ride over surfaces while offering consumers a more cost-effective price point. A wide range of new Outdoor products from Ozbozz and Tobar, including pogo sticks, pogo balls, hoppers, pop-up tunnels and tents, is coming into stock. These are available to view and order via the website, or speak to the sales team for more information.

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Manufactured by: Sakar International 800.637.1090 Distributed by: Aliana Ltd - Contact Stephen Rowley

stephen@aliana.ie

t +353851215237


Outdoor Toys

United Wheels UK 01525 664041 | www.huffybikes.co.uk | salesuk@huffy.com The famed bike brand Huffy, a household name in the US, is set to bring its rides to the UK. The brand, whose strapline is ‘We make fun’, says its offerings will help retailers obtain all-important Christmas 2021 sales. First bikes are an exciting milestone for kids, and the 12” Pro Thunder from Huffy is no exception. This bike is ideal for fun adventures with family and friends, with its bright colours and cool graphics. The durable volt yellow steel frame is complemented by bold, rugged tyres mounted on blue rims, plus front and rear mudguards, calliper brakes and a padded seat. Easy assembly means the bike can be ready to ride in just a short time, and training wheels are also included. The Huffy Delirium 16” Bike features a camouflage paint job that gives it an edgy style. The matt silver frame, black graphics and number 16 race plate demand attention and guarantee fun, while the front and rear calliper brakes deliver solid stopping power. Translucent grips reveal dual-colour graphics underneath. The padded seat adds comfort to every adventure, and the adjustable seat post allows the bike to grow with kids. Offering a smooth ride in a floral design, the Huffy Girly Girl 20” Bike is ideal for kids wanting to accompany mum and dad on errands. The single-speed bike features flower graphics on the frame and saddle, along with a bright pop of colour thanks to the sea crystal mudguards and handlebar. The large handlebar basket makes it easy to carry a jacket, toys or other belongings, meaning kids can enjoy two-wheeled exploration in both comfort and style. For more excitement, the Huffy 12V Green Machine Vortex, suitable for kids eight years old and over, is a 12-volt battery ride-on that allows thrill seekers to execute spins and pull off wheelies. It can power forward and reverse and accelerate up to 8mph. Kids simply hold down the throttle button to keep the action going. The dual-stick steering is intuitive and easy to learn, while the high-back seat supports spins and comes with a seatbelt for added safety.

HTI 01253 778888 | www.htigroup.co.uk | evo@htigroup.co.uk Evo has continued to evolve by developing its range of scooters and wheeled products for all age groups, offering quality and outstanding design. Now Evo is raising the bar further with innovative and inspiring additions to its autumn/winter 2022 line-up. Evo will be bringing exciting new items to the toddler, off-road, and commuter scooter offering. The brand will also extend its fast-growing e-scooter business. Accompanying the innovative new launches will be an injection of new trend-driven colours. Applied to selected products, these will keep the ranges fresh and relevant. Evo is introducing three new models into the stunt arena. As with all other Evo scooters, attention has been paid to every detail, from design to materials and performance. The latest additions to the product offering have something for everyone, from novice to expert riders and everyone in between. In line with the current stunt trend, Evo is bringing a tight, value-focused range of skateboards under the brand’s umbrella. Comprising five distinct models with custom Evo designed decks, these new boards will have kids kickflipping to a frontside 50-50 (or simply learning to the basics) in no time at all. Evo has also re-envisioned its battery-operated product range. Incorporating the trend-driven style and branding seen across the entire Evo collection, the offering now comprises of six new design themes across 27 items. In addition to new graphic styles, Evo is also introducing two new items to the market - a 4x4 and a mini quad - both underlining Evo’s unique value proposition via strong styling and an enhanced focus on packaging efficiency. HTI is looking forward to showcasing its new and exciting autumn/winter 2022 line-up both virtually and in its physical showrooms in the UK and HK. Readers are advised to get in touch if they would like to book an appointment.

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Manufactured by: Sakar International 800.637.1090 Distributed by: Aliana Ltd - Contact Stephen Rowley

stephen@aliana.ie

t +353851215237


Outdoor Toys

John Adams

01480 414361 | www.johnadams.co.uk

SES Creative 01304 746030 | www.ses-creative.com sales@ses-creative.co.uk SES Creative has many new and exciting products joining its Outdoor and Explore ranges for 2022. With nearly 60 products to choose from, half of them brand-new, the company has grown its Outdoor presence substantially. SES covers a range of categories such as bubbles, active products and exploration, and with all its toys offering safe and educational play. They are also 100% CO2 neutral and manufactured in Holland. New for 2022, Swirl Spinners offer a great way for kids to have fun outside. Simply get the Swirl Spinners at the ready and spin. Once in motion, the spinner creates crazy sounds. An ideal toy for the playground, Swirl Spinners are available in glitter, glow in the dark and metallic variants. Kubb Junior, a special edition for younger kids, is a fun take on the traditional Scandinavian game. Players compete to be the first to knock over the other team's pins and then take on the ‘lion king’. Kubb Junior includes a handy storage bag for portability. Street Dominoes is specifically designed for outdoor use. These extra-large and durable dominoes feature a variety of animals, so kids of all ages can enjoy matchmaking. New this year, the 2-in-1 activity game Bowling and Ring Toss is also animal themed. Colourful pictures and high-quality wood pieces mean kids can play two different games with just one product: arrange the colourful animals like bowling pins and try to knock them over by throwing the ball, or use the frame supplied to turn it into a ring toss game. All the above novelties sit alongside SES Creative’s other best-selling lines including Mega Bubbles, Standing in a Bubble and Animal Yoga.

John Adams Leisure continues to expand its successful Intex outdoor toys range, adding a selection of new products to its portfolio of inflatables, pools and ride-on toys. Next summer, the Intex Dinoland Play Centre will let kids and families cool off in Jurassic style. This paddling pool comes with six colourful Fun Ballz and three Dino Hoops, making it perfect for outdoor games with or without the paddling pool. The Intex Dinoland Play Centre simply has to be inflated for the fun to begin: it’s easy to set up and ideal for a summer in the sun. The Sprinkle Donut can be used for leisurely floating on lazy summer days, while the fruit-inspired Pineapple Splash Pool set comes complete with a beach ball, swim ring and repair patch. The two new Snapset pools are also a great addition to any garden in the summer. The Snorkel Fun Snapset Pool measures 4’10”and features cute cartoon snorkelers on the outside, while the Ocean Play Snapset Pool is 6’x13” in size and is decorated with fun and friendly sea characters. The new Flying Disc Toss Game is a great way to get kids moving and having fun. The game can be played in the pool or on the grass. Complete with inflatable discs, the aim of the game is to toss the discs into the coloured inflatable rings. The new play centres and inflatables will sit alongside the existing Intex range of market-leading above-ground pools, ride-on toys and games.

Toynamics UK & Ireland 0116 478 5230 | www.toynamics.co.uk | sales@toynamics.co.uk Toynamics UK & Ireland distributes leading educational play brand Hape, which offers retailers a selection of popular outdoor toys. Hape’s Nature Fun is a range of sustainable, eco-friendly outdoor toys for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Made from bioplastic and bamboo, the most sustainable plant in the world, by the time a Nature Fun toy makes its way into a child’s hands, the bamboo used to make it has already grown back. The best-selling Hape Nature Fun Wooden Bamboo Nature Detective Set comes with a magnifying glass and whistle. Kids can get a close-up look at leaves, bugs, rocks and creepy crawlies with the 4x magnifying glass, and once they find something interesting, they can use the whistle to let their friends know. The range also includes the Hape Nature Fun Wooden Bamboo Hide-and-Seek Periscope. Children can peek over walls and into bird and rabbit holes with this periscope, which comes with a handy wrist strap so it won’t get lost. The Hape Nature Fun Bug Explorers Jar, made from sustainable plant-based plastic, allows kids to catch and study insects safely. The 4x magnifying glass lid is complemented by a measuring grid for comparing the sizes of different bugs, and air holes so they can breathe. Finally, the popular Hape Nature Fun Wooden Bamboo Hand Powered Flashlight is perfect for the eco-friendly explorer as it doesn’t require batteries.

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Outdoor Toys

DGL 03333 000 168 | www.hover-1.com As another busy peak trading period approaches, DGL’s focus is dual-pronged: delivering beautiful product for Black Friday and Christmas, while also looking to 2022 and the innovation it can introduce to keep its growing e-mobility category moving forward. DGL’s internal design team continue to impress year after year with the designs and features they pack into the company’s products. Q4 will see Hover-1 introduce stunning new products, offering more features than ever before in eye-catchingly beautiful colourways and finishes. The LED infinity wheels are expected to be a particular hit. In addition, DGL is preparing to launch a selection of new 2-in-1 hoverboard and buggy combos. A year-round fan-favourite, these products come into their own at Christmas due to their highly giftable nature. Following the consistent successes of the buggy attachment over previous years, DGL has supercharged its offering with the introduction of the Raptor Buggy, complete with LED fog blasters, racing sounds and built-in suspension. Over the past 18 months DGL has also seen strong growth within the E-scooters sector and is eagerly awaiting the launch of its Journey model this Q4. This new electric scooter is tipped to become DGL’s most successful scooter to date. Heading into 2022, a major focus will be DGL’s My First range. The company’s existing products for ages 8+ have performed strongly in the market so far, and DGL now feels it is time to grow a younger side of the business, following the success of the My First range in the US. In addition to hoverboards, the range includes electric scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, buggy combos and even a forklift, with plenty more on the horizon. DGL’s design teams continue to work very closely with the company’s social teams. This relationship has seen the company’s social media presence go from strength to strength thanks to a raft of spectacular content showcasing the entire DGL range. Lines to look out for in 2022 include the Hover-1 Trak and the My First Dirt E-Bike.

Sakar 02476 518 500 | www.sakar.com Voyager combines advanced technologies with innovative electric personal transportation vehicles by providing the ultimate combination of style, mobility and entertainment. The company says it is dedicated to developing the most innovative personal electric rides on the market, using only the highest quality components in Voyager vehicles, which all adhere to the strictest quality control and certification standards. The original patented 3D scooter launches in Europe with an expanded cast of licensed and other lovable characters. These patented scooters enhance role play, as kids can engage and ride along with their favourite characters. The easy-to-use Tilt N’ Turn steering system is connected to a 3-wheel deck, offering a safe stable riding experience as pre-schoolers develop their strength and balance. With a full complement of over 25 unique licensed and non-licensed characters and vehicles to choose from, most models are also available with full light up decks, light up wheels and sounds to enhance engagement and fun. Hover Beats is a hover board for anyone that loves music, dancing and standing out, as it features built-in Bluetooth speakers and sound-activated lights. Kids can choreograph fun and creative tricks to the beat with Hover Beats’ self-balancing technology and compete against or collaborate with their friends doing cool tricks and routines. They can hover up to five miles on a single charge. Also combining a Bluetooth speaker and light-up front wheel is Scooter Beats – a scooter and disco all in one, which provides an hour’s ride time on a single charge.

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Outdoor Toys

Dolu 07850 779 797 / 07877 443733 | ww.dolu.com | sales@sjr-associates.co.uk.

Dolu Toys has now completed its move to the company’s new 55,000sq. metre factory a short distance from the centre of Istanbul, with continuining development making it one of the most efficient toy factories in Europe. Dolu has over 250 items in its catalogue, with a large focus on outdoor lines. Its biggest selling items in this category are its tractors, playhouses, sand and water tables, trikes, outdoor playgyms and ride-on motobikes. Dolu’s outdoor toy range has proved hugely successful with consumers. The company is one of only a few to offer a comprehensive pink unicorn-themed range, which includes a Unicorn Tractor and Trailer. The breadth of the range, and the varied colourways, gives aesthetically-minded consumers the option of coordinating all their outdoor play equipment and accessories. The play houses, slides, picnic tables, rockers, trikes, tractors and trailers are also available in a primary colourway of yellow, red and blue. Tractors continue to make up a significant portion of Dolu’s overall business and the company has increased its offering significantly. Retailers can choose from a multitude of different models, formats and colour options, including a tractor with trailer, a tractor with front loaders, a fun pink unicorn theme, and green, yellow, blue, red and orange colourways. Dolu launched its first multi-purpose sand and water tables in 2020; an outdoor table that can offer sand or water play, but with the flexibility to be used as a table or desk whilst protecting the sand underneath. Offering this product in two colour options has given consumers greater choice and the ability to buy into a colour-coordinated range of garden products. Dolu introduced a further two tables in 2021: a fun water fountain table designed for water play, complete with working water wheels and accessories, and a 4-in-1 gardening table for green-fingered children. The majority of Dolu’s outdoor lines are delivered in strong brown or white boxes with colour imagery, which are ideal for both in-store display and direct dispatch. Current freight rates from China mean the Turkish company can deliver for far less than similar products from the Far East would cost. Turkey has also signed a free trade deal with the UK, meaning business as usual for Dolu. The company can deliver direct to Northern Ireland without going through the mainland, while retailers in ROI can get delivieries directly into Cork or Dublin.

Funrise 01908 555 640 | www.funrise.com | salesuk@funrise.com For almost 20 years, Gazillion Bubbles has been an industry leader in the Outdoor category. The company offers both innovation and premium quality in bubble solutions, handheld bubble toys and high-output bubble machines. Gazillion prides itself on delivering magical moments for kids and families with its range of superior bubble toys, which allows users to blow perfect bubbles every single time. The brand says its top-secret bubble solution blows bigger, brighter, more colourful bubbles than any other solution on the market. Each 2L bottle of Gazillion Bubbles solution comes with a specially designed 7-in-1 bubble wand and works with any Gazillion Bubbles product. Kids can be ready for hours of fun with their favourite Gazillion products thanks to the oversized refill bottle, which comes filled with a premium bubble solution that is eco-friendly, non-toxic and will not stain clothing or furniture. One of the brand’s best-selling bubble machines, the Gazillion Bubbles Rollin’ Wave instantly creates waves of bubbles with just the press of a button. The machine’s innovative design is simple to operate and unleashes an endless flow of bubbles for hours of fun. New to Gazillion Bubbles this spring are the Gazillion Bubbles Twirlin’ Bubble Wand and the Giant Gazillion Bubbles Big Bubble Loop. The Twirlin’ Bubble Wand is a handheld bubble wand that makes thousands of bubbles. Kids simply dip the wand into the bubble solution, adjust the handle and spin for non-stop bubble fun. Alternatively, they can adjust the handle to straighten out the wand and wave it to create tonnes of bubbles. The Giant Gazillion Bubbles Big Bubble Loop, meanwhile, lets kids create the biggest bubbles ever with a wave of the bubble rope. Having fill the tray with Giant Gazillion bubble solution, they just dip the rope in and gently pull back the handle to fully extend the rope. Once extended, waving it creates massive bubbles.

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INTRODUCING AUSTRALIA ’S LEADING OUTDOOR BRAND TO THE UK…

FUN INFLATABLE GARDEN RANGE

ALL TV AND DIGITALLY SUPPORTED

www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk

Tel: 01483 449944


Opinion

America’s top problem for indie toy retailers…

Letter from America

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

T

he labour shortage has surfaced as the top issue facing us since the reopening after Covid shutdowns in 2020. Pictured here is a full team as we would usually have at this time of year; today the team is half the size for double the volume. This increased sales volume – for which I am by no means complaining - means more inventory to deal with, as well as stepped-up servicing to handle the crowds. And while the economics may shout out great profits, we are forced to be careful what we wish for.

Finding, hiring and training retail workers use to be a routine process. We put the word out and plenty of good candidates would apply; from this, two out of three hires generally made the cut. In 2021, it has been very difficult to find any candidates, let alone experienced ones. Retail simply does not have the attraction as a part-time job or career that it used to. Since Covid, many have either trained for new jobs, decided not to work at all, or have entered another field that does not have the stress of dealing with customers, being on your feet 6-8 hours a day and having to work weekends. This hasn’t been for lack of trying on our part. We have always compensated fairly but have now improved our offers to include healthcare benefits, tuition reimbursement, bonus opportunities monthly as well as at yearend, in addition to product discounts and flexible hours. Our hourly rate is well above that of the big box retailers. But finding staff is still proving very difficult. So, what is going on besides some of the factors mentioned above? High school and college age kids no longer seem to believe that a first job can provide beneficial experience, at least in our area. Those that do apply (pressured by parents), tell us they can only work at certain times and on certain days and maybe a weekend once in a while. Retail IS weekends! Adults, meanwhile, have had to watch and be at home more with their kids during the last 18 months, and now there is less of a part time workforce available. Signs for ‘help wanted’ are all over our community, reflecting the struggle all businesses are having with hiring and finding suitable workers. At Learning Express, the resulting problems are fourfold: 1. We can’t expand our hours of operation. Before Covid, we opened 10am to 8pm, five days a week. Now it is 10am till 5pm, with Friday till 8pm. We have maintained opening on Saturday and Sunday from 10-5. 2. Inventory is backed up. Since we are twice as busy with current toy trends, it is a struggle to move goods to the front of the store each day. Some orders are now sitting in the back for 1-5 days, when normally they would be unpacked and put on shelf the same day. 3. The stress level and burn out factor is real. We truly value our team members, many of whom have been with us for 10+ years and we see the increased pressure they are under and toll it takes. Customers are more demanding and at times can deflate these very good people who take great pride in operating a large indie toy store to the benefit of the local children and community. 4. The level of service we offer everyday as a value add is diminished. Less people means less demo opportunities and less one-to-one consultations. These are things that we are known for and have used to our advantage during Covid. How much will this diminish is yet to be determined, but the competitive edge we have always had versus online retailers may suffer. Don’t get me wrong, the current supply chain challenges are real and will be a major hurdle, but this year it will take more time with less people to simply have the right product on the shelves, at the right price, at the right time. To all our friends and fellow indies out there, we feel your pain, know your struggles and wish you the very best. The old adage is “this too shall pass” but I wonder if we are witnessing a sea-change, if the bloom is off retail as a job and career? Small businesses that are determined will stay around, but most likely will employ less.

Richard can be reached on LinkedIn or by email at LE45@sbcglobal.net. Toy World 102

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fresh FRESH THIS MONTH:

Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. Here are new releases from: Exploding Kittens, HGL, Hornby, Konami, Mood Bears, XYZ Technologies and Zapf Creation.

Mood Bears

Mood Bears 07772939821 | www.moodbears.co.uk info@moodbears.co.uk

Mood Bears are a fun way to not only support children and adults as they negotiate all manner of emotions, but have become a tool that can be used to teach and educate children about their feelings too. There are eight bears in total and a Mood Bear book. Each of the Mood Bears comes with its own personal poem to help understand and talk about emotions, feelings and thoughts Each bear has been designed to represent one of the key emotions or moods and has the international symbol for that mood embroidered on its feet. The bears are all brightly coloured and are made of a soft material, making them perfect for children to recognise, associate with and cuddle to help them express themselves. The bears are suitable for all ages and made from 100% recycled materials.

Monster Kingdom

XYZ Technologies (86) 134 1706 0236 www.xyztechtoys.com Designed with the input of a real-life, three-year-old monster fan, XYZ Technologies’ new Monster Kingdom bag range offers fashion conscious kids a new way to express themselves. Each bag features on-trend artwork in colourways straight from the catwalk, plus imagery of the fun and friendly monster girls. Eight styles of bag are available, including larger backpacks, bags with shoulder or cross-body straps and chains, and handbags with grab handles. All are made from premium PVC, sized for pre-teens and attractively priced.

Fidget Toy Advent Calendar HGL 01603 397105 | www.tobar.co.uk sales@tobar.co.uk

HGL’s fun and on-trend Fidget Toy Advent Calendar is back in stock and ready for delivery. Helping kids count down to the big day in a novel way, this calendar hides 24 surprise fidget toys, including things to pop, snap, crack, squeeze and stretch, one behind each door. Each carefully selected toy is a best-seller in its own right, making this a great value gift for fidget fans, while stockists will appreciate the calendar’s shelf-friendly packaging.

For in-store wow factor, retailers can opt for a Monster Kingdom FSDU in a mustard/ teal colourway decorated with artwork and characters from the range.

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fresh Baby Annabell

Zapf Creation 0845 0533 333 | www.mgae.com Among the most exciting arrivals for AW21 is the Baby Annabell Let's Play Bath Time, a bathtub that is perfect for pretend play. While bath time play has never been possible for Baby Annabell, who is soft bodied and battery powered, this new arrival with ultra-realistic water effects allows Baby Annabell to enjoy the bath and bed routine for the first time. Little ones can put their favourite Baby Annabell doll into the tub and watch the 'magic' happen. The special 'water' effect will rise on both sides of the tub to reveal an under-the-sea pattern, and the side panels light-up. Little ones can gently tap the heart-shaped button on the shower head to hear fun splashing-in-the-tub sounds, and if they press it again, the shower head lights up, giving the illusion of water. Once Baby Annabell has finished ‘splashing’ in the tub, they can simply press the pink button again and the water effect will reverse, pretending it’s draining away.

Puzzles/ Poetry for Neanderthals Expansion Pack Exploding Kittens (31) 646 437 146 | www.explodingkittens.com Joeri@explodingkittens.com

Launching this winter is a range of puzzles featuring favourite characters from the Exploding Kittens universe. The range will consist of 500 and 1000 piece puzzles featuring nine new designs from The Oatmeal and the Exploding Kittens Creative Team. Famous works of art, by the likes of Edvard Munch and many more, have been given an Exploding Kittens makeover, and the team has also created its own original concepts including Cats playing Craps, Cats in Quarantine and The Dreams and Nightmares of a Dog. Each puzzle is created using premium blue board puzzle pieces that snap together and is made from 100% recycled materials, printed with vegetable or soy-based ink. Every design includes a full-colour poster reference sheet. The range will be refreshed regularly with new, additional designs. Exploding Kittens will also launch a Poetry for Neanderthals Expansion Pack in February 2022. A fresh set of cards will be added to the original game of competitive word-guessing where the player can only give clues by speaking in single syllables. If players use a longer word, an opponent bops them on the head with a 2ft inflatable No! Stick.

BrickPunk

Hornby 01843 233 525 www.uk.bassettlowke.co.uk sales@hornby.com Designed in conjunction with Bassett-Lowke SteamPunk Models, Hornby has launched BrickPunk- a new construction brick range which is markedly different to anything else on the market. The BrickPunk range consists of a series of construction kits which feature between 121 and 563 pieces, providing hours of entertainment for both children and kidult builders. Each kit also includes a figure to fit in with the model theme.

Yu-Gi-Oh! King’s Court

Konami Digital Entertainment BV 01753 271737 | www.yugioh-card.com/uk King’s Court revitalises Yugi’s ‘Three Musketeers of Face Cards’ – King’s Knight, Queen’s Knight and Jack’s Knight – with a new high-speed summoning strategy that always leaves players with a full hand. Joining the royal court is the World Premiere Joker’s Knight, a 2000 ATK monster similar to Magician’s Souls that can assume the identity of all three Knights. Players can return Joker’s Knight from their graveyard to their hand during each end phase by shuffling another Light Warrior from their graveyard into their deck, giving them a free summon to use every turn without depleting their hand. Joker’s Knight isn’t the only new card that’s going to keep returning to hands either. Two more World Premiere Joker cards, one Spell and one Trap, will provide players with powerful effects and then return to their hand in the end phase. Keeping a full hand is important for maximising the power of the World Premiere Arcana Triumph Joker, which powers up based on the total number of cards in both players’ hands. The Arcana Triumph Joker also lets a player discard cards to destroy all the face-up cards their opponent controls of the same card type. Those looking to power up their Egyptian God Deck: Slifer the Sky Dragon can use the new cards to gather tributes, add to their summoning power, and keep Slifer the Sky Dragon strong without forgoing the ability to play their cards. Using Slifer and Arcana Triumph Joker in the same deck offers even more firepower.

There are seven models to collect: Shockwave Attack Glider, Arachnid Steam Walker, Comet Horsebot, Gaussian Blimpoid, Frenzy Horsebot, Scoundrel Tractoid and Vortex Tractional Tank. The kits include horses, a tractor, steam walker, tank, glider and airship, which all tap into the Steampunk genre, giving them a distinctive look and feel.

King’s Court also has new cards that help out a wide variety of decks that many will have started building in 2021, including new cards related to deck strategies and themes introduced or supported in Legendary Duelists: Season 2, Lightning Overdrive, and more. Out soon are Collector’s Rare versions of World Premiere cards and previously unreleased cards from Japan, as well as classic and competitive favourites.

With price points ranging from £10.99 to £27.49, the sets make ideal Christmas gifts, not only for children, but for adults too. This is thanks to the design team using complicated building techniques to make the models realistic yet easy to put together, with the models’ finished appearance sophisticated enough to appeal to adults and appearing not to be made from brick pieces.

King’s Court booster packs are available now, at pocket-money price points.

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

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Allegedly

Tributes have poured in from across the world to Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, who sadly passed away last month, only two days after it was announced that he would be stepping down from his role on medical grounds. I personally never met Brian, but I get a real sense of the man from reading so many warm and heartfelt comments from former colleagues, customers, and competitors. They all spoke of his passion, his charisma and most of all what a great, down-to-earth person he was – so many people contrasted him with other high profile business figures, talking of how approachable and fundamentally decent he was. He will clearly be sadly missed by the whole toy community. It was sobering when I found out that Brian was younger than me – as Andy Laughton (another of a similar vintage) said on LinkedIn, “It makes you realize that life is for living.” It certainly does… The Toymaster regionals have been taking place over the past few weeks, and I have heard good things from both suppliers and retailers about the events. Toymaster members enjoyed a buoyant summer, and that has carried on into the autumn, with many members reporting that their customers have heeded the many messages encouraging them to start shopping early for Christmas. That has resulted in indies being still very much ‘open to buy’ to keep their stock levels up and their offering fresh, with many continuing to write orders long after they would traditionally have called it a day… Amazon has opened its first physical store in Bluewater, featuring a host of consumer products which includes toys (although from what I have read, not that many). Reports so far suggest the store provides something of an underwhelming experience, although I guess it depends what Amazon’s end game is here. The dual pricing strategy highlighted in store – one price if you have an Amazon account open, another much higher price if you don’t – may just be a way of persuading more people to set up an Amazon account ‘just in case’, hooking them into their eco-system… In a year dominated by supply chain challenges, last month’s petrol shortage fiasco added yet another complication for retailers and suppliers to deal with. By all accounts, the weekend when petrol shortages reached their peak saw retail sales plummet, as people who would have been out shopping were either sat in endless queues for petrol or sat at home conserving fuel for more essential journeys. Meanwhile, some indie retailers were out queueing at petrol stations at 4.00 in the morning, to ensure their vans had the necessary fuel to keep their stores topped up with stock – that is, of course, those who have been successful (or lucky enough) to obtain deliveries. Those retailers who built up stock levels early will no doubt be very pleased they had the foresight and confidence to get ahead of the pack…. The shortage of workers isn’t limited to lorry drivers – I saw an email sent to suppliers recently from a major logistics company, announcing peak period surcharges of 30% due to the need to pay higher wages and retention bonuses in order to secure the number of staff they need to keep the supply chain running smoothly… As for the lorry driver situation, what a trucking mess. Giving out 5,000 temporary visas to overseas

Toy World 108

drivers was never going to even scratch the surface, and as for the visas expiring on Christmas Eve – that seems an odd mixture of vindictiveness and stupidity. I am sure those lorry drivers who spent last Christmas stuck in a makeshift lorry park in Kent are just dying to do that all over again this year. As one Polish HGV driver was quoted as saying: “Why go to Britain, jump all these hoops, face all this hostile environment, if you could go to Ireland or Holland, earn more, be respected, drive on nicer motorways...and be a free European?" Perhaps no surprise then that take up of temporary visas was lamentable: at one stage, only 27 drivers had applied, which is rather embarrassing for all concerned… Meanwhile the shipping industry appears to have turned on itself in recent weeks. Shipping owner Maersk is apparently considering cutting out freight forwarders and dealing directly with larger shippers. Allegedly, Maersk is unhappy that some forwarders have been taking contract rates – around $4,000/feu from Asia to Europe – and reselling the slots to customers for $20,000/feu. One industry source was quoted as saying: “That’s $16,000 Maersk is losing, so the line is looking to punish the forwarders.” Essentially, it seems that suppliers and retailers are now in the middle of a fierce ‘who is the greediest’ competition – I just hope it doesn’t get too ugly. I read a story a few weeks ago about the existence of scalpers in the shipping market – but it didn’t occur to me that legitimate freight forwarders were the ones being accused of doing the scalping… Another potentially adversarial situation is brewing between landlords and retail tenants, with Brent Cross & The Bullring owner Hammerson announcing that it is set to end rent support now that footfall has returned close to pre-pandemic levels. I appreciate that landlords are often cast as the bad guys, but on this occasion, I think this is an entirely reasonable stance. Everyone’s got to make a living… As everyone in the toy community is acutely aware, the supply chain challenges are real, but also completely outside of our control – in truth, there is very little we can do to rectify the problems, other than to mitigate the worst of the damage. Indeed, on the basis that it helps to have a sense of humour when situations like this occur, I was pleased to receive a suggestion for an ‘alternative’ top 10 festive toys from Paul Clarke at Canal, reflecting the joys we are all currently experiencing. So, not coming to a store near you any time soon are the following winners: 1. EFF All on the Shelf 2. Baby Born Overdue (January) Doll 3. Asmodee Stocks at the Docks Game 4. Hot Wheels No Delivery Driver Track Set 5. LOL You Want it for Christmas! 6. Lego Nonstocko Action Figures 7. Monopoly Shipping Company Edition 8. Exploding Parents Card Game 9. Harry Potter I Can’t Magic Up Stock Wand 10. Hornby Going in Circles Express 11. BONUS ENTRY: Frustration


©2021 The LEGO Group. © & ™ WBEI. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s21


With only the December issue to go before the bumper January issue of Toy World gets underway, now is the time to get in touch to secure your company’s coverage in our comprehensive annual Toy Fair edition. Landing on desks at least two weeks before the 2022 London Toy Fair opens its doors, this issue is essential reading for everyone involved in the UK toy trade. All companies advertising in this edition will receive generous editorial coverage within the dedicated Toy Fair Preview section of the January edition, while regular online coverage in the run-up to the event, and during the show itself, will help bolster advertising initiatives. This issue will also include previews of the Nuremberg and New York Toy Fairs, complete with opinion pieces, interviews and company profiles, retail feedback and all the latest news.

For more information, contact – John Baulch – John@toyworldmag.co.uk Mark Austin – Mark@toyworldmag.co.uk Rachael Simpson-Jones – Rachael@toyworldmag.co.uk


November 2021 Volume 11 Issue 3


Licensing World from the publisher

A

t the heart of this section is a preview of the forthcoming Brand Licensing Europe event, which will take place at London’s ExCeL centre from 17th – 19th November. It has been a long road, but we have finally made it; for the first time in two years, the licensing community will be coming together in a business setting. Licensing is a very sociable, people-driven business, and I am sure that licensors, licensees and retailers will all be looking forward to rekindling their partnerships face-to-face. The BLE organisers have done a magnificent job of pulling together a strong list of exhibitors, comprising over 150 licensing companies, as well as a host of compelling presentations, sessions and keynote speeches. The Team GB opening day keynote speech will undoubtedly be wellattended, with British Olympic gold medallists including Charlotte Worthington on hand to talk about their journeys to the 2020 Summer Olympics. The day two keynote will be given by ViacomCBS, with Mark Kingston and Ameeta Held sharing insights from its corporate Diversity & Inclusion efforts, with a specific focus on its recently conducted toy research. The keynote, which

takes place from 13:00-14:00 on Thursday 18th November, will also set the background as to why the consumer products and licensing community play such a pivotal role in diversity and inclusion. Ahead of ViacomCBS’ keynote, representatives from Black Lives Matter Licensing UK will take to the stage to talk about the group’s purpose, goals and activity in the sector to date. There will also be numerous opportunities to network with industry friends and colleagues across the three days of the show, which is unquestionably a vital component of any licensing trade show. In addition to the BLE preview, we have also rounded up the latest news from the licensing world, interviewed key players from the licensing community – including NBC Universal’s Paul Bufton, Aardman’s Robert Goodchild and Warner Bros Rachel Wakely – about their plans for next year, and we also spoke to Rainbow Designs’ Anthony Temple as the company celebrates its 50th anniversary milestone. I hope you enjoy this snapshot of what’s hot in the kids’ licensing field – we look forward to seeing everyone at BLE and hearing about all the new properties that will be fighting for attention and shelf space in 2022 and beyond.

On the following pages...

Q&A with Paul Bufton of Universal

Brand Profile, Aardman's Lloyd of the Flies

Q&A with Anthony Temple We talk to Anna Knight of Rainbow Designs about all things BLE



Licensing World The Point.1888 to represent Moonbug Entertainment’s Little Baby Bum Nickelodeon UK inks multi-year partnership with The Luna Cinema Nickelodeon UK has announced a multi-year partnership The Luna Cinema for the launch of The Nickelodeon Experience. The brand-new, fully immersive experience, which builds upon a successful five-year collaboration with Comedy Central for its award-winning FriendsFest, will launch in spring 2022, before subsequently touring the UK and Ireland. With two distinct areas, the Nick Jr. Experience and the Nickelodeon Studio Tour, The Nickelodeon Experience will include multi-sensory, interactive zones where guests can step into the world of their favourite Nickelodeon TV shows, taking immersive kids’ events to a whole new level. The Nick Jr. Experience will cater to the under-sevens, transporting young Paw Patrol fans to Adventure Bay, and will also include an arts and crafts station, a TNMT underground lair, as well as a water zone inspired by the world of Nick Jr.’s latest animation success Santiago of the Seas. On the Studio Tour, children aged seven and over will go behind the scenes of some of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows. The tour will begin at The Thundermans’ School for Superheroes, before entering Henry Danger’s Cave. Afterwards, children will have to work together to get out of the Hunter Street Escape Room. Finally, guests will walk up the famous orange carpets before joining the after-party and enjoying Nickelodeon’s iconic ‘slime time’. Children and their parents will also be able to lounge at SpongeBob SquarePants’ Bikini Bottom Beach while enjoying food and drinks from themed stalls and visiting the Nickelodeon store. Bespoke activation areas and sponsorship opportunities will be made available to brand partners, both directly and via VCNI’s UK Saleshouse, Sky Media. Virginia Monaghan, VP, Events and Experiences, ViacomCBS UK, commented: “We are thrilled to be partnering with The Luna Cinema to bring our hugely popular Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. shows to life through this uniquely immersive experience. This is a chance for children to make new memories with friends, in a safe and fun setting, and with their favourite characters.” George Wood, managing director, The Luna Cinema added: “For a number of years, we’ve wanted to develop a truly interactive experience that allowed kids to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favourite TV shows, just as we do with Friends’ fans at FriendsFest and film lovers with our Luna Cinema screenings. To have such an iconic catalogue of shows under the Nickelodeon umbrella is a treasure trove of content to explore and bring to life.”

The Little Baby Bum show for babies, which features classic and new nursery rhymes, is in the top two nursery rhymes channels on YouTube, behind another Moonbug Entertainment property, CoComelon, and has 99m subscribers, with over 4b views this year alone. ThePoint.1988 will represent the brand in EMEA. ThePoint.1988 started programmes for Moonbug Entertainment brands including CoComelon, Blippi and Morphle in May last year and has since secured 66 licensees across EMEA with the help of its sub-agent partners. Collectively, Moonbug Entertainment receives over 7b monthly views and operates the largest network of kids channels on YouTube, encompassing over 235m subscribers. Its kids’ brands are available on over 100 platforms globally, including major on-demand streaming giants like Netflix, Apple TV, Sky and Hulu. Olivia Wiggett, associate commercial manager at The Point.1888, said: “We are really looking forward to representing this new brand alongside our other Moonbug Entertainment properties. Little Baby Bum is extremely popular with the younger years and will benefit from having a booming licensing programme in place. The opportunities really are endless.” She added: “As with our other Moonbug Entertainment properties, we shall make use of our fantastic sub agent partners to ensure we have best in class support on the ground across EMEA for retailers and licensees. In fact, we already have retailers asking us how this property can become part of their future calendar of events and product buy-ins.” Simon Philips, managing director of Global Consumer Products at Moonbug Entertainment, added: “The results The Point.1888 has achieved in such a short space of time for CoComelon, Blippi and Morphle have been nothing short of incredible. Not only does its retail-first model work, but the team also recognises that each of our brands has its own values and serves a very different audience and so the licensing programmes must be carefully designed around that. Given this approach and understanding, I have every confidence in their plans for Little Baby Bum and am delighted to have them involved.”

Disguise announces new Disney costume rights in EMEA Costume company Disguise has announced a new multi-year licensing agreement for a wide range of Disney portfolio brands in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Although the company has been a costume partner for over 30 years in North America, it is the first time Disguise has held Disney costume rights in EMEA. The licence, which covers costumes and costume accessories, will begin in spring 2022. The Disney brand costumes will feature many different characters, sizes and offerings for all age ranges. This expanded line will also leverage parent company Jakks Pacific’s expertise in everyday dress up and its toy line of feature costumes and accessories including singing and light up dresses, dress up trunks and toyetic role play accessories. The new agreement will allow Disguise to celebrate a range of key international holidays such as Book Week, Carnival, Purim, Halloween, Diwali, Eid-Al-Adha and Christmas. Adding to the mix is Disguise’s new innovation SKUs that include adaptive costumes and wheelchair wraps. “We are well positioned to expand our Disney offering across EMEA and build the business in Europe like it has never been done before. Our insight and experience will enable us to maximize the category from every perspective,” said Tara Hefter, president and GM of Disguise. “Disney has an endless catalogue of magical and inspirational characters and properties, creating endless possibilities to continue to innovate and deliver amazing product year after year. We are so pleased that Disney EMEA has recognized our expertise and 30+ year history with Disney costumes in the US.” Disguise is ramping up Jakks’ already existing EMEA team and footprint with new positions in sales, design, marketing and logistics.“We are busy building up our team for this effort as well as solidifying our distribution channels and retail partnerships,” said David Carscadden, managing director of Disguise UK. “In addition to our own expansion, we are also working closely with Jakks on maximising the dolls, role play and dress up businesses as well.”


it’s veloci-time!


Licensing World Rubies becomes official dress-up licensee for Shang-Chi, WandaVision and Numberblocks Rubies has announced the latest additions to its ongoing partnership with Marvel, in the form of costumes based on the new movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and the acclaimed Disney+ series WandaVision. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings launched on the big screen on 3rd September, combining superhero themes, martial arts and immersive legends to create a cohesive and gripping story. The costumes are available in the style worn by the protagonist, ShangChi: a striking red jersey tunic top with foam padding and shiny black trousers. This is the first Marvel film to feature an American Asian lead and the first to feature a predominantly Asian cast, making it an important addition to the Rubies line-up, as Tracey Devine-Tyley, head of Portfolio and Licensing EMEA, explains: “We are delighted to be bringing the character of Shang-Chi to life with our costumes. As an industry leader, we understand how important Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero film is, especially to younger viewers. It is imperative children can look at the characters they see in the media and see themselves in them, thereby growing and exploring their budding personalities using these positive roles as inspiration.” WandaVision’s ‘All-New Halloween Spook-tacular’ episode sees the two superheroes don their own outlandish costumes from the original comic books, a stark comparison to the modernised costumes seen in the MCU. Rubies has also become the official dress-up licensee for Numberblocks across EMEA and Australia. Innovative costumes will embrace the ethos of Numberblocks by incorporating design components to encourage play through education. Mike O’Connell, managing director, Rubies UK, commented: “We are really pleased to announce this licence as it means our costumes will help encourage this love of learning that we want to see in children.” Joe Elliot, director of Alphablocks Ltd and creator of Numberblocks, added: “We receive many social media posts of fans in homemade costumes of their favourite Numberblock characters, so we are delighted to have Rubies on board as our partner for this category that will bring more number magic fun to the fans.” Numberblocks costumes are in early development and will be available across EMEA and Australia in 2022.

Amscan unveils new licensed ranges Amscan has launched new licensed ranges in its party products and supplies with a makeover launch also due for Q1 2022. Baby Shark is proving to be a big hit for celebrations and its new updated party range includes tableware, décor, Baby Shark shaped balloons and Baby Shark masks of the whole family. The new sing-a -tune balloon also plays the memorable tune on repeat with every tap. Ryan’s World also continues to be a go-to character range for parties and dress up alike, and Amscan’s Ryan’s World tableware and accessories are complemented by a character jumpsuit costume and mask and cape kit, which doubles as a great gift idea. The range also features foil balloons and continues to grow in popularity. Kids can choose to celebrate their birthdays with the Hey Duggee party range, which includes balloons, costumes and DIY lootbags of all the favourite characters. For Q1 2022, Amscan will launch a makeover of Bing Bunny and friends. The new vibrant colour palette and design allows for more favourite characters to be featured including Pando, Sula and Flop. As with all its other children’s party ranges, Bing components have switched from plastic to sustainable paper, meaning celebrations are greener across all licensed and generic designs.

IMC Toys prepares to launch Cry Babies and Cry Babies Magic Tears UK licensing programme Following the successful inception and growth of its Cry Babies and Cry Babies Magic Tears brands, IMC Toys is preparing to roll-out a comprehensive UK licensing programme for the autumn/ winter 2022 period. Incorporating competitively priced toys, an animated series on IMC’s official YouTube channel, Kitoons, Nickelodeon short-form TV episodes, and a revolutionary first with its new Over-The-Top (OTT) platform, IMC currently operates a strong licensing set-up across territories worldwide. The company has entered agreements with more than 65 licensees in 40 regions, resulting in more than 500 licensed products, in less than two years. The licensing roll-out sees the brand expanding into new categories, including publishing, apparel, educational games, personal care and confectionery, with a long-term business strategy aimed at attracting new licensees. Cry Babies dolls have been a resounding success worldwide, with more than 10m sold since 2016. In 2018, a 3D animated series was created alongside a range of collectibles under the new Cry Babies Magic Tears sub brand. These smaller versions of the Cry Babies dolls allow children to discover an animated world full of different characters with a variety of personalities, which cry real tears with a magic meaning. Available to watch on IMC’s official Kitoons YouTube channel, the animated Cry Babies series helps build awareness of the characters and encourages the development of kids’ imaginations. Kitoons is a comprehensive digital platform for content development and to date reports over 4.2b views, over 6.5m subscribers, and more than 93m unique viewers. The English Channel alone has 604,000 subscribers, 585m views and more than 30m unique viewers. Cry Babies Magic Tears content has also been available on Nickelodeon for the past 12 months following an exclusive partnership deal which has seen the creation of commercial short form episodes, linear content, and a digital hub on Nick Jr. A fourth series is currently on air, showcasing the new autumn/ winter Cry Babies Magic Tears Storyland range. Cry Babies has amassed over 20m views (children 4-15) on Nick and Nick Jr since the start of September 2020, equating to almost half a million views every week. Autumn 2021 also sees the launch of IMC’s new Over-The-Top (OTT) platform. Setting the Kitoons OTT platform apart from other streaming services and making it the first of its kind from a toy brand, is its ability to suggest products based on the video being watched to drive viewers directly to retailers. Further strengthening the Cry Babies and Cry Babies Magic Tears brands, the platform provides a leading premier destination for new custom content. While watching, viewers can learn about products related to the video and add them to a COPPA compliant wish list; parents can then place orders through purchase links. For more information, contact info.uk@imctoys.com.


www.guesshowmuchiloveyou.com www.jointhebearhunt.com Contact: Pindy O’Brien – International Licensing and Market Development Director, Walker Books Ltd Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7396 2410 • Mobile: +44 (0) 7456 587778 • Email: pindy.o’brien@walker.co.uk • www.walker.co.uk We’re Going on a Bear Hunt © Bear Hunt Films Ltd. 2016. Licensed by Walker Productions Ltd. on behalf of Bear Hunt Films Ltd.

Guess How Much I Love YouTM © Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram 2021


Licensing World Schleich teams up with National Geographic Kids for new play sets With nature and environmental matters high on the agenda for many families, Schleich and National Geographic Kids have collaborated to launch a series of new play sets designed to get children excited about conservation through play. The tie-up, which is initially set to run until the end of 2023, covers all markets in Europe, North, Central and South Africa, Russia, Asia Pacific and Latin America, and features Schleich’s authentically detailed, handpainted characters from the brand’s Wild Life range, including animals such as meerkats, racoons, panthers, crocodiles and gorillas. The partnership kicks off with the release of three sets – Nutty Mischief, Meerkat Hangout and the Wild Life Ranger Adventure Station. As well as product, entertaining and educational content linked to the wild animals and their habitats will be published across a variety of channels. The aim is for the sets to inspire children to create stories based around the animals, while having fun learning about the natural world and sparking their curiosity. Dirk Engehausen, CEO of Schleich, commented: “We are delighted to have found the perfect collaborator in National Geographic Kids – the only kids’ brand that has a scientific research organisation at its core – for our popular Wild Life range. Together we can use storytelling and role play to get children excited about animals and their natural habitats. The topics of environmental protection, preservation of biodiversity and sustainability are more important than ever before. And we at Schleich – as a traditional brand found in millions of kids’ rooms worldwide – want to do our part to introduce even the youngest to these topics through play.”

Marvin’s Magic partners with Ryan’s World Ryan’s World has partnered with the Marvin’s Magic to create a unique magic set that is full of secrets and surprises. Ryan’s Magic Box is available to Ryan’s loyal fanbase via a brand-new subscription service that can be joined on Ryan’s website. Creator of Marvin’s Magic, Marvin Berglas, said: “Ryan has a global appeal and embodies the very principles we have promoted over the past 35 years here at Marvin’s Magic.” Ryan’s YouTube Channel, which has over 30m subscribers, features Ryan asking Marvin to give him some magic tips to help him perform his show. This episode gained much interest during launch week, reaching more than 780k views, and climbing. Marvin Berglas added: “We are delighted to partner with Ryan and his family to bring magic to his friends and fans. Myself and our in-house creative team of professional magicians have worked closely with Ryan and his family to create something extra magical.” Young performers will learn magic with Ryan and Marvin as they are given exclusive access to top secret video instructions. Included are a host of Ryan themed magic tricks such as colouring books with black and white drawings that appear to be instantly coloured in, a magic bunny puppet that will assist young magicians in their performance, a magic puzzling jigsaw, colour changing silk handkerchiefs, a glow in the dark magic wand and much more. Even the box itself is a magic trick – the audience sees it is completely empty, however with a snap of the fingers or a tap of the wand, magical items will appear inside. All tricks are designed for young hands, so it really is ‘Magic Made Easy’. Marvin went on to say: “Ryan inspires confidence, creativity, inventiveness, and exploration in his legions of young followers, and we promote the very same here at Marvin’s Magic. Magic is a great hobby that encourages social skills, builds confidence and ignites imagination whilst helping to develop communication. We are thrilled to be able to promote these life lessons to Ryan’s millions of fans worldwide.”

Lisle Licensing boosts commercial team to support growth Leeds-based agency Lisle Licensing has seen an uplift in new client business and increased licensing activity throughout 2021. Two new commercial team members have joined the agency to support the company’s ongoing growth. Deborah Haigh joined as commercial & retail manager at the beginning of October in a role where she will work alongside Francesca and Colin with key account management at both licensee and retail level. In particular she will work closely on new brands including the Style sisters and Kate Smith Co. Deborah joins Lisle Licensing with a career roster that spans retail operations, client and business management. Having worked with blue-chip brands including Asda, Tui and Jazz FM, she brings with her an enviable insight into both client and operational functions. Katie Moran has been appointed as commercial assistant; a new role Deborah Haigh Katie Moran that has been introduced into the business structure to support the senior team. With three years administrative experience and liaison with external suppliers, Katie will be key in ensuring the smooth-running of the business and will work closely with licensees on their product launches as well as coordinating marketing and brand activities. Commenting on the appointments, Francesca Lisle said: “I’m delighted that we have two exceptionally skilled executives joining our commercial team, who also bring with them a passion for our client portfolio, can-do attitudes and a sense of fun. Our industry isn’t just about doing great business, but being immersive across all areas, and networking. I look forward to introducing them in-person to licensors, retailers and licensees at BLE next month.”



Brand Profile

Lloyd of the Flies

Superfly guy Aardman is preparing for the rollout of its new comedy series for 7- to 11-year-olds, Lloyd of the Flies. Toy World took a look at the new property, and spoke to Aardman’s commercial director, Rob Goodchild, about the licensing opportunities it offers.

L

loyd of the Flies follows the adventures of Lloyd B Fly, a housefly and the middle child of 453. Lloyd lives with his parents, his little sister PB and their myriad maggot siblings. In the series, Lloyd and PB are often accompanied by Lloyd’s best friend, Abacus Woodlouse, and eccentric tag-along, Cornea Butterfly. Together they explore the strange world beyond their home, where there is no shortage of lessons for Lloyd to learn. CITV has acquired 52 x 11-minute episodes, created using a mix of CGI and 2D animation. The production is a first for Aardman, as it’s the first CGI series the studio has produced entirely from its creative hub at its Bristol headquarters. Broadcast is slated to begin in September 2022. Lloyd of the Flies is created and directed by Matthew Walker (winner of a jury award at Aspen Shortsfest, Jury Special Mention at ClermontFerrand and best graduation film at Annecy Animation Festival 2006), while Aardman’s Sarah Cox will act as executive creative director. A talented voice cast will lend its talents to the show’s characters. Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner, Plebs) will voice Lloyd. His best friend Abacus will be voiced by Alex Lawther (The End of the F***ing World, Black Mirror), while Lauren Patel (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) will take on the role of PB. Teresa Gallagher will play Cornea Butterfly, with Callum Scott Howells (It’s A Sin) voicing Lloyd’s nemesis, Berry. Pearl Mackie and Rob Rackstraw will provide the voices of Lloyd’s parents, Gena and Malcolm. Completing the cast are Ayesha Antoine, voicing Julie and Libby, and Marcel McCalla, who plays Ampersand and Bob.

Lloyd of the Flies certainly has an interesting premise. How else does it stand out from both Aardman’s previous content and other shows from across the kids’ TV space? The greatest strengths of Lloyd of the Flies are its characters and humorous storylines. The property is pitched at slightly older kids and could safely be

described as a character comedy. The core group of insects is supported by a huge cast of secondary characters, and while there’s lots of ‘yuck factor’ - as you’d expect from a show about bugs – the episodes also deal with plenty of everyday issues. Lloyd is simply a hapless fly, but he believes he’s got great potential and is destined for bigger things despite his large, dysfunctional family and rather interesting assortment of friends. Lloyd of the Flies is as Aardman a show as you’re likely to see in terms of the style and humour. It’s designed to resonate with modern audiences, but it’s shot through with Aardman DNA. We’re launching the show on CITV in autumn next year, supported by a launch plan that will roll out over the coming 12 months, both on and off CITV. We’re developing a Lloyd of the Flies YouTube channel, social media activations including TikTok, live events and more.

two areas we’re looking at to kick-start the Lloyd licensing programme, and we’re keen to begin conversations about this now. We’re fascinated to see how the licensing programme develops and who comes on board.

You mentioned that Lloyd of the Flies marks a ‘new direction’ for Aardman. What does this mean? Lloyd of the Flies is the first CGI series we’ve created entirely in-house (though CGI production itself isn’t new to us), and we don’t launch new IPs very often. Shaun the Sheep was the most recent one for this age group - and when I say recent, he first appeared in 1995 and was given his own show back in 2007.

BLE 2021 marks the first time we’ve properly presented Lloyd of the Flies to licensees: we’ve spent a very long time in development, working on scripting and story writing, character development and everything else. As things stand, the licensing programme is very much in its infancy.

We’ve got a young, really talented director in the form of Matthew Walker. At Aardman, a lot of what we do centres on talent development. There’s talent we’re known for – Nick Park and Peter Lord, for example, both of whom are still creating great things – but we also want to bring through the next generation, which can speak to today’s youngsters and create comedy just for them. Matt came via our commercials business, through our CreatorLed Programme. Within Aardman, we regularly put out a call for ideas, and anyone within the company is invited to pitch with a view to going into development. This is how Lloyd came about.

The target audience of 7- to 11-year-olds places Lloyd of the Flies firmly into the pocket money and collectibles space. Lloyd offers us, and its future licensees, two things we’re really excited about. Firstly, it’s got a massive cast of characters which will only grow with time. This means there’s huge potential to build a strong collectibles range that will drive repeat purchasing. Secondly, the dialogue is superb. We all know Shaun the Sheep is dialogue-free, an approach that offers its own opportunities, but Lloyd of the Flies has plenty of dialogue and is very amusing indeed. With this, plus the winning storylines and range of characters to work with, we feel there’s also vast scope in the publishing space. These are the

The CGI element of Lloyd of the Flies will be interesting to anyone with an eye on animation, but for me the beauty lies in the directorial and storytelling talent Aardman is bringing through. It’s about creating something contemporary and new, backed by very strong teams in social media, live events and other supporting elements. Aardman will be bringing its full strength to bear on Lloyd of the Flies, with a comprehensive launch programme that will envelop the 52 x 11 series before, during and after its CITV broadcast. And as a global business, Aardman will be looking to take Lloyd worldwide, meaning a bigger audience and even more opportunities for the adventures of Lloyd B Fly to really take off.

Where is Aardman in terms of licensing for Lloyd of the Flies? What does the property offer potential licensees?


Toy Fair Season will soon be upon us...

and wherever you will be exhibiting, Toy World has you covered. We will shortly start work on our legendary January Toy Fair Preview edition -

‘the beast’. It will be the biggest and best issue in which to highlight your new launches for 2022. So whether you’ll be unveiling your latest ranges in London, Nuremberg, New York or just in your own showroom, make sure all toy retailers know about your new launches by showcasing them in this exciting issue.

Get in touch to discuss how you can be a part of this issue. For Editorial (Deadline 1st December)

For Adverts (Deadline 14th December)

Rachael@toyworldmag.co.uk Sam@toyworldmag.co.uk

John@toyworldmag.co.uk Mark@toyworldmag.co.uk


Q&A

Rainbow Designs

Over the

rainbow

50 years of Rainbow Designs

It’s been a big year for Rainbow Designs as the company celebrates its half century. MD Anthony Temple chats to Sam Giltrow about the evergreen appeal of its classic characters and what lies ahead, including global expansion and an even bigger year for Paddington.

Once you are exposed to the toy industry, it gets into your blood and it never leaves your system.” A bold statement from Rainbow Designs MD Anthony Temple, but one which sums up perfectly why he went full circle in his career and ended up buying a company which

features some of the UK’s most cherished brands. Starting out in the toy industry at Hasbro in 1984, Anthony realised just four years later that corporate life was simply not for him and he moved on to set up a licensing company, DRI Licensing. This evolved into the Design Rights International Group, working on such licences as Forever Friends, Hasbro’s Hero Quest and Bluebird Toys’ Polly Pocket range, to name just a few. It was, he concedes, a big decision, but one that would eventually give him the necessary experience and confidence to acquire Rainbow Designs in 2005. “I ended up back where I wanted to be,” he says. “I don’t think my heart was really in third party licensing, and I was always keen to get back into product development and creativity. The acquisition of Rainbow gave me that opportunity.” Anthony explained that what brings him pleasure is being able to start something and to still be there when it happens, something which was missing during the days he spent in licensing. Looking back on his achievements since acquiring the company, he says probably his biggest was transforming the business model from that of a distribution company to a creative product development source. Part of that was to set up a strong supply chain, so he went to to factories in the Far East for improved margins and took personal control over the design of the range. A third component of Anthony’s strategy was to extend and expand the company’s national account and specialist retail portfolio. Prior to the acquisition, Rainbow was very much servicing the independent sector and specialist key accounts. While the company initially focused on retaining

those accounts, supplying them with dedicated product lines, it also set up a national account and key account sales force to develop that channel. “They were all necessary changes as I don’t think the business would have survived in the changing retail landscape,” says Anthony. “We now have an incredibly healthy business in the Grocery sector, with customers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. We have also seen the demise of the department store and we lost a lot of customers there, but we’ve actually maintained and grown our business because we opened up the doors of garden centres, which we call the department stores of the future.” Like many companies, Rainbow Designs has, under Anthony’s tenure, taken advantage of the change in consumer and shopping habits through online growth with Amazon and other retailers, but he says the company has not turned its back on its independents. Indie nursery shops, toy shops and bookshops represent 30% of the company’s business, and they are serviced and supported extremely well. In the past 16 years, Rainbow Designs has seen its customer base grow to more than 1200 in the UK, and the company has plans to expand its offering even further afield. As Anthony explains: “We have ambitions, and we have some interesting developments in place regarding international business. Pre-Covid, we had taken a serious look at overseas territories and were ready to embark on new markets. Historically, our licences have been limited to the UK, but we’ve now expanded on that and extended territorial rights. We’re now looking at EMEA being a growth area in the next two to three years.”


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Q&A

Rainbow Designs

Rainbow Designs currently has 12 licences of ‘classic characters’ in its stable, including four power brands: Paddington, Peter Rabbit, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and Guess How Much I Love You from Walker Books. Other licences include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Spot, Miffy, Snoopy and Elmer. “There’s always room for more, and there’s one in particular that I would love to add to our portfolio, but it is sadly not available to us,” says Anthony. He describes the plush category, like the rest of the toy industry, as having seen some huge changes over the years. While it is a very visible sector, Anthony believes it is not as big a market it is perceived to be. “The challenge is that the plush market is being characterised by serious devaluation of price points,” he tells Toy World. “Every year for the past 20 years, there has been a decline in the average sale price of a soft toy, yet the flip side of that is that the cost of producing is going up, so margins are being squeezed.” Sales have, however, remained strong for Rainbow Designs, with business increasing four-fold since Anthony acquired the company. It is, he says, a result of the consistent quality and design of its product. “I think that is something that genuinely defines us,” he explains. “For a company of our size, I think we punch above our weight in terms of sourcing and purchasing capability. Our mantra is ‘quality at affordable prices’. We are also specialists, and being specialists in a small market is a good thing.” One of the main selling points of Rainbow Designs products is their longevity, and every toy is designed to withstand the test of time and even become a family heirloom. “We always say that

we want our products to be ‘forever products’ that won’t get thrown away, and this brings us back to sustainability, as we encourage the pass-on of toys,” said Anthony. In terms of its eco-friendly qualities, he says Rainbow Designs has always been big on sustainability and caring for the environment; in his 16 years in charge this has seen the introduction of recycled stuffing and FSC packing and wood. “We will, however, continue to do more,” he adds. When looking at new licences to add to the portfolio, Anthony says there has to be a fit with the company’s ‘The Home of Classic Characters’ motto, and he also looks for a long-term partnership that can grow and be developed over many years. “The whole Rainbow business has been built on heritage, long-term collaboration, such as the Paddington brand, which we’ve had for 40 years plus,” reveals Anthony. “To us, loyalty is really important and good relationships are essential.” So, what new and exciting products can we expect from Rainbow Designs next year? “A lot more of what we already do well,” is Anthony’s reply. “Our major focus next year in the toy industry is Paddington. Paddington is a really exciting opportunity; we call Paddington ‘the bear of many faces.’ It’s a character for all ages, all seasons and all reasons.” The company has always enjoyed fantastic business with the Paddington Classic range, but last year sales were affected by the decline in the number of tourists visiting the UK, which affected a large chunk of retail. However, Paddington has a new TV series, The New Adventures of Paddington, which has generated more than 6.8m viewers from Nick Jr and Milkshake! With Series 2 now on air, there have also been two major movies, with a new film coming in 2023. This, along with the return of tourists to the UK, has sent the brand trading 30% up, and Paddington will feature heavily at Rainbow Designs’ London Toy Fair showcase. Last year, the company launched

collectible figures, collectible soft toys, a mini play set and a Playbus, which was its first major injection moulded plastic product. The team is also in development with two other plastic play set projects which will be major TV lines going into Q3 and Q4 2022. The company is set to launch new Paddington products in the My First and comfort blanket ranges. “It’s a big year for Paddington, in fact we have grand plans for the next five years with the brand,” says Anthony. Next year also sees the 120th anniversary of Beatrix Potter, which will play into all sectors for Rainbow Designs, primarily in Baby and Nursery but also with TV’s Peter Rabbit on CBeebies. Anthony says the two Peter Rabbit movies have been incredible commercials for the brand, and last year Rainbow Designs created a high-end Signature collection with a new, completely refreshed Once Upon a Time Collection to be launched at London Toy Fair. Disney’s Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood collection is also trading 30% up and the company recently launched the Winnie the Pooh Always and Forever range, which includes wooden toys and teethers. There will be a continuation of the company’s other brands, which has been pushed back from last year. “This coming year gives us the opportunity to really get behind all our brands, and we are also expanding and diversifying our wooden toy offer,” Anthony tells Toy World. “We are taking a much more serious look at the fit and the complementary aspect of wooden toys to our business, developing brands such as Guess How Much I Love You, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elmer and Spot.” Anthony’s positivity is infectious, and will no doubt stand the company in good stead for another 50 years. “Fifty years is a hell of achievement, but there’s plenty more to come,” he says.





Special Feature

Rubies

Empowering the feel-good factor In August, Rubies announced the launch of its new range of adaptive costumes designed for children with limited mobility, which the company says will allow every child to join in with role-play and dress-up. Fran Hales, head of Content & Marketing at Rubies, tells Toy World more about the importance of this range, and how inclusivity shapes the development process.

Fran, can you explain to us the thinking behind Rubies’ new adaptive costumes range? Everyone has an imagination, and every child has a right to explore that in a fun way; we are incredibly proud to facilitate this through our costumes, as one of our core company values is inclusivity. On top of this, all our licensors have really got behind the line and have been exceptionally supportive. We’ve partnered with the Marvel Superhero Series, which we sponsor, and are proud to see our costumes worn by all the fantastic athletes. As an industry leader our ethos is wholly committed to inclusivity, providing costumes which let everyone have fun and enjoy themselves. We understand that dress-up is a fundamental part of childhood development: it allows children to explore their imagination as well as different characters and traits, right at the age when they are beginning to develop and expand their own. This is a key focus of our partnership with World Book Day. We endorse costumes as an important early education tool that facilitate and encourage reading from a very early age.

What was the adaptive costumes development process like? Did Rubies learn anything unexpected or eyeopening along the way? We focused on developing the concept first, onboarding the views of specialists and consumers to optimise the designs. Our incredible creative team provided prototypes which were sent out to families with children that have a range of disabilities, and those that use different types of mobility aids, in order to get a broad range of feedback. The feedback we received enabled us to pinpoint the revisions required to ensure the costumes were both comfortable and practical, and also provide reassurance when used. Whilst the development was taking place in the background, it was imperative for us to discuss with groups and specialists how to market the costumes in a way that was inspiring and empowering. As a company, we gained so much valuable knowledge from this process, including how to talk about the costumes in an inspirational way. These costumes are now being produced on a large scale and are making an incredible difference to individual children and families who didn’t have the option to dress-up in this way before.

Having led so strongly from the front when it comes to inclusivity, how does Rubies intend to keep the momentum going?

At its heart, Rubies is all about bringing fun and joy to the consumer simply by being in touch and listening to them. We will continue to champion inclusivity and diversity with concepts that allow us to remain at the top of our game. There’s a strong feel-good factor around Rubies because of all the enhancements we’ve rolled out over the past year. Expansions, innovation to our technology infrastructure, and new additions to our teams have seen us arrive at where we are now. We continue to be proactive and adaptive as the market leader in order to remain one step ahead. With our inclusive costumes and commitment towards sustainability, we are incredibly proud of the fact our adjusted ways of working leave us much better suited towards societies’ needs both now and into the future.

Speaking of the future, can you let us in on anything regarding upcoming launches and developments? With our finger on the pulse of pop culture, we are always searching for the next ‘big thing’- sometimes in unusual places. Passion and pride for what we do are at the core of the business; they drive us to experiment with new ideas. We also encourage an open-minded workplace to allow staff to think outside the box. Moving forward, we’ll be looking at cross-over techniques and ways to intersect different markets and ranges to create new and exciting products. We’re looking at wearable ranges and roleplay, taking inspiration from fashion and apparel by seeing how that would blend in and create a fusion with costumes. There has been a shift in the way we consume content, especially with platforms such as Disney+, which has blown the Marvel Universe wide open and introduced Star Wars to a whole new generation. We also have some very exciting announcements coming your way soon: we can’t reveal them all now, but they span staffing, market expansions, logistics and new licences. There’s a lot to look forward to.


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Feature

BLE

It’s good to be back! The long-awaited return of Brand Licensing Europe is now only mere weeks away, with London Excel preparing to welcome back the leading licensing trade fair from 17th-19th November. Toy World caught back up with Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets, to find out what else has happened in the time since we spoke to her last. but brilliant three days; we just can’t wait to get onsite now. The online meetings platform, which lets registered attendees request in-person and online appointments, has been open for the last few weeks and we’ve already seen 2,000 meeting requests sent between exhibitors and attendees. This clearly tells us that the industry is as excited about getting together as we are.

Since we last spoke, BLE announced that another big name – ViacomCBS Consumer Products – was joining the exhibitor line-up. This must be a major plus for you?

It’s just a few weeks before BLE kicks off – how are the last-minute preparations going? Right now, we’re just four weeks away and it’s all getting very real. The whole team is so excited by the prospect of being back at Excel and meeting up with everyone in person again. We’ve got such a packed event in terms of exhibitors, features, keynotes, events and more. It’s going to be a hectic

Of course, it’s great to have a company as large and influential as ViacomCBS Consumer Products at the show. That said, BLE’s purpose is to facilitate connections across the whole industry: it’s just as important to us that we’re able to tell your readers we’ve got close to 170 exhibitors confirmed, big and small, across all three categories - Character & Entertainment, Brands & Lifestyle, and Art, Design and Image - and from 20 countries. That’s across in-person and online, as BLE this year is truly embracing the multi-platform format. The majority are exhibiting both in-person and online too, which is testament to their commitment to this format.

The government recently outlined relaxations to overseas travel. Has this made a difference to the number of international BLE visitors?

It was obviously welcome news to us when the UK’s travel system was simplified. We knew it would make life so much easier for our international visitors and exhibitors wanting to attend BLE in person. The relaxations have definitely made a difference to the number of international visitor registrations, particularly from areas that little bit further afield, such as the USA. European registrations were already tracking pretty well. Despite the relaxations, we know that not everyone will be in a position to join us - yet will still have the same business requirements. We hope our hybrid solution gives the industry what it needs: BLE virtual will run from 30th November to 1st December. This is also why we’ve moved most of our educational content online. We will have two inperson keynotes as well as live content in the Retail Trends Lounge, including the final of this year’s Kelvyn Gardner License This! competition, which has been extended to three categories including an award for Product Innovation.

When we spoke in October, you couldn’t yet tell us specific details about the BLE keynotes. It seems there’s now a fair bit more you can share regarding speakers and topics? I was so excited about the keynotes, and it was really hard to keep them secret, but I hope you’ll agree that they are as huge as I promised they would be. At 4pm on Wednesday 17th, we will be hosting



Feature

BLE

a Team GB panel session, hot off the back of the team’s amazing medal haul from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This session will feature two British Olympic gold medallists, one of whom is BMX Freestyler Charlotte Worthington. The panel also features The Point. 1888 , one of Team GB’s brand licensing partners. Charlotte will be at BLE in-person and doing a meet and greet after the keynote. Our other gold medallist will be dialling in virtually. The second keynote takes place at 1pm on Thursday 18th November. This will be a highly insightful session from ViacomCBS Consumer Products discussing insights from its Diversity & Inclusion efforts, with a specific focus on its recent toy research. This keynote will follow a special presentation from Black Lives Matter Licensing UK. Both keynotes will take place on the 3rd floor of the Platinum Suite on the Excel Boulevard. Access is to registered attendees only and spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

circular system to recycle old toys into pellets that can be used to make other products. The Retail Trends Lounge is returning with five brilliant retailer-exclusive sessions, plus the Kelvyn Gardner License This! final, which is open to everyone. I really would encourage your readers to support this talented bunch of designers, illustrators and inventors, all of whom are very keen to break into the industry. We’ve also confirmed Colour for Kelvyn on day two, when his family will be joining us to open the show at 9am. We’re asking everyone to wear bright colours in tribute to Kelvyn Gardner and to make a Light Fund donation. We’ve locked in our social events too. Team BLE and Licensing International are inviting everyone to join them for after-hours drinks on the show floor from 5pm-7pm on day one at one of our three bars: the Crunchyroll Bar, the BLE Bar and the Motul Lifestyle Bar. On Thursday, meanwhile, we’ll be hosting exhibitor drinks at the Novotel.

What else has happened or been finalised in the weeks since our previous interview?

If there’s anyone out there still unsure about attending, what would you want them to know?

Where to start? We’ve confirmed almost all of the content in the BLE Sustainability Activation, held in partnership with Products of Change. There’s plenty of toy content in there from the likes of Lego - which is really paving the way when it comes to sustainability in toys - Keel Toys with its Keeleco range, and Golden Bear with Hey Duggee and Wastebuster. The latter two are building a fully

That we’re here to do everything we possibly can to help them connect – and reconnect – with the people, companies, insights and inspiration they need to help them plan for a post-pandemic future, and to build and grow their business. And that’s exactly what they’ll find at BLE this year, both in person and online. It’s worth bearing in mind that licensing is genuinely a face-to-face business, and

without a doubt thrives upon personal interactions, so if you can attend, don’t hesitate. We have the right measures in place to give you comfort and safety, as well as plenty of opportunities to do business. I’d also like to make sure our visitors don’t miss the Agents of Change galleries located in each of the entrances – these are the companies that are driving real change across our industry. Finally, we know being in meetings back-to-back for three days can be hard at any time, but this year, when we’re all just gradually getting back into the swing of seeing people in real life again, we’re guessing some people may want to take time out. In this instance, please do visit our Health and Wellbeing Lounge in the Sustainability Activation. It’s a little haven of tranquillity where you’ll find healthy snacks and drinks, plus a welcome chance to reset.



Touchingbase

Seizing

opportunity Toy World caught up with leading licensors to ask them what they consider to be the biggest challenges and opportunities for their business currently, and how they feel the pandemic has changed the licensing industry.

Francesca Lisle - Managing director, Lisle Licensing As an industry, I believe we are all facing similar macro-economic challenges which will carry over into 2022. It’s evident this has been driven by Brexit, followed by the Covid pandemic and the subsequent localised (UK) financial consequences. When this plays out on a global scale as it’s doing right now, for an industry such as ours - which is so reliant on international manufacturing, shipping, partnerships, conferences etc. - the impact is immense. We saw this early in 2021 with the impact of cost increases on raw materials; the situation sadly hasn’t improved. If anything, as we entered Q4, we saw the challenges exacerbated by delays with freight, which has created a major issue for the peak Christmas season. On the upside, the opportunity to meet in-person with licensees, buyers and our UK clients once again is great. We are looking forward to seeing our international clients at BLE for the first time in nearly two years. Whilst meetings on Teams have been a lifesaver, there’s nothing like a meeting face to face, in which you can properly interact, gauge reactions and make meaningful connections. Without doubt, the return to in-person trade fairs is also an opportunity for us to meet potential new clients, retail partners and licensees. It’s important we approach everything with positivity and do our utmost to make the most of every opportunity. The pandemic has certainly changed the way we work and how we present our business, be that to potential clients or buyers. In some ways this has been for the better. Less time in the car, on planes and trains. A smaller carbon footprint. That’s better for our general wellbeing but also for getting the job done - and it’s no longer taboo to be seen working at your kitchen worktop. There are those in our industry who have embraced the opportunity for change and the very obvious shift to online, and who have become quicker to react to retail demand. This can only be a good thing. But, on the flip side, it has made launching new brands slightly more challenging: there are retailers who seem to be more risk averse now. We need a way of meeting in the middle and working through these changes for the good of both our industry and consumers.

Kate Schlomann - EVP Brand Management & Content Marketing, Boat Rocker

We see huge opportunity for Boat Rocker’s ‘pre-Westoric’ pre-school show Dino Ranch, which airs on various Disney platforms around the globe including Disney Jnr. in the US and Disney+ in the UK. Jazwares’ toy line has just launched in the US and is performing strongly, and we have high hopes its success will be replicated in the UK and internationally. Series 2 will also land in 2022. We expect the franchise to grow significantly next year, helping to cement Boat Rocker’s position as a fantastic storyteller and franchise creator. Our lovable, huggable hero Love Monster will also see increased lines and distribution across toys, apparel and other categories next year in addition to the launch of Series 2. We are also really excited about a soon to be announced high-profile partnership and brand extension that will really help to strengthen and broaden Love Monster’s reach. I think the pandemic has demonstrated the resilience and strength of the licensing industry. At Boat Rocker, we’re pulling together with our partners to get through 2021 while also strategising ways to navigate 2022, with its continued container shortages and supply chain issues. Everyone in the industry is facing major problems with getting products to the right place at the right time. I think that as a result, we’ll see an increase in print on-demand and of sourcing supplies much closer to home.



Touchingbase Mark Kingston - Senior vice president, International Consumer Products, ViacomCBS

When it comes to this year’s challenges, we must keep in mind that inflation brought about by rising commodity prices, Brexit and logistics challenges will result in an increase of retail prices, and that the amount of disposable income available to consumers will ultimately lead to a reduction in volume sales in various categories. Next year, we’ll face an extremely crowded theatrical landscape. A significant number of movies with consumer products merchandise attached to them have been delayed and are now scheduled to be released throughout spring and summer 2022. We are currently getting ready for the release of Top Gun: Maverick in May 2022 ourselves. Nevertheless, we’re in a strong position and more than able to meet consumers’ needs in 2022. We know, for example, that consumers are looking for the reassurance and familiarity of old favourites. We have well-established and beloved properties in the form of Paw Patrol, Baby Shark, SpongeBob SquarePants and Blue’s Clue’s & You! in our portfolio to respond to this need. In addition, Paramount+ will launch in key markets throughout 2022 and 2023. This will introduce great visibility and drive even greater awareness of our properties, with ViacomCBS content being present in even more homes and on even more devices. Finally, we’ve witnessed the accelerated rise of eCommerce along with mobile commerce. Our brands are well-suited to accommodate this rise across all channels of retail distribution, and we continue to benefit from strong partnerships in the markets we operate in. For the past 18 months, consumers have been bingeing on more content than ever before, opening the door for new entrants into the licensing industry while also providing more scope and opportunity for existing franchises to build even stronger and deeper emotional connections with their audiences, fans and consumers. Less work travel has also led the licensing industry to adopt new digitally savvy ways of working. As we move into a new ‘hybrid’ workspace, it will be those companies that take the efficiencies and new practices learnt during the pandemic, and blend them with in-person meetings, that will thrive.

Pindy O’Brien - International Licensing and Market Development Director, Walker Books

We know from the current economic conditions that all manufacturers will face supply chain disruption and a hike in freight costs. With all the uncertainty that comes with recovering from a global pandemic, ensuring manufacturing is a success has meant changing production from our original factories in China and India into Europe, and even more locally for many businesses. This is bound to result in pressures on margins and profits. We also are aware that other countries are still playing catch-up with their vaccination programmes compared to the UK, which can affect the supply chain. The pandemic has had quite an impact on the licensing industry. We all know how our lives changed. Spending more time at home, and limitations on going out, meant creating our own events and entertainment. Board games, video games, cards game and puzzles became popular while digital streaming rocketed globally. This had a direct impact on the traditional licensing avenues our industry depends on. In addition, we had more people exploring social media channels than ever before. TikTok, You Tube Shorts and Instagram Reels saw talented social media individuals and singers, such as Bella Poarch (81m followers) and Charli D’Amelio (123m followers), become overnight celebrities. Demand for associated merchandise will be high. Cinema closures and delayed movie releases had a massive impact on licensing, with retailers and consumers gravitating towards more classic, evergreen, nostalgia brands. It became impossible for new TV brands to have any chance of growing, as retailers and licensees became more cautious. And with stores closing during the pandemic, online shopping became the norm as did essential shopping channels such as grocers. I think as licensors, we all became more open to where our brands could be sold. The retail environment has become a more level playing field in consumers’ minds. However, the licensing business at Walker managed to hit its pre-Covid licensing targets in 2020. Having evergreen classic brands such as Guess How Much I Love You and We’re Going on A Bear meant sales across key categories remained steady during this difficult time. Families around the world shared their We’re Going on A Bear Hunt moments, with bears placed in windows for children to spot. We were able to launch apparel based on the brand in November 2020. Next year, we’ll grow our existing classic brands into new categories and markets - international business has been made easier with Zoom meetings and more frequent communication with partners – and we’ll also explore other brands in our portfolio, which benefit from our strong relationships with amazing authors and illustrators.



Touchingbase Rachel Wakley - General manager, Warner Bros. Next year is brimming with fantastic opportunities for our business, and our 2022 content slate looks phenomenal across all properties. The highlights include five theatricals spanning the DC Universe, starting with The Batman in March. Also out next year is the third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts series, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, and the Hogwarts Legacy console game. This is all underpinned by our ongoing franchise activations, the reopening of experiences and a whole host of new products launching across all areas. We’ll have an incredible year because of all this, and - more importantly - our fans with be able to enjoy an enriching and exciting 12 months too. I think the pandemic has certainly acted as a catalyst for change, be that in the way fans engage with our franchises, the way they consume content, the type of products they want, or the ways in which they choose to shop. The way we have all had to work is of course different as well - be that from home, on video calls and so on - but the fundamentals of how we build franchises and develop product remain the same. We will always deliver great stories through our amazing content, and our quest to work with the best-in-class partners, develop high quality product and execute it at retail hasn’t changed. There have been newfound efficiencies, which I’m sure all of us would welcome the continuation of. The efficiency of meeting with retailers and partners has significantly improved due to video calling, decreasing time spent travelling. Of course, I’m sure most of us would agree that we can’t wait to be back out meeting partners in person, but it would be great for the industry to move forward accompanied by the best of our newly formed habits. These can be combined with the face-to-face experiences that offer so many benefits to us all.

Will Stewart - Managing director, The Point.1888 In January 2020 I wrote a piece for a licensing publication in which I said that the roaring twenties were upon us. Everything was going perfectly. In January 2022, I’m hopeful we’ll all be back on track. We’re entering the last phase of ‘just surviving somehow’. We are only a few weeks away from the second most challenging Christmas in history: a fuel crisis, rising gas prices, CO2 shortages, supply chain nightmares, Brexit red tape, Covid. Jeez, it’s going to be rough - but next year is going to be much more positive. The collective resilience we have built up in the last 21 months will get us through this Christmas, and with the new year comes a new dawn. It will be impossible to predict what will happen, as literally anything will be possible. Even Abba got back together recently. However, we're excited to continue our growth, with a range of new brands to represent and successful licensing programmes to continue expanding. Next year will be a big 12 months for us. So just survive somehow for now. Be positive. Be brave. Be Kind and collaborative. We will get through this final stage and then the world is our collective oyster.

Marianne James - Vice president EMEA Consumer Products, Hasbro

Looking ahead to 2022, like many industries, we foresee enduring challenges with container shortages and shipping delays that affect the entire supply chain. We will continue to work closely with all partners into next year to navigate this dynamic situation. We’ll also need to navigate in a smart way through the highly competitive pipeline of delayed theatrical releases and tentpole events, another pandemic-related challenge. We are working closely with our partners to ensure our programmes stand out from the crowded marketplace and provide consumers with the best possible products. In terms of opportunities, we are excited by our full content slate, which maximises the SVOD and digital platforms focused on where our consumers are. Additionally, as the post-pandemic world slowly reopens, consumers are looking for new experiences they were unable to have during lockdown. This is where our brands really shine. We’re pleased to offer experiences for fans of all ages, including Monopoly Live - currently taking place in London - the world's first stand-alone Peppa Pig Theme Park at Legoland Florida, which opens next year, and the Nerf Action Experience (NerfAX) in Singapore, which will benefit from even more locations opening soon. We’re also happy that we can offer a breadth of brands from our portfolio. From My Little Pony and Transformers to Nerf and Monopoly, we truly have something that appeals to every age. The pandemic has accelerated the importance of eCommerce, and the industry has shifted to a digital first approach. This goes beyond traditional online stores to include the rise of social commerce – purchasing goods on platforms like Instagram. We’ve also seen strong demand for licensed brands, with nostalgia driving great momentum and strong demand for much-loved franchises such as Transformers and My Little Pony. Finally, the pandemic has shifted focus to Content Agnostic platforms, meaning there is more appetite for our IP in places people typically wouldn’t expect it. For example, when it comes to Location Based Entertainment for many of our brands, we’re creating promotions that fully extend each franchise into consumers hearts and hands.



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WWE 020 7349 1749 | www.wwe.com Stand A171 A recognised leader in global entertainment, WWE creates and delivers original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. Its Consumer Products portfolio covers numerous categories, offering fans year-round access to a broad assortment of licensed goods, and retailers an evergreen property that consistently sells. An accessible and far-reaching property, WWE’s TV-PG programming can be seen in more than 900m homes worldwide in 28 languages. Programming continues to air on BT Sport and Paramount in the UK. WWE has more than 380 diverse WWE Superstars, Legends and on-air talent signed under contract that can be used on Consumer Products, including Roman Reigns, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, King Nakamura, Big E and Tyler Bate. WWE also has a strong social media presence, with more than 1b total followers worldwide. On Facebook, the property has surpassed 25b lifetime video views, while on YouTube, WWE is the No. 4 most-viewed YouTube in the world with more than 57b lifetime views. Due to the pandemic, WWE had not been on UK shores since November 2019, but returned to the UK for a hugely successful four-city UK tour in September 2021. Back by popular demand, WWE Live returns to the UK again this November for eight shows across the UK which will fuel demand for licensed product. Fans attending WWE Live will be able to see their favourite WWE Superstars bring the action to Brighton (Brighton Centre), Sheffield (Utilita Arena), Birmingham (Utilita Arena), London (SSE Arena Wembley), Liverpool (M&S Bank Arena), Leeds (First Direct Arena), Nottingham (Motorpoint Arena) and Manchester (AO Arena). The 2022 live event schedule will be announced over the coming months. WWE has more than 150 licensees with products on-shelf in more than 85 countries. The property’s licensing programme remains hugely successful and has thrived over the past two years. Many of WWE’s partners, including Mattel (action figures) and Topps (trading cards), have seen substantial growth during this period, and there are plenty of new licensing opportunities yet to be explored.

The Point.1888 www.thepoint1888.com | helloyou@thepoint1888.com Stand C183 Having recently turned seven years old, The Point.1888 has a great deal to celebrate, with flourishing Retail, Sports, Entertainment and Publishing divisions as well as the brand licensing industry’s first dedicated Creative Marketing agency: Story.1888. This launched this year to maximise the impact of clients’ brand licensing efforts even further, delivering creative services such as product branding and style guides, product marketing, strategy, content creation and campaign management. The 28 members of staff have over 200 years’ combined experience across retail, toy, licensing, entertainment, advertising, branding and marketing, and the company has a busy pipeline of prospects eager to join the likes of Barratt Confectionery, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blippi, CoComelon, I Like Birds, Jimbobart, MissPrint, Molang, Moomin, Moon & Me, Morphle, Mumsnet, Percy the Park Keeper, Rachel Ellen, The Samaritans, St. Andrews Links, Team GB, The British & Irish Lions, The Raccoons, Tom Gates, University of Cambridge, and Williams Racing, among others. Key to The Point.1888’s success is its pioneering retail-led brand licensing approach, whereby new products are created based on the gaps the agency sees at retail, as well as what the brand’s target demographic would like. This supports a higher chance of retailer buy-in and a better sales performance. The agency will be out in force at this year’s BLE showcasing all of its clients as well as four brand new properties. Founder Will Stewart will also be signing copies of his first book ‘Just Survive Somehow’, a guide for new entrepreneurs seeking to start a business, for the long term in the right way. Contact the team to arrange a meeting or learn more on the details above.



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Aardman 01179 848 485 www.aardman.com Rob.Goodchild@aardman.com Anna.Lewis@aardman.com Stand B160 Aardman continued to deliver throughout the UK lockdowns, with its international licensing business remaining strong and adapted production protocols keeping the studio operational. The team is now preparing to return to Brand Licensing Europe at Excel in November and is looking forward to meeting with its partners in person once more. The Shaun the Sheep brand continues to flourish. A festive special, Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, is set to premier on BBC One this Christmas together with an international roll-out across key territories on Netflix. Alongside the much-loved content and successful licensing programmes, which continue to bring Shaun’s adventures to a whole new generation of international fans, the brand is further supported by an ever-growing portfolio of exciting attractions and live experiences around the world. This year, the team has been developing Shaun the Sheep One Farm, an initiative that brings Shaun’s charm to the themes of food, farming and the environment, offering kids a fun approach to exploring and understanding where food comes from. Going into 2022, the brand team is focusing on a special licensing programme for classic characters Wallace & Gromit, celebrating 30 years since Nick Park’s Academy Award-winning film Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers was released in 1993. Aardman will be looking for partners across all categories including giftwares, homewares and collectibles. Alongside its known franchises, the studio will be pushing new CGI/2D comedy series Lloyd of the Flies, which is currently in production and set to launch autumn 2022. The show, aimed at 7-11 year olds, features the voices of Tom Rosenthal, Alex Lawther, Lauren Patel, Teresa Gallagher and Callum Scott-Howells. Aardman’s other new IP, the festive musical special Robin Robin, is launching on Netflix on 24th November 2021 alongside exciting promotional partnerships, a publishing range from Macmillan Children’s Books and a Robin plush from master toy partner Aurora. For further information about commercial opportunities, and to find out more about Aardman’s brands, contact Rob Goodchild or Anna Lewis on the emails listed above.

Larkshead Licensing 07586 686 666 | www.larksheadlicensing.com | clare@larksheadlicensing.com Stand A180 Larkshead Licensing will be showcasing a range of brands across pre-school, art & design, entertainment and beauty at BLE 2021. With a raft of licensing partners on board for the BAFTA award winning hit pre-school series Numberblocks and the BAFTA nominated Alphablocks, both shows are reaching an ever-expanding international audience as they delight and entertain children across the globe. Recent licensee signings include Rubies for dress-up costumes, while Sweet Cherry has recently renewed its publishing agreement and will be launching a range of new book formats from autumn 2021. Featuring songs, silliness and plenty of learning, Numberblocks and Alphablocks have a combined total of over 5m YouTube subscribers. Content is available on a wide range of platforms including CBeebies, YouTube, Netflix, Noggin, Kabillion and Kidoodle. BLE will provide an opportunity for Larkshead to share updates on new content, style guides, apps, and a host of new product ranges launching throughout 2022. At the show, Larkshead Licensing will be sharing details on the signing of an exciting all-action CGI pre-school comedy series coming to Netflix in 2022. It will also present new licensing ranges from clothing to collector cards and comics based on the 1980s sci-fi show Terrahawks.


© Animaccord LTD, 2008 - 2021 www.mashabear.com

NITROCIRCUS.COM

Where your brand deserves to be.

Come meet us at BLE 2021nitrocircus.com/ stand no. C113

LICENSING


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Walker Book Group www.walker.co.uk | 07546 587778 Pindy.O’Brien@walker.co.uk Stand C153 Walker Book Group, which includes Walker Books UK, Walker Books Australia and Candlewick Press, will be exhibiting at the upcoming Brand Licensing Europe to celebrate a trio of global children’s licensing brands. Guess How Much I Love You, the iconic picture book celebrating the unbreakable bond of familial love, has sold over 52m copies in all formats worldwide; Lucy Cousins’ books about the beloved mouse Maisy have sold over 40m copies globally; and Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt continues to delight families through multiple formats, with 13m books in 42 languages in print worldwide. The classic brands have engaged generations of readers for decades. Guess How Much I Love You was published over 25 years ago, while both Maisy and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt have been in print for more than 30 years. The strength of the stories, partnered with their instantly recognisable illustrations, enables the brands to connect with readers and consumers year after year. Walker continues to expand its international licensing programme, with Euro LIzensen renewing its agent agreement for GAS, and License Connection now representing all three brands in Benelux. Walker Books are looking for licensing agents in the rest of Europe including Spain, Italy, France and Eastern Europe. For the first time in five years, Walker has commissioned original artwork from Anita Jeram. A selection is available through the latest Guess How Much I Love You licensing style guide, allowing the heritage brand to stay fresh for its licensing partners. With refreshed style guides and bespoke lettering for key customers, Walker is able to accommodate a range of needs across multiple product lines. Additional artwork will be shared at BLE. Guess How Much I Love You products continue to perform especially well in the UK, with new retailers for babywear including Tesco and Next. Walker’s long-standing relationship with Sainsbury’s continues with new babywear planned for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022. Guess How Much I Love You also continues to be one of the best performing brands for Rainbow Designs, with strong sales in multiple channels including Tesco, Amazon, Argos and John Lewis. This year welcomed the launch of four new wooden toys (balance toy, blocks, pull along and a shape puzzle), which help develop cognitive skills, strengthen fine-motor skills, and utilise the new colour palette and exuberant icons from the I Can Hop style guide. Walker Books is looking for partners in the UK across a number of categories for all three brands. Key categories for Guess How Much I Love You are gifting, stationery, dressup and confectionery. For We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, greeting cards, gifting, food and housewares; For Maisy, toys, greeting cards, dress-up and housewares.

Beano 0207 400 1030 | www.beano.com Stand C141 (Rocket Licensing) Beano says 2021 has been Dennis’ year. The mischief maker, who is forever 10 yet has been entertaining generations of children since 1951, has been the focus of Beano’s licensing programme throughout the year. The celebrations started with the release of a special edition of the comic, guest-edited by life-long Beano fan Joe Sugg, while the birthday boy Dennis trended socially on his big day. Families could enjoy the celebrations at an Easter event at Kew Gardens, or with new board games and puzzles from Rachel Lowe. Fans could also get their hands on their own piece of Dennis history with a special birthday stamp collection from Royal Mail, anniversary coins from Tower Mint, and bespoke Dennis tartan produced by Scottish mill Prickly Thistle. This year also saw a new collection of Boomics - a unique book x comic hybrid - published by new licensee Farshore, plus fresh jokes and colouring books from Bonnier, a range of new kids décor products from Arthouse, and Dennis and Gnasher smoothies from Happy Monkey. An ongoing partnership with Gullivers Theme Parks Limited featured Dennis and his friends in themed activities across Gullivers attractions, and a recent collaboration with Wimpy saw Dennis and Gnasher birthday parties take place in restaurants across the country. New partnerships with Hollywood Ball and Planet Ice will bring Dennis to life this winter in numerous venues, welcoming fans of all ages to join in the fun. Dennis’ 70th anniversary is also commemorated by a major exhibition, currently open at Somerset House in London. Beano – the Art of Breaking the Rules features archive material and contemporary art signed by Phyllida Barlow, Simeon Barclay, Jann Haworth, Ryan Gander, Holly Hendry, Sarah Lucas, Peter Liversidge and Mark McGowan, amongst others. Calling all rule-breakers and mayhemmakers, the exhibition, curated by Andy Holden, is open until March 2022. Exhibition visitors will be able to buy products from the Radley London x Beano limited collection of leather handbags and accessories, launched this autumn, plus other Beano merchandise. The Radley London x Beano collection features iconic Beano characters such as Dennis, Gnasher and Minnie the Minx. In 2022, Beano will join forces with its long-term partner the Literacy Trust to celebrate World Book Day with a national campaign. Britain’s Funniest Class, the successful joke-writing competition for primary school children, will continue into its fourth year, engaging children, teachers and parents across the country while also receiving extensive local and national media coverage. Minnie will be taking centre stage in the Beano universe soon, as her 70th anniversary in 2023 will be celebrated across all Beano channels and via a nation-wide marketing and PR campaign throughout the year. 2023 marks several Beano milestones, with the Numskulls and Roger the Dodger’s anniversaries taking place alongside Beano’s 85th birthday. With unrivalled, cross-generational appeal and awareness, Beano is going from strength to strength, having been awarded the Children’s Magazine of the Year trophy at the PPA Awards 2021, 20% sales growth throughout the year, and a copy of the comic sold every five seconds. The much-anticipated BLE 2021 offers the perfect opportunity for Beano to share its growth plans, national marketing and PR support, and upcoming anniversaries with all current and potential partners interested in working with one of Britain’s most iconic brands.


Billions of views each month, global fandom, proven retail success, and licensing opportunities in all categories. We’re always making more of what kids love!

For more information please contact licensing@pocket.watch Ryan’s World: TM & © 2021 RTR Production, LLC, RFR Entertainment, Inc. and Remka, Inc., and PocketWatch, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Love, Diana: TM & © 2021 PocketWatch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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Hasbro 0208 569 1234 | www.hasbro.co.uk Stand A191 Hasbro is returning to BLE this year keen to reconnect with colleagues around the world. Following the completion of Hasbro’s acquisition of eOne in early 2020, the company now offers many more brands and opportunities. Hasbro’s theme for this year’s BLE is ‘Supercharging Our Stories’. Stories have always been at the centre of all Hasbro brands. Drawing from the Brand Blueprint strategy, stories empower people to connect with brands in new and individual ways. Hasbro now has more stories across more brands and formats than ever before. The company’s platform-agnostic approach also means that content for its brands is available 24/7: on-demand through its distribution on YouTube, Netflix, Discovery and more, on linear broadcast, in theatres, through publishing and art, and through the stories its consumers create themselves on social media. Leaning on these stories, Hasbro has been able to supercharge its consumer products portfolio, which is up 23% in the first half of this year. Hasbro is well positioned to accelerate this momentum with its partners across all categories – merchandise, promotions, LBE and publishing, to name a few – due to its diverse, evergreen portfolio which offers something for everyone. The company has proven success of leaning on its ‘always on’ Brand Blueprint strategy and will continue to activate this in all areas. With its world-class data and insights team, Hasbro remains in touch with changing consumer behaviours and needs and can pivot quickly to meet them. For example, its insights showed that families staying at home during the pandemic wanted to play games, be creative, watch shows and movies and connect with the nostalgic brands that brought them comfort. Hasbro was uniquely positioned to meet those needs thanks to its deep portfolio of beloved games, activities, and entertainment. Being at home also meant people shopped online more than ever, so Hasbro quickly enhanced its eCommerce strategy to meet demand. Hasbro is excited to be spotlighting the successes of several of its brands at this year’s show. Its new animated feature film, My Little Pony: A New Generation, debuted on Netflix in late September and quickly made its way into the top 10 list on the streaming platform. Hasbro has been thrilled with the support for its new cast of Ponies and continues to see strong affinity for the cast of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series, which airs on Netflix. The brand further benefits from an accelerated focus and new category launches including eco plush, role-play, and arts & crafts. Peppa Pig has continued its strong global momentum with new growth segments coming soon. Collaborations to look forward to include the likes of Wow! Stuff, 8th Wonder and Character Options. Following the success of the award winning Peppa’s Clever Car, 2021 sees the expansion of the toddler tech line from Wow! Stuff with the Clever Train. Autoavoiding obstacles, kids can also place direction and destination cards in front of the train to control the path it will take. Also new from Wow! Stuff this year is Peppa’s Muddy Puddle Boots. With two play modes to enjoy, the faster kids run, the faster the music or splashes sound. Autumn 2021 sees the introduction of a wooden ride-on and outdoor toy range from 8th Wonder. The range has received great feedback and strong retail support for launch and will be extended with new additions in 2022. Character Options, meanwhile, welcomes back Peppa Weebles. Expanding upon the successful toy range, the Q4 launch will offer hours of fun for toddlers: Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down. After the huge success of its Netflix trilogy, Transformers: War for Cybertron, which concluded earlier this year, Hasbro is looking forward to releasing new content and experience continued growth for the brand. The company is currently planning for the June 2022 release of a new feature film, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, and a new series for younger viewers with Nickelodeon. Hasbro’s Robosen collaboration expands across EMEA and is due to hit shelves in spring 2022 with both movie- and core-inspired items. A new deal with UK-based street artist Murwalls sees the creation of limited edition, bespoke framed artwork that celebrates the rich history of the Transformers world. Disguise will unveil exciting new developments in Kids/Adults and Adaptive costumes across both core and movie lines, while the continued partnership with Funko will benefit from several new releases. Nerf is ready to accelerate beyond the Blaster as it re-defines active play for the Gen Z consumer. The runaway success of Hasbros’ Chief TikTok Officer campaign proved that the Nerf ‘lifestyle’ resonates with audiences. Dungeons & Dragons has enjoyed continued success over the past year, with its pop-culture relevance highlighted by several celebrity players and fans. A new movie on the horizon means opportunities for future fans to be introduced to the brand for the first time. Hasbro Gaming continues to enjoy strong offerings across the board. Monopoly is coming off a record-breaking year in 2020, in which it celebrated its 85th anniversary, and Hasbro continues to see a strong affinity and cultural relevancy for the brand. Nostalgia for familiar brands has also bolstered many of Hasbro’s vault properties, including Spirograph, Lite Brite, Pound Puppies, Micromachines, Tonka and others, sparking robust interest from partners and consumers. Finally, Hasbro’s work with Play-Doh has resulted in continued success, plus exciting developments in new compounds and play patterns.


Games, Movies, Animation, Mobile, Partnerships and more in 2022! FOR LICENSING OPPORTUNITIES CONTACT: EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Jason Rice Email: jason.rice@sega.co.uk Tel: +44 (0) 208 996 4568 www.sonicthehedgehog.com/uk

@Sonic

US, CANADA & LATIN AMERICA: Alex Gomez Email: alex.gomez@segaamerica.com Tel: +1 (747) 400 2410, ext.203 @sonic_hedgehog

/sonicthehedgehog

/sonic

REST OF THE WORLD: Yoichi Kawamura Email: yo_kawamura@home.segasammy.co.jp Tel: +81-3-6864-2457 www.SEGAShop.co.uk

©SEGA


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ViacomCBS Consumer Products UKconsumerproducts@vimn.com Stand A121 ViacomCBS Consumer Products will be returning to Brand Licensing Europe with its all-star line-up of pre-school powerhouses and an armoury of additional IP for young fans and adult audiences alike. Everything from Paw Patrol, Blue’s Clues & You! and Baby Shark to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek Prodigy, Top Gun and more will be represented. The show offers an unrivalled opportunity for Viacom’s teams to share plans with partners about the upcoming launch of Paramount+ in 2022 in multiple territories across Europe, plus information regarding the properties that will come with it. Paw Patrol is maintaining its dominance and strength in the UK market. The property is currently the No.1 licensed brand in the UK pre-school market and is ahead of its closest competitor by +58%. This status is maintained thanks to a continuously evolving content pipeline including the recent release of Paw Patrol: The Movie in cinemas and a diversified retail offering spanning all product categories, much to the delight of the brand’s loyal fanbase. Baby Shark has made quite the splash at retail since joining the ViacomCBS portfolio with the launch of Baby Shark’s Big Show this year. The brand was named the No.3 licence in Infant/Toddler toys in the UK for May 2021 year-to-date and has experienced a 43% sales increase year-on-year in the UK for April 2021 versus April 2020. The revival of Blue’s Clues as Blue’s Clues & You! in May 2020 has proved a winning formula for pre-schoolers and parents alike. The curriculum-driven interactive series features new CG-animation, a new host and an engaging interactive narrative that gets pre-schoolers involved with the show by helping Blue to crack clues and solve problems along the way. At BLE, ViacomCBS will also take part in several panels as well as a keynote. On Thursday 18th October at 1pm, Mark Kingston, senior vice president, International Consumer Products, ViacomCBS, will lead a diversity and inclusion keynote reviewing the impact a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging has on culture, community and industry. The keynote will also include Ameeta Held, vice president, Insights and Business Strategy, Consumer Products, ViacomCBS, who will reference original toy research when detailing the importance of authentic representation in dolls and the impact it has on choice. ViacomCBS will also take part in three panels focused on diversity and inclusion, looking at the topics from a product, content and workplace point of view.

Rainbow Group (39) 071 750 67 500 | www.rbw.it Stand B131 Rainbow is back at BLE with an exciting line-up of brands seeking to on-board new partners throughout the show. Despite recent global challenges, Rainbow - a leading provider of original children’s content and third-party IP management of aspirational brands has focused on nurturing new content, maintaining studio production, securing best in class broadcast and IP partners for key properties, and brokering exciting new licensing agreements. Fate: The Winx Saga premiered globally on Netflix in Q1 2020. The live-action TV series, originally created as an animated pre-school TV series more than 17 years ago by Rainbow Group CEO Iginio Straffi, fast became a Netflix global ratings success. The coming-of-age journey, which follows five fairies attending the magical boarding school, Alfea, delivered the ‘fairy dust’ viewers needed in spring 2020. Netflix has commissioned a second series, while the consumer products proposition for both the animated show (currently in production for a ninth series) and the live-action episodes is continually expanding. The dual licensing strategy, for which Rainbow is the exclusive licensor globally, targets both kids and young adults. Rainbow aims to bring amazing storylines and content to life. Iginio Straffi’s reimagining of one of the greatest children’s novels of all time, Pinocchio, makes its debut at BLE, having recently been well received at the annual Venice Film Festival. Premiering late November in Italy, this comical, light-hearted and wholesome series for all the family is an animated adaptation of a story which originated in Italy and offers plentiful licensing opportunities due to its global appeal and strong brand heritage. Rainbow’s new animated series, Summer and Todd Happy Farmers, brings young audiences entertaining storylines with an important underlying message about preserving nature and managing sustainability. The 52x7’ CGI series debuted this autumn on Rai Yoyo and is already a ratings hit, with more broadcast premieres slated for 2022. Rainbow is bringing Summer and Todd to BLE, giving licensees a first showing of this vibrant but sensitively produced series. Rainbow has extensive experience in third-party IP brand management and is delighted to be announcing its new global agreement with artist Lucia Heffernan. Known for her love of the animal kingdom. Lucia’s whimsical, humorous, theatrical and edgy portrayal of them in her work has garnered her critical acclaim. Rainbow will bring the brand to life beyond pure art, making it accessible via global licensing partnerships across a breadth of consumer products to create a new generation of Lucia Heffernan fans.


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Lisle Licensing 01937 586 237 | www.lislelicensing.com | Sales@lislelicensing.com Executive Suites C113 This year has proved to be a stellar period for the northern-based licensing agent Lisle Licensing, which celebrated 10 years in business during 2020 and promoted Francesca Lisle to managing director, with Colin Lisle stepping into the position of chairman. In addition to expanding its client roster throughout this year, Francesca has also restructured the company’s commercial division with two recent appointments which will strengthen its ability to support both clients and retailers. Francesca, Colin and the rest of the team will be based in room C113, located behind the Licensing International stand on the BLE show floor. Masha and the Bear put in a strong performance throughout 2021 with more than 100b global views reached on YouTube. The brand continues to grow its licensing programme in the UK with new deals being announced at BLE. The focus is on extending existing contracts and tapping into new categories including outdoor toys, games, puzzles and food, all of which will bolster the impressive existing roster of licensees. New content is on the horizon for TV and broadcast partners, bringing through fresh content that promises to keep UK fans engaged with fun new story lines. In its entertainment and broadcast portfolio, Lisle was appointed earlier this year by Planeta Junior to spearhead the UK licensing programme for its new IP, Milo, which launched earlier this year on channel 5’s milkshake. With a master toy partnership on the horizon, Lisle Licensing will focus its attention at BLE on other key categories including publishing, apparel and dress-up. The Tetris Company has enjoyed a successful long-term licensing partnership with Lisle and in 2021 developed a strong new presence in the housewares and gifting categories. The partnership with Fizz Creations has seen Tetris launch a variety of new lines including the first-ever Tetrimino waffle maker, an arcade game in a tin, keyring arcade and stress squeezers. In 2022, Lisle will focus on adding to the brand’s collaboration partners. A children’s apparel licensee is being actively sought with a view to developing a range from the new style guide, while new categories such as health & beauty, as well as bags & accessories, are also open for discussion. Two clients are making their licensing debut at BLE. The US-based humorous art and lifestyle brand Kate Smith Company signed Lisle as its exclusive UK agent at the end of 2020, and licensees Hallmark UKI, Moonpig and Carousel Calendars all have product at retail for Q4. The focus at BLE is to extend the brand’s range into stationery, homeware and partyware. Aspirational lifestyle duo The Style Sisters also appointed Lisle in autumn 2020. Lisle is looking to expand the duo’s range into homeware products. Other clients from the portfolio that will be showcased at this year’s BLE include leading action sports brand Nitro Circus plus international artist Lucia Heffernan, in partnership with Rainbow Group.


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Penguin Ventures www.penguin.co.uk Stand B150 Penguin Ventures is part of Penguin Random House Children’s and brings together licensing, consumer products, tv production, art exhibitions and live events strategies, finding new ways to tell the world’s favourite stories. The company will be showcasing its portfolio of licensed literary children’s IP at Brand Licensing Europe 2021, including Classic Peter Rabbit, The World of The Snowman, Spot and The Flower Fairies. Visitors to the Penguin Ventures stand will be able to discover the exciting plans in place to celebrate 120 years of Peter Rabbit and 10 years of The Snowman and The Snowdog. Penguin Random House Children’s will be celebrating Peter’s 120th birthday with a suitably adventurous, fun-filled campaign, creating a wealth of opportunities for families to party with Peter throughout 2022. The Owned Brands team at Penguin Random House Children’s will be paying tribute to the enduring legacy of Beatrix Potter’s original Tale whilst engaging family audiences with Peter’s trademark mischievousness. The team will launch a purpose-driven PR and digital campaign, working with high profile partners and ambassadors in the outdoors space. Peter Rabbit’s role as children’s ambassador for the Queen’s Green Canopy will see Peter supporting tree planting initiatives throughout the year whilst celebratory Picnics for Peter will take place during the summer supported by key partners. Penguin Ventures, the licensing team at Penguin Random House Children’s, will be growing several existing product ranges throughout 2022 in the UK including several special commemorative ranges which will launch across plush, apparel and gifting categories. Penguin Ventures has also confirmed a programme of experiential activations in the UK offering families immersive events throughout the year. A new Peter Rabbit Story Time Trail will launch in March and tour libraries and gallery spaces, with venues booked up until July 2023. The first Peter Rabbit themed entertainment parties, meanwhile, will launch in 2022, in a new deal with children’s party entertainers, Captain Fantastic, combining party games, magic and mischief. In addition, Happy Birthday Peter Rabbit, a brand-new stage production, will be launching at the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in the Lake District next summer. Finally, Penguin Random House Children’s will be launching a range of commemorative publishing throughout 2022 including a beautiful picture book edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, featuring Beatrix Potter’s original text and iconic illustrations. The Tale of Peter Rabbit will be released in picture book format in April 2022 and will be supported with a creative and high-profile publicity and marketing anniversary campaign.

Sega Europe 020 8996 4594 | www.sega.co.uk Stand A161 Sega Europe’s award-winning licensing team is returning to Brand Licensing Europe this year to showcase its impressive library of iconic video game brands. Hot on the heels of its most recent and hugely successful game release Colours, and a record-breaking family action movie in 2020, Sonic The Hedgehog is entering a major new era. In fact, 2022 is set to be the IP’s biggest year yet. With the hotly anticipated movie sequel in partnership with Paramount scheduled to hit theatres worldwide in April, and a major new animation series exclusive to Netflix in partnership with WildBrain releasing later the same year, the ‘Blue Blur’ is staking its claim as a leading global entertainment brand with a rapidly growing army of new fans. Despite the challenges over the last 18 months, the Sonic licensing business has seen record growth and retail placement is at an all-time high. The licensing team will be on hand to present all the latest plans and developments and to discuss a broad range of exciting new partnerships. Elsewhere, Sega Europe’s Retro licensing business continues to go from strength to strength as the clamour for retro gaming inspired merchandise and experiences grows and diversifies. This is an important long running programme for the company and is a celebration of some of the most important and iconic moments in console history. The team will be meeting with new and existing partners across a range of categories, looking to further bolster its stable of best-in-class partners. Add to this an impressive library of award-winning PC strategy titles including Total War and Company of Heroes, as well as the world’s biggest football management simulation title Football Manager, and the Sega licensing team is on course for a successful and busy BLE.


BLE - Hot Propertiers

Boat Rocker www.boatrocker.com | Seonaid@boatrocker.com (Exhibiting virtually only) Boat Rocker’s purpose is to tell stories and build iconic brands across all genres and media. The company has robust licensing plans in place for its portfolio of properties. Dino Ranch has been a huge hit in the US where it was the No.1 show among kids aged 2-5 from launch, airing on Disney Junior, Disney+ and Disney Now. Dino Ranch also airs on Disney+ in Australia and the UK. The hit show has been renewed for a second season of 52x11’ episodes at Disney, set to debut in 2022. A fresh and unique pairing of two of pre-schoolers’ greatest loves – dinosaurs and ranchers – the 3D animation features dino-driven adventures in the great outdoors. Dino Ranch is also building a strong profile across social media, including on its YouTube channel where views are over 45m. Toys from Global Master Toy Partner, Jazwares, launched in October in the US, online at Target, Walmart and Amazon, following the immediate sell out of the Blitz plush during its soft launch on Amazon in the summer. Jazwares secured an exclusive toy launch in Australia at Big W in October, and in the UK, toys will roll out across all retailers from Spring ‘22. In the UK and across Europe, CP partners include a global partnership with Scholastic, Rubies, Ravensburger, Global Brands Group, Character World, Immediate Magazine and Kennedy. Hugely popular series Love Monster, based on Rachel Bright’s award-winning pre-school books, follows the stories of lovable, caring Love Monster. Celebrating inclusive behaviour and collaboration, the series showcases the importance of kindness, empathy, connection and instinct and is full of heart and ‘little life’ learnings for pre-schoolers. Series 2 (27 x 7’) is currently in production and a BBC Christmas Special will feature a special, big-name guest star (tba). Love Monster’s US presence was bolstered by its recent launch on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network and HBO Max. Products currently available include toys from Golden Bear, apparel from Blues, PJs by Cooneen and dress up from Amscan. Other exciting projects linked to the brand are in the pipeline, with further announcements due before the end of the year. The Next Step – the UK’s best-loved reality dance drama for tweens – continues across the globe with a brand-new range due to launch with a major grocer towards the end of the year, including nightwear, dancewear and loungewear. In addition, the Pineapple and TNS collaboration sports-casual range is available in Next, while Brand Threads offers new TNS pyjamas, and Danilo has launched a 2022 calendar.

Pocket.watch www.pocket.watch | Licensing@pocket.watch (Exhibiting virtually only) Pocket.watch, the premier kids and family entertainment company, partners with the biggest kids and family YouTube creators in the world to transform kids’ favourite stars into powerful multi-category global franchises. The company’s creators amass nearly 7b views every month on YouTube alone, and these partnerships create numerous opportunities for Pocket.watch to fulfill its mission: bringing fans more of what they love while ensuring kids around the world see themselves in its content. Pocket.watch’s success in bringing franchise economics to the world’s most popular YouTube creators, and in producing, licensing and distributing original IP to every consumer touchpoint, gives it the distinct ability to reach diverse audiences across the globe. Pocket.watch’s successful portfolio of creator-based kids and family franchises include Ryan’s World, Love, Diana, Onyx Monster Mysteries, and - coming soon Kaleidoscope City, a result of the Pocket.watch’s newest partnership with Toys and Colors, the YouTube channel with 65.4m subscribers, 1.5b average monthly views, and 49.1b total lifetime views. The ensemble Asian-American cast features young friends Wendy, Alex, Emma, Jannie and Andrew, in addition to a host of Aunties and Uncles familiar to the channel’s massive audience. Kaleidoscope City comes to life in an original live action/animated series, consumer products, gaming, podcasts, live events and much more, and is a magical world of colour where kids learn to see things from a new perspective. The franchise highlights the importance of diversity, varied points-of-view, conflict management and empathy. Kaleidoscope City launches in spring 2022. The company continues to expand the offerings of each of its global franchises, while launching new ones every year. Visitors to Brand Licensing Europe will find the company’s marquee brands, Ryan’s World and Love, Diana, placed with manufacturers and distributors in every category from toys to toothbrushes. These consumer products are built on a platform of content unmatched in children’s entertainment, and YouTube is just the beginning. As one of the largest independent studios creating kids and family programming, Pocket.watch has also produced over 3,400 episodes and 500+ hours of original content which is available on over 40 premier AVOD, and SVOD streaming OTT platforms in over 80 territories. Pocket.watch’s Emmy-nominated hit pre-school TV show Ryan’s Mystery Playdate is now airing its fourth season on Nickelodeon. Global licensing opportunities are available in all categories for Ryan’s World and Love, Diana. To learn more about these and other upcoming franchises, please get in touch using the email above.


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Special Feature

Warner Bros

Magic moments A franchise of seemingly unstoppable momentum, Wizarding World is pushing back its robe-sleeves for a spellbinding year packed with new content, magical experiences and products that will continue to bring this fantastical world to life for fans. Rachel Wakley, Warner Bros. general manager, tells Toy World why, more than ever before, fans should have their wands at the ready. How has the Wizarding World franchise performed over the past 18 months? The Wizarding World franchise continues to perform strongly, with the momentum showing no signs of abating. It’s testament to the strength of the franchise and the creativity and engagement from our partners who continue to deliver incredible product for our fans young and old. We really felt we saw the true power of the Wizarding World come through in the last 18 months; a property that in times of struggle offers fans a sense of escapism from the reality, an opportunity to relive their favourite moments and in many cases pass on those memories to new fans coming into the franchise for the first time. A lot of that success was within toys, including our amazing Lego Harry Potter ranges and the great breadth of products across games and puzzles, as families found new ways to entertain themselves and their families at home.

What new developments are coming through for 2022? We have so much more to come across all of our consumer product areas. From a toys perspective, we’ll have further development from partners across all subcategories and will continue to work hand-in-hand with top brands such as Lego, Mattel and Wow! Stuff to unveil new and exciting Wizarding World lines and collections. As for new content, we have two major releases; a film and a game, that will be sure to generate incredible excitement amongst fans. The first is the film release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, now announced to be releasing on the 8th of April in the UK. The third instalment is sure to

be a real fan favourite. The second major release of 2022 will be for a new console game: Hogwarts Legacy. The reaction to the trailer for this has been amazing and it looks set to be a huge success. We know that gaming is such an important part of the market and one that we had to be involved in. From what we’ve seen, the launch will be well worth the wait and will deliver a unique way for fans to interact with the franchise.

With consumers hungry for experiences and events, how big a role do you think the Leavesden Studio Tour and retail activations will play in the UK’s return to normality? The Wizarding World is a unique property for many reasons. One which really drives the franchise and grows our fan engagement is the experiences fans can immerse themselves in. This is not a brand solely reliant on new films or TV shows, this franchise is about allowing fans to explore their favourite locations, their favourite scenes and their favourite moments that mean something to them. To be able to re-open Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter; Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature exhibition at the Natural History Museum; Platform 9 ¾ stores; Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience and many of the other new experiences that we’re working on is incredibly important to us. It’s then really about bringing aspects of these moments to life at retail for our customers and making sure we continue to surprise fans through our activations in store and online. Our team is already working on landing this for next year, whilst ensuring the campaigns we have in place for this holiday season are realising their full potential.

Are retailers as supportive of Wizarding World as they ever were? Absolutely. Our retail partners play such a vital role in connecting our fans with the franchise and we will continue to deliver best in class product and activations to grow that presence across all retailers. We hope that they continue to be rewarded with excellent product and with strong rates of sale that should only improve as we move into next year given the strength of the range being delivered by our partners and the power of our content slate.

The first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. What’s behind the extraordinary momentum the franchise has maintained across the decades? It’s almost surreal that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out 20 years ago. Many of us can think back to seeing that first film at the cinema - and it certainly doesn’t feel that long ago. These are inherently creative stories that resonate with audiences of all ages across the globe. Creativity is at the heart of everything connected to the Wizarding World. From the partners who continue to deliver exceptional products which surprise and delight, to the experiences that bring the magic of the Wizarding World to life, everything we create and develop has to be relevant to fans. It’s about doing what’s right instead of what is easy. Ultimately, it’s the fans themselves that are the true drivers of the franchise’s success: the Wizarding World fan community is exceptional, and its passion seems grows year after year. It’s our job to find ways to help them harness that passion by creating products and experiences that will create new and lasting memories.

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IN CINEMAS APRIL 2022 LICENSING AVAILABLE FROM WA R N E R B R O S . C O N S U M E R P R O D U C T S , PLEASE CONTACT: SAMMY.DOVE@WARNERBROS.COM


Q&A

NBC Universal

Universally Speaking… Toy World Publisher John Baulch caught up with Paul Bufton, NBC Universal Brand Development vice president EMEA, to reflect on the events of the past 18 months and look ahead to a huge year for the studio, with two major movie launches next summer – Jurassic World and Minions. in the fashion and home space, but we are doing a lot more in the kidult area now too. Our back catalogue lends itself really well to that space. For example, with Back to the Future, Playmobil has seen great success with the DeLorean model, and we have high hopes for ET, which celebrates its 40th anniversary next year.

What are the key attributes you look for in a licensee partner?

How are you feeling about ’22 – is it set to be a big year for Universal and its partners? 2022 is going to be a really significant year for us, because we have two absolute juggernauts in Jurassic World and Minions. The James Bond movie has proved that there is huge pent-up demand for movie-going audiences, so that augurs well for our business. Also, we’re moving into new territory with Gabby’s Dollhouse, which has been airing on Netflix, and we’ve had good exposure on YouTube as well. We’ve started to introduce product into a few markets already – it’s done phenomenally well in the US and Mexico. The other aspect of our business which continues to perform well is our back catalogue our U Vault business. A lot of that success has been

I am sure all licensors would say this, but we are definitely looking for ‘best in class’ licensees. There’s definitely a view that less is more, and we want to strike a healthy balance between having a good portfolio of partners, but not over-extending ourselves. I’m a firm believer that if you work with best in class partners, you can build a genuine partnership where you are working off each other’s strengths and focusing on innovation and creativity. We want our partners to offer a point of difference and unique product offerings, and maximise that combination of entrepreneurialism and creativity, particularly in the toy and kidult space. It’s also important to make sure we are working with partners who have an eye on the future, the ones who are thinking about the evolving and emerging channels of distribution, as well as how they connect with their consumers and, increasingly, how they can support the sustainability agenda.

From an EMEA perspective, what can locally-based licensees bring to the licensing programmes? Which EMEA licensees have really stood out in the way they have contributed? When you are working with global partners,

you get scale and reach, but for me it’s all about the blend. The global partners have huge strengths, they are working with massive product development budgets and very strong design capabilities. You have the scale there to really drive the business forward. However, it is critical to blend that with regional and local partners to achieve a balance. Of course, you don’t want partners stepping on each other’s toes from a product and distribution point of view, but local partners give you many advantages: they often support categories that are more relevant in specific regions. Europe is a very nuanced region: the number of countries, the variety of cultures, the different retailers - it certainly isn’t a territory where a ‘one size fits all’ approach tends to work. We’ve had some great success stories with dedicated EMEA licensees: I mentioned Playmobil before, we have an incredibly strong relationship with them. It’s been great to see them branch out beyond the European region: they are starting to get some real traction now in North America. I would also call out Richard and the team at Wow! Stuff. Through diligence, innovation, and sheer gumption, they have managed to build a really successful business, not just in Europe, but also now in the US and across the globe.

How has the Universal business adapted over the past 18 months, both in terms of short and medium term changes? We’ve ridden the same insane rollercoaster as everyone else. It’s been a huge learning curve, but in truth, Covid has been an incredible accelerator for our business. We’ve definitely become more agile within the European market. The team has done an amazing job, particularly the retail team, who shifted a lot of in-store campaigns over to social,



Q&A

NBC Universal What can you tell us about Gabby’s Dollhouse? This is a different property within the NBC Universal portfolio, in that it’s brand new and TV driven…

digital and eCommerce platforms. We approached the whole situation with a mindset of supporting retailers and licensees through the difficult time. We’re also a lot more data-driven now, which is terrific. We brought in new team members, specifically around eCommerce, which sets us up nicely for the future. It’s been hard work, but ultimately, I’m massively reassured by the fact that if you make great product based on great franchises, it can still succeed. The toy business, in particular, has been strong. During the darkest times of lockdown, so many people were reminiscing about the good times, and longstanding franchises like Jurassic, Minions and our back catalogue have undoubtedly benefitted from that. Having a Plan B is now very much part of our DNA – it was always there in the background, but now it’s absolutely vital to know where you can go if things don’t quite go according to plan.

That leads us very nicely on to Jurassic World – with the movie being delayed by a year, you had to have a Plan B. How did that work out? It’s been absolutely incredible. Jurassic World has enjoyed an outstanding performance in both ’20 and ’21 - from a consumer perspective, we have the definitive dinosaur brand. It’s not just onedimensional, it reaches across multiple categories and touchpoints, providing different experiences and products. Video games and digital content have been central to that strategy and, of course, it helped us tremendously that Camp Cretaceous came onto Netflix. The sales curve when the programme launched was phenomenal, which is incredibly reassuring for us and the licensing industry as a whole. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are here to stay, and we want to continue to support them. Streaming has definitely now arrived as a viable driver of consumer engagement and interest. Clearly Covid has been a contributing factor in that, with people stuck at home. Now you finally have the movie to kick things up a whole other gear… It’s going to be amazing – the movie genuinely offers something new, because it brings back the original cast, so it will have cross-generational appeal. Movie-going audiences and fans are looking for those big event movies to get back into cinemas. A lot of that work has already been done by Bond, and there are other big releases coming this year. Then when we get into ’22, there are a lot of really big movies coming.

Indeed, you have another major movie launching next summer, which was also delayed from 2020– Minions. What are your expectations for that franchise? We’re in a very strong position in the European markets; the characters are firmly ingrained in popular culture here, and there is great anticipation for the movie. It’s cross-generational, has a big family audience, it’s comedy – it’s going to be exactly the tonic we need next summer.

Which categories and retail channels have seen particular success with Minions merchandise? Historically, Minions has always performed extremely well in fashion and food, and I am sure that will continue next year. We’ve also established terrific partnerships with Mattel and Lego over the past few years, and they will be back for the movie. Mobile gaming is also huge; Minions Rush has just gone over the 1b download mark, which is incredible.

It’s ET’s 40th anniversary in ’22 – what plans do you have to support the brand next year? ET has been a real labour of love. Everybody can think back to when they saw the movie for the first time, it was Spielberg at the height of his powers. We’ve really tapped into that 80s nostalgia vibe, which happens to be beautifully on trend at the moment. We have a balanced portfolio of partners who are going to tap into that heritage nostalgia, but who are going to bring a modern, technological twist to it as well. It’s going to be a good spread across toys and kidult hardlines partners, along with strong kidult fashion partners.

It is the brainchild of Traci Paige Johnson – her track record of Blue’s Clues and Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood is incredible, and Jennifer Twomey. I think of it as pre-school programming for a modern era – it’s very mixed media, it brings together a love of unboxing videos, cats, miniatures and dolls house play. The show is a combination of live action and animation. You have a live action Gabby and as she unboxes a surprise, she gets transformed, Alice in Wonderland style, into a fantastical animated world populated by cat characters. It is beautifully written and produced, and there is a lot of positive messaging and encouragement around a growth mindset, celebrating mistakes and creative problem solving. There is interactivity and exploration, and above all, it’s a lot of fun. Everyone who has seen it adores it, and it has performed incredibly well on Netflix. We have adopted a deliberate strategy of not going to market too quickly with product; we’ve worked very closely with Spin Master on the project, they’re an incredible partner, with a lot of experience and expertise in this area. In Europe, we’ll see some early launches at the back end of next year, and then we’ll come through with an all-region rollout in ’23.

Overall, how do you see ’22 shaping up for Universal and its partners? I’m super confident about ’22. We have some amazing content and great retail plans – the team has done a fantastic job pulling them all together. ’22 is almost locked in, we just need to finesse some of the plans that are in place. So, now we’re starting to plan for ’23 and looking forward to seeing partners at BLE to begin that process. It will genuinely be a pleasure to see people again. A lot of emotion comes out in these events, there are many people who are really good friends who haven’t seen each other for a long time. We are in a very social business, so I’m very excited to see people and have face to face meetings again.



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