Toy World Magazine September 2023

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September 2023 Volume 13 Issue 01



EXPAND YOUR HEROQUEST GAME SYSTEM: This ”Rise of the Dread Moon” Quest Pack concludes the exciting story begun in “The Mage of the Mirror” expansion!


The exciting fantasy strategy adventure game for 2-5 players, ages 14+.

© 2023 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.
New From the Publisher Industry Moves Marketing World Licensing World Regulars 22 Generation Media 31 Talking Shop 38 Circana 44 Letter from America 78 Fresh 122 Viewpoint 130 Allegedly Toy World 3 CONTENTS Alakat Published by 61 Maxted Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 7DZ toyworldmag Toy World Magazine @toyworldmag @baulchtweet 46 Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles 88 Feature: Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns 118 Feature: New York Toy Fair Features 40 Special Feature: Barbie Retail Tour 46 Feature: Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles 88 Feature: Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns 118 Feature: New York Toy Fair 128 Special Feature: Xplore Distribution September 2023 Volume 13 Issue 01 Contributors Circana | Mark Buschhaus | Stephen Barnes | Tristan Brooks | Nick Gibbs-McNeil | Asha Bhalsod 40 Special Feature: Barbie Retail Tour
John Baulch Publisher and Managing Editor 01442 502 408 07932 651 207 01442 502 405 01442 502 406 01442 502 405 Marianna Casal Assistant Editor 01442 502 406
The Team...
71346 Advent CalendarNovelmore - Battle in the Snow
71347 Advent CalendarPolice Museum Theft 71348 Advent CalendarChristmas under the Rainbow For more information contact your territory manager or the PLAYMOBIL office 01268 548111 -
71345 Advent CalendarChristmas Sleigh Ride


Welcome to the 12th birthday issue of Toy World. 12 years ago, the very first issue of Toy World was landing on desks, and although that seems a world away now, some things haven’t changed since our launch edition. We always knew that there wasn’t room for three titles in the market; indeed, as a disciple of the ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to trade magazines, I might even argue that one title would realistically suffice. But what we did know from the start was that there was unquestionably room for a better toy magazine – and that we would build a team that could deliver that.

Fast forward 12 years and we continue to make good on that promise – I am loving life and still loving what I do. I am as passionate and enthusiastic about the toy business as I ever was, and the fact that we now have 90% of the market shows that – contrary to what a director at my previous company said just after I left – I really wasn’t “too old to start my own business” (I was 49 by the way – not exactly ready to hang up my keyboard). Thanks to everyone for their continued support, and for helping us to have all the right information to keep the toy community informed and entertained.

So, what do we have in-store for you this month? With the festive season rapidly approaching, we take a deep dive into the marketing activity which toy companies will be putting behind their key launches to create excitement and demand. Historically, this feature focused predominantly on the TV advertising schedules that had been put in place, but my goodness how the world has changed. While TV is still part of the mix, consumer-facing marketing is now a multifaceted and complex process.…if you thought Optimus AI was a new Transformer, this is the feature for you.

Alongside the main issue, we are once again delighted to bring you our standalone Games & Puzzles supplement, the only one of its kind in the world – 84 pages dedicated to this enduringly popular category. Despite concerns that the sector might struggle to live up to the heady days of 2020 and 2021, the latest Circana figures suggest quite the contrary; Games & Puzzles is now the 4th largest supercategory in the UK toy market, as well as the fastest growing this year (+11% YTD). And that’s before the main selling season kicks in. So, if you are looking for inspiration to freshen up your range for this Christmas, the supplement is a great place to start.

We also have an exclusive interview with the Toy Association’s president and CEO Steve Pasierb, ahead of the inaugural New York Toy Fair to be held in its new timeslot

at the end of September. We put some candid questions to Steve about the rationale behind the move from the event’s traditional February timing and, to his credit, he answered them unflinchingly. I’ll be heading to the show to see how the change of date impacts the event – I’ll report back in due course.

There is also a special feature on the Pocket Money and Collectibles category, plus a host of new products hitting shelves this autumn winter and articles about subjects as varied and eclectic as the Hollywood Actors and Writers’ strike and Amazon’s purge of distributors.

If all of that wasn’t enough, we also have an exclusive article based on a retail tour around London that we took with the Mattel team last month. We spent a packed morning looking at the amazing activations for Barbie across leading stores of every shape and size, from specialist toy retail to high end department store, from fashion to grocery. Every store we visited had adopted a different approach, the only commonality being that each activation worked for that particular retailer. It has to be said that what the Mattel team has achieved is nothing short of remarkable; they have created an incredible presence across every retail channel, without any retailers complaining that their competitors have been given preferential treatment. Literally, everyone’s a winner.

I gather that many retailers have seen a very significant upturn in their Barbie business in recent weeks, both for the core Mattel range and licensees’ products too. To see well-shopped fixtures and retailers struggling to catch up on stock levels is welcome during the height of summer in any given year, but particularly this year.

Because, from what I hear, July was something of a tricky month for the UK toy market: sales were apparently down every week in July, with the last three weeks all experiencing double digit declines. Of course, the inclement weather didn’t help – outdoor sales slowed up dramatically in July. But even allowing for that, it wasn’t the ideal way to start the second half of the year.

However, while the first half of 2023 has had something of a subdued air, I do get the impression that there is a far greater degree of confidence for the back end. Barbie continues to keep the spotlight shining on the toy market, while I gather Turtles sales – which were already decent ahead of the movie release - went to another level once the film hit screens. With plenty more heavy hitters in the wings, there is every reason to be (quietly) optimistic about the festive season – and we will continue to bring you every twist and turn as things begin to hot up.

Toy World 5 Contact us today to find out how our exclusively-senior expertise, deep market knowledge and unique FOCUS methodology ensures we deliver playful-yet-transformational results for clients. - meaningful schools outreach - influencer campaigns - media relations - creative activations - events and moreMaking lives more playful | 01908 032 700 |
John Baulch - @Baulchtweet

Toy Fair 2024 exhibition space sold out

The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) has expanded the show for 2024 into Olympia’s Upper West Hall to accommodate the growing demand for space, and this new area has already been taken up. There will now be a waiting list for exhibition space.

The UK’s largest toy, game and hobby trade show, which will be celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2024, will take place at Olympia London from the 23rd-25th January 2024. More than 200 exhibiting companies will be occupying the Grand and National halls on both levels, and now also part of the Upper West Hall.

One of the stands to occupy the Upper West Hall will be Tomy which is returning to the show in 2024. The BTHA’s director of Toy Fair, Majen Immink, said: “We are delighted to welcome back Tomy, especially in its 100th year. To be able to expand into the Upper West Hall to accommodate the growing demand for space on top of an extremely high returnee rate speaks volumes for the strength of the show and the importance and value the industry places on it. It’s a fantastic achievement to have sold out of space with five months still to go.”

Other names joining the ranks for Toy Fair 2024 include Juratoys, Hasbro, Moose Toys, The Lego Group, Dolu, Funko, Kidicraft, Rubies Masquerade, Rainbow Designs, Mood Bears, Playmobil, PlayMonster UK, Reydon Sports and John Adams.

Toy Fair TV will once again be on hand to capture exhibitors showcasing the thousands of new and exciting products, including many exclusive launches. There will be sneak previews of new themes and trends for 2024 and exclusive on-site retail offers, as well as the BTHA conjuring up some nostalgia in celebration of the show’s 70th anniversary.

Any companies interested in joining the waiting list are encouraged to get in touch with Visitor registration will open on 26th September at when the full floor plans and exhibitor list will be available.

Press day will take place on the first day of the show; follow Toy Fair on Instagram and Twitter @toyfairuk for more updates.

Of course, Team Toy World will see you there!

Tomy acquires worldwide rights to Mood Bears

Tomy Toys has signed a partnership agreement with Mood Bears, the brand that has captured the nation’s attention thanks to its success on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den. Through the partnership, Tomy acquires the worldwide rights to future manufacturing, sales and distribution of Mood Bears products.

The brand promotes mental health positivity through its collection of soft toy bears, each of which corresponds with a different emotion: Happy Bear, Sad Bear, Silly Bear, Calm Bear, Nervous Bear, Angry Bear, Love Bear and Hope Bear. The bears are made from 100% recycled materials and promote emotional well-being for all ages. Each is a different colour, has a symbol for its corresponding mood embroidered on its feet and comes with a poem to help people understand and talk about their thoughts and feelings.

The new partnership will allow Mood Bears to scale globally with guidance from Tomy, which has already found worldwide success with Lamaze, Aquadoodle, Drumond Park Games and its other industry-leading brands.

Mary Wood, managing director at Tomy, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Joanna, and can’t wait to start growing the Mood Bears brand together. The Mood Bears products are really unique and special. We’re confident that they will be a global success thanks to their universal appeal, suitability for all age groups and link to the topical concern of emotional well-being. We plan to continue the great work that Joanna has already started in putting mental health top of the agenda.”

Joanna Proud – who founded the company based on her own experiences with mental health – said of the partnership: “I am truly honoured to hand over such a special brand to a fantastic global company. In the short time since I designed the Mood Bears, their presence has already become so strong and the positive outcomes from all over the world has been simply breathtaking. I know that working with Tomy, our passion to ‘make the world smile’ will thrive.”

British firms can continue to use CE mark

As part of the government’s ‘drive for smarter regulation’, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has confirmed indefinite CE mark recognition beyond the previously announced 2024 deadline. The government says this extension will cut business costs, time required to place products on the market and will also benefit consumers.

The extension to the use of CE marking for businesses applies to 18 regulations owned by DBT. It comes following extensive engagement with industry, as part of a wider package of ‘smarter regulations’. British firms will be able to continue the use of CE marking alongside UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed).

The government said the Business Secretary has acted to avoid a cliff-edge moment in December 2024 when UKCA was set for entry and claims this intervention will ‘ensure businesses no longer face uncertainty over the regulations and can cut back on unnecessary costs, freeing them up to focus on innovation and growth’.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “The government is tackling red tape, cutting burdens for business and creating certainty for firms. We have listened to industry, and we are taking action to deliver. By extending CE mark use across the UK, firms can focus their time and money on creating jobs and growing the economy.”

Stephen Phipson, CEO of manufacturers’ organisation, Make UK, commented: “This is a pragmatic and common-sense decision that manufacturers will very much welcome and support. This announcement will help safeguard the competitiveness of manufacturers and aid the UK as a destination for investment.”

He added that the move should bring more confidence to doing business in the UK and said the government had recognised the need to work with the reality of doing business.

Some experts have pointed out that it’s now harder for UK firms to obtain CE marks because UK certifying bodies are no longer recognised. Instead, firms have to locate and deal with an EU-based body, and it has not been confirmed whether this situation will change.

News Toy World 8

Zapf’s Baby born premieres new animated series

MGA Entertainment, in collaboration with Zapf Creation AG, has announced the first-ever original animated series from Baby born. The nurturing doll brand is a range of wholesome, inclusive and premium-quality dolls and playsets designed to encourage empathy and a world of imagination, with a touch of magic and surprise.

After 32 successful years in the market and 26m dolls sold worldwide, Baby born is taking a monumental leap forward by introducing an all-new touch point for fans and families to engage with the brand via an animated series. The series, which debuted on 26th August, follows Baby born girl Emma, her stuffed bear Teddy and friends as they learn, grow and explore the world by playing make-believe.

The highly awaited animated series, which premiered on YouTube and Kidoodle.TV, promises to entertain and engage young viewers and their parents alike. Packed with heartwarming stories and earworm songs, the series is designed to inspire creativity, teamwork and imagination. An impressive collection of 19 original songs also features in the series, ensuring that every episode is packed with catchy tunes to have viewers singing and dancing along. With a total of 18 episodes and 90 minutes of content, MGA says the series offers a boundless world of imagination and entertainment for preschoolers.

“We are excited to bring Baby born’s magical world to life through a colourful and creative short-form animated series,” said Anne Parducci, MGA Entertainment’s chief content officer. “Families will enjoy the exceptionally catchy music, fun themes and loveable characters.”

The series will expand to other media distribution and languages in autumn 2023.

Thomas Eichhorn, Zapf Creation AG executive board member, added: “For more than three decades, Baby born has been a cherished companion for children worldwide, and this animated series is a natural extension of the brand’s commitment to creating imaginative and educational experiences.”

Sambro unveils sustainable packaging solution

Sambro International has reimagined packaging for one of its best-selling lines in a move which will help save 12.8 tonnes of plastic a year. As part of its ESG commitments, which have already seen the firm reduce its Scope 1 & 2 carbon footprint by 10% since its baseline year, Sambro has undertaken an audit of the packaging used across its range of toys, identifying ways in which it can make sustainable

Dave Middleton reveals his Top Toys for Christmas

Dave Middleton, the owner of Midco Toymaster, Midco Toy Planet and Freak Treats, has revealed his personal list of top toys for Christmas as suppliers and retailers alike begin turning their attentions in earnest to the festive season.

Bitzee from Spin Master tops Dave’s list. The Pokémon Trading Card Game 152 Elite Trainer Box from Asmodee also takes a top three spot, along with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem Pizza Fire delivery Van from Character Options.

Dave said: “I thought I’d beat the rest and reveal what I think will be some of the hottest toys this Christmas. Many factors play into my decisionmaking process: I usually choose toys that are both available market wide and exclusive to indies, across a wide range of price points that cater to all pockets and types of consumer, be them parents, grandparents, siblings, schoolfriends or Secret Santa gifters.”

Dave added: “To help shoppers feeling the pinch this year, I’m running a Christmas savings club. Simply pay a 10% deposit on your toys and gifts and clear the rest in instalments in the run-up to Christmas. The festive shopping period is looking strong, but if I can make it a little easier for people then that’s a good thing. Toy shops should spread cheer and happiness.”

Dave’s Top Toys for Christmas 2023 are as follows:

• Bitzee (Spin Master Toys)

• Pokémon Trading Card Game 152 Elite Trainer Box (Asmodee)

• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles Mutant Mayhem Pizza Fire delivery Van (Character Options)

• Barbie Doll with swimsuit – beach themed (Mattel)

• Lego Star Wars 75359 Ashokas Clone Trooper Battle Pack (The Lego Group)

• Squishmallows Monopoly (Winning Moves)

• MGA’s Miniverse Lifestyle series Ball (MGA)

• Snackles Super Sized assortment (Zuru)

• Furby (Hasbro)

• Cookeez Makery Oven assortment (Moose)

• Fingerlings (Character Options)

• Squishmallows 7.5″ plush assortment (Jazwares)

• Aphmau Mystery Meemeows Suprise Figures (Character)

• Slime Party Gift Set assortment (Slime Party Uk)

• Magic Mixies Pixlings Doll assortment (Moose)

This has resulted in the launch of a new-look, fully recyclable packaging format that will replace its egg-shaped plastic packaging, which has been used across a variety of Sambro products for over three years. This includes Sambro’s best-selling Create Your Own Character line, which has been developed in collaboration with long-standing licensor Hasbro as part of its Peppa Pig franchise. The Peppa Pig Create Your Own Character range comprises four collectible characters, including Peppa Pig, George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Working in partnership, Sambro’s Design, Product and ESG teams developed updated packaging for the range, to reduce plastic waste and add an extra play element, increasing retailer and consumer appeal. The new paper-based packaging design, inspired by milk-cartons, is fully recyclable –including the bag that holds the stuffing for the toy. The packaging also features a cut-out heart image which adds an extra play element. Additional design elements, such as the paper tie and gift bag, allow it to be reimagined as a gift line.

Under the current deal with Hasbro, the updated packaging will be launched to UK and EMEA retailers from January 2024 and will be expected to hit shelves by spring/summer the same year.

Based on latest sales stats, which show that 236,363 Create Your Own Character toys were sold in 2022, Sambro’s cardboard packaging will save 12.8 tonnes of plastic – the equivalent of 752,469 plastic drinks bottles – from landfill. Other benefits include the new rectangular shape, which packs more efficiently, resulting in smaller shipping cartons. The addition of on-pack snipes which educate around plastic-free packaging, will also help increase customer awareness of better buying choices.

News Toy World 10

Brainstorm says goodbye to retiring director Rosanne Kenealy

Rosanne’s 35 years in the toy industry began at Spears in its Product team and then continued at Brainstorm. She was a founding director of Dowling Magnets Europe which formed in January 1995 and was a key member of the buyout team which took control of the business in 2003, changing the name to Brainstorm.

Rosanne said she had “mixed feelings” about retirement as she will really miss the Brainstorm team and the wider toy community. She explained: “I love our products and what we stand for – inspiring young people to discover an appreciation of science and nature. I have some wonderful memories of countless trade events, business trips and the general camaraderie you feel working in this amazing industry with such lovely people.”

Nick Saunders, Sales and Marketing director, commented: “Rosanne has been the heartbeat of our company, and has led the way in establishing the wonderful culture we have here. We wish her all the best for a long and happy retirement, but she will be missed.”

Julie Greenwood, Commercial director (and Rosanne’s sister), will continue to manage the business along with Nick, and the pair are determined to progress the growth of Brainstorm’s portfolio of owned and distributed brands.

Rosanne’s parting gesture to the business was to ensure that her department was left in good hands. Katey Greenwood joined the business over a year ago and now takes care of Product and General Compliance, including reaching the sustainability targets set in motion by Rosanne.

Meanwhile, Lucy Preston has been promoted to Product manager having initially been employed as Product Development assistant more than seven years ago. Lucy’s first job was to appoint her own assistant, another Luci, and relocate Brainstorm’s Hertfordshire office. Luci Davies is a graphic designer and will support the Product and Marketing departments from the new office.

Obituary: Liam Smyth

L.O.L. Surprise! House Of Surprises! to air on Pop

Filled with the famous fashionistas, the Season 1 episodes, which premiered last month, are also available to watch anytime on the Pop Player, on TV, tablet and mobile.

L.O.L. Surprise! House Of Surprises! Season 1 (18 episodes x 7 mins), is produced by MGA Entertainment. Michelle Lilley, VP consumer marketing EMEA at MGA, said: “We are thrilled to announce the debut of House of Surprises across Pop. This is the first time L.O.L. Surprise! will be available on a free-to-air channel, connecting us with an even broader audience of new and existing L.O.L. Surprise! fans across the UK.”

L.O.L. Surprise! fans can continue to dive into the world of imagination and play with the L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G House of Surprises playset, which replicates the house featured in the show. It measures 4ft tall by 4ft wide with four storeys and 10 rooms including a bedroom, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, living room, pool, rooftop patio, movie theatre and diner. In addition to the playset, L.O.L. Surprise! has re-released its fan favourite L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Fashion Dolls featuring the original four characters Swag, Royal Bee, Lady Diva and Neonlicious. Each box includes an L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Series 1 fashion doll, clothing, shoes, accessories, hairbrush and doll stand.

Pop is available on Freeview 206, YouView 206, Sky 614, Virgin 736 or Freesat 603. The Pop Player is available on Freeview Play, YouView, Apple TV, Fire TV and on mobile.

Liam Smyth has passed away at the age of 60. He died at the Mayo Hospice, Castlebar following a period of illness. Liam was one of the directors of the Smyth’s Toys retail chain, along with three of his brothers.

He hailed from Claremorris, County Mayo, where the Smyths business began life as a newsagents. The company has since grown from its humble beginnings to become one of the largest toy retailers in Ireland and the UK. Liam worked as a director alongside Tony, Padraig and Thomas Smyth.

In 2018, Smyths acquired Toys R Us stores in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, re-branding the stores to Smyths and marking the start of the company’s expansion into mainland Europe. In 2022, this was furthered by the acquisition of French toy chain PicWicToys and stores opening in The Netherlands. Smyths now operates over 272 stores across six countries.

Tributes have been paid to Liam by the local Chamber of Commerce, where a spokesperson described him as a leading figure in the business life of the town. In a statement, members paid tribute to his tireless efforts to improve the economy and amenities there.

Liam was a proud supporter of Claremorris GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association). A statement from the club said his passing was a huge loss to the town: “Everyone associated with Mayo GAA would like to express their sincere sympathy on the untimely death of Liam Smyth, a proud Claremorris man and a great supporter of Mayo GAA over the years.”

The club said its academy squads benefited greatly from Liam’s support and added that “Liam always extended this support in a quiet and an unassuming way; his warmth and generosity extended to many other walks of life both locally and further afield.”

Liam is survived by his wife Anne and their five sons: Alex, Ben, Harry, Josh and Sam. Toy World would like to add its condolences to them, and to Liam’s brothers Tony, Padraig, Thomas and Joe, his sister Maura and the extended Smyth family at this sad time.

News Toy World 12

International success for Hunter Price’s Toy Mania fuels further expansion

Hunter Price International’s pocket money, fidget and sensory toys brand, Toy Mania, is expanding its worldwide presence following its success in Australia and New Zealand. Following an initial trial in 2022, Toy Mania’s ever evolving range is now sold in over 500 KMart stores across Australia & New Zealand, with dedicated space in store aisles and FSDUs.

In the UK, the brand is continuing to grow its market share YOY following significant investment in resource and focus across the business, from buying and design to marketing and logistics.

Richard Belford, Toys & Activity sales director at Hunter Price, explained: “The fast-paced pocket money space has always been hugely competitive, and that’s where we thrive. The products we’re creating have real personality, from the physical products themselves through to the way we package and present the product at retail. It’s crucial to have that strong brand identity to help build the brand’s value for the long-term.”

The company says sell through across the entire range has been ‘phenomenal’ this year, and that this month it will be launching two new products: Quick Pops, a fast and furious fidget popper multi game, and Baby Spinners, designed for young children from just six months old.

“The market response has been amazing, particularly as we’re also investing more than ever in our marketing offer to help drive awareness, engagement and ultimately sales, for our collections and customers,” explains Richard. “As well as expanding our market share globally, we’re fully committed to the UK and to supporting our fantastic customer base with bespoke and tailored solutions, which cater for different consumer groups and demographics.”

Richard added: “We want to provide our retail partners with next level support and offer the full package for those that choose to invest in a brand like Toy Mania. Next month we’ll be kicking off our first ever influencer campaign for Quick Pops, as well as working with innovative content creators across social media, particularly TikTok, to bring to life our brand story and create talking points. Our capsule Christmas collection will also hit the market very soon. This includes a sensory advent calendar, a festive surprise ball and Santa and reindeer squishies, perfect for stocking fillers.”

Readers can follow the company’s new Instagram and TikTok accounts at @officialtoymania.

Whirligig Toys expands with two new stores

Whirligig Toys is to open two new branches of its creative toyshop this year, building its presence in the Southeast with new shops in Worthing and Horsham. This brings the total to six shops alongside a newly revamped online shop.

Whirligig has always focused on ‘things to make and do’, stocking a wide range of creative toys that engage children and seeking out lesser-known toy manufacturers and more distinct ranges over licensed and branded goods. Now in its 11th year, the retailer says it felt ready to expand by taking on two additional shop units, both in towns where there is a good level of independent trading.

Whirligig will continue to specialise in the creative side of play and is excited about bringing its ranges to a new audience.

Founded by former primary school teacher, Peter Allinson, in 2012, Whirligig has always gone its own way and found a different path in the toy industry. Peter said: “This is an exciting growth period for the company, and we are delighted to be in a strong position to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Worthing branch of Whirligig opened on Saturday 19th August at 29 Warwick Street, Worthing, BN11 3DQ, with the new branch in the centre of Horsham, West Sussex, due to open this month.

Obituary: Klash Singh

Klash Singh, who passed at the end of July, was a popular member of the HTI team and most recently worked as a Sales manager for the company.

In a statement, HTI said: “It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of Klash, who passed away on Thursday 27th July 2023. Klash spent over 20 years in the toy industry, being employed by HTI originally back in 2003 and moving on to spend nine years at Kandy Toys before returning to HTI in 2023.

“Klash was 59 years old when she passed away. She had an infectious personality, enormous enthusiasm and passion. This was loved and admired by all, not just within the companies where she worked, but by all her customers past and present. Klash will be sorely missed by all those who knew her. She was a very generous, considerate and kind lady. She leaves behind her partner Kevin, three children and three grandchildren, with another grandson on the way. Our thoughts are with Klash’s family at this very difficult time.”

HTI’s owner, John Hutt, added: “Klash will be missed greatly and remembered dearly.”

News Toy World 14

Industry Moves

Epoch welcomes new managing director Phil Hooper

With an extensive career in the toy industry, including more than 12 years with Spin Master and, most recently, as MD of construction toy firm Plus-Plus UK, Phil officially took up his new position with Epoch on 1st September.

Phil is Epoch’s latest new senior hire, as the business embarks on a significant period of growth-driving for its brands Sylvanian Families, Aquabeads and Epoch Games. Phil will be responsible for setting the strategic direction and driving continued growth for all divisions within Epoch and joins the senior leadership team.

Shusuke Yamagata, current interim managing director at Epoch, and Epoch HQ executive manager, said: “We’re confident that Phil’s wide experience of the various and important areas of the toy business will be incredibly valuable to his role as MD at Epoch Making Toys. We’re excited to tap into his vast knowledge and welcome him to this significant role.”

Phil commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining Epoch and looking forward to working with the team on strategies to further cement the reputation and sales success of our brands, Sylvanian Families and Aquabeads. Equally, we have extensive plans to grow the Epoch Games brand even further on the back of the success to date with Super Mario.”

Gibsons appoints UK sales manager Tabitha Ward

Previously Sales director at Abrams & Chronicle, Tabitha was the driving force behind the company’s gift sales, recruiting and managing a team of specialist field agents and selling a wide range of brands including Galison, Ridley’s Games and Games Room alongside licensed puzzles and games from Lego, Disney, Marvel and Star Wars to key accounts.

Amanda Chaplin, commercial director at Gibsons, commented: “We are pleased to welcome Tabitha to the team. Tabitha’s extensive background and knowledge in the toy and publishing industries will undoubtedly drive our UK sales to new heights. We’re looking forward to seeing the positive impact she will make at Gibsons, particularly in the run up to Q4.”

Tabitha said: “I couldn’t be happier to be joining the team - the Gibsons catalogue is one that I’ve long admired for setting a market-leading standard in puzzles and games. Having been a family-owned and run British business for over 100 years, the company’s experience and expertise really shines through in the design and quality of its products. On a more personal level, the fantastic work the team has done in reducing its environmental impact, removing plastic from products and making strides towards becoming carbon neutral and B-Corp certified are all initiatives that resonate strongly with me.”

Claire Coekin steps into new role at Plus-Plus

Claire Coekin has stepped up to the role of commercial director of Plus-Plus UK & Ireland from the 1st September, as Phil Hooper, managing director, has made the decision to leave the company.

Claire joined Plus-Plus in February this year and has been instrumental in building a strong sales team, working alongside Phil, to get Plus-Plus on the map. Claire, previously of Spin Master and Funrise where she held Sales manager roles at both companies, has years of man-management and commercial experience and is excited to lead the team in the UK & Ireland going forward.

Claire commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me to spearhead the team and continue to develop Plus-Plus in the UK & Ireland. I am so passionate about the brand and its place in the market, and I’m thrilled to be taking the lead to continue the great groundwork we have put in place in a very short time. The future is very exciting.”

Plus-Plus said it would like to thank Phil for setting up and developing the launch of the brand into the UK. “Phil has done a fantastic job of building a team, setting up the logistics function, opening doors and building distribution to ensure that Plus-Plus has had the best start to its independence in the UK and Ireland market,” said Martin Pihl, CEO Plus-Plus A/S. “We’re very sorry to see him move on so soon and we wish him well for his future, whilst I’m thrilled to see Claire stepping into her new role.”

Peers Hardy swells team with new sales agents

Due to the growth of its character watch, jewellery and accessory collections, as well as the hugely successful launch of Wow Generation, Peers Hardy has expanded its team and is delighted to announce five new sales agents to help service the company’s ever-growing number of retailers.

Peitr Cutler (North), Hannah Stanion (Midlands), Jim McRandle (NI and Rep of Ireland), Graham Burnett (Scotland) and Jean-Claude Bergot (South-East) have all joined the team and are already utilising their vast experience and close relationships with customers to help grow Peers Hardy’s exciting branded portfolio.

Peers Hardy has seen a large increase in sales within independent toyshops thanks to its affordably priced character licensed watches, jewellery and Disney keychain collections featuring the likes of Lilo & Stitch and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The imminent launch of shaped clocks featuring licences such as Beetlejuice, Zelda and Friday the 13th, has seen such impressive pre-sales that the company is already introducing a further seven designs to launch in September.

Wow Generation has been an overwhelming success since it was first showcased at London Toy Fair. The company said: “Retailers have really taken to the brand and the striking way the products are presented. Toymaster members have been particularly supportive, and with recently secured listings in both Dobbies Garden Centres and WHSmith, Christmas 2023 looks set to be a busy period. Further new ranges will be launching in September which feature some amazing gift lines for Christmas.”

Peers Hardy is best known for its 50-year history in the watch industry, and its Tikkers brand has been instrumental in helping children learn to tell the time for the past 25 years. Tikkers is experiencing growth with the introduction of child safe smart watches and smart watch and earbud sets. This year has also seen the launch of collaborations with the Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF) and the RSPB, where money raised from sales goes towards helping the work of each charity.

There are still a few territories to cover and, as its success continues, the company is seeking further sales agents to round out the team.

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Generation Media makes four key appointments

Generation Media, a leading independent specialist for communication to children, families and gamers, is forging ahead with continued growth of its inhouse digital strategists and buyers after a successful year of new business wins including Bethesda and PlayMonster.

The team was strengthened at the start of the year with the appointment of associate director, Tom Bridge, who has over seven years of experience in the entertainment and gaming industry. Having worked on both client and agency side and on brands including Nintendo, Sony Pictures, Ubisoft and Odeon, Tom is well placed to deliver stand out campaigns for Generation Media’s host of clients.

Emilie Flanders, senior Digital manager, joined alongside Tom with a background in the film, music and gaming space, managing clients such as Penguin Random House and Warner Music.

Brad Cunningham, senior Digital Operations manager, was appointed to further enhance digital reporting and optimisation. Brad has worked across multiple global agencies in the mobile sector and numerous large-scale gaming clients on both iOS and Android.

Callum Pettit also joined Generation Media last month, as senior account manager, bringing with him a wealth of experience in digital planning and buying, with over five years’ experience at two major networks across entertainment clients including PlayStation and Universal.

Lisa Morgan, managing director of Generation Media, commented: “We are continuously reviewing how we best meet the needs of our clients to deliver the very highest level of service. Our continued investment into growing our digital expertise is testament to our long-term commitment to our clients and staying at the forefront of the media industry and the ever-evolving digital landscape.”


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appoints Disney Lorcana category and sales manager for the UK

Ben Lovell joins Ravensburger from Tournamentcenter, where he has been one of its experienced Organised Play managers since 2019. With more than eight years’ experience in the TCG sector, he’s worked across hobby stores and events before expanding his knowledge into organised play. Ben is also an enthusiastic gaming fan and attended events and championships across a variety of TCG IPs, giving him a richer insight into the growing sector.

In this newly created role, Ben will be responsible for securing and building long-term relationships with Disney Lorcana’s strategically managed retail partnerships. He is tasked with expanding Ravensburger’s TCG-focused retail partners and ensuring that Disney Lorcana has strong visibility across all sectors, including specialist and hobby stores, convenience, grocer and key account retailers.

In addition to his retail responsibilities, Ben will be responsible for building a community of UK Disney Lorcana fans, as well as organising B2B events across the UK. Working closely with the games marketing manager, PR manager and social media manager, his overall objective is to ensure that Disney Lorcana becomes an early leader in the TCG category not only in the UK but internationally. Ben has already overseen the launch of Disney Lorcana at hobby stores in August, followed by its global unveiling on Friday, 1st September.

Derek Scott, head of Sales, Ravensburger UK, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ben to the team. His experience and wealth of knowledge in TCGs is unrivalled and we know we’re lucky to have him join the business at such a critical, but exciting time.”

Ben added: “Joining Ravensburger UK in Disney Lorcana’s launch month was not dissimilar to revealing you’ve got a perfect deck of cards. I can’t wait to see how both TCG fans and new players embrace the game. We’ve a huge amount of work to do, and plenty of opportunity to build on. I’m relishing the challenge ahead.”

Moves Toy World 18
here to book a meeting:

Marketing World

Panini introduces real goat in latest campaign

Panini has revealed the star of its latest ad campaign by Dark Horses, The GOAT of Swaps. While continuing to champion the iconic tagline, ‘Got Got Need’, Panini is also introducing a new superstar to the world of football: The GOAT of Swaps, a real, living, breathing goat that will be popping up in the latest campaign. The animal hints at the phrase most commonly used to refer to the most talented athletes, which stands for Greatest Of All Time.

In last season’s campaign for Premier League Adrenalyn XL trading cards, Panini began anointing anyone who got all their needs and completed their collection as The GOAT of Swaps. In this latest campaign for the cards’ 23/24 season, the figurative concept has found form as a literal goat, resplendent in a phat gold chain, which hands the prestigious honour to the top collectors.

Opening on a group of school friends gathered outside of their local corner shop, the work starts by capturing the excitement that swapping and trading cards brings to Panini’s fanatic audience as they improve their squad of cards. As one young collector makes a trade to complete his set of eight rare Golden Ballers, he hears an unexpected bleat and the horned star pops into view wearing a shiny gold chain and medallion inscribed with The GOAT of Swaps. After exchanging a number of knowing glances with the collector, their profound understanding established, the goat vanishes and the collector stands triumphant, adorned with the medallion that the Goat has bestowed upon him.

Adam Burns, creative director at Dark Horses, said: “To create a new character for such an iconic brand like Panini has been the dream brief. Swapping stickers outside the newsagents and on the playground got me hooked on football, so we set out to capture that pure joy of completing your collection, with a little help from our four-legged friend.

Curious Universe teams up with Havas Entertainment

Curious Universe has announced a new partnership with Havas Entertainment. The collaboration marks a significant milestone for Curious Universe as the company embarks on a journey to expand its innovative new toy brands, Crystalverse and Cutesville.

Havas will support these brands from launch with captivating media campaigns designed to reach a wider audience, including a digital-led approach across social platforms and gaming integration to effectively reach and convert consumers.

With the unparalleled support of Havas Entertainment, Curious Universe is poised to amplify its toy expansion plans. Building on the success of its existing portfolio of products, the company aims to introduce a diverse range of exciting toys and games that encourage exploration, problem-solving and interactive play. This expansion will encompass an array of innovative products that cater to various age groups and interests.

Renowned for its expertise in media strategy and creative storytelling, Havas Entertainment will lend its visionary prowess to Curious Universe’s media campaigns. Together, they will weave enchanting narratives that capture the essence of each toy, creating a captivating universe that sparks curiosity and fosters a strong emotional connection with the audience.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Havas Entertainment,” commented John Styring, CEO of Curious Universe. “The team’s expertise in entertainment and media campaigns aligns perfectly with our vision of inspiring creativity and joy in children through imaginative play. Through collaborative efforts, we aim to bring these extraordinary toys to children everywhere, enriching their lives with wonder and adventure.”

Tristan Brooks, managing partner at Havas, said: “We are delighted to be embarking on a partnership with Curious Universe at such an exciting time for the company and look forward to launching Crystalverse and Cutesville to market. Our shared mission to champion children’s creativity and fun through play will enable us to build innovative and creative media campaigns which drive conversion and cut through.”

Bandai unveils Gunpla and Banpresto windows at Hamleys

The windows are the first official brand level launch in the UK for Bandai UK’s collector and hobby channel, insitu for the duration of the six-week summer holidays to coincide with stock launching in-store for the first time.

Both installations have been designed to deliver invaluable organic brand awareness amplified by the higherthan-average summer football, providing an introduction to the brand for newcomers for whom it will be their first encounter of Gunpla and Banpresto. Meanwhile, for those customers more familiar with the properties, the new stockist will establish a key London base as the popularity of the two brands continues to grow.

Jack Sturman, Collector & Hobby channel brand manager at Bandai, said: “This is a huge moment in time for Bandai’s collector portfolio. We are currently seeing unprecedented category growth and the Hamleys launch is the first step in establishing a highly visible UK presence for two of our core collector brands, showing our commitment to both customers and consumers of our intention, to grow and support these brands in the UK market.”

Gunpla is the flagship Bandai Hobby brand, and the name is derived of two words, Gundam and plastic. Gundam is a long-standing iconic anime franchise which first aired in Japan in 1979 and has been adapted into numerous series and movies through the last four decades. This includes titles on platforms like Netflix which continues to introduce new fans to the property.

Banpresto is a portmanteau of the words Bandai and Presto – essentially it is Bandai Spirits’ core collectibles brand with a focus on licensed statues. In the domestic Japanese market, its ranges can be found within arcade centres and prize machines, which helps to establish the products as sought-after collectibles. In the UK, Banpresto is available at a large number of collector specialist shops and has a growing high street presence thanks in-part to the continued boom of anime which is a central component of the Banpresto statue range.

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The perfect group costume this Halloween!

Head online now to view the full range! toddler, on selected styles!

Sizes available across adult, kids &

Amscan International UK

Are you ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

cus, focus, focus

A focused and well-curated list of top-performing keywords will help you concentrate your investments on the highest-converting ones. This approach is especially beneficial for advertisers with limited investment, as it allows them to compete effectively against competitors with more substantial ad spend. Monitor your campaign performance daily and make necessary bid adjustments based on your reporting console. Remember, even if sales are not instant, awareness is building.

nsure your budget can handle the increased traffic

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are crucial periods for retailers, and Amazon is no exception. It is more important than ever for brands to ensure there is a robust e-commerce strategy ahead of these key dates. Generation Media’s Jon Chambers and Marco Mau select five top tips to help brands succeed. consider supporting ongoing items such as product clearance items with a second tier of support at a lower budget proportion. Separating different budgets based on priority of stock levels and core focuses will help you ensure your budget is spent efficiently. By adopting this approach, our clients have seen on average a 20%+ increase in performance last year.

• Use the full suite of ad placements and point to your Brand Store page (if possible)

Maximise reach by utilising all available ad placements on Amazon. By spreading your ads across various placements, you can tap into a larger audience pool and increase your chances of exposure. Sponsored Brand and Sponsored Brand Video ads are particularly useful as they allow you to direct

making last-minute changes before the frenzy. Any newly added keywords or modifications to your targeting settings may not generate enough data to determine their effectiveness. Additionally, during the busy period, system delays may hinder the smooth delivery of impressions and traffic for your lastminute campaigns. Stick to your strategy and focus on optimising your well-performing keywords for better results. Investments should of course be increased and monitored closely.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring a surge of traffic to Amazon, leading to higher ‘cost per click’ (CPC) and quicker budget depletion. To avoid running out of budget prematurely, regularly review and increase your budgets. Keep in mind that real-time reporting might have delays, so set a higher daily budget or implement budget rules to keep your campaigns alive and kicking. At Generation Media, we use Optimise Convert, a cutting-edge advertising AI solution from our Optimus AI suite of tools, to monitor your CPC and budget, to achieve the most clicks within your desired budget.

Despite AI's emergence, manual execution remains vital. However, the market trend increasingly relies on AI solutions for auto-adjustment, insights and immediate decision-making. Our solution operates across various biddable media platforms to make smarter predictive decisions that will enhance campaign performance.

By following these five top tips, you can significantly increase the effectiveness of your investments, to make the most out of this lucrative shopping period. For more information, or to organise a health-check on your brands current e-commerce performance, feel free to get in touch with the Generation Media team.

Opinion Toy World 22

Licensing World

MV Sports reveals new Trolls 3 licence ahead of movie

Trolls 3 has brought more colour to MV Sports licensed collection. This vibrant new range is based on the forthcoming movie and features bold, bright and vivid colours with exciting character graphics. The range comprises a folding inline scooter, 14-inch bike and helmet and will be available in time for the highly anticipated movie release in October.

The 14” bike features detailed graphics of Poppy and Viva, and a bespoke shaped plaque. On the handlebars, there are also funky hair tassels. Suitable from three years+, this bike is ideal for kids who are close to mastering riding on two wheels as it includes easy to remove stabilisers. The bike’s spoked wheels and pneumatic, deep tread tyres offer a strong yet comfortable ride with excellent grip.

Rubies prepares for spooktacular Halloween with raft of new dress-up releases

Licensed dress-up specialist Rubies offers the hottest, most trending costumes for consumers looking to get dressed up this Halloween. M3gan, Monster High and Wednesday all feature prominently within the company’s 2023 portfolio, with these ‘ghoul power’ brands tipped to be some of the most sought-after costume and accessory collections of the year.

As its partnership with Mattel continues to expand and strengthen, Rubies are excited to launch its Monster High costume and accessory range in time for peak season 2023. Bolstered by a recent explosion in popularity following new media releases including YouTube videos and more, the dress-up line includes favourite characters such as Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura and Frankie Stein. The costumes come in both standard and deluxe editions with matching wigs also available, making them perfect for Halloween.

Rubies is also excited to share its new Wednesday dress-up collection. Inspired by the hit Netflix series, the new range includes Wednesday’s Rave’N dress – as worn for the iconic dance scene that took social media by storm - as well as Nevermore school uniforms for kids and adults. Accessories include wigs and an ingeniously designed Thing shoulder sitter fans will want to see in action.

Ideal for those seeking something a little less gothic and spooky this Halloween, Rubies’ Gabby’s Dollhouse dress-up range includes four complete costumes. The costumes include a Gabby Tutu dress based on the main character’s outfit, a Gabby and Pandy Paws costume, a Cakey Cat tutu dress, and a Mercat tutu dress, each with a corresponding headband.

Rubies’ portfolio of global licences also includes some of the biggest cinematic releases of the year, from DC’s Blue Beetle to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume III.

Kids can bring the magic of Trolls to the streets, with a folding Inline Scooter complete with vibrant colours and detailed graphics. Inspired by the theme of sisterhood within the film, the scooter has a fully printed anti-slip footplate of Poppy and Viva. Children can develop core coordination and balance in style, with the scooter’s glitter moulded grips and wheels. A reactive rear footbrake and the fully printed anti-slip footplate provide additional safety.

The Trolls 3 safety helmet has a ventilated shell, adjustable size dial and lightweight EPS inner for optimum comfort. The quick-release buckle adds convenience, while the colourful ombre effect and character motifs amp up the style. Children will stay safe and make a statement whether biking or cruising.

Hasbro announces new Monopoly: Barbie Edition Game

The new Monopoly: Barbie Edition Game has been unveiled by Hasbro. Suitable for ages eight years+ and for 2-6 players, the game is available for pre-order on Amazon now, and will hit wider retail in October.

In the special edition board game, players can imagine slipping into pink Barbie shoes as they follow their dreams.

First, they choose from six Barbie-inspired zinc tokens in the brand’s signature pink. There’s a Dog, Show, Sportscar, Speedboat, Roller Skate and Barbie herself. Each player then selects a Be Anything card to choose from six Barbie careers, before travelling the board and purchasing famous locations in the Barbie dream world, ultimately building their own DreamHouses.

If a “B” is rolled with the special Barbie die, players can flex their unique Be Anything skill, giving them an edge over opponents, and they can also live out career and fashion goals by drawing Dream Career and Dream Closet cards.

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Diamant unveils new collection of Barbie arts & crafts

Diamant, a recognised creator of quality arts & crafts, has expanded its licensed Barbie collection with some stunning and original new products. The latest additions follow the success of the company’s original Barbie range, which was launched in 2022 and is now being distributed in a number of countries worldwide.

The first line was based on the Glowpads, Diamant's hero range with a record breaking 12m units sold to date. Each item is bespoke, with the Dreamhouse and the Camper Van Glow Pads bringing ‘glowing’ results to distributors across the globe.

The latest collection consists of a number of new items. Diamant's award-winning Barbie ice cream truck moves across the room just like a real ice cream van, making the ice cream as it moves, while the 4-in-1 easel set comes complete with a drawing board, a magnetic board and a rub-on board featuring Barbie characters.

The Ez Glitz Bits set includes mix & match colourful beads. Kids can place these in Barbie-shaped frames and squirt them with water to create fashion accessories such as necklaces, magnets, keychains, hair accessories and more. Crystal Pendants is another great activity for creative Barbie fans, allowing them to make their own beautiful Barbie pendants, and the Barbie Doodle Board is rapidly becoming another hero product for Diamant.

Rounding out the range, the Mobile Light Pad is a mini light-up pad on which kids can trace and erase Barbie characters again and again,

Established in 1963, Diamant is now run by the third generation of the Diamant family and continues to go from strength to strength, both locally and internationally. The company has seen huge success in the licensing world, producing original bespoke collections for brands such as Paw Patrol, Gabby’s Dollhouse and more. With Barbie booming worldwide, both Diamant and Mattel are delighted with this latest licensing deal and look forward to the release of many more new licensed products moving forward.

Lumistella expands The Elf on the Shelf universe with new Noorah range

The Lumistella Company, which plays host to some of the world’s most beloved Christmas brands – The Elf on the Shelf, Elf Pets and Elf Mates - is expanding its North Pole universe by pulling back the curtain to reveal the fantastical world beyond The Elf on the Shelf brand. The global IP company is set to reveal exciting new characters and lore through new products, partnerships, content and more.

This year, The Lumistella Company formally introduces Noorah. One of Santa’s most magical friends and helpers, the beautiful white fox stars in a new, beautifully illustrated 32-page storybook, Extraordinary Noorah: Santa’s Magical Arctic Fox. Fans may recognise Noorah from the Elf Pets: A Fox Cub's Christmas Tale special on Netflix. This new tale will follow Noorah, who feels quite ordinary until she discovers she can spark the northern lights and pause time with a swish of her tail, helping Santa to travel the whole world in one night.

Additional Noorah offerings this year will include an Extraordinary Noorah Plush and Extraordinary Noorah Action Figure Set, which will be supported by the release of a music video on the official The Elf on the Shelf YouTube channel. Noorah’s storybook, accompanying entertainment and products will give fans a sneak peek into the enchanted world of Santa Claus, which will continue to be revealed in the months ahead.

Readers can visit The Lumistella Company at New York Toy Fair, Stand 2143, or Brand Licensing Europe, Stand A205, for a look at new characters including Noorah, and learn more about the world beyond The Elf on the Shelf brand.

Curious Universe squeezes Squishmallows into portfolio

Dedicated to sourcing sustainable alternatives to traditional methods of production, design and packaging, Curious Universe has announced a new line of licensed Squishmallows Arts & Crafts products for 2023.

Squishmallows continues to be a success story that is now set to take the world of Arts & Crafts by storm. Incorporating a host of cute, colourful Squishmallows styles, the new collection from Curious Universe will include a Crystal Creations Carry Case, Crystal Creations Folder and a Colour and Carry Activity Kit, alongside multiple new designs within the Kaleidoscope branded collection.

With sales of over 1.8m to date, the company’s best-selling Kaleidoscope Colouring Kit has been reimagined for 2023 with a new sustainable and eco-friendly format. Kids can experience the world of Squishmallows with on-theme activity content and puffy, tactile stickers, all encased within a perforated card packet and no single use plastic. The clean, modern pack design includes a die-cut colouring pad, and the recyclable packaging – emblazoned with an environmental logo – helps parents and gift givers to make informed purchasing decisions. This logo will run across many of the new Curious Universe products for 2023, in line with the company’s ongoing commitment to developing sustainable products.

The Squishmallows Colour and Carry Activity Kit has been creatively reimagined to address the demand for ecofriendly solutions; the plastic insert tray that usually holds the internal components has been replaced with a cardboard alternative. The company says these small changes, once introduced to a whole range, can make a huge difference to its eco-footprint.

Additional Squishmallows licensed products within the Kaleidoscope range include Kaleidoscope Sticker Bomb containing over 500 stickers and finely-detailed Squishmallows Etch Art Creations.

John Styring, CEO, said: “Creating sustainable product that also bring tons of fun to the consumer is at the core of what we do here at Curious Universe. That is why we are delighted with our new partnership with Jazwares and its incredible brand, Squishmallows. We can’t wait to captivate fans through our innovative array of Arts & Crafts products.”

Toy World 26

Licensing World

Moose Toys joins ranks of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licensees

Moose Toys has acquired a licence for Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The deal has seen Akedo game pieces, featuring the classic characters from the animated series, on shelves ahead of the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, in August. The agreement also allows for crosscollaboration with additional original brands from Moose Toys: plans include the Heroes in a Half Shell debuting as characters in an upcoming line for Heroes of Goo Jit Zu in 2024.

“As Moose Toys continues to aggressively expand its licensing programme by tapping into pop culture and nostalgia, we identified TMNT as a property that ticked both boxes and engaged with Paramount to acquire the licence and bring some Turtle Power to Moose,” said Ronnie Frankowski, chief commercial officer, Moose Toys. “We chose Akedo as the first Moose brand to get the Turtle treatment because of the inherent similarities in brand DNA. TMNT brings a new level of fun with a dash of irreverence to Akedo’s fast-fighting action and humour-infused play and offers the perfect backdrop to welcome the crimefighting, pizza-loving crew to the Moose family.”

The new Akedo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arena comes with Leonardo, Shredder and two exclusive warriors, and has more than 35 sounds to amp up the action and excitement. The arena features two easily rotated background scenes representing New York City, as well as two ultra-deluxe battle controllers inspired by the sewer pipes where the Turtles make their home.

Amscan's latest launches bring seasonal cheer to retailers

Amscan’s recently unveiled Grinch balloons are perfect for the festive season. Available in a variety of formats, from Traditional and Supershape to Sitter and Airloonz, these balloons can be deflated and reused again next year once Christmas is over.

Grinch fans can now dress up as their favourite grumpy Christmas character too. Asmcan’s New Deluxe Grinch Costume comes in both adult and juvenile sizes, comprising a plush top with mock belt and faux fur trims, plush trousers, a moulded mask and plush Santa hat accessory. A Grinch Dress is also available, which comes with a mock jacket, faux fur trim and plush Santa hat.

Nice consumers can get their hands on a new Elf on the Shelf Foil Balloon. The standard foil features images of the infamous Elf and is also two sided, meaning it can be personalised with the recipient’s name using a soft tip marker pen (not included) – if they behave themselves.

Buddy the Elf has joined Amscan’s licensed dress-up portfolio, meaning fans of the classic Christmas movie can channel their inner Will Ferrell this festive season. Available in adult sizes - medium, large, and extra-large - the costume comprises a fleece jacket with belt and faux fur collar/cuffs, fitted trousers, and a shaped hat.

Mel Beer, Licensing director EMEA at Amscan, says the team has been very busy refreshing the designs for the company’s on-going ranges as well as signing new licences ready for launch in 2024. She added: “Our Bluey range, launched across all four product categories, has got off to a flying start in the UK & Ireland and is now starting to roll-out into other European markets, with 100% sustainable costumes and sustainable party elements part of the mix.”

She continued: “Other new ranges for 2024 will include: Peppa Pig 20th Anniversary, Pokémon, Miraculous, TMNT, Harry Potter, Super Mario, Monster High, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, Gabby’s Dollhouse, Universal Monsters for Halloween and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas party ranges for Christmas. More will be announced soon: keep an eye on our website and social media for the latest updates.”

In the four versus packs, the classic battlein-a-box play goes next level with TMNT’s most well-known villains: Bebop, Krang, Rocksteady and Baxter Stockman. Each warrior is matched with one of the Turtles. Leonardo, the leader in blue armed with two katanas; Donatello, the brains with the bō; Raphael, seeing red with two sai; and Michelangelo, the life of the pizza party, holds nunchaku in each hand. The characters can be mixed and matched to battle with any of the Akedo villains as they rise from the sewers to shell out justice.

Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie collection makes debut

Spin Master has officially unveiled its toy collection for the franchise’s upcoming second feature film Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, produced in association with Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures.

“The Mighty Movie toy collection will spark limitless imaginative play,” said Chris Beardall, Spin Master’s president of Toys and chief commercial officer. “Our team of toy experts has brought the onscreen adventures of the pups to life, blending impressive features with intuitive mechanisms tailored for little hands, ensuring an unforgettable playtime experience.”

The collection includes a wide range of toys, from vehicles and playsets to plush and role-play. Highlights include Skye’s Mighty Movie Jet, Chase’s Mighty Transforming Cruiser, Aircraft Carrier HQ, Mighty Movie Themed Vehicles and the Pup Squad Patroller.

Paw Patrol is marking the franchise’s tenth anniversary year. In addition to the premiere of a second feature film, Spin Master will also be debuting Paw Patrol Academy, a brand-new pre-school learning app set to be released on 28th September. With the kid-safe mobile experience, pre-schoolers will be able to further immerse in the world of Paw Patrol as the app guides them through missions, games and content that blends story and interactivity with educational and emotional learning

Toy World 28
© DreamWorks
LLC. All Rights
DreamWorks Trolls Band Together

Talking Shop Retail detail

Indie toy shops from around the UK tell Toy World what’s selling and what they are looking forward to in the run up to Q4. Liz Amphlett - Toytastik, Chepstow

This summer we have seen a slight decline in sales from last year but nothing too significant. I feel very fortunate to be in this industry because people will always buy toys – they won’t ever miss a child’s birthday, for example. Even if the financial climate is gloomy, parents try to protect their children from it as much as they can. They are however buying more carefully, and some are buying less.

I think this is the time for independents to shine. The high street is having a tough time at the moment, and we’ve seen Wilko go down recently, but as for small independents, we’re doing okay. I think local high streets are evolving (in towns at least) and there’s a place for us in them, while the big companies fit into the retail landscape of cities. We are proud to be part of the local community and support local events by donating raffle prizes.

As Chepstow is a bit of a tourist destination, but isn’t by the coast, when the weather is bad it actually benefits us during the summer holidays. When the sun is shining, people want to be in their gardens or go to the park, but when it rains, we get an influx of parents buying things to keep their children occupied indoors. They’ll typically buy things like colouring books, jigsaws and games or activities which can keep kids busy.

We have a demonstration area in store where we can show customers how to use products and how a game is played. We know our products inside out, which is something we really pride ourselves on. We get people asking us questions all the time and we can direct people to the right products for their needs.

Our best-seller in the Collectibles and Pocket Money category by far is Eugy from Brainstorm. It is our most popular collectible by a country mile and people come in weekly, both children and adults, to buy a new animal. We have quite a broad collection of Eugy with which you can build your own 3D card model. The beauty of them is that as well as being fun to make, the finished product really is visually attractive, so you can keep them on your shelf. Both young people and adults enjoy them. We also like to stock environmentally friendly products and this range ticks that box.

We do well with Mojo too, which is similar to Eugy in that you build your own animal, but these become plastic models. Other strong pocketmoney sellers are stress balls and the smaller Rex London products.

We are a very traditional toy shop and are always on the lookout for things you won’t find in the big chain stores. Although we mainly work with smaller brands, we have successful relationships with companies such as Melissa and Doug and Big Potato Games.

Looking towards Christmas, we will be attending Autumn Fair to visit the suppliers we already work with, which we have great relationships with, and have a look around for anything that we think would work in our shop. We have already started to place orders for bigger, higher ticket items which we stock at Christmas such as Janod kitchens, wooden dollhouses and Sylvanian Families products.

Toy World 31

Our bricks & mortar, dinosaur themed store has been running for 18 months, and grew out of our online and events business which launched around two years ago. It all stemmed from a mid-Covid YouTube channel on which I was reviewing and discussing my personal Jurassic Park toy and merchandise collection (hence the name). We then started going to Comic Cons and other events with one of our vehicles, which is done up to look like a car from the movie, and from there the opening of the shop felt like a natural progression.

South Shields is a Blue Flag seaside town, and we’re located in a former pub just outside the town centre. Summer brings in plenty of holidayers visiting the area, but we also say goodbye to some of our regular weekly customers while they go on their own holidays.

It's fair to say we faced a lot of scepticism when we first started setting up the shop. When we began seeking product, we went to London Toy Fair. Walking onto stands, saying we were after nothing but dinosaurs, raised more than a few eyebrows. When we opened, although customers absolutely loved the shop, I think they all assumed it would be nothing but a pop-up store. Yet here we are, a year and a half later and going strong. We’ve got a loyal and hugely enthusiastic customer base, with loads of regular repeat shoppers. We’ve also become something of a tourist destination, meaning people travel from quite far outside the area to visit us. To my knowledge, ours is the only 100% standalone dinosaur-

specific shop of its kind within the UK.

The interest in dinosaurs and the demand for dinosaur toys will never become extinct. In fact, advances in science and what we know about dinosaurs, thanks to new palaeontology techniques and fossil discoveries, mean the category is actually always evolving and there’s the opportunity for companies to keep bringing out new products year after year. We sell a huge range of toys, from tiny 20p pocket money pick-up lines to big collector pieces costing £1,500 and up. Of course, the average basket spend is reasonably modest, at around the £20-30 mark, but we do have customers that will come in every few months and drop £600 or so on the latest kidult collectibles.

Our biggest supplier is obviously Mattel, being the master toy partner for the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchises. We also stock a really good range of Lego sets, the Playmobil Dino collection, collectibles from The Noble Collection, the Hasbro Power Rangers Dino range and much more. The fantastic thing is that there is so much cross-over between core toy brands/ properties and dinosaurs: Thomas the Tank Engine has enjoyed a number of dinosaur-themed adventures, as have the pups from Paw Patrol. If it’s got dinosaurs in it or on it, we’ll stock it. Maybe some of your readers have a dinosaur range they think we’d like? If so, they’re welcome to get in touch.

Dinosaurs is a favourite topic of interest among members of the neurodiverse community, so we’ve

Brendan Will - Will’s Toy Shop, Aberdeen

Business has been good so far this year. We’re actually slightly ahead of 2022 on a year-onyear basis, which is nice. We performed so well over lockdown that the years since have seen us take a bit of a dip, but we seem to be climbing out of it this year and we’re really pleased. Because we have a Post Office in our store, we’ve noticed that fewer people seem to be going abroad for their holidays this year. We’re exchanging less currency and we’re down on currency sales overall versus last year. This might be why we’re having such a good year – because people are staying in the UK or holidaying at home. We’re not on a tourist route up here or in a hightraffic area, but even with the poorer summer weather, our toy business is good.

We do well with the Collectibles category. Aphmau MeeMeows and Lankybox Mystery Squishies, both from Character Options, sit at the pocket money end of the price spectrum and are proving popular, though we could do with another real craze like we had with fidget spinners. Pokémon is also big for us, as is Squishmallows. We have customers coming in again and again with their lists, trying to find the ones they want.

Up here in Aberdeen, the best of the weather usually arrives before the kids have broken up from school for the summer: it’s sunny and warm in June, the kids get let out, and then the rain arrives. It’s practically guaranteed that it’ll be nice again once they go back in September. It’s been very up and down here, and so have sales of our usual outdoor toys, but Gazillion Bubbles from Funrise

and age. We take a retail 2.0 approach which places our customers and their interests first. Our main goal is for our shoppers to have an amazing experience – a sale is a nice added extra. We’ve got fossil dig tables set up, colouring activities, props and scenes from the Jurassic Park movies where kids can take pictures. We’ve even got an assortment of games consoles set up in-store with games from across the decades. These are free to play (in fact, all our activities are free). Grownups love the retro consoles such as Nintendo and younger kids love the newer ones. We don’t mind if you just want to pop in and play a game for an hour or so. Everyone, absolutely everyone, is welcome.

We’re starting to think about Christmas now, which will be our second since we opened the store. We’re feeling pretty positive about the festive period. Shoppers are perhaps more cautious now than they have been in years gone by, because of the cost of living crisis, but they’ve still got money to spend, and a shop like ours is the perfect destination for anyone with a dinosaurobsessed child (or adult) in their life. We’re very much expecting Mattel’s new premium Hammond Collection to be among our best-sellers. It’s raised the bar in terms of affordable and accessible dinosaur figures, and with 2023 being the 30th anniversary of the original Jurassic Park movie, we expect there will be a lot of nostalgia-fuelled purchases this year.

is a consistent best-seller no matter the weather. They absolutely fly out on a sunny day.

Big news for us this year is that it’s our 125th anniversary. We’re not sure on the exact date – we just know it’s around harvest time – but after so many generations, we can perhaps be forgiven for losing track and opting to celebrate in the slightly vaguer ‘month of September’. We’re running competitions as well as instore events at the weekends: on Sundays, when we don’t have the Post Office traffic to contend with, we can do more in the shop on the toy side of things.

A lot of folk in the local area know that Will’s is old, but they’re still pretty shocked when you tell them it’s 125 years old. It’s quite unusual these days for an indie retailer to have that much heritage and I do feel the

Toy World 32 Talking Shop








responsibility. We’re the oldest store in our area by probably 100 years or so and we’re very proud of that. Will’s has survived by evolving and adapting. Back when it first started up in 1898, we were plumbers and bell-hangers: we fitted those bell boards at big country houses for families with servants (think Downtown Abbey). We got into toys into the late 70s/early 80s, but even that in itself is a decent amount of time to be a toy retailer.

With Christmas on the horizon, we’re engaging in some new tactics to ensure the shop is front of mind with consumers. This year we’ve done some radio advertising on local stations, and it’s been very successful. We’ve had quite a few customers come in and tell us they decided to visit because they heard our ad, even folk from out as far as Elgin. They’ve gone out of their way to visit us – you don’t pass our store by accident.

In terms of best-sellers, we do well with wargaming figures, and I think Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet 3.5: 151 – Booster Bundle will be really popular too. In fact, Pokémon is so big for us that we’re going through the process of becoming an official Play Store, which would mean we could run leagues for the local collectors and players. We want to encourage more people to actually play the Pokémon Trading Card Game rather than just buying the cards and chucking them in a drawer. We’ve done a few play and trade events, which have been popular, but the next step is to get official Play Store certification. It’s just another way we’re staying up to date and continuing to cater to customers’ needs, even after all these years.

Can you feel it?

As we write this, it’s the middle of the summer holidays. Although the summer has been a bit of a washout, it doesn’t seem to have hurt sales too much. In fact, with Toy Barnhaus stores located in malls, we like wet weather as it always brings customers in. Last year we did very well during the heatwave though, and we were unsure how sales would stack up against those figures. But we’ve had a strong July, and the first half of August has been solid so far.

We have definitely benefitted from the slate of big movie releases over the last month. Barbie started selling well before the movie came out and is showing little sign of slowing down; we anticipate the brand remaining strong for the rest of the year. The new TMNT Turtles film has also translated into excellent sales of the action figures.

Some of the new Lego lines for August have been well received, including the new Star Wars 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper Battle Pack, which is always popular with people building their armies of figures. Another line that has been flying is the classic Hot Wheels single cars. These are always among our bestsellers, but sales have increased by over 50% this year. We also concur with what John said in one of his recent blogs, and that is that Loom Bands are most definitely back. We have been stocking a case of them from Zappies for a few months now, and it is always in our bestsellers.

Pocket money is a huge category for us; it’s one that independent retailers can do really well on if they keep on top of it. Other than Loom Bands, there hasn’t been a strong craze in this area since Push Poppers a couple of years ago, but anything that is tactile, fidgety or ASMR is very popular, as people like to have things to play with using their hands. We have been very pleased with sales from the relaunch of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, it plays into that trend perfectly. Slime Party products have also proved to be popular, with the new flavours and improved tins with accessories selling well.

If you’d like to be featured in the October edition of Talking Shop please contact Marianna Casal –

It’s fair to say that affordably priced items are making up a large part of sales. One new item that we think will do well this year is Gootoobz from Character, which continues the sensory trend. We sell a lot of plush jelly squeezy characters from Kandy toys, and similar lines. One for Fun’s Light up Suction Caterpillar is another winner. New this year, it’s a cross between a push popper and a squeezy caterpillar and is in great demand. We try to add new lines every couple of months, as it keeps customers coming back for something new to play with. As well as the new lines, retro pocket money toys remain evergreen sellers, so we always have a good selection in stock; classics such as yo-yos, jingle sticks and juggling balls. This includes our bestseller every Christmas: the Whoopee Cushion. Pardon us.

Toy World 34 indie viewpoint
Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes Toy Barnhaus
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Although many have found sales challenging over the early summer months, Rory highlights a bright spot in the market with licensed toy ranges.

A trendpositive

Licensed merchandise continues to play a big part in the toy market across Europe and has recently seen a boost in sales from big summer movie releases. Across the EU5, licensing makes up around 27% of sales; in 2019 this was only 23%, so there has been an impressive gain of around four percentage points for licensed toys over the last few years. There are differences by country, but also similarities too; the countries with the most heavily licensed market share are Spain and the United Kingdom, whereas France is the least with 25% in 2023. What is driving this strong performance across Europe?

Licensed toy sales are ahead of the total market trend in every country, with the top growth in licensing currently coming from the UK with a +4% trend in a toy market that is currently down -4% at a total level. There are three countries with a positive trend for licensing: the UK, Spain and France. And in Germany, while licensing is declining by -2%, this is still well ahead of the overall market trend of -5%.

Looking across the countries there are some consistencies, and the continued success of Pokémon across Europe is the most notable.

Pokémon in the EU5 is worth around €245m so far in 2023 and has grown by +27%, making it the largest property in value size and in value gain. The rise in sales of Pokémon has been impressive, with the property growing from around €185m in 2019 to €478m in 2022. The performance is consistent across Europe; the property is Top 5 across most countries. Other licences that are growing across EU5 include Star Wars with +7% growth, Super Mario Bros with +19% growth and Disney Princess growing by +22%.

Licence Value % EU5

Movies, video games and sporting events are all adding to the licensing growth. Some of the strongest growth comes from sports events, with +27% value growth this year, much of this coming from the UK. The reason for this is the performance of the Premier League licence in the UK with Panini stickers and cards. The peak in sales for the Premier League at the start of the year was almost as big as the peak for World Cup related sales in 2022. Premier League Panini sales rose by +38% last year and are currently +59% in 2023, with the peak (in August when the season begins) still to come. This trend looks set to continue.

Movies are another strong area of licensing and one that has had high exposure this year thanks to the Barbie movie which hit cinemas in July, although

Licence Value % EU5

The July release of the Barbie movie has had a significant and immediate impact on sales. The Barbie property was up +30% in Europe for the month of July and the No.2 property in value size. In some countries, the performance was particularly impressive; in the UK it was the No.1 property for the month and was up a massive +72%. For the first week of August in the UK, Barbie grew by +136%. This growth is likely to continue for a good while yet, and we could see a significant jump in sales when the movie moves onto streaming too.

other big movies have also helped to drive toy sales. Super Mario Brothers is currently the fifth largest licence in Europe for 2023, growing by +20%, after the movie release in early April. This property has grown across a number of categories, with key trends in Building Sets, Action Figures and Vehicles. Transformers: Rise of the Beats hit cinemas in early June and is currently growing by +51% in Action Figures across Europe, making it the fourth top performing property in the category this year.

The final movie to mention is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which came out at the very end of July, with sales having already seen significant value increase across the month. It was also the No.8 licence in Action Figures for July. We should see the performance improve even more throughout August with the movie now in cinemas.

Sales across Europe show that licensed toys are in great shape as we move into the all-important Q4 period. With the wealth of content available and influences coming from movies, sports, digital content and video games, it will be fascinating to see how high the share of licensed sales in the toy market can go.

Toy World 38 Insight To monitor what’s happening in the ever-changing toy market, Circana 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
Rory Partis Director UK Toys & EuroToys, Circana

Licence Progression:

July saw the release of the much-anticipated Barbie movie, and this had a huge impact on toy sales for the month. Barbie was the No.1 property for July, and there was a significant increase in licensed sales too. The top licensed Barbie item for July was the Barbie Styling Head from Just Play, and this was also the top item in the Fashion Role Play & Dressup subclass for the month. The movie has boosted sales in a number of categories, with Barbie sales growing in Craft Kits, Fashion Accessories and Skates/Skateboards & Scooters amongst others.



Top 10 Fastest

Fastest Growing Subclasses

Growing Subclasses - UK Toys

- UK Toys Ranked by value gained

Top 10 Fastest Growing Subclasses - UK Toys

Standard Building Sets has added more value than any other subclass in the UK with the latest data in 2023. Lego Star Wars is the largest property in value size within the subclass, growing at +13% versus last year. There has been good growth for several other properties too including Marvel Universe, Lego Speed Champions and Lego Icons. Growth from manufacturers other than Lego shows the Pokémon construction range from Mattel showing triple digit growth vs. last year.

Traditional Plush is the second top performing subclass in the market and has added over £4.5m in 2023 so far. Squishmallows continues to be the leading property and had a +100% value trend in July – it certainly isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Licences are performing well in this subclass too, with Pokémon, Disney, Nintendo, Paddington and Bluey all in the top 10 and achieving double digit growth or more against last year.

Looking a little further down the list of top gaining subclasses, Action Figures has moved into the No.10 spot. This has been helped by strong movie performances, with the latest Transformers movie adding value in June and the Turtles movie giving this property a boost in July.

Toy World 39
Property: June Rank # July Rank # Barbie 35 18

The best day ever with Barbie

In the aftermath of one of the biggest pop culture moments of the year, the hugely anticipated release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, Toy World’s John Baulch and Rachael Simpson-Jones took to the road in a pink Barbie London taxi to check out some of retail installations Mattel has been working on and find out how the company is supporting its partners during the ‘once in a lifetime’ event.

The impact of the Barbie movie can’t be understated. It’s sparked many a deep-andmeaningful conversation among friends and families about the meaning of life, our patriarchal society, gender equality and whether or not Ryan Gosling is actually good-looking. It’s helped create thousands of memes and GIFs, Barbie: The Album, has racked up tens of millions of listens, and its individual tracks have appeared in the thousands upon thousands of fan-created social media videos covering everything from ‘Barbiecore’ outfit inspiration to how Alan needs to make a comeback. In a nutshell, it’s been big. Like, Dreamhouse big.

The movie has also allowed Mattel to ignite the retail scene with best-in-class activations and installations across the country. The team was keen to show Toy World a selection of them, so John and Rachael met up with Michael Hick, UK & Ireland VP, and Kelly Philp, head of Marketing, to check them out. Our first stop on the grand tour (second, if you count Costa) was Sainsbury's at Nine

Elms, where the team had installed an unmissable Barbie: The Movie zone right at the front of the store, visible from halfway up the moving walkways. Pink, saloon-style doors opened onto bays of product, from individual dolls and campervans to the big Christmas bet, the massive, multi-storey Barbie Dreamhouse (or Mojo Dojo Casa House, for the Ken fans out there).

As we take it all in, Michael tells of the phenomenal impact the movie has had on brand awareness. “The current demand on Barbie is unprecedented across Toy and the wider consumer product ranges; personally, I have never experienced demand like this on a brand of this size,” he says. “Our retail partners are seeing a major uplift in traffic into both physical locations and online stores. It really has been incredible and the Mattel team is still trying to take it all in.” This is backed up by Circana, which confirmed that Barbie grew +72% in the month of July, giving the brand a 4.5% share of the total toy market. Michael continues: “With the marketing investment we’ve got in place, we’re looking to make the most of this

unparalleled opportunity with our retail partners.”

After Sainsbury’s, it was time to pile into our ride for the day, a pink Barbie London cab, to head for Westfield London. Here we met up with Eirian Allen, head of Customer Marketing, who had opted for the exact same alarmingly pink blazer with jeans combo as Rachael (Barbiecore assignment well and truly understood, thank you very much). Our contingent headed for Hamleys first, where we were met by a big window takeover that showcased the diversity of the Barbie toy range.

“Everything we’re doing at retail really highlights the ‘You can be anything’ ethos of Barbie and how inclusive and representative the toy range is,” explains Eirian, pointing out a wrapped pillar that prominently features a Barbie with a prosthetic leg (the other sides show a scientist Barbie and a gymnast Barbie). Other installations included a box-style photobooth, the sides of which called out the 250 careers and counting that Barbie has held during her 60-plus years, and a display case containing

Toy World 40
Special Feature Barbie Retail Tour
For more information contactRia Richardson - 07877 443 733 Steve Richardson - 07850 779 797 or email

Special Feature Barbie Retail Tour

a selection of dolls and accessories that speak to the diversity of the range: Fashionista and Cutie Reveal dolls were accompanied by Mermaid Barbie, Wheelchair Barbie and the Ida B. Wells Shero Barbie, modelled on the likeness of the famous 19th century Black investigative journalist and civil rights leader.

Then we headed for The Entertainer Westfield, which had its own window-display showcasing a huge range of dolls and play sets. As we stood outside, we could hear excited kids behind us on the escalators right outside the store, begging their parents to take them into the shop to see the Barbie toys. The store’s manager, Darryl Taylor, told us this is a regular occurrence: not only is the window display very eye-catching, but Westfield’s Vue cinema complex is located on the floor above The Entertainer. This means kids and families that have just watched the movie are transported by the escalators right past the shop as they head back down the ground floor. And who can resist a quick look inside, heading through the Barbie branded security barriers to take a photo in the box-style booth and marvel at the dedicated wall/corner of dolls and play sets.

Darryl says the brand has been huge for The Entertainer this year and that Mattel has been a superb partner to work with. The retailer’s efforts to elevate Barbie in-store have seen individual teams rewarded with vouchers and special prizes, in recognition of the part they’ve played in helping Mattel execute its consistent, franchise-first retail approach.

Westfield done, it was back into the taxi for a trip across the city, this time heading for Primark on Oxford Street. Held up by the usual London traffic, it was amusing to note the number of pedestrians stopping to take selfies with our taxi in the background or pointing it out to their friends. Without doubt, the release of the Barbie movie has become one of the biggest cultural moments of the past few years. Anyone who’s been to the cinema recently will surely have spotted gaggles of pink-clad film fans in the foyer, giddy with excitement (and possibly some predrinks) and their love for the world’s most recognisable doll brand. Maybe it was a case of confirmation bias, but travelling through the streets of the nation’s capital, it really did seem like there was a lot more pink on display, from the fashions people were wearing to the shop windows lining the high street. Whether Barbie branded/ licensed or not, it seems everyone is benefitting from the movie and its impact on society.

After Primark, which had been enjoying such enormous sell-through there was only limited Barbie product left to see, it was off to Selfridges on Oxford Street for a look at its magnificent Barbie at the Corner Shop installation: an imagined destination where Barbie would shop and hang out in London. Selfridges has been leading the charge on aspirational Barbie experiences, having played host to a Barbie disco scene window featuring official costumes worn in the movie: the sequin jumpsuit worn by Margot Robbie and the white and gold jumpsuit worn by Ryan Gosling during the choreographed dance party. Barbie’s dressing room scene was also re-created at the iconic store, featuring the pink and white gingham dress and two-piece skirt suit worn by Margot Robbie in the movie.

Visitors to Barbie at The Corner Shop could enjoy a beauty makeover and Barbie inspired hair and nail services, capture photo moments and browse a raft of shoppable items that Barbie (and Ken) might select for their own Dreamhouse and wardrobe, such as movielicensed toys, the Impala x Barbie Roller Skates and more: you could even pick up a bag of luxury Italian Barbie

pasta. Upstairs, in the toy section, the Barbie magic continued. Those stepping off the escalator were greeted by a Barbie feature TV wall – the only installation showing Margot Robbie herself – and spaciously arranged gold shelves bedecked with a wide range of toys and licensed accessories, including big-box/big-spend items such as the Dreamhouse and skates.

By this point on the tour, it had become clear just how bespoke each installation was to each retailer. For Eirian, this has been a crucial part of the strategy. “There’s no one size fits all approach to this kind of retail campaign,” she explains over lunch, during a break from the journalistic window-shopping. “What we set out to do is create retail solutions for each and every individual retail partner, based upon their locations, consumer demographic, average basket spend and so on. In Harrods, for example, we installed a dedicated Barbie pop-up toy store and a replica of the car from the movie so visitors could enjoy a photo op, as well as a branded fashion space for shoppers keen to replicate Barbiecore looks, while for Asda – which really has positioned itself as the home of the franchise –we delivered a Barbie website and social media takeover which drove traffic into stores to experience the exciting activations on offer. We even provided Asda staff with Barbie t-shirts for team photos.”

Eirian adds that shoppers at discount retailer Aldi will have spotted POS displays in that magic central aisle, online specialist Very ran a custom-created Barbie advert named ‘Jump Into Their World’, and Toymaster members received gift-with-purchase and POS packs geared towards the indie sector.

It’s clear that Mattel, in partnership with the ‘fantastic’ Warner Bros. hasn’t just produced an outstanding movie. It’s also produced a moment in time – perhaps the only one we’ll see for many years – that has turned the whole toy and retail scene on its head. Retailers want USPs from their suppliers, and Mattel has provided them and then some. Whether or not this is a once in a lifetime thing or not remains to be seen: the company has dozens more movies lined up, the next being Hot Wheels, and with Barbie celebrating her 65th anniversary next year there’s plenty more momentum to come. Retailers presumably can’t wait to see how they can repeat this year’s activation with another milestone year for the brand. But for now, one thing is certain: we’re all Barbie girls, and we’re living in a Barbie world.

(Unless, that is, you’re just a Ken).

Toy World 42
Sainsbury's at Nine Elms Hamleys Westfield Selfridges, Oxford Street
are exclusive or major distributors of many
Mattel, Orchard Toys,
Universe, Infantino, Sohni Wicke & Construct it email: sales hotline: 029 2036 3678 Buy in small quantities from a large range of suppliers
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Expert advice

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 subfranchiser, 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 reports back following his Certified Play Expert training and discusses what such programmes could mean for the future of toy retail.

In my April column, I wrote about how the toy industry is fundamental in tackling child mental health issues and the role we, as retailers, can play in helping kids navigate our world safely and happily. Since then, I’ve successfully completed ASTRA’s Certified Play Expert training, which I feel is a vital part of achieving this.

The training, overseen by Dee Farrell and Jean Bailey, took place over two days and allowed myself and 18 of my industry peers to deepen our understanding of child development and the importance of play on child wellbeing: something I’ve been banging the drum about for years. We covered topics such as the characteristics of major developmental stages, types of play and their benefits, how to advocate for play and how to make sense of play.

I’m absolutely thrilled to now be able to display our new Certified Play Expert sign in the door of our shop. This shows our customers that we’re well versed in the science of play and can recommend toys for both children and adults that are age- and developmentally - appropriate, as well as promote healthy, educational play. Based on my experience, I will be sending other key team members to take the Certified Play Expert training in person, and my team member Jamie and I will also be elevating the knowledge base among the rest of our team with in-house training. I’m also pushing Learning Express Toys corporate to incorporate this programme, as well as the MESH initiative, into our overall training. I believe Certified Play Expert training will encompass a module of MESH, allowing toy retailers to meet kids where they are today as well as parents. Of course, we’ll need to keep on training and learning over the years to stay certified; we want the customer to look out for the Certified Play Expert sign and know it means something tangible.

retailers need to provide a different experience in their stores. Indie toy shops should be a safe space for kids, a place where they’re free to touch and feel the toys so they can be sure they’ll go home with something that will help them build resilience and knowledge for the future.

Certified Play Expert accreditation is a competitive long-term advantage for indie toy stores and will raise the level of knowledge and service that a store can offer its community. What is good for customers is good for the retailer. I agree with ASTRA; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for retailers to stand out and step forward, and to help children, adults and their communities with the issues they face.

My Top 6 learnings:

• Retailers should have higher confidence in the value of play and the power of their discussions with consumers.

• There are many ways to define play, not just one.

• The history of play goes way, way back – and it is continually evolving.

• Play is great for business and sales.

• Certified Play Expert training helps engage and prepare store teams, which will respect the certification process.

• The training will help you become a more knowledgeable advocate for play (and maybe even remind you how much you enjoy play too).

As an aside, summer will soon be over, and the kids will be going back to school. It’s been a good season for Learning Express: Jazwares Squishmallows, MGA’s Miniverse, Spin Master’s Bitzee, Trampoline Pong from Thin Air Brands and slime from various suppliers have all enjoyed great sales. We’re now turning our attention to ensuring we have a spooktacular Halloween, which is always big here in the US. Plush, collectibles, candy, slime and play sets are strong sellers if merchandised early and promoted in a cute, fun way. The Sylvanian Families Calico Critters Trick Or Treat set is a delight, and there are some cool new Halloween Squishmallows to collect too. We’ll keep a close eye on emerging best-sellers as we get closer to 31st October.

Richard can be reached on LinkedIn or by email at Opinion Rick Derr Toy World 44

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The small print

AAs well as offering affordability, the collectability of lines in these categories adds play value and excitement to low-cost products, making them all the more attractive for consumers. Food has become something of a current craze in the world of collectibles, with MGA’s Miniverse Make it Mini Food

MGA’s Miniverse appeals to all ages, especially kidults who have fuelled a viral social trend on TikTok. Michelle Lilley, vice president marketing EMEA believes that fans of the trend also want to use these quirky miniatures “as a form of self-expression and amusement”, and MGA’s marketing plans include influencer campaigns, social media advertising and more, to keep the online passion

The mini food items come in blind packaging for an added level of unboxing excitement and this autumn, the brand will expand its portfolio with a new series, the Lifestyle collection, a miniature food multipack, kitchen set and an All You Can Eat set which includes more than 100 collectibles. Only brought to market this year, the brand has already moved into Top 5 positioning of Circana’s Top New Properties in the UK market in June (No.5), as well as ranking as the No.3

Zuru also revealed its own on-trend miniature food brand this year, merging two in-demand toy categories to bring something unique to the sector. With licensing a key mainstay of its overall business growth strategy, Zuru used this to its advantage for the new release; Snackles is a collectible plush range, available in two sizes, bringing kids adorable characters with mini replica snacks based on some of the world’s biggest brands. Available as Super-size and Small versions, both series offer 11 characters to collect. As with Miniverse, the smaller lines are blind-packaged capsules to provide a surprise reveal, while the Super-size styles allow consumers to select

the collectible animal characters and favourite household brands. Froot Loops, Reese’s, Mike and Ike and Chupa Chups are just some of the brands to be given the Snackles treatment, all paired with cuddly characters. Each character comes with its own backstory and includes a comic strip to show how it fell in love with its snack, further increasing brand connection and the desire to collect.

Will Collinson, general manager at Zuru UK, told us: “We're constantly tracking trends and assessing what’s hot in the market to ensure we continue to deliver product that is relevant. Social media is a great reference point to ensure we keep close to what kids are engaging with and responding to. Generally, we like to incorporate a chase element within the collectibles to drive that interest and desire to collect. We’re super targeted with our digital marketing – we base it on users’ tastes and interests as well as our past experience.”

Looking at ways to encourage impulse buys from consumers is one of the main factors for toy companies when coming up with the next collectible line. Colour, design and price are the top factors under consideration for One for Fun, according to CEO David Mordecai. He expanded: “There is also the cost of production, possible line extensions, colourways and connectivity, design and impulse buy appeal and increased play value. Now, especially, retail cost is key. We constantly monitor and use social media and our PR takes advantage of current newsworthy items and hooks in our products where possible. We are using playground ambassadors and we channel our message into mainstream too for the older demographic.”

At the forefront of One for Fun’s pocket-money range is Pushpoppers, a sensory fidget toy. The tactile feel of the product stays constant in the collection, but there are changing themes to give consumers new options. Scrunchems are also a best seller for the company, again having a squishy addictive appeal to them. In January, One for Fun introduced Micro Fidgetz which add a layer of collectability along with a surprise element from the sealed bags.

Feature Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles
Due to the cost-of-living crisis, a prominent spotlight has been shone on the Pocket Money and Collectibles category this year as both kids and adults focus on small treats, and larger, higher value products are more often reserved for special occasions. Marianna Casal finds out more.

Feature Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Also with a sensory element, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is an enduring pocket money line that has come back strongly in the UK market. A favourite of the specialist independent trade, the tins sell in huge quantities - and at great margins. DKB became the brand’s distribution partner just over a year ago, and in July this year celebrated the sale of the 200,000th Crazy Aaron’s tin since it did so. Available at a range of accessible price points, the range is expanding for Q4, making it even more collectible, and Mini Thinking Putty tins offer a perfect pocket money option. DKB describes these as “small, fun, addictive and packed with more innovation than their size belies,” and throughout the range, new styles are continually introduced to keep the collection interesting and appealing.

Consumer-focused marketing and an influencer campaign plus dedicated instore POS, retailer window and permanent display fixtures across the key summer holiday period will ensure the Crazy Aaron’s brand remains front of mind with kids before they return to school in September. As Back to School fever takes over retail, as well as ticking off the required equipment, bags, stationery items and lunchboxes with their parents, kids stock up on the pocket money items they will at last be able to share with their classmates.

Playground crazes often fuel this market; kids naturally like to show off their latest purchases, brag about their collections and even swap items with friends. This creates a trickle-down effect for demand of certain lines. Marbles is a tried and tested playground favourite, offering both a competitive, fun activity and a trading/collectability element, and World Alive has brought the world of Marbles bang up to date with its new Freak Marbles. These 3cm characterised marbles have 360 decoration depicting monsters, robots, nightmares, animals and more, and come with matching skins to convert them into figurines to play or display. With unique characters, dynamic gameplay and captivating designs, the company is confident that the line will soon be the talk of the playground for kids everywhere.

Pat Avenue’s new Battle Heads collection is another line which is perfect to become playground “currency” and offers long-lasting repeat play value. With 90 characters to collect, the affordable collectible lets kids battle the figures thanks to their action functions, and the fun can be extended beyond the playground once new Battle Heads play sets launch later this year.

Activity and crafting is a sector that is always attractive to retailers; consumers see value in products that will keep them/their kids engaged and create a sense of satisfaction once completed. One for Fun’s Loom bands offer that craft appeal at a pick-up price point, while also being a way for friends to connect, as the finished bands can be gifted and swapped.

Mini dolls offer engagement in the form of storytelling and interaction with friends. MGA’s L.O.L. Surprise! offers fans an enhanced play experience and the fun of trying to find a new character in the surprise packaging. The most recent launch for the brand is the new Bubble Surprise range which allows fans to explore a brand-new bubbling reveal feature for the first time. According to Circana data, the brand has maintained its position as the No.1 item in UK Playset Dolls

and Collectibles in total value sales. New characters and playsets are set to launch in autumn/winter, to drive collectability and keep the collection fresh.

Similarly, Zapf Creation has recently revealed a new Baby born pocket money line: Baby Born Minis. Already an extremely popular doll brand, the company has found a place in the market for a new, lower-priced and collectible Baby born option. Ellie Moore, Sales director at Zapf Creation, said: “Initial feedback to the Baby born Minis has been incredible. There’s an increased appetite amongst children for collecting and keeping hold of their precious toys on the go, and this new range offers the ability to do just that. With the Baby born Minis, children can bring Baby born into their world, no matter where they are. They are the perfect size to pop in a bag for a bit of courage ahead of a big day at school, or as a stocking filler for Christmas gifting.”

Keeping collectibles up to the minute, suppliers have begun to take inspiration from popular gaming properties, knowing that a vast and dedicated fanbase exists. They have also been inspired by NFTs, a recent phenomenon which has only been around for the last decade. NFT - or non-fungible token – is a unique cryptographic token which exists on a blockchain and cannot be replicated, which can come in digital form. The Pudgy Penguins NFTs became a craze this year with 8,888 unique digital chubby penguins in its collection. PMI Kids World became the master toy partner to the IP, and in May launched a toy range on Amazon. 24 hours after hitting the Amazon marketplace, the Pudgy Samurai Action Figure had become the No.1 toy on the platform, while the Pudgy Penguins

Huggable Plush

was sitting at No.5 in a very competitive Top 10 that also included Pokémon, Barbie, Disney and Lego.

Also in PMI’s portfolio of licences is Toikido’s Piñata Smashlings, a premium quality game where players explore, capture and train Smashlings, magical pet-like creatures that live in the Piñataverse, and marks a firstof-its-kind integration of digital gameplay and product. PMI has partnered with Toikido to produce a range of collectible toys which launched in July. The range will be distributed by Character Options in the UK.

PMI’s COO Omer Dekel commented: “The internet has offered a great amount of transparency when it comes to seeing what’s buzzing at the moment, so we can focus on what crazes will best translate into the physical world. In addition, our scouting team works closely with global gamers and reports on what games are gaining traction as well as their respective trends. We hope to see the same excitement in our Piñata Smashlings launch with Toikido.”

He added: “Every trend’s demographic has an influential figure or early adopter who it is essential to understand if you want to tap into a trend successfully. Within the video game community, that can be anything from a popular streamer, a high-ranking gamer, to a dedicated forum moderator. We’re very particular when choosing a new IP, as we want to fully understand the ecosystem behind the trend before moving forward. IP strength has been a huge contributor in the success of our licensed products. The evergreen popularity of Sonic Prime - the top trending series on Netflix, the dedicated digital community behind Pudgy Penguins and the loyal Among Us fans have all contributed to the success of our toy lines.”

Over the following pages, Toy World takes a look at what lines kids are going to be clamouring to collect, or spend their precious pocket money on, in the coming months.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles


020 8324 6160 | |

New girls’ collectibles brand, Pinky Promise, introduces character-led, wearable gemstones perfect for mixing and matching, and swapping with friends. The Pinky Promise ‘gemmy friends’ command instant on-shelf appeal with iconic princess-themed blind packaging, including golden crowns and sparkling carriages. There are 84 characters to collect in Series 1, and each Pinky Promise friend can be worn as either a ring, hairclip, bracelet or necklace. The Surprise Crown 2 Pack, and Royal Carriage Mini Set are both available at sub£5 price points.

Bringing back the 2014 Loom Bands playground phenomenon, the Original Rainbow Loom is a crafting kit consisting of 600 latex-free rubber bands, 25 clips, gift bags and a metal hook for children to create bracelets, charms and even action figures. The new Rainbow Loom Loomi Pals Combo Set includes a collection of cute character charms alongside 2,300 bands, G-Clips, beads, a Happy Loom for creating multiple bracelets and gift bags. Two sub-£5 lines – the Rainbow Loom Loomi-Pals Collectible Packs and Loomi-Pals Fun Packs, are available as pick-up and impulse purchases.

The company’s Miraculous cross-category collection offers affordable, entrypriced, pocket-money purchase opportunities. The best-selling Kwami Surprise collectibles are sub-£5 with each housed in a Miraculous blind box and moulded holding its precious Miraculous jewel. New characters are regularly introduced to the collection, including chaser figures to encourage repeat purchases.

A second series of the Stranger Things Upside Down Capsules has been introduced. Providing a unique unboxing experience, the retro TV capsules open to reveal one of 11 mystery character figurines, interactive accessories, activity clue cards, collectible cards featuring characters and fan-favourite moments from the show, plus an 80s inspired trading card game.

Meanwhile, miniature collectibles brand, Chibi Masters, is available as a sub-£10 licensed assortment range which appeals to anime fans. The most attractive to younger children is the Dragon Ball collection which offers highly detailed favourite characters from the hit TV series as seen on Pop! and Netflix. Each detailed Dragon Ball Flash character figure is 10cm tall and has three points of articulation, meaning they can be posed in different positions, and comes with a unique collectible coin which doubles as a stand for display.

Kids can also recreate their own Shatterverse playground adventures with Bandai UK’s Sonic Prime Pocket Money lines, which include the blind-bagged, non-articulated 6.5cm figures and blind-boxed 7.5cm articulated action figures. A collection of six 13cm Clip-On Plush characters also provides an affordable treat purchase opportunity.

Bandai UK’s Crash Bandicoot Smash Box Surprise features 11 assorted character figures including a limited edition, golden Crash chaser, all housed in reusable stackable display smash boxes reflective of the video game-play pattern.

The Original Sea-Monkeys Mystery Eggs are available in blue, orange or pink, with each containing everything needed to grow Sea-Monkeys. Kids can add the Mystery Egg refill packs to any existing classic Sea Monkey’s tanks or create their own habitats by simply adding water, feeding them and then watching them grow up to 2cm.


01908 800 100 |

Match Attax is back for the 2023/24 season. Now in its 16th year, and following a 50% year-on-year increase in UK sales last season, the world-renowned collection from Topps has been brilliantly redesigned with even more rare and exclusive cards for football fans to find in lucky packs and SKUs. The 1st Edition Multipack went on sale on 10th August, previewing the new cards ahead of the 24th August main launch.

New cards include The Zen Ultimate Celebration featuring Manchester City phenomenon Erling Haaland, with an insert ratio of one in every 1,500 packs: a huge chase element for collectors this season. For 2023/24, the Limited Editions, 100 Clubs and Pro Elite Shields have been completed re-styled, last season’s smash hit Black Edge cards return with an enhanced design, and the new Energy cards – with stunning WaveFront foil technology – are guaranteed to be the talk of the playground.

Another major new addition to this season’s collection are Combo Autograph cards, featuring two Autographs on a classic landscape design and sequentially numbered so that collectors immediately know their rarity. These are highly sought-after in the collection, especially 1/1 Autographs and 1/1 Combo Autographs, meaning there are only one of this type of card in the entire world.

The Starter Pack, which contains the all-important 64-page binder to hold a collector’s cards, comes with a guaranteed three Limited Editions including a Lionel Messi Timeless Talent card. New to the Booster and Mega Tins are Centurion Relic cards for legends of the game who have played over 100 matches in the UEFA Champions League. Player-worn relic cards, featuring genuine pieces of shirt worn by European superstars, can be found in Mega Tins, which also have exclusive Stadium Star Limited Edition cards. Booster Tins additionally offer guaranteed exclusive Artist of the Game Limited Edition cards. Further exclusives can be found in Tesco (A4 Jumbo cards found in Super Packs), OneStop (Limited Edition Ice Breaker Limited Edition card in CDUs), Sainsbury’s (Generational Talent Limited Edition in Multipacks) and WHSmith (VIP cards that invite the collector to meet one of Topps’ Match Attax ambassadors).

Topps has invested in a powerful marketing campaign to promote the collection, including nationwide magazine and newspaper sampling, influencer activity, social media and digital advertising and striking in-store POS and FDUs. To further raise awareness among football fans, the publisher will be collaborating with superstar ambassadors Jack Grealish and Mason Mount, both of whom collected Match Attax cards in their childhood.

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Mojo Fun

01422 413674 |

At Mojo, the team is focused on making high quality products at pocket money prices. As well as being educational toys for children, the realistic models are appealing to collectors of all ages.

With more than 300 hand painted animals and dinosaurs to choose from, the collectability of Mojo’s animals is plain to see, and collections are sure to grow year on year. This year, the company has added blind bags to its repertoire, with the chance to obtain a 1 in 288 limited edition model. The single pack wildlife and farm blind bags are both easily affordable at below £4, and the 2-pack horse and foal blind bag available is excellent value at a sub-£10 price point.

If consumers are looking for certain models rather than the lucky dip of a blind bag, the small, medium, large and XL figures give collectors a varied range of figures to choose from at an attractive price. High quality materials and great painting mean Mojo’s animals make a perfect pocket friendly and collectible range.

The company has a friendly team dedicated to getting orders turned around and out of the warehouse within 48 hours.

Craft Buddy

020 3417 6565 |

Craft Buddy is gearing up to introduce new pocket money launches this autumn. First out of the gate, and celebrating the centennial anniversary of the company’s founding, is the Disney D100 Crystal Art Sticker Album and Stickers. Fans can collect over 100 Crystal Art stickers based on their favourite Disney characters and properties including Mickey, The Lion King, Snow White, Toy Story and many other favourites. The Crystal Art D100 starter pack includes a sticker album, two sticker packs and a crystal art tool set. The sticker packs contain three stickers and all the crystals needed to complete them. For retailers, a CDU containing 20 sticker packs is available. Disney fans can collect the full set and add them to the sticker album once they have been completed. The Starter Set and Sticker Packs are available now.

This launch will be closely followed by the exciting new Crystal Art Buddies Series 2. These craft kits enable anyone to make their own sparkly, collectible Crystal Art wooden figurines using the Crystal Art technique. Making a Crystal Art Buddy takes between 20-30 minutes and is suitable for ages six and up. Series 1 was launched in 2022 and includes 25 Buddies with popular characters from the Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and LOL! Surprise universes. Autumn 2023 sees the launch of Series 2, with over 30 new characters from Disney, Star Wars, Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel Spiderman, Paddington Bear and Peter Rabbit. Buddies is an ideal entry point to the craft as the kits contain all the tools, crystals and instructions needed to complete the project. Each Buddy is approximately 11cm in size and comes with a laser-grade plywood base.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

One For Fun |

One for Fun has won numerous awards for its craze lines and is adding even more options to its impulse purchase range for the coming months.

Squishy, fidgety micro toys remain popular, so the company that brought kids Pushpoppers is pushing the boundaries yet again with a range of Micro Fidgetz: tiny toys that can actually be played with. Anything but static collectables, Micro Fidgetz are actually fun. This new sensory concept combines the mystery of blind bags with collectability. Each round tub has a transparent panel at the top displaying one fidget toy, while underneath, another four toys are stacked in blind bags, waiting to be revealed. Each Micro Fidgetz tub has a full list of the whole range to collect, and every toy is a real, playable micro version of the larger toy. Going into autumn, Micro Fidgetz - along with other impulse toys - will be shared via influencers in a social media campaign designed to increase interest in that vital fourth quarter.

One for Fun is a go-to company for sensory fidgets, providing millions of innovations that have kept interest high and new line extensions which cover all price points. The company has over 550 impulse items across all brands. Price is going to be key this year, so affordable fun with added play value is the focus.

Stretchy, squishy, spikey, shiny, sparkly, sweet and foody are the themes for this year’s impulse lines, which feature everything including squishy mesh pets and squishy mesh balls that reveal dinosaurs, a gold bear or a host of ocean friends when squeezed, keychains, sensory scented neon teddy bears and sensory neon noodles.

Sweet and savoury food stuff is celebrated throughout the Scrunchems Squish Ball range (as seen on This Morning) with the Fun Brunch Squish Ball joining the Tutti Frutti Ball and the very cute Party Diddy Squish Balls: there are three in a pack, one of which is filled with party themed miniatures. Glow-in-the-dark Moons and Stars squish balls light up the night sky and the Diddy Neon Squishies are available in fun neon colours, safari and wild themes. Textured Scrunchems are available in furry, rainbow, bean-filled and glitter options in all ball sizes and pack sizes. One For Fun even has a Fortune Teller Squish Ball. Kids can ask it a question and squeeze it for the answer.

Loom Bands, the ultimate craft and creative collectible, are back with a vengeance. Perfect for introducing a new generation to the Loom Band craze, they are available in affordable 600-piece pick up and go packs and larger 3,000 band gift sets.

Wow! Stuff

01902 390 428 |

Wow! Stuff is taking fandom to a whole new level with its unique, patented connectable collectible ranges: Nano Pods and Pods 4D.

Nano Pods is a surprise-reveal collectible range that takes iconic licensed characters and houses them within nano-sized hexagonal pods. As fans collect brands including Wednesday, Sonic the Hedgehog, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel, Disney, DC and the Wizarding World, they simply connect the pods together to build any pattern or shape they wish. Arranged on a shelf or presented on a wall, Nano Pods will create a unique and fun display for all fans of character brands. This must-have, pocket-money-priced range launched this spring and benefits from the support of a fully integrated marketing campaign that has expanded significantly into autumn/winter.

Pods 4D let kids see things from an exciting new perspective. These mid-sized hexagonal pods feature a super-high-resolution 3D lenticular background, making the characters appear as if they’re bursting right out of their world into ours. Each 15x15cm pod showcases a popular character standing at the forefront of an epic immersive background. From Marvel to DC, Disney Kingdom to the Wizarding World and much more, there are so many characters to find and more on the way. Kids can collect and connect them all to create a bespoke display that’s sure to make an impact.

Nano Pods and Pods 4D are compatible with one another, so fans can collect, connect and display all their favourite character brands and superheroes in a unique and individual way. For more information on Nano Pods and Pods 4D, contact Wow! Stuff’s (UK), (EMEA), or (USA).

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Zuru |

Following the global success of Mini Brands, Zuru continues to innovate and drive the miniature collectibles trend by expanding its range of popular miniature replicas of favourite household brands in autumn/winter 2023. Zuru produces mini versions of some of the world’s most recognisable and iconic brands, toys, Disney brands and fashion accessories, which appeal to children, kidults and retro-collector audiences alike.

Building on this success, the new Mini Brands Series 4 includes over 90 miniatures for kids to collect and swap, including ultra-rare frozen moments and new Mini Minis – even smaller Minis of favourite brands packaged inside replica Fedex and UPS Boxes. Iconic brands such as Revlon, Kellogg’s and Pringles are just some of the big names featured, alongside miniature shopping accessories.

There are also new introductions within some of the Mini Brands sub-brands this autumn/winter. The Foodie Mini Brands Series 2 range features new mini replicas of consumers’ favourite fast-food brands, including big names such as Pizza Hut, Jack in the Box and Cinnabon. With more than 95 miniatures to collect, including super rare gold and ultra-rare frozen moments, there are also scented Minis and super small snacks to unwrap, further driving collectability and traction in the playground.

Coinciding with the Disney 100 celebrations this year, the Disney 100 Mini Brands Limited Edition Platinum celebrates 100 years of wonder and boasts over 50 platinum miniatures to collect including Rare, Iconic and Lux Minis. Featuring much-loved Disney brands such as Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, Mickey Mouse & Friends and Disney Princess, each capsule contains five Minis and collectors guide.

Snackles is the company’s brand new licensed plush line made up of cute, collectible soft toys featuring real replicas of some of the world’s hottest licensed snack brands. Tapping into the expanding plush trend, Snackles are available in super size 14-inch plush and small 5-inch versions, with both lines including 11 characters for kids to collect. The small Snackles come inside blind packaged capsules for a surprise reveal and are available at a sub-£10 price point. Froot Loops, Reese’s, Mike and Ike and Chupa Chups are just some of the brands to be given the Snackles treatment, paired with soft cuddly characters. Each character has its own backstory and comic strip to show how it fell in love with its snack, further increasing brand connection and the desire to collect.

The 5 Surprise Mega Gross line is a parody collection of miniatures made mega gross, with an amazing level of detail. Imitating many favourite lifestyle brands across the food, drink, technology, social media and toys categories, each Mega Gross capsule includes five different Gross surprises to discover. There are more than 36 spoof replicas to collect including the Vomito’s Pizza, Unhappy Meal, Pickers chocolate bar, Snotverse shoes, Rot Dog and the iPoo laptop. Once opened, each Mega Gross capsule can be reused for storage of the minis, encouraging fans to build their collections.



DinosArt Figure Painting Assortment gives children the opportunity to bring their imaginations to life as they transform the dinosaur figures with paint. The DinosArt 10-Colour Ball Pens have an assortment of colours in each pen which are perfect for doodling or note-taking. Each of the four designs showcases a different dinosaur species and is perfect for budding palaeontologists to collect, or makes the perfect pocket money treat. Perfect for dinosaur enthusiasts, collectors and children alike, the DinosArt Meteor blind packs ignite excitement and imagination with 10 different prehistoric meteor stones to unveil. Nebulous Stars offers a range of collectible stationery, with retail price points starting under £2. Kids can add some creative flair and express themselves in style with the Nebulous Stars Pom Pom Pens available in four different colours and scents, or discover the magical Feather Quill Pens, with 12 different designs to brighten up everyday tasks and add a touch of magic wherever they go.

Hape’s Pocket Money collection has its own fully stocked CDU of more than 70 individual products with games and toys at a range of SRPs, making it ideal for checkout countertops. Featuring best-selling items from magnifying glasses to animal stamps, tangram games and tape and roll vehicles, there is a pick up line to suit every customer.

All Toynamics UK & Ireland brands and products have full marketing support available, including display solutions.

478 5230 |

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

MGA Entertainment

0845 0533 333 |

MGA Entertainment is expanding its diverse portfolio of collectibles which targets both adults and children. L.O.L. Surprise! remains central to MGA’s collectible range and MGA’s Miniverse has seen incredible growth in the UK. This growth was driven in part by partnering with some of the biggest crafting and Gen Z influencers on TikTok.

MGA’s Miniverse Make It Mini Cafe Edition has recently been named within the Top 50 Best Selling Items during week 28 in 2023 (Circana).

MGA’s Miniverse appeals to people of all ages, especially kidults wanting to create viral social content for their TikTok profile, and fans of the trend who want to use the quirky miniatures as a form of self-expression and amusement. MGA’s Miniverse offers a fun and engaging method for fans to craft and create in their own personal unique way, as well as offering an aesthetically pleasing way to display their personalised creations.

Partnering with high-reaching influencers on social media and keeping up to date with trends enables the brand to drive participation and enhance collectability. This autumn, the brand has expanded its portfolio with the launch of a new series of the Make It Mini Food collection, a brand-new miniature Lifestyle collection, a miniature food multipack, kitchen set and an All You Can Eat set which includes more than 100+ collectibles.

L.O.L. Surprise! maintains a focus on unboxing in all upcoming launches this autumn with strategic innovation driving collectability ahead of gifting season. The brand continues to make collectibles lines a priority for fans as it navigates the current cost of living crisis, constantly creating innovative outside-the-box toys whilst staying true to original values of collectability, unboxing and surprise. The range starts from a pocket-money price point and ensures that everyone can experience the joy of L.O.L. Surprise!

Autumn will see the unveiling of a brand-new theme with the launch of L.O.L. Surprise! Surprise Swap Tots assortment. For the first time, fans will be able to swap the faces of their tots. Each L.O.L. Surprise! ball includes one doll with two interchangeable facial expressions and two outfits allowing fans to endlessly mix-and-match expressions when they collect all eight characters.

Widespread TV and digital advertising, alongside targeted PR, influencer and social media campaigns appealing to the next generation of kids aged from four years, will support the upcoming launches and continue to drive the ongoing exponential success of the brand.



739 380 |

A leading global supplier of licensed and own-brand toys, Sambro International offers an extensive range of novelty toy collectibles at value prices, perfect as pocket money treats for kids.

Sambro has built long-standing, strong working relationships with major licensors including Disney, Hasbro, Paramount and Mattel, among many others, creating award-winning and innovative toys, stationery and games along the way. Sambro’s own-IP Puzzle Palz and Bops N Tops ranges feature top licences such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Lilo & Stitch, Disney Princess, D100, Marvel and more.

As one of Sambro’s leading IP, with over 50m units sold since its launch in 2016, Puzzle Palz – a range of 3D jigsaw puzzle erasers - is an awardwinning pocket money line which promises collectible fun for kids aged three years and over. Coming in surprise reveal packs, Puzzle Palz erasers are built using the puzzle pieces, creating characters or vehicles from popular kids’ properties and franchises. With coloured theming and scented features, Puzzle Palz are highly collectible.

New licences launching in autumn/winter 2023 include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and My Little Pony. With further strategic expansion planned for the portfolio, and additions such as SpongeBob plus others in the pipeline for next year, Puzzle Palz is set for continued success. Puzzle Palz retails from sub-£2 RRP up to sub-£8 for collector’s packs.

Launched in autumn/winter 2022, Bops N Tops has become one of Sambro’s most popular new ranges. Suitable for kids aged three and over, the Tops are perfect for personalising pencils while the Bops have a special stamp design for decorating stationery, providing creative fun for kids. Available in a variety of packaging formats and benefitting from continued range refreshes, the surprise and collectability elements make this novelty toy a winner.

Offering great value for money, Bops N Tops are available in single foil bags, 3-packs and bumper 5-packs.

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Bladez Toyz 02392 658 255 | |

Bladez Toyz Hot Wheels Mini Maker Kitz Monster Trucks is inspired by the Monster Trucks Live show, to launch all new, quicker to build customisable kits. Maker Kitz are Hot Wheels cars users can build – but this time with all new hybrid build system to get to the action faster.

First, the chassis is built with injection moulded parts from the model kit style sprue and then snapped together. Next, the jumbo rubber wheels in super bright colours are added and powered up with pull-back motor. The pop-out parts from the flat sheet are used to assemble the truck body, and a sticker sheet is included to customise and give a personal touch to the trucks. The wheels are also interchangeable for different colour combos. Once assembled, kids pull back to charge the motor and watch the car go.

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks come in eight styles at a great price. Kids can collect and put together the ultimate Monster Trucks garage to race, battle and perform mini stunts.

Also in the Pocket Money category, Bladez Toyz has extended its creative activity kits range to include a lower price point with new Sticker Activity Sets across a range of top brands. These are ideal for instant, mess free mini creative projects. Launching with Barbie, Hot Wheels and Minecraft, the pocket kits include a mini card project, with stickers to decorate and customise. The Barbie set includes two card dolls with sticker sheets of outfits, plus pens and more stickers to add finishing touches. The Hot Wheels set has mini cars to make and colour, stickers to add cool alloy wheels and pens to get creative. The Minecraft set has stand-up characters to colour and yet more stickers, allowing kids to quickly get creative without glue or scissors. Supplied in a CDU, the packs can also hang, making them a versatile pocket money pick-up option.

All the above lines are available to order now.

World Alive

Launching in Spain and Portugal in September 2023, followed by a global expansion in 2024, Freak Marbles takes the classic marble game to new heights with unique characters, dynamic gameplay and captivating designs.

Collectible marbles that put a modern spin on a classic concept, Freak Marbles are 3cm characterised marbles with 360 decoration depicting monsters, robots, nightmares, animals and more. Matching skins convert them into figurines to play or display. The collection includes five rare freaks (glow-in-the-dark, glitter jelly, silver, colour-changing and super rare gold) and all freaks and skins are interchangeable. Freak Marbles are sold in surprise packs, each of which includes a skin and marble. Other options are sets of three in a reusable drawstring bag or sets of six in a try-me packaging. A Battle Arena is also available for indoor play.

In line with World Alive’s sustainable development goals, all Freak Marble packaging is sustainable, and the Battle Arena is made of 100% recycled plastic. Marketing support spans YouTube with bespoke content, a collaboration with MarbleRunSport, influencer partnerships and social media. Global expansion in 2024 includes partnerships with: Modern Brands/Modern Star Group for Australia and NZ; PT Emway Globalindo for South East Asia; and Carletto AG for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Multiple other territories are still under negotiation.

Readers wanting more information are advised to contact Amy Holden on the email above.

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IMC Toys

01904 720 908 | |

Affordable, pocket-money priced ranges remain a key growth area for IMC’s best-selling properties and newly launched IPs.

Reflecting the fact that content lies at the heart of the business, the Cry Babies Magic Tears animated series can be viewed across multiple platforms including Nick Jr., Netflix, Kitoons YouTube and OTT, Kidoodle TV and Amazon Prime Video. The latest collections mirror the new Talent Stars episodes with the introduction of Cry Babies Magic Tears Talent Babies, Star Houses and Jumpy Monsters. The Talent Babies line features eight characters to collect, each dressed in silicone suits inspired by their talents. Now available as non-blind purchases, the Talent Babies include personalised accessories, one of which is a surprise reveal. Kids can feed the dolls using the magic baby bottle, then squeeze their bellies too see them cry real tears.

Cry Babies Magic Tears Jumpy Monsters introduces six new dolls to collect, direct from Planet Tear. The Jumpy Monsters dolls have more articulations and cry slime tears. Each doll comes complete with a cute silicone monster outfit, accessories and a personalised jumpy scooter for added play potential. Cry Babies Magic Tears Star Houses introduces three favourite characters to collect, dressed in cool futuristic outfits inspired by their well-known animal outfits. The capsules open to reveal more than nine surprises inside and transform into a segway once the wheels are removed. Each of the characters cries real tears which make the stars on the houses glow in the dark.

The latest introduction to the Cry Babies Magic Tears portfolio is the sub-£5 line of Cry Babies Magic Tears Monster Pets, which introduces nine cute and squishy animal characters that match their Cry Babies within the TV series. An ideal mini doll option, each Monster Pet comes with three accessories: a chair, a personalised accessory and a sticker sheet.

For the Q4 period, leading bath/water play brand Bloopies introduces a new Jungle theme to its pocket-money and treat purchase collection, Floaties. New Floaties Jungle joins the sub£10 collection, bringing enhanced fun to the bath time routine. There are six animal characters to collect, each accompanied by a colourful float inspired by their favourite foods. Kids can pull back the string mechanic to see their Floaties move across water and squirt water for added play value.

Cutie Climbers are collectible mini animals that climb to reach their favourite foods when kids pull the attached string. There are 12 Cutie Climbers to collect, each housed in a colourful Tree Pack tube. The Family Pack extends the Cutie Climber experience by combining collectability with themed play sets and surprise reveals. Children can help the Cutie Climber to reach the top of its flower bud house, which then opens to reveal a baby as well as a mini play set. Each Family Pack comes with a Cutie Climber, baby, string and mini play set which can be connected with other sets to create an entire Cutie Climbers world.

HTI Toys 01253 778 888 |

With over 70 years’ experience bringing Pocket Money toys to the market, 2023 will see an array of new brands and products in the HTI showroom. Keeping up with emerging trends and playground crazes is HTI’s speciality, as is its speed to market in this key category. The team has focused on developing even more HTI-owned brands for the upcoming season, as well as updating the company’s already popular brands, with refreshes to style guides and fresh, new products.

One of the fastest growing brands is Creepsterz, based on creepy crawlies, amphibians and reptiles. This popular brand includes numerous sensory, tactile toys and best sellers include Wall Creepers, super squeezy Colour-Bugz and collectible Stretchy Reptiles. This ever-growing range has been designed to appeal to kids, who may also enjoy scaring unsuspecting parents with the creepy critters.

The pre-historic world is a popular, evergreen theme for young children, and the Dino World Pocket Money range offers retailers a complete solution for this theme, with a host of items to choose from.

HTI Toys is committed to designing and delivering Pocket Money toys to fit with key playground crazes, and for this season, further investment in its own manufacturing has allowed the HTI team to bring Cutiekins, Pawfect Pets and Squishmeez to market, each offering a range of collectible, cute characters.

A key brand in HTI’s pocket money portfolio over the years has been Jokes & Gags, refreshed regularly with all the latest craze lines. Some of the newest additions include Jumbo Wrigglies, Swirl Slime, Stretchy Reptiles and the super bouncy Hyperball. HTI offers a variety of packaging formats for the core on-trend products, perfect for any occasion, whether it be to gift a friend or fill party bags.

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For infomation contact: Fil r stockings ©Disney ©MARVEL ©2023 & TM Spin Master Ltd. All rights reserved. PEPPA PIG and all related trademarks and characters TM & © 2003 Astley Baker Davies Ltd and/or Entertainment One UK Limited. HASBRO and all related logos and trademarks TM & © 2023 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. TMNT - © 2023 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. Spongebob - © 2023 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon, SpongeBob SquarePants and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. SpongeBob SquarePants created by Stephen Hillenburg. Products may be subject to licensor approval. SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN SUPPORT NEW LICENSES COMING FOR AW23 SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN SUPPORT NEW LICENSES COMING FOR AW23 full of fun with Sambro’s great value collectables!

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Zapf Creation

0845 0533 333 |

Leading nurturing doll brand Baby born is entering the collectible doll space with the launch of the brand-new Baby born Minis.

Launching this September at a pocket-money price point, the new series of Baby born collectibles sees six Mini Babies and six Mini Sisters and Brother dolls available to discover, each with an array of interchangeable accessories or colour effects and playsets – a mini world encouraging big imagination. Children can collect them, create adventures and have fun designing their own world of miniature play with the adorable Baby born Minis family.

Perfect for children to play with on-thego, the 6.5cm Baby born Minis Babies have either a colour change feature or a metallic colourway, and each come with their own pet companion. The 7cm Baby born Minis Sisters and Brother dolls come with an interchangeable hair accessory. All Baby born Minis dolls have moveable arms, legs and heads. With an array of personalities and interests such as funny, playful and brave, the range is set to stimulate key areas of discovery for children, including outdoor fun, motion and creativity.

The range opens up a world of imaginative opportunities for children to play together every day, and with eight playsets available, children can play with the Minis in a mix of different scenarios. The playsets fit a variety of settings – the Horse Fun set with Kim, Simon with Scooter, Summertime with Lara and Stroller with Eli sets are particularly good for taking the play outside. Making everyday moments more fun and special are the Bathtub with Amy, Highchair with Luna and Furniture playset, while Happy Birthday Lea allows children to extend special family moments and re-enact them with the Minis dolls.

Aimed at children aged 3+ and available to buy as a standalone product or as a twin pack online, the Baby born Minis Babies, and Minis Sisters and Brother dolls come with new Showbox Open packaging, allowing children to see inside and choose their favourite character. The packaging will showcase the vibrant colours of the products while also being plastic-free in line with the brand’s sustainability commitment. A collectors’ sheet inside helps children to keep track as their Baby born Minis collection grows.

The new launch will be supported by a 360-campaign including Linear and non-Linear TV, in-store activations and influencer support.

Along with the need for longevity, parents are seeking environmentally conscious options in all aspects of their families’ lives, including in the toy market. With green credentials being one of the biggest trends across every industry, Zapf Creation is leading the way in frustration-free packaging which is also sustainable and recyclable.

Plus-Plus UK & Ireland

0333 050 0144 | |

A 100-piece tube of Plus-Plus is a perfect pocket money toy to take on the go, packaged in a reusable tube ideal for storage and transportation.

The 100-piece tube is available in over eight different colour combinations, ranging from the primary colours found in the Basic tube to Neon, Pastel, Rainbow, Tropical and Glitter. There’s a tube to meet everyone’s taste, and open-ended play offers endless creativity. Countertop Display Units, supplied within the carton, contain 24 tubes of a mixed variety. Retailers can also opt for a carton of 12 single colours with which to top up their most popular tubes instore. The eight colour combinations are also available in the popular 240-piece tubes for even bigger builds.

Ideal for customers looking for a more structured build, a line of the 100-piece tubes contain step-by-step pictorial instructions to guide kids through the construction. These are available in a variety of CDUs featuring a Zoo or Farm animals, Characters, Dinosaurs, Wild or Aquatic animals, or the new Transportation theme. There is also a selection of seasonal tubes available to celebrate, Halloween, Christmas and Easter.

Plus-Plus Big Tubes, for children from the age of 1-6 years, are larger in size, making them easy for small hands to grasp. There are five open-ended, mixed colour tubes to choose from, along with four fun animal builds complete with instructions. The Big collection teaches little ones how to build whilst encouraging STEM learning by stimulating fine motor skills, creativity, focus and patience.

A wide variety of the 100-piece tubes are available in the 210 unit 4-tier floor spinner, which comes with a play tray and 1,800 bulk Plus-Plus pieces to keep customers entertained whilst deciding how to spend their pocket money.

Plus-Plus is a socially and environmentally responsible company. The factory and headquarters in Denmark run on 100% green energy from wind power and all products and packaging are 100% recyclable. To discover the full Plus-Plus range for 2023, visit catalog_2023.

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MOJO FUN LIMITED 2 The Chapel, Scout Road, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire HX7 5HQ Tel: 01422 413674 Mob: 07971 268054 @mojofuneu Mojo Figurines Quality products at pocket money prices! Discover our NEW 2023 Figurines and Blind Bags!

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Vivid Goliath


449944 |

Vivid Goliath’s Squeezamals are squishable, squeezable, soft, slowrise foam animals. The super soft plush has a watermelon scent, and there are 18 Eenie Teenies pocket-sized pals to collect. The characters are blind bagged and include Shiny Zebra Zane, Fluffy Puffy and Petite Penguin Penny. The bag also includes a collector sheet.

Ryan’s World moves into Series 10 for autumn/winter 2023, with innovations across the core collectibles latest styles of Mystery Figures, Squishy Figures and surprise Putty. The range will also be bolstered with an all-news Series 8 Mini Mystery Egg, allowing kids to feel just like Ryan as they unbox and discover a host of Ryan’s World fan favourites including figures and stickers.

Harry Potter Minifigures will move through to Series 9 in autumn/ winter bolstered by four-inch Harry Potter Ooshies which come in four designs: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Gold Harry Potter.

Basic Fun!

01189 253 270

Care Bears BFFs are now available in a new mini figure form, with the all-new Care Bears Lil’ Besties landing in the collectibles aisle.

There are 50+ collectible figures to discover in the Care Bears Lil’ Besties launch collection, featuring different expressions and fun action poses. This new pocket money line includes Lil’ Besties Surprise Figures that come blind boxed, with a single Lil’ Bestie hiding inside and two accessories to discover. Fans can open the box to play, then store everything back inside it to transport their Lil’ Bestie to the next adventure.

The Lil’ Besties Surprise Cubbies mini play sets offer fans of the brand their very own miniature world to play in. Each Surprise Cubby comes with two Care Bears Lil’ Besties figures and lots of accessories. The sides of the cubby fold down to reveal two hidden mini rooms for 360-degree play. When on-the-go, the sides can be folded back up, making the cubby travel ready. There are 10 colourful Care Bears Lil’ Besties Surprise Cubbies to collect, all of which will expand this charming miniature world. Themes include a karaoke station, pool lounge and more. Each cubby can be clipped to backpacks and more for play on the go.

For more information about Basic Fun! UK’s impressive portfolio of collectible brands, which includes Misfittens, Cutetitos, Megan Plays and more, contact Tim Ives (Tim.Ives@ or call the number above.

Pat Avenue


678780 | |

Pat Avenue’s new Battle Heads collection invites kids to enjoy action-packed imaginative play that is both fun and exciting. Battle Heads are a species born of a dangerous planet known as the Danger Zone. There, five different clans compete against one another for food and territory in a bid to survive. Kids can now help their favourite Battle Heads go up against their rivals using multiple battle techniques: pressing the top of the Battle Head shoots their jaw at the enemy, while the jaw can be recharged by simply clicking it back into the Battle Head. Knock the opposition down with the Battle Head’s jaw to eliminate them and survive.

Battle Heads offers long-lasting repeat play value with 90 characters to collect, including rare gold and silver pieces. These can be purchased as blind foil-bagged collectibles and blister packs.

Longevity for the range is assured with many new characters to come. Battle Heads play sets will launch later in the year, letting kids extend their world of Battle Head play. Children can also scan the QR code found on each collectible to unlock a series of webisodes that follow the life of the Battle Heads. The brand will be supported with all-new social media channels to build the community of collectors as well as a 360-marketing campaign.

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For Ireland enquiries please contact: Banaghan & Co. Ltd. Tel: 00 353 67 63800 For UK enquiries please contact: Alpha Toys Ltd Tel: 00 353 67 63800

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

DKB Toys & Distribution


725 480 |

Hitting a major sales milestone earlier this year, Crazy Aaron’s has succeeded in delivering Thinking Putty into the hands of fans of all ages across the UK. The innovative product enriches peoples’ creativity and mindfulness, inspiring wonder and curiosity whilst both educating and delighting consumers. Thinking Putty not only helps build hand and finger strength via a tactile play experience offering unique, unexpected properties, but it has also been found to provide relaxing yet stimulating interaction for kids and adults alike.

The range is expanding for Q4, making Crazy Aaron’s even more collectible with some new lines at affordable prices. These are expected to be favourites in playgrounds across the country as schools return for a new year. With three price points covering all elements of colourful putty play, each tin has its own unique selling points, while hiding inside is plenty of creativity, just waiting to be discovered.

The Hide Inside! collection encourages kids to be on the hunt for six unique pieces hidden within the Thinking Putty. Whether looking for spontaneous expressions amongst the smiling faces or bothersome bugs throughout the greenery, consumers will be captivated by the challenge of discovering them all. A new ‘animal-tastic’ themed addition is arriving this quarter, making the collection even more enticing.

The Trendsetters collection offers insight into what’s trending. Whether camo crazy or a monster maniac, rainbow enthusiast or fairyland follower, kids will be mesmerised by this new and stylish Thinking Putty from Crazy Aaron’s. Some glow and others sparkle. Two new additions are arriving soon.

Mini Thinking Putty tins are available at a perfect pocket money price point. Small, fun, addictive and packed with more innovation than their size belies, the craze created by these affordable mini tins has grown stronger this year, with the number of styles doubling to eight since launch. From the joy of Funky Fidget to the sparkles of Starfish, each one is unique and provides an opportunity for both fidget and focus.



Piñata Smashlings invites kids to join an adventure in the Piñataverse. The highly-anticipated Roblox toys bring the exhilarating world of the popular game to life, offering endless adventures and countless hours of fun.

For collectors, each pack of Piñata Smashlings Collectible Figures contains hidden characters along with an exclusive DLC code. Beyond the physical realm, the adventure continues with the redeemable digital codes, which unlock new experiences and hidden wonders in the Piñataverse, immersing players in a vibrant virtual world.

With 92 different 4cm tall characters to collect in the launch collectible toy range, fans can hunt for Rare, Epic and Legendary Smashlings, and keep an eye out for limited edition gold and silver ones, exclusive bubblegum pink Smashlings, and more surprises in each 6-pack.

All Piñata Smashlings toys, plush, and play sets are officially licensed from Toikido, the creators of the Roblox game. Each figure is carefully crafted, capturing the essence of beloved characters from the virtual world and creating an authentic and immersive experience for fans and collectors.

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Simba Smoby Toys UK

01620 674 778

Simba Smoby Toys UK has an impressive line-up of blind-bagged, licensed, collectible nano figures this season.

Retailers should take note of the success of the Minecraft Blind Bags, having remained Simba’s No.1 volume item in the first half of the year. Based on one of the most popular gaming licences, each pack contains one die cast nano collectible figure that measures 1.65” tall.

Fans can celebrate Disney’s centenary anniversary with the bestselling, blind-bagged Disney 100 Collectible Figures. These 1.65” tall die cast figures have already got off to a strong start, featuring on Amazon’s best-sellers lists whilst also racking up hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok. These highly affordable toys are ideal for all Disney fans, who can play with and display all their favourite characters. There are lots of characters to collect including Mickey, Minnie, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story’s Woody and many more.


01908 555 640 |

Fart Ninjas has had an impressive year so far, with strong retail sell-through. More retail partners have come on board this year, which will be supported by a substantial out-of-home marketing campaign this month to drive demand once children return to school. The brand will be visible on the high street, in bus shelters and in various shopping centres in the form of digital and print billboards. The billboards are strategically located near retail partners.

Fart Ninjas have a suggested pocket money RRP and a motion activated feature that triggers fart noises when someone walks by. Fart Ninjas are a great impulse purchase, while the humour element wins over shoppers and generates volume sales for retailers. The retail solution includes a motion sensor FSDU that creates more retail entertainment to drive sell through of the range.

Funrise launched its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line-up of vehicles, die cast and RC in July, during the run up to the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, to great success. The range has been supported with YouTube pre-roll from launch; its cinema advertising campaign started last month and runs till the end of October. Funrise will ramp up TMNT marketing from next month with a TV campaign.

Crushie Fluffies is a one-of-a-kind plush toy that combines everything kids love about soft and cuddly toys with a unique and interactive ASMR sensory-driven element, packaged in a unique ice lolly concept. Transforming from crunchy to cuddly, Crushie Fluffies is the ultimate unboxing experience. There are 12 different plush characters, plus an ultra-rare collectible character, available in a ready to go ice cream van CDU solution for retailers. Funrise launched Crushie Fluffies with an all-encompassing marketing plan, which included TV for launch and an influencer video from Gabi Faye, who boasts over 13m followers on TikTok.

Spin Master 01628 535 000 |

Kids looking for something truly unique will love collecting Hatchimals. New launch Hatchimals Alive comes to life in a whole new way: the self-hatching eggs break open just like the real thing when activated by water. Available as single packs, two egg Nurture Packs or a multiple egg carton, the new range will allow kids to create endless pretend-play adventures with their new Hatchimals family.

Tech Deck’s authentic 96mm fingerboards are engineered to replicate the feel of a real skateboard. Each board also features graphics from the biggest skate companies in the world. With so many to collect, fingerboard fans can build out a truly impressive collection.

The new Micro Magical Moments mini figures are based on the beloved Wizarding World. This micro collectible figure assortment depicts a variety of scenes from Harry Potter’s first year at Hogwarts, as seen in the Philosopher’s Stone movie, such as Hermoine learning a levitating spell and Harry at his first quidditch match. There are 15 movie moments to collect from the Year 1 Series. All 15 figures have details that bring the beloved Harry Potter characters to life on a small scale. Kids can display their character on its stand, in the display case, or stand it up on its own. The clear display cases stack and connect, so collectors can build their own unique displays and Wizarding World scenes.

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Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Character Options

01616 339 800 | |

Fingerlings are back and Piñata Smashlings are coming to the toy aisle, making Character Options a go-to destination for playground crazes and pocket money collectibles this Q4.

Piñata Smashlings is a new IP developed to enrich fan engagement by connecting offline toys with online play. The brand is off to a very strong start, with kids loving the unique Piñata Smashlings Roblox game that launched in July. Expectations are high for the colourful array of collectibles and plush arriving this month. All collectible figures and plush pals in the range are based on the Piñataverse – the play world on which the brand is based – as well as the cheeky little Smashlings and playful Piñatas that live within it.

The core pocket money line will be the 3.5cm Smashlings Figures, which will be available as 1-pack and 2-pack Blind Pod Collectibles, as well as 5-pack Blister Packs. Kids will be eager to find all 48 Smashlings characters, including rare chase figures. Another collectible line within the range, Blind Box Plushies offer six cute soft toy characters to collect. Upon opening the box, kids will discover which 13cm plush pal is hiding inside.

Fingerlings has returned to the UK. The all-new Fingerlings bring a heart-to-heart connection to interactive toy play. Each adorable baby monkey knows when they’re on a finger and their growing heart will beat just for their owner. The characters have soft, flocked fur, are available in vibrant new colours and have a unique personality, while 70+ sounds and reactions bring them to life. The monkeys introduce exciting, updated ways to play, while staying true to the ‘Friendship @ Your Fingertips’ ethos of the 2018 Toy of the Year Award-winning original toy.


01200 445 113 |

The eco-friendly Eugy range, from Dodoland, is distributed exclusively in the UK by Brainstorm and now comprises 58 models. Eugy’s impulse price point, coupled with its eco-friendly attributes, makes it an ideal collectible range. Children can collect and create Eugy models by following a simple number sequence to piece together the highquality recycled card using non-toxic glue. The resulting 3D models are sturdy enough for both play and display. With many different characters launched in phases, new models include Platypus, Tasmanian Devil and Mocha Cat. Festive models are also available including Santa, Reindeer, Snowman, and a new Christmas Elf which can be ordered now for delivery in October.

Existing retailers have credited the innovative Eugy POS with success in-store: the FSC-certified range of FSDU and CDUs helps to display the Eugy models to full effect. The FSDU is available free when retailers order 36 cases of Eugy and comes with eight free display models, so customers can see how impressive the completed models look.

Part of the Zing Toys range and exclusively distributed in the UK & Ireland by Brainstorm, Klixx is a new collectible range. The initial range has launched with three Klixx models - Spider, Cobra and Scorpion - which come in two colourways. Like StikBot, they can be used to create intricate stop-frame animations that children can share. Klixx also offers fidget play possibilities with over 200 points of articulation, so kids can click, connect, fidget, and animate. Each Klixx Character can be snapped and clicked together, then used to create stop-frame animations.

Banaghan & Co


67 63800 |

Siku is a high-quality German range of die cast vehicles covering many categories, from farm and construction to emergency services and recreational. Whilst traditionally best known for its 1:32 models, particularly in the farm category, there is now tremendous interest in the pocket money blister models range.

With retail prices ranging from £3.99 to £9.99 and with a wide array of models and lots of new launches, the Siku blister models range has become a staple for many stores and has fans eagerly awaiting the newest models at affordable prices.

There is a spread of vehicles covered – cars, trucks, planes, trains, buses, diggers and tractors - and all the main licences are included. Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, Range Rover and Jaguar are present in Cars, while New Holland, John Deere, Massey Ferguson and Fendt represent the Tractor sector alongside Construction favourites such as JCB, Liebherr and Volvo.

The optimal way of displaying the Siku blister range is on a robust Siku branded spinner stand. Siku spinner stands come in different sizes: retailers are advised to speak to distributor Banaghan & Co so the company can recommend the best solution.

Siku die cast models are available across all categories in three scales - 1:87, 1:50 and 1:32. Whether consumers are looking for a pocket money pick-up or to spend a little more on a gift, there is something in the Siku range for everyone.

Banaghan has seen continued steady growth in the Siku blister range in 2023, as value for money and reasonable prices are high on the agenda for the consumer. The range is also set to benefit from new models which are due to be released in the next few months.

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STICKERS AND TRADING CARDS STICKER COLLECTION STICKER COLLECTION ©️2023 Kelly Toys Holdings, LLC. Original Squishmallows and Squishmallows are trademarks of Kelly Toys Holdings, LLC WEDNESDAY © 2022 MGM Television Entertainment Inc. WEDNESDAY is a trademark of Tee and Charles Addams Foundation. © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 2023 & TM Spin Master Ltd.All rights reserved #1211191 WIZARDING WORLD characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s23) ADVERTISEMENT

Pocket Money Toys & Collectibles

Hunter Price

01616 531 306 |

Hunter Price International has unveiled a new product concept which will bring children’s imaginations to life through enchanting worlds of collectible character erasers.

Crayola ImagiPals will inspire children’s imagination and creativity as they use the erasers to tell stories, act out scenes and create unique little worlds. The debut collection, Animal Kingdom, includes six mystery animal characters from around the world: a lion, penguin, fox, elephant, koala and panda. Each comes in a reusable surprise ball with contents themed to that animal’s habitat.

Inside each ball is an animal character, a mini colouring page, Crayola crayons and stickers. Using the stickers, children can transform the ball into the ImagiPals character’s home while the colouring page depicts the animal’s environment. When children collect and complete the entire set, the colouring pages and character homes form a colourful animal kingdom.

The name ImagiPals celebrates the joy of friendship and the limitless potential of imagination, making this range the perfect option for children between the ages of 5-12 who are interested in collecting and playing with fun and creative characters. It will also appeal to parents, gift buyers and collectors who appreciate the unique and playful design of the product.

Crayola ImagiPals will be fully supported with a marketing communications campaign through public relations, social and creative content, to bring


01293 222 500 | |

Now on its 12th series, Magicbox’s SuperThings continues to dominate in the Action Figure Collectibles arena, recognised as No. 2 in volume in the category by Circana (YTD July 2023). A go-to for action, adventure, collectability and affordability, the latest lines look set to outperform the last, with SuperThings ready to maintain its reign on the playground. New this season are Mutant Battle SuperThings, which will deliver character mix-ups, 100+ new characters, and an amazing colour-change effect that’s completely new to the collection. The Wild Kids figures will take on an increasingly important role within the range when the next season arrives. Ordinary Kids have been turned into Wild Kids with animal powers, having touched eggs affected by a mysterious green energy. They’ve also gained new never-seen-before animal SuperThings friends along the way, which hatched from those same eggs.

KookyLoos mini-doll range is back this season with the new Glitter Glam theme plus a magical new line-up of KookyLoos Mermaids. The range launched this summer, supported by an impressive consumer campaign involving Helen Flannigan and the Sealife Aquariums and Attractions. There are four characters to collect, each with the expressionchanging feature of three unique faces. Kooky Mermaids come with accessories, a mermaid tail and a dress, all housed in a colourful, iridescent shell that opens to reveal a play space. Kids can find a cute pet hidden inside the pearl. Once playtime is over, the shell doubles as a purse.

The T-Racers mix and race vehicles and drivers collection has sped into autumn/winter with the new Color Rush series, giving fans eight new cars and racers to collect and unlocking more than 500 combinations and possibilities. The more kids collect, the more car combinations they can create. Featuring a colour-change effect, the ultra-rare Tagmalion is the lead chase item of the series.

Magicbox believes in maximum investment across all its brands. Accordingly, its new ranges will benefit from the support of creative PR campaigns, as well as digital pre-roll and TV.

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the ImagiPals story to life at retail and for consumers.


01604 877 888 |

Panini has a packed collectibles launch schedule for this autumn including muchanticipated releases across the Entertainment category. Key launches include the Harry Potter Contact Trading Cards, Squishmallows Squad Vibes Sticker Collection, Paw Patrol Big Truck Pups Sticker Collection and the Wednesday Sticker Collection.

With collectibles going from strength to strength in the toy channel, and Panini’s consumers buying into a diverse range of properties from Harry Potter to Paw Patrol, retailers have an unrivalled opportunity to make the most of the company’s impressive slate of Entertainment collectibles launches.

Squishmallows remains huge for the toy sector, and Panini’s is one of the first non-core products to hit shelves. The cute, bright and engaging Squad Vibes Sticker Collection is due to launch in September. The sticker collection features an array of colourful and collectible Squishmallows characters in sticker form and is set to be a hit with Squishmallows fans and collectors alike.

Following the success of the Netflix series, the Wednesday Sticker Collection will give the collectibles launch schedule a spooky, unique edge and present a distinctive option at retail, capitalising on the hype around the series and appealing to fans of the show. Collectors will be able to kick-start their collection with a starter pack, which includes an album and 31 stickers, and will need to keep their eyes peeled for some extraordinary special stickers.

Harry Potter continues to be a hit and new Contact Trading Cards will launch in September. Harry Potter remains a firm favourite among Panini collectors, with an almost unrivalled loyalty among Potter fans. The evergreen property has new and fresh collectibles launches in the pipeline.

Rounding up the company’s autumn launches is the Paw Patrol Big Truck Pups Sticker Collection. Aimed at Paw Patrol’s core audience and fans of the movie, this new, fun sticker collection is expected to be a best-seller. The collection features 176 stickers to find, including 24 special stickers. Collectors can get their album off to a flying start with a starter pack which includes an album, 31 stickers and a massive poster.

A playful world of imagination, and endless fun! 268 Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire. SL1 4DX 00 44 (0)333 050 0144 Plus-Plus Toys UK & Ireland Ltd. PP_Toyworld_half page_aug2023_100x285mm_FINAL.indd 1 09-08-2023 11:54:22


Each month Fresh sets out to find the latest products that will have toy retailers reaching for the phone. Here are new releases from: Anthony Nunn, Bruder, Casdon, Depesche, EWA, Haico, IG Design, IMC Toys, SJR Associates, Tonies, Tomy & Wow! Stuff.


Depesche • 01159 475 200 •

Incorporating pink, silver, glitter and rhinestones, TopModel’s new Glitter Queen range brings a touch of glamour to kids everywhere and offers retailers the chance to capitalise on a trending category.

The pink TopModel triple pencil case has a beautiful XL model motif with glitter stones on the front and a back made of glitter fabric. The three separate compartments are filled with 18 colouring and felt pens, two pencils, an eraser, sharpener, ruler, scissors, a glue stick and a small Velcro pouch. A Jewellery Case is also available, with a zip closure and two different compartments, one of which has padding for rings. The top of the Jewellery Case features a TopModel Hayden print and sparkling stone decoration. The new zip-close Cosmetic Bag, meanwhile, is printed on one side with a glitter background, while the other has a glitter stone trim plus a bottom and background of sparkling stones. Perfect for keeping in the Cosmetic Bag, the new Lip Gloss has a glitter cap and comes in two appealing colours and scents.

The Glitter Queen Backpack has a printed front and glitter stone detailing, two side pockets - one made of glitter material - an extra handle and adjustable straps. There’s also a Shoulder Bag with an adjustable shoulder strap, inside pocket with zip and separate slip-in pocket, a Small Handbag made entirely of glittering stones, with a handle featuring fashionable knot detailing and a zip closure, and a stylish Purse. This features beautiful glitter mesh with a lurex-infused woven flap, heart-shaped button closure and zipped coin pocket. On the inside, there’s a name card and card slots for organisation.

The Glitter Queen range also comprises an 11cm purple Alarm Clock in three stylish designs, each of which has pretty stones on the dial, a light function and silent hands. Replaceable batteries are included. The 100% cotton Glitter Queen Magic Towel comes compressed and unfolds to its full size (30x30) when introduced to water. There are two different colours/designs to choose from: pink with a model and turquoise with a fairy-like model and majestic tiger. Stationery is also available. The Ballpen with Light-Up Diamond Topper lights up when writing and comes in three different designs, while the Notebook & Pencil set includes a notebook with a glitter cover and FSC-certified paper plus a matching pencil with pink diamond topper.

bworld Construction Site set and Man TGS Crane truck

Bruder • (353) 676 3800 •

The figures, animals and play sets available within Bruder’s bworld product line complement the company’s model vehicles and allow kids to create extensive, realistic play worlds. Perfect for young master builders, Bruder is now launching the bworld Construction Site Set, a welcome addition to its extensive construction toy range. This new bworld set brings miniature reality into kids’ rooms and at the same time, brings plenty of fun to Bruder play.

This set immerses builders in a wide variety of construction site scenes: fences secure the construction site area, while a vibratory plate and a mortar mixing machine are ready for the day ahead. Just like in the real world, a mobile toilet for the construction worker's personal needs is also essential and is therefore included in the set. The new bworld set is available now and is a perfect addition to all sandbox building and civil engineering projects.

The 1:16 scale Man TGS Crane Truck has an arm that can be extended up to 80cm to help transport heavy loads. With its functional reel with integrated overload protection, this vehicle is a true all-rounder on any the construction site. The two-tone cab features doors that can be opened to provide bworld construction workers (not included) with a modern and safe place to work. Four extendable and adjustable outriggers ensure sufficient stability, and the inclination and extension of the crane can also be adjusted. Bruder toys are made of high quality and recyclable plastics. Production takes place exclusively in the EU, mainly in Fürth/ Bavaria, while an extensive spare parts service ensures long lasting playability and plenty of fun.

Toy World


Wow! Stuff • 01902 390 428

Fans of MGM’s hit series Wednesday can soon get their hands on an exciting new addition to Wow! Stuff’s award-winning, best-selling Real FX collection: Real FX Thing.

Created by Wow! Stuff’s team of scientists and engineers, Real FX Thing uses similar Chroma key (green screen) technology as the magical special effect employed in the making of the series. This is the same multi-awardwinning technology that saw Wow! Stuff’s Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak named Toy of the Year for Innovation in 2020.

Fans of the Addams Family franchise can role-play as they use Real FX Thing to shoot their very own Wednesday-inspired content featuring the famous disembodied hand. It’s easy to use; kids and adults simply download the Android or iOS app, don the green screen sleeve and insert their hand into the Thing hand and then photograph or film themselves or other wearers through the app. The green sleeve will render the user’s arm invisible, leaving just Thing in the shot.

Wednesday follows Wednesday Addams’ misadventures as a student at Nevermore Academy, a unique boarding school in deepest New England. The series marks the first time fans get to see the character of Wednesday not only in a new boarding school environment, but also as a teenager. The series, which debuted in November 2022 on Netflix, broke several long-standing records including launching at No.1 in 83 countries. It has also recently become the No.1 most watched English-language series of all time on Netflix. The licencing deal with Wow! Stuff was brokered by Wildbrain CPLG, which represents MGM in multiple territories. For more information, contact Wow! Stuff’s (UK), (EMEA), or (USA).


Friends Tonies


Tonies, the leading audio platform for children, is introducing Disney’s hit TV franchise Spidey and His Amazing Friends to the Tonie collection this September, marking an exciting new chapter for the brand.

The licensed range is suitable for children aged three and over and includes three Tonie characters: Spidey, Spin (also known as Miles Morales) and Ghost-Spider.

Spidey fans can enjoy a fun-packed audio adventure with the trio, which follows the Marvel characters as child superheroes. Featuring action-packed tales from the original series, stories include Too Much Fun (Spidey Tonie), The Wozzlesnook (Spin Tonie) and Swing with a Stomp (Ghost-Spider Tonie). Enemies are thwarted as children learn the teamwork and leadership. In true Tonies style, there are also toeeach Tonie: Marvel’s Spidey theme tune, Webs Up and superhero range DC Comics’ Wonder Woman and Batman Tonies

Baby Paws

IMC Toys • 01904 720 908 •

Building on its strong foundations within the nurture toy arena, IMC has introduced Baby Paws into its portfolio. As part of the company’s continued expansion and innovation within the sector and inspired by the company’s previous success with its popular Club Petz brand, Baby Paws is a new nurture pet brand consisting of three super-soft, portable puppy plush. The range

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• •
New! Numberblocks Step Squad Mission Headquarters ©2023 Alphablocks Ltd. All rights reserved ©2023 Learning Resources Ltd. To learn more contact your Learning Resources Sales Manager. Call 01553 762276 email ©2023 Learning Resources Ltd. Full range of in-store point of sale available

Diggin’ItSkulland Unicorn excavationsurprise kits


• 0161 457 8085

The latest additions to Haico’s Diggin’

It brand are Skull Island: The Lost Treasure Surprise and Magical Unicorn: Dig Kit Surprise. The Skull and Unicorn heads are the largest excavation kits in the range. Measuring over 30cm tall, they are a standout product once on-shelf.

These larger dig kits have been designed to hit a key price point, making them an affordable purchase and ensuring they offer great value for money. A unique and special buy, and a very strong gifting option, both will sit perfectly in core toy ranges.

Carefully designed to offer exceptional quality and innovative design, the heads twist to split in half and the base can be used to carry out the excavation activities, making them a mess free activity. Pastel pinks and lilacs are used for the unicorn’s colour palette, accentuating its embossed hearts and eyelashes, whilst the skull stands out in a vibrant shade of yellow. Both character heads have a lightweight and easy-to-carry style and can be re-used after the digs have been completed, making them a handy storage option for other toys.

Both items are equipped with six surprise dig kits, a treasure map and three excavation tools. The treasure maps are illustrated with a maze that children have to complete to get to each dig kit point location. Within the six Unicorn digging activities, kids collect everything needed to make a unicorn charm necklace. The dig stones come in a variety of shapes including gemstones, hearts and stars that are filled with a variety of beads, crystals, and charms. Similarly, the Skull set includes a series of gold blocks, dinosaur eggs and a treasure chest to dig through, as kids discover and collect dinosaur fossils, gold, gems and more.

The Diggin’ It brand offers a wide range of excavation products that span a multitude of themes, meaning there’s something for everyone. The kits have been carefully created to encourage hands on learning, helping children to develop motor skills and critical thinking. Both characters have been well received by the market, with more designs planned for spring/summer 2024.

and watch as the truck moves forward. Not just an impressive decoration for any home or office, the Road King is also an engaging and fun construction project and the perfect model for fans of vehicles and trucking.

The Tilt Semitrailer kit adds an extra element of fun and functionality to the Road King truck. With 286 parts, this wooden trailer can be attached to the truck and tilted to transport cargo. The perfect addition to any collection of wooden mechanical models, both kits come with detailed instructions and all necessary materials, making them a fun and engaging activity for kids and adults alike. Not only do they provide a great way to spend quality time with loved ones, but they are also an excellent opportunity to learn about the mechanics and inner workings of vehicles.

As a company that prides itself on innovation and creativity, EWA is always looking for fresh ways to bring new and exciting products to the market. The company’s upcoming releases, which are still under wraps, combine modern technology with a touch of nostalgia, resulting in products that will appeal to builders both young and old. A lot of time and effort go into designing and perfecting EWA products, ensuring they meet the company’s exacting standards of quality and functionality and that they garner high demand.

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IG Design Group • 01908 618 811

IG Design Group has revealed a strong line-up of festive goodies based on two of the most popular (yet very different) Christmas properties of all time: The Grinch and The Snowman.

The new The Grinch Christmas Eve Box, based on the classic story ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ by Dr Seuss, contains a fun Grinch ceramic mug, a pair of Grinch socks, hot chocolate flavour drink powder, mini marshmallows and candy canes, everything parents need to add to the excitement of this magical season.

IG’s The Grinch Hot Chocolate Mug Gift Set includes a fun green Grinch ceramic mug and a sachet of hot chocolate flavour drink powder, while The Grinch Breakfast Set includes a ceramic breakfast bowl, out of which kids and adults alike can enjoy their morning porridge or cereal. An egg cup and spoon complete the Breakfast Set. Rounding out IG Designs’ The Grinch range, The Grinch Cake in A Mug Set contains everything needed to rustle up a delicious, easy-to-make mug cake. The ceramic mug can then be used for soup or a big cup of coffee or cocoa, making this a great gift for family, friends, Secret Santa recipients and more.

The Snowman Christmas Eve Box comes filled with treats and surprises to keep little ones entertained this Christmas Eve: a Snowman mug, snuggly socks, hot chocolate, mini marshmallows and candy canes. The Snowman Winter Warmer Set, meanwhile, allows kids and adults to experience Raymond Briggs’ heart-warming story of The Snowman and The Snowdog as they snuggle up with a natural rubber hot water bottle with knitted cover and a hot chocolate drink topped with marshmallows.

The Snowman Hot Chocolate Mug comes with a sachet of hot chocolate flavour drink powder, and The Snowman – The Night Before Christmas set includes a ceramic Snowman plate, porridge oats (AKA: reindeer food) and cookies. The Snowman Make Your Own Cookies set comprises Snowman-themed cookie mix, icing pens, cookie cutters, chocolate chips and icing sugar.


Casdon • 01253 766 411 •

Leading role-play manufacturer Casdon recently announced the newest additions to its already popular Joseph Joseph range, the company’s biggest licensed collection to date. Set to hit the shelves in UK retailers this summer, the Salad Set and Wash & Scrub Set are both packed full of functions and features, perfect for little ones who love to mirror grown-ups. The Casdon Joseph Joseph Wash & Scrub set is made to look and work just like the real thing and features a water-play element. The set includes a wash bowl, palm scrub, soap bottle, plate, colour changing cutlery and crockery, allowing little ones to safely join in on the housework routine.

In addition, the new Casdon Joseph Joseph Salad Set is perfect for aspiring chefs. The set features realistic sounds and includes everything little ones need to chop, prepare and dress their very own imaginary salad. As well as encouraging role play, the Casdon Joseph Joseph Salad Set provides the perfect way to ignite excitement surrounding healthy meals.


Antony Nunn Agencies • 01246 567097

Night light brand, Eggy & Friends, for which ANA has an exclusive distribution agreement in place for the UK & Ireland, sees new introductions, including a licensed option for the first time. Produced by established German manufacturer Hans Raum. the initial range consists of nine characters: Eggy Egg, Catty Cat, Paddy Panda, Momo Moon, Maggy Magic, Diggy Dino and Baby Eggy Egg as well as the floating Swimmy Duck and Swimmy Hippo. All products are USB rechargeable, which makes them unique on the market. The body is made from a very highquality silicone which must be touched to get a real feel for the quality. There are four different functions: a timer setting, sound function, RGB mode and a warm ambient light setting, and the night lights can be dimmed, recharged and taken to different locations, whether by the bed side or in a new den.

The additions to the Eggy & Friends collection are Willy the Whale and Marshal from the popular Nickelodeon series, Paw Patrol. Willy the Whale has all the usual functions plus the addition of a projector which emits multi coloured moon crescents and stars onto walls and ceiling. All products last up to five hours on a full charge and conform to the strictest standards through testing house Intertek Deutschland. Readers can find Anthony Nunn Agencies at Autumn Fair this month in Hall 20 A54, or get in touch as above.

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Dino bikes

SJR Associates • 07850 779 797 / 07877 443 733 •

Steve Richardson has been representing the Italian bike brand Dino for more than 20 years, with his daughter, Ria, assisting with distribution of the brand for the previous six years.

Dino is based in Cuneo, Italy, and has been producing bikes for more than 100 years. To begin with, Dino was producing only kids’ bikes. However, over the last 15 years this has shifted so that 75% are for kids and 25% are for adults. This allows the company to cater to customers seeking bike ranges that offer something for everyone: Dino offers a full bike solution for any retailer.

Dino bikes conform to all EU regulations and its technical service is constantly tested by renowned European companies authorised to release safety and conformity certificates, such as the German company TÜV Rheinland.

The company aims to offer flexible production to better satisfy client requests and strives to create the highest-quality bikes. Dino’s manufacturing facilities have tools that allow it to meet both goals while using the best quality components and the most modern production methods. This approach results in continual quality control, both during production and on finished product. The company’s in-house laboratory conducts daily checks to ensure that all Dino products meet and pass strict European quality standards.

Dino bikes are supplied from Italy with no MOQs per bike. The full range includes licensed bikes as well as generic, with the Peppa Pig model proving to be a best-seller.

For more details, contact Steve or Ria Richardson on the details above.

Toomies Bath Barista

Tomy • 01392 281 927 •

Popular early years toy brand, Toomies, has announced the launch of the highly anticipated addition to its role-play, bath toy range. Building on the incredible success of its best-selling Bubble and Bake Bathtime Kitchen, Toomies now welcomes the Bath Barista to its line-up.

The Bath Barista brings the enchantment of a coffee shop experience to the bathtub, allowing children to immerse themselves in imaginative play and water-filled role-play fun. Little ones can create foamy cappuccinos with this innovative bath toy.

Bath Barista features captivating elements such as a coffee funnel spinner, a twistable filter handle and the hero feature, the foaming frother. With just a few drops of bubble bath and water, little ones can froth up some foam to top off their bathtime babyccinos. Toomies’ Bath Barista engages imaginations while boosting children’s confidence around water, developing fine motor and communication skills.

This new release builds on the success of the best-selling Bubble and Bake Bathtime Kitchen, and will be followed by the new and improved Foam Cone Factory Deluxe, set to launch early next year.

Tomy is supporting the Toomies Bath Barista’s launch with a full scope marketing campaign including a nationwide TV & VOD campaign, targeted YouTube and paid social campaigns as well as a Cinema DCM Kids Club campaign, which offers a great opportunity to capture parents and children viewing together.


COMING SOON! ©2020 Studio Dice/SHUEISHA, TV TOKYO, KONAMI TOKYO, *Date subject to change

Multiple marketing choices equals multiple opportunities

To the average Joe, the idea of discussing the C-word (Christmas) seems outrageous at this time of year, but as we in the toy industry know, the cogs of that festive machine are already turning, and major advertising campaigns will soon be kicking off across screens both big and small. Toy World – with more than a little help from its friends at SuperAwesome, KidsKnowBest, Generation Media and Havas Entertainment – looks at how the marketing space continues to evolve and how toy companies can ensure they’re continuing to reach kids where they watch and play.

According to Rob Lough, chief brand officer/ co-founder at KidsKnowBest, the discussion surrounding digital vs. social vs. TV is over. The advertising industry, he says, has adapted to the fragmentation that once had so many second guessing, and though the space remains complex, it has matured in recent years: there hasn’t been a breakout platform like TikTok or Roblox in the last 12 months, though the likes of BeReal and Threads have tried.

Be that as it may, the fragmentation that exists, the ongoing decline in linear TV (one of our experts suggests it will account for less than 30% of toy brand spending in Q4 2023) and increased scrutiny on metrics such as Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) and advertising effectiveness mean getting on kids' wish lists is arguably more challenging, yet more crucial, than ever before. Charlie Brownless, head of Toys and Entertainment at SuperAwesome, says he’s seeing toy brands react to this by taking fewer, bigger bets. Smaller properties are having to rely more heavily on organic coverage, with more emphasis being placed on big IPs to drive toy companies’ bottom lines.

When asked what changes he’s seeing in the space, Jonathan Chambers, director of Investment at Generation Media, says it’s noteworthy that no one has mentioned the word ‘metaverse’ in the past 12 months. “This indicates that brands have decided not to jump into the metaverse en masse, like we saw them do with the explosion of influencers a few years back. Instead, they’re choosing to continue the developing effective gaming strategies used in the market for several years now. We expect gaming to continue its growth trajectory, and - dependent on target audience - rival the likes of linear and connected TV for budget.”

Jon also says this year’s buzzword is AI, something that’s becoming ever more prevalent in the media landscape. Gen Media has been using AI for the past three years to inform its suite of planning and buying tools, Optimus AI, and the solutions it offers are becoming more and more sophisticated. He adds: “From content curation and

discovery on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, through to content creation, its influence is increasingly apparent. In fact, our next development in Optimus AI is Optimus Create, taking advantage of AI to simplify the creative process from rapidly re-speccing ads for the multitudes of formats we now employ, through to adjusting the colour of creatives based on performance.”

So is it possible, as things stand, to identify the most effective platform for toy and game companies looking to reach kids? It’s not that simple. Companies are opting for blended campaigns that span multiple media platforms, driving audiences along multiple paths to purchase. Some platforms are particularly efficient when it comes to certain elements of marketing, however: it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Jon Chambers says YouTube still offers one of the cheapest ways to reach children with video assets in a COPPA and GDPR-K compliant manner (he feels TikTok still has some safeguarding work to do) when managed by premium publisher partners (eg: BBC Studios), brand safety tech partners, or Data Management Platforms such as Gen Media’s Optimus Buy platform. Linear TV might be on its knees, but over 60% of YouTube views the agency manages appear on TV sets, helping to improve consideration and purchase intent.

Tristan Brooks, managing partner at Azure, Havas Entertainment, says YouTube has replaced kids TV for maximising reach, being a great platform for driving awareness and product. That said, the likes of gaming apps and digital platforms can be more effective at engagement. The power of both approaches is reflected in Moose Toys’ strategy for Q4 2023,

as Maddi Tiscoe, marketing manager UK, explains.

“Whilst remaining flexible with our marketing is as important as ever as we enter into a Q4 period, several factors have remained on a similar trajectory this year,” she says. “The impact of pure children’s TV has continued to decline, with YouTube still of central importance as the most popular commercial platform for kids. We have significantly upweighted our digital-first approach,

especially to audiences over five years old, and gaming has become a key - if not the key - touchpoint for reaching kids. Immersion and entertainment opportunities IRL and in a digital space are key to grabbing attention, and for quite a few of our brands and products, co-viewing and parent targeted advertising remains a key part of our planning.”

Moose has been working with SuperAwesome on its campaigns, and Charlie is pleased with the results of the partnership. When asked for an example of a standout campaign from this year, he says Moose has been doing some really interesting things with its Magic Mixies brand and that it’s been incredible to see the brand continue its meteoric rise. He adds: “I am a big fan of great storytelling, and Magic Mixies is a fantastic example of utilising both episodic content and digital innovation to tell a compelling narrative. I can’t wait to see how its entry into the Doll category goes this year.”

f course, it’s hard to talk about successful marketing campaigns without mentioning a certain pink-loving doll – and indeed, all our experts tip their hats to the Mattel team on its remarkable marketing execution for the Barbie movie and wider brand. Tristan Brooks says: “When fun, crazy, innovative pink ideas are coherently stitched together and executed so expertly across paid and earned media, it’s a delight to behold and genuinely mind blowing considering the effort and co-ordination required to deliver such quality at scale. Our latest figures show a 60% YOY surge in brand revenue on Amazon, so it’s obviously been effective for selling stock. Oh, and a $150m budget helps!”

Our experts were also keen to highlight other companies getting it right on much smaller budgets (even if there is a certain element of client-bias). Rob Lough tells us that what Darran Garnham and his team at Toikido are building with Smashlings is exciting from a brand perspective: the company puts an emphasis on understanding where its audience is and how to engage with kids authentically on each platform. “There will always be an element of luck involved when trying to build

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

This is step change from years gone by, according to Kirsty Mackenzie, head of Marketing at Bandai UK. Previously, the majority of the company’s spend was targeted towards linear TV advertising, but has moved away, in favour of digital platforms, as parents and kids do likewise. Kirsty adds: “We have had several new brands launching this season and so our campaigns will look to amplify the activity we have run during the summer and back to school period. Pinky Promise, Dragon Ball, Shashibo, Sonic Prime and Miraculous will all have campaigns running on VOD, TikTok, YouTube and in-app gaming. We’ve made sure we have engaging content available across all our key brands to keep consumers engaged over the period. Tamagotchi will benefit from a season-long cinema campaign, in addition to an exciting out-of-home experience planned for October. We hope that all this great activity will result in excellent Christmas sales.”

Gen Media, meanwhile, recently partnered with Asmodee on its portfolio of board games (Dobble in particular) across multiple touchpoints. The tentpole for this campaign was a partnership with Absolute Radio’s Bush & Richie – largely due to the former’s love of board games - which comprised on-air promos as well as social media coverage, including an emulation of Ticket To Ride by the hosts. The partnership culminated in a hosted event, Bush and Richie’s Board Game bonanza, while other activity included wrapping the teacups at Thorpe Park to turn it into the Dobble Tea Party Family Ride.

Looking over these various campaigns, you can’t help but wonder how on earth marketers actually manage to put together plans. There are numerous ways to market to consumers now – TikTok, Roblox, YouTube, VOD, linear TV, gaming, Instagram, Facebook, radio, cinema, the list goes on – and SuperAwesome’s Charlie says this increased level of choice and audience fragmentation is undoubtedly causing headaches for traditional TV buyers. While he does note that choice brings with it the opportunity to learn, optimise, innovate and iterate, he also asks: “When planning is not just about managing multiple channels, but even multiple ad formats within each channel (take digital as an example), where do brands even start?

Understanding what's moving the needle and then optimising against that data is really where brands will win.”

One of the biggest challenges for toy brands is measurement and attribution, so SuperAwesome has invested heavily in a suite of new and improved performance-led tools to help its partner brands understand the landscape. For example, the company has enlisted a set of new measurement solutions and ROI partners to help it understand what's working and driving ROI. SuperAwesome then uses this information to inform its set of recommendations and optimisations to help

tested video placements. This, he explains, is where they’ll ultimately find success in driving ROI and brand recall. He also highlights the importance of clarity when it comes to brand goals: this allows media partners to set up campaigns that will deliver a specific outcome. SuperAwesome, for example, may focus on awareness, recall or intent to purchase as the key drivers of success, even if the solutions for achieving each objective differ. SuperAwesome has seen exciting new opportunities arise in the form of gaming and social but urges caution - as with any rapidly expanding industry, it's still easy to get it wrong. Charlie says toy companies should zero in on their goals, evaluate all the options to find the right tactics for success, and properly vet their partners for brand safety and compliance. SuperAwesome’s engagement tools are both kid- and brand-safe, as well as effective in all the most popular digital environments that target audiences spend time in.

attention,” he says on his first point. “Rather than see this as a challenge, realish the opportunities it provides to seek out solutions which are able to meet potentially very specific objectives. Embracing connectivity means using the rich sources of data now available to tie media channels together and make them more accountable. For example, using location data to identify when a parent has been in cinema to see a family film, then retargeting them on mobile and digital OOH with sequential messaging. And when it comes to embracing creativity in tech, AI will provide brands with the opportunity to create and manage creative assets at scale more effectively than ever before. Use this to your advantage to optimise performance and drive better results at retail.”

Over the coming pages, we take a look at the Q4 marketing campaigns in place in support a raft of major toy ranges this year, as the countdown to Christmas gathers speed.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Basic Fun!

01189 253 270 | |

The impact of digital advertising will be felt across many Basic Fun! UK brands this autumn winter, capturing the imaginations of YouTube viewers as the winter buying season approaches.

Care Bears Lil’ Besties, a collectible spin-off based upon the Care Bears brand, has seen early season campaigns across YouTube and VOD that will continue through Q4, driving these miniature-sized BFFs onto the playground and into Christmas stockings. There are 50+ blindboxed Lil’ Besties Surprise Figures to find, and Lil’ Besties Surprise Cubbies play sets create the ultimate 360-degree play world for the figures. These new products, alongside the entire Care Bears brand, will be further supported with engaging PR and social campaigns including a month-long activation in British Garden Centres.

Misfittens Season 3 benefits from heavyweight digital support including YouTube pre-roll and bumpers, plus social memes and advertising across TikTok and Instagram. The brand lends itself to vertical video fun, following the ‘If I fits, I sits’ trend across social platforms. The latest season of mischievous kittens introduces 12 new plushie cats to collect, each with a unique ombre tail.

Basic Fun! UK is taking its retro, creative brand Lite-Brite to the tech aisle, appealing to a new generation of children and teens with the launch of Lite-Brite Touch. A robust campaign across digital will shine a bright light on this innovative product.

Millions of YouTube views are slated for the new Cutetitos Sleepitos collection, which offers kids 10 friends to unwrap, each of whom is ready for bed. Every cute character wears PJs, and the packaging transforms into a bed with a unique headboard that becomes part of the play.

In total, Basic Fun! UK will deliver over 20m views across YouTube pre-roll this season, with continual support across PR and socials plus activations at retail, ensuring its brands are top of mind with kids this Christmas.

Micro Scooters

0333 320 1030 |

This year, Micro Scooters' marketing plans will centre on communicating the quality craftmanship and environmental benefits of the entire Micro range. Micro is renowned for its durability and precision engineering. The company will be doubling down on this message across a wide variety of offline and online channels during Q4.

Micro Scooters’ 25th anniversary is fast approaching. The people who rode their Micros as kids are now parents themselves, and there are millions of consumer stories from happy, satisfied Micro buyers for the company to tap into as it celebrates its landmark achievement. Noting that this strong history of brand interaction is something special, Micro says spreading these word-of-mouth, user-generated experiences helps tell the story of the brand and the quality of its product in a way no other marketing or PR can.

As Micro enters its second Christmas as the only scooter brand to have achieved B Corp status and accredited Carbon Neutral certification, the company will continue to work with a variety of media, retailers and consumers to ensure its green credentials are understood and communicated. Achieving B Corp status meant a rigorous, independent assessment of Micro’s entire manufacturing process, and the company has worked hard to ensure it is able to communicate to customers that a Micro scooter is not only a great choice for A-B journeys but is also good for the environment, health, people and the planet. Communicating the marriage of quality craftsmanship with third-party accredited green practices will appeal to consumers and retailers this Christmas.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns


0116 478

Toynamics UK & Ireland is gearing up for Q4, with impressive marketing plans both in-store and online for a range of brands.

This holiday season, Toynamics aims to keep Hape at the forefront of gifters' minds through a comprehensive multi-channel approach. The campaign for Hape will be the highlight of the UK and Europe's marketing efforts for 2023. It will encompass a wide array of new and best-selling products across various categories, ensuring there's something for everyone, covering all price points. To gain maximum brand exposure, a variety of online and offline advertising strategies will be in place.

Retailers can look forward to a comprehensive package of marketing support during the festive period. From eyecatching Point of Sale packages and window display kits –which can be adjusted to suit retailers’ needs – to engaging social media content and influencer campaigns, this will provide full support this key sales season.

Toynamics pride in offering unique and specialised marketing support for all its brands. Its dedicated team is on hand and ready to assist retailers every step of the way, from the initial ideas to the installation of marketing materials. The goal is to boost sales and create an unforgettable brand experience which will leave customers delighted.

Retailers can get in touch with the Toynamics marketing team at

DKB Toys & Distribution

07813 725 480 |

DKB’s new lines, detailed below, will be supported by campaigns running across owned social media channels. These will tease the latest product launches to consumers, who continue to demonstrate strong brand loyalty and a desire to add not only the newest putty to their collections, but also level up their kitchenware and encourage their children to dive deeper into imaginative play.

Crazy Forts is back with two new kits: a multi-colour kit and a camo kit. Both come with 69 child-safe toggles and rods that join to build any play space, as well as 25 geometrically precise balls and 44 sticks that connect to create a multitude of possible play structures.

DKB will also be expanding its already popular range of Uncanny Brands homeware products, which includes a new Pokemon Waffle Maker and some new, truly magical lines.

The response to Crazy Aaron’s UK return has been overwhelmingly positive. The excitement is set to continue with two new additions to the already popular catalogue of Thinking Putty: Hide Inside Party Animals and the latest addition to Trendsetters, Social Butterfly. The mini tin rush is also expected to continue, with eight mini marvels to stretch, pop and mould making for perfect stocking fillers.

Retailers will be supported with digital flyers and interactive flip books that showcase the new products and their USPs.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

James Galt & Co

01614 289 111 |

Galt Toys and Jumbo have announced ambitious marketing campaigns aimed at accelerating the popularity of their latest offerings and engaging customers in unforgettable experiences. With a focus on the new party game Hitster, Galt best-sellers in Craft and Science, and brain-teasing puzzles from Wasgij, the brands are set to captivate consumers through influencer activity, social media engagement and substantial digital advertising.

Galt Toys places creativity at the heart of its brand and this Q4 will be no exception. The company is gearing up for an exciting campaign centered around Creative Cases and Science Kits, beloved by kids and parents alike. Engaging peer-to-peer content will see kids sharing their excitement for Galt's Creative Cases and Science Kits. The campaign will feature fun and informative ‘how to’ videos, capturing the imagination.

Galt Toys is launching an extensive YouTube advertising campaign that will run throughout the season to ensure the brand's craft kits, including favourites such as Make a Mosaic, First Sewing and Cute Charms, as well as the company’s science kits Science Lab Kit, Magnetic Lab and Body Lab, are at the forefront of customers' minds during the October half-term and throughout the later gifting period. To amplify the reach, the campaign will also leverage Instagram influencers with strategically timed waves of activity.

Hitster, a highly anticipated music party game that’s creating a buzz across Europe, is finally hitting the shelves in the UK & Ireland. Ideal for all occasions, Hitster delivers a unique and fun experience, inviting players to create an instant party atmosphere while enjoying a soundtrack of over 300 songs spanning a century of hits.

To celebrate the launch, Jumbo has prepared an exciting marketing programme including experiential activations through music festivals and collaborations with influencers and celebrities. A heavyweight digital marketing plan has also been prepared across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, supported by an always-on campaign, ensuring wide-ranging visibility and appeal among target consumers.

The popular brainteasing puzzle brand, Wasgij, is gearing up for an engaging pre-Christmas marketing drive in Q4. Designed to captivate existing fans while intriguing new audiences, Wasgij's unique puzzling concept is set to inspire adults of all ages to embark on an exciting puzzle-solving journey.

World Alive

Working with Winter Video for the creation of TV and digital assets has resulted in compelling videos, including a mesmerising TVC, showcasing the excitement and boundless potential of World Alive’s exciting new launch, Freak Marbles.

A series of Freak Marble racing channels are being produced for YouTube publishing in conjunction with Marble Universe, the world’s biggest marble run channel. Freak Marbles rallies will also appear on Jelle’s Marbles (English) and Fubeca's Marble Racing (English and Portuguese), while a year-long collaboration with MarbleRunSport (Spanish) has also been secured.

Freak Marbles will captivate children and marble collectors worldwide, making marble collecting an exhilarating experience for all ages. Kids will be taking their marbles to school to play games with them in the playground, swapping marbles and skins and displaying them on their desks. They’ll also find a home in bedrooms everywhere.

The Spain and Portugal launches mark a defining moment for World Alive, as it introduces its innovative brand to one of Europe's larger toy markets in partnership with Valuvic Toys. The Spanish marketing campaign includes influencer collaborations with MikelTube, Ely and hundreds of road-test/unboxing videos across social media, plus a 65,000-piece giveaway in Spain's largest kids magazine, Clan. Freak Marbles will also get a mention in Clan’s October TVC, and benefit from advertising on Kidoz and YouTube.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Bandai UK

020 8324 6160 |

Bandai UK has unveiled pre-Christmas advertising plans for some of its most popular and best-performing brands, as well as its exciting new IP/ product launches. The company’s key autumn/winter 2023 launches will benefit from a strong presence across digital and social media platforms, with some brands further benefitting from advertising via in-app gaming content, TV spots, streaming networks and channel sponsorships. In addition, key influencer partnerships and robust PR campaigns will support all major launches.

Pre-Christmas TV advertising bursts are planned for new girls' collectibles brand, Pinky Promise; the latest Tamagotchi launch, Tamagotchi Uni and the new toy ranges for hit TV shows, Miraculous and pre-school favourite Milo. Classic evergreen line, The Original Sea Monkeys, also benefits from a fourweek TVC campaign throughout the latter part of the Q3 period.

The company continues to invest in its growing Dragon Ball portfolio of anime action figures and collectibles with the brand now in its fourth year of a sponsorship deal with children’s TV channel, Pop! This partnership extends to the sponsorship of the digital site and exclusive competition activity to run concurrently with the TV content. Crunchyroll and TikTok advertising will run to directly target Gen Z audiences with an interest in anime and manga, while YouTube pre-rolls and In-App Gaming ads are planned for engaging Generation Alpha audiences.

In addition to TV support for the Miraculous Magic Heroez Dolls hero line, the Miraculous core and movie ranges will also receive a schedule of VOD/Adsmart, Gaming App, TikTok ads, high-profile Influencer content and YouTube pre-rolls in the lead up to Christmas. This will run alongside a parent-targeted campaign via Facebook advertising. The new Pinky Promise range will benefit from a similar campaign, with the addition of Instagram parenting influencer content in place of the META advertising burst.

While the new Tamagotchi Uni receives solus TV advertising, a dual approach has been implemented for digital support to cover both the Uni and Original variants, including YouTube pre-rolls, In-App Gaming and TikTok advertising, and parent targeting through Facebook ads. A cinema campaign is also running from August until December, focusing on both the Uni and Original.

Digital advertising campaigns are in place for evergreen STEM brand, National Geographic; newly launched brands, Rainbow Loom and Shashibo; and new toy ranges based on iconic gaming properties, Sonic Prime and Crash Bandicoot. Marketing support for all ranges within the Bandai Toy, Collector and Hobby divisions comprises a selection of influencer and direct-to-audience outreach campaigns, media partnerships and events, promotional in-store programmes and experiential activations.


01908 555 640 |

Funrise will be rolling out an impressive out-of-home marketing campaign this month for its Fart Ninjas brand to drive demand once kids are back to school. Fart Ninjas will be visible on the high street in bus shelters and in various shopping centres in the form of digital and print billboards. This disruptive approach will target consumers when they are in buying mode, with the billboards strategically located near key retail partners. The campaign will run for four weeks from 4th September.

Funrise’s TMNT range has been supported with YouTube pre-roll from launch, which will run all the way through 31st December. Funrise is also supporting sell through with its cinema advertising campaign, which started last month and runs till the end of October. Both YouTube and cinema will air the Funrise range commercial, which features the Half Pipe and Cowabunga RCs as well as the Switch Kick Racers. Funrise will then ramp up its TMNT marketing next month with a TV campaign set to air for three weeks. Funrise launched Crushie Fluffies with an all-encompassing marketing plan, which included TV for launch and an influencer video from Gabi Faye which racked up 1m views. Funrise will continue to support Crushie Fluffies with an exciting YouTube campaign.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Zuru |

Zuru has unveiled pre-Christmas advertising plans for some of its most popular and best-performing brands, as well as the company’s exciting new IP/product launches. As part of its successful always-on digital and social strategy, the company’s primary autumn/winter 2023 launches will benefit from a strong presence across social media, combined with key influencer partnerships with some of the world’s top influential talent. TikTok continues to play a crucial role for the company, with accounts established for all of its new brands. This facilitates organic sharing of new product information to a large following of toy collectors, which works in tandem with the paid campaign of activity planned on this growing platform.

Snackles is the company’s brand new licensed plush line made up of cute, collectible soft toys featuring real replicas of some of the world’s hottest licensed snack brands. This new collection will be supported with a solid digital campaign from launch with further bursts across summer, October half-term and late November. The campaign will also be bolstered further by paid influencer marketing activity, as well as a consumer-facing PR campaign to keep awareness high.

X-Shot, the most-liked blaster brand on TikTok with over 11m likes, will have stellar support from launch. Its new innovation lines, Insanity and Hyper Gel, are set to receive regular blasts of digital activity throughout the autumn/winter period across both YouTube and TikTok. Key growth drivers for the business, both products will also be promoted via paid Influencer collaborations and will receive over 195m impressions across the entire campaign.

Mini Brands – the TikTok sensation and global phenomena that started a mini mania collecting trend – will continue to be a priority for Zuru, which is reflected in its robust digital and social advertising plans. The Mini Brands’ social media presence continues to grow, with almost 2m followers on TikTok, and 40m likes. Together with Series 2 of the Foodies line and the Disney 100 range, the Mini Brands Series 4 collection will benefit from a strong campaign of activity which will deliver over 220m impressions. Regular bursts of activity across TikTok and YouTube, as well as paid partnerships with key Influencers will boost awareness throughout the autumn/winter season.

The latest introductions to the award-winning and evergreen Rainbocorns line – the Mermaidcorn Surprise and the Fairycorn Surprise – will continue to be well supported in the digital arena and across social media. Each of the new introductions includes over 35 surprises for children to unbox, as well as wearable and shareable accessories to discover. Paid influencer partnerships are planned to kick off the launch and additional YouTube Kids activity is running from July-November. Alongside this, brand-new webisodes are scheduled for release from July to December.

The popular Smashers line sees new introductions in the form of the Monster Wheel, T-Rex Battles, and Jurassic, and these new SKUs are being supported primarily on YouTube with paid Influencer partnerships for the T-Rex Battles and Monster Wheel versions. New webisodes will also be released throughout autumn/winter.

Mega Gross is the latest range to join the 5 Surprise Boys category. The collection of Gross Minis features over 36 spoof replicas to collect, imitating favourite lifestyle brands spanning categories such as food & drink, technology, social media and toys. A paid Influencer collaboration will kick off the campaign in the summer, with advertising planned across both YouTube and TikTok in regular blasts, hitting in the all-important festive gift-buying time frame.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Wow! Stuff


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Wow! Stuff will be focusing on all things Real FX this autumn with high volume digital advertising for its Jurassic Park and Harry Potter Real FX must-haves.

Jurassic Park Real FX Baby T.rex, a hyper-realistic animatronic baby dinosaur, is the latest Jurassic franchise addition to the Real FX portfolio and celebrates 30 years since the original Jurassic Park movie. Real FX life-like, intuitive movements and realistic sound effects bring this T.rex to life like no toy dinosaur ever created, making it a perfect toy for pre-roll advertising. A suspense-filled 30-second spot will make this toy’s presence felt, with millions of views to be delivered across the autumn/winter period.

Jurassic World Real FX Baby Blue will also be re-ignited in the Q4 marketing drive. The winner of multiple awards, Baby Blue is the popular predecessor of the aforementioned innovation, gaining more than 90% five-star ratings from consumer reviews across all retailers. Wow! Stuff will continue to support this impressive animatronic dinosaur with further advertising ahead of the key gifting period.

The magic of Harry Potter has been brought to life with the most realistic toy wand yet. The Real FX Spell Master Wand, which is available in Harry and Hermione styles, allows children to practise and perfect the pronunciation of 14 fan-favourite spells. Each time, the wand will decipher if the spell is spoken correctly, allowing them to proceed with a swish and flick to illuminate the wand tip if it is accurately cast. The Real FX Spell Master Wand launched to a massive engagement with fans in August, and now a digital campaign will deliver more than 2m views in the final few months of the year. A spellbinding influencer campaign will also reach Potter fans young and old by capitalising on the hype around the movies since they were added to Netflix.

Also set to receive high-level support will be the all-new Nano Pods. New series including Wednesday and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been added to the line-up, bringing even more excitement for this patented, connectable collectible range. Influencers from the world of TikTok and YouTube are part of the IRL activity, which will underpin the booked digital media for the brand.

For more information about Wow! Stuff’s portfolio – which also includes the all-new Real FX Thing, inspired by the hit Netflix series Wednesday - contact Wow! Stuff’s emma. (UK), (EMEA), or (USA).


01268 548 111 |

As the holiday season approaches, Playmobil continues to capture the imagination of children and parents alike. Known for its imaginative play sets, which inspire creativity and storytelling, Playmobil has been a staple of holiday wish lists for decades. In recent years, the brand's approach to pre-Christmas marketing has evolved, utilising the shift from mainstream linear TV viewing to the expansive world of digital and gaming.

From traditional television commercials and print advertisements to digital platforms and influencer collaborations, Playmobil has successfully adapted to the changing landscape of consumer engagement. One notable shift has been the brand's emphasis on digital storytelling. Through engaging online content, including animated videos, interactive websites and social media campaigns, Playmobil has created immersive experiences that resonate with modern audiences. This approach not only showcases the intricate details of its play sets but also taps into the power of user-generated content and viral marketing.

Additionally, Playmobil will be deepening its collaboration with content creators and influencers who share a passion for its products. By aligning with individuals who have a genuine connection to the brand, Playmobil is tapping into authentic and relatable voices that resonate with their target audience.

For more information about Playmobil's pre-Christmas marketing evolution and its exciting plans for Christmas 2023, readers are advised to speak to their local territory manager or call the Playmobil offices on the number above.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Vivid Goliath

01483 449 944 |

To celebrate the launch of its new Infant range, Modimi, Vivid Goliath has partnered with Netmums to showcase the building blocks of development which support the main concept behind the brand. Social posts, product testing and endorsements are in place to help build awareness and educate new parents and gifters about the range, as well as the benefits it offers.

Flying high for a second year is Sky Dancers, with Turquoise Twinkle joining the fairy collection. The range will be supported across all media touchpoints over seven weeks including TV, VOD, YouTube and paid social. The world of Animagic pets will also enjoy a similar campaign, capturing the imaginations of new pet lovers keen to walk with Waggles, pet a gecko, hop with a bunny and snuggle up with Little Snuzzlers. Vivid Goliath is also supporting new launches in the plush aisle this autumn/winter, with TV, VOD, YouTube and digital in place for Squeezamals’ new hit Eenie Teenies and the US sensation Flip a Zoo.

Build A Bot takes robotics to the next level by inviting kids to build and personalise their very own character, bringing STEM learning to an easy to construct, customisable range of pets. This autumn/winter also sees the launch of the Paw Patrol licensed Build A Bot line-up. A TVC will air across terrestrial and YouTube channels while an influencer gifting programme is underway to support the Paw Patrol movie. Strong brands within the Crayola portfolio, such as Washimals and Colour Wonder, will continue to be a priority for marketing activities in the lead up to Christmas. Washimals Ocean Glow Lagoon will be launching this autumn/winter, with new-glow-in-the-dark technology

Crayola’s Colour Wonder continues to bring in new licences. This autumn/winter sees Barbie, Spidey & His Amazing Friends and a special Paw Patrol movie edition arrive. Pre-Christmas

As part of a global launch, Wixels will be backed with marketing activities to support the new autumn/winter range. Wixels boasts new innovative technology with which children can create art on panels which give it a pixelated look.. Wixels will appear across Meta, supported with engaging influencer content.

Media support for the Vivid Goliath Games portfolio this autumn/winter is spread across TV, VOD and YouTube for the classic Kids Games collection, while engaging content on social media will inspire parents and gifters on the lookout for Christmas family fun. Pop Off will be promoted with celebrity influencer content to showcase how engaging the challenges are, while six weeks of digital and social campaigns will rotate through Vivid Goliath’s other Family and Party games including Green Team Wins, Game Night in a Can, The Escape Room and Sequence. The Traitors official board game will be launched at a celebrity press event and supported with a strong social campaign across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.


01200 445 113 |

Brainstorm has refined its Q4 approach to advertising in recent years to reflect the habits of its key target audiences.

This Q4, the company continues its 2023 advertising push with planned multichannel campaigns alongside paid social. Ads will focus on popular Brainstorm Toys lines including My Very Own Moon, My Very Own Rainbow and My Very Own Solar System. Distribution lines Aqua Dragons and StikBots will also be advertised, both of which usually prove strong sellers at Christmas. Working alongside its media agency, Havas Entertainment, Brainstorm’s usual linear kids’ TV activity will be

including featuring in Google Search and Bing advertising as well as Facebook and other social media platforms. In addition, both launches will be supported by influencer campaigns running throughout September and in the run up to the company’s attendance at two consumer events this autumn: Comic Con in London and The Creative Craft Show in Birmingham. New promotional films for both ranges are also in production, ready for the key campaign season.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

IMC Toys

IMC Toys has announced advertising campaigns for some of its most popular and best-performing brands in the lead-up to Christmas 2023.

Cry Babies, Cry Babies Magic Tears, BFF by Cry Babies and Bloopies, plus new brands Baby Paws and Cutie Climbers, are all supported by robust TV and high-end, always-on digital advertising. This, combined with social targeting, PR, events, high-profile influencer partnerships, media collaborations and OOH programmes, reflects the company’s commitment to brand growth within the UK & Ireland market, as well as its ongoing drive to immerse, entertain and disrupt the Alpha Generation.

TV support includes 10”, 20” and 30” spots aired across terrestrial, satellite and videoon-demand platforms, with placements of solus adverts for each of the key ranges. Each of the brands also benefits from the integration of digital and social targeting, such as YouTube channel sponsorships, and targeted META and TikTok advertising.

Cinema packages have been brokered for Cry Babies and Cry Babies Magic Tears, while the new special feature nurture doll, Cry Babies Newborn Coney, becomes the sponsorship of the parenting podcast Parenting Hell. Gaming pre-rolls and Spotify advertising are in place for Cry Babies Magic Tears and programmatic advertising is planned for Cry Babies and BFF. The new range of BFF fashion dolls and Dreamy & Rym Playset will also receive gaming in-app ad support.

Now in its second year, an e-commerce campaign across IMC’s groundbreaking Over-The-Top (OTT) Kitoons platform is in place for all key ranges. Available through smart TVs, mobile, tablets and web, Kitoons OTT combines content with e-commerce and has the ability to suggest products based on the video being watched, driving viewers directly to retailers.

New 3D animated series of Cry Babies Magic Tears and BFF are airing on IMC’s YouTube and TV entertainment channel, Kitoons, while a content partnership with Nickelodeon is also running concurrently for both brands. Now in its second year, a three-year global deal with streaming service Netflix sees the airing of all seasons of Cry Babies Magic Tears, while bath toy brand Bloopies further benefits from a Tiny Pop sponsorship for a five-week period throughout Q3.

Flair GP

020 8643 0320 |

From this September, Flair is introducing two groundbreaking toys set to elevate and innovate playtime with full TV, digital and social media support.

Mega Chomp, a ferocious remote-controlled shark with a chomping jaw and swishing tail, introduces heart-pounding action. Kids can navigate this remote-controlled shark all over the house and through obstacles to terrify and entertain all the family. As it moves, Mega Chomp’s tail follows to give the shark a lifelike gliding movement.

YouTube activity is underway and will run through to December. Mega Chomp will also be making a splash in cinemas up and down the country, as well as being supported by a TV campaign running from October to December with over 150 TVRs planned. Children will also see glimpses of Mega Chomp across their favourite gaming apps.

Kids can soar through the skies on an exhilarating journey with Sky Viper Vector. This remarkable stunt drone is not just a mere gadget: it's a sleek and powerful embodiment of cutting-edge technology. Its design, resembling a futuristic plane, brings acceleration and aerodynamics to drone play as well as a jaw-dropping top speed of 40mph. Notable for its remarkable aerial stunts, such as barrel rolls and the one-touch loop, this drone promises an adrenaline-fuelled experience for beginners and experienced pilots alike. It also features a long-range transmitter so kids can fly it up to 600+ feet away. Breathtaking manoeuvres can be mastered with ease, while its impact resistant material provides reassurance in the event of a crash. For added peace of mind, the ‘Find My Plane’ audio tracer means kids will never lose it.

Showcasing the impressive drone in action, YouTube activity will run until December. However, the Vector will make its biggest impact in UK cinemas, recreating a famous fly over from one of Hollywood’s biggest movies of all time in a new advert. Kidults will also be able to view Vector across social media and appropriate gaming platforms.

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01904 720 908 |

Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Character Options

01616 339 800 |

Character Options is renowned for providing high-level marketing support across its many brands, with TV and digital advertising at the forefront of the strategy. 2023 sees early autumn TV drivers move into heavyweight digital activity, keeping key products front of mind as parents and gift buyers succumb to pester power and start filling Christmas Stockings with 2023’s top toys.

Piñata Smashlings is a new IP connecting online content with offline toys for enriched fan engagement. The toys launch this month and are set to be the focus of a huge awareness drive. The fun will kick off with a global Mass Smash influencer campaign showcasing the Piñataverse play world and its cheeky residents. With 100+ collectible characters to discover, plus a cute array of plushies, this is a brand that will keep kids coming back for more, with demand set to peak ahead of Christmas. Above the line activity will start to take effect as the key gifting period nears, with TV, YouTube and kids’ gaming advertising in place to ensure the wider range is seen.

Fingerlings is back, introducing exciting and updated ways to play while staying true to the ‘Friendship @ Your Fingertips’ ethos of the 2018 TOTY Award-winning original toy. Since its reintroduction this season, Fingerlings has been the focus of a continual social drive titled Fingerlings Fridays. By Q4, fun TV and digital campaigns will be positioning Fingerlings as the only pets kids will want this Christmas.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie toy line kicked off with a bang at the end of June, delighting retailers with its instant success. TMNT fans celebrated their fandom by flocking to purchase the collectible action figure lines. With Christmas approaching the focus is set to shift to play sets, with heavyweight TV and digital support driving demand for the PizzaFire Van and Sewer Lair Playset.

Heroes of Goo Jit Zu, meanwhile, remains a top priority for Character, with the collection now sold in 50+ territories. An all-encompassing campaign is promoting three waves of activity as the brand takes its adventures to the high seas with the Deep Goo Sea theme. TV and digital for the brand started in July and will continue with a tsunami of digital views each month.

Crush doll has a different, tasty-looking filling that relates to its name and styling. This collection was at the centre of a strong influencer launch campaign and was promoted on YouTube, with continued pre-roll activity ensuring its success in Q4.

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TV, VOD, YouTube and more will be abundant across all three Magicbox brands in the run-up to Christmas, ensuring strong support for retailers during the busiest period of the year. August saw SuperThings’ latest theme, Mutant Battle, launch to much excitement. Magicbox will continue promoting the series throughout the final quarter. At the forefront will be TV and VOD, but this activity will be heavily supplemented with huge numbers of views on YouTube. TVCs will support each segment of the brand, highlighting the 100+ new characters to collect and the new colour-change effect, as well as the Superbot Power Arms Trasher and Sugarfun figures. As winter approaches, support will ramp up for the larger Secret Base play sets, highlighting both hero and villain versions. From October, digital will assume an always-on approach across full length pre-roll, bumpers and episodes created for the YouTube channel.

On top of this, a raft of PR activity will begin with sampling through magazine cover-mounting, in partnership with Redan Publishing, while the SuperThings Swap Shop Kits, offered to retailers, will drive kids into stores. Competitions across kids’ press will further increase visibility for the brand among its target audience. Adding to the excitement created by influencers is a Golden Figure Redemption campaign, complete with geocache element. Finally, ensuring the gift buyer knows all about what’s happening, social media will create millions of impressions and extend the reach of SuperThings, highlighting other new lines in the range including the animal-powered Wild Kids and their animal friends.

For KookyLoos, the Glitter Glam theme and new KookyLoos Mermaids will be centre of attention. The celebrity activation for KookyLoos Mermaids is about to take place, showcasing the four characters available to collect. Hundreds of KookyLoos Glitter Glam kits have already been sent out to influential parents, who are busy showing off this new collection across their social channels. KookyLoos media support comes in the form of TV and digital, with August/September early campaigns being swiftly followed by campaigns in October and early November. Social media is part of the mix, with millions of booked impressions highlighting the brand together with a fun Christmas campaign in the schedule.

Nano influencers are taking the latest T-Racers Color Rush theme to the masses. The latest collection introduces eight new cars and racers to collect, unlocking 500+ combinations and possibilities whilst also introducing a colour-change effect. Family lifestyle channels have been sharing content, helping to drive demand for this exciting series, while special influencers with greater reach have been adding to the frenzy of social activity by hosting their own Race Day. TV for the brand will again be supported by digital, with millions of views planned over the season as well as full-length adverts and first-up bumpers. Social support will also be seen throughout Q4.

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Pre-Christmas Marketing Campaigns

Simba Smoby Toys UK

01620 674 778 |

Smoby role-play lines, a show-stopping licensed RC vehicle from Jada Toys and Dickie Toys Streets N Beatz vehicles all feature prominently in Simba Smoby Toys UK’s 2023 Q4 campaigns. TV is a key element of this year’s strategy, with millions of digital pre-roll views for key brands also scheduled.

Following a major experiential marketing drive in August, Smoby will move into the final quarter with a huge media campaign behind it, highlighting lead role-play lines for the season. This activity will be headlined by a TV campaign showcasing the brand’s renowned Black + Decker replica workbenches, feature-packed kitchens including the Tefal Studio Utility and Tefal XL Bubble Kitchens, and the fun My Beauty Centre, in a 30 second spot. The high-impact family-focused campaign kicks off in September, ensuring the brand will be front of mind with families as they look to keep the kids entertained indoors and start thinking ahead to Christmas.

The company will also continue to invest in its always-on paid social media drive for Smoby, having committed to delivering 70,000 clicks between September and December. Influencer and celebrity activity will further build on the brand’s significant presence in the digital space, taking the Smoby range to an even wider audience of parents.

The Jada Toys portfolio will be central to the firm’s Q4 marketing plans, with sales growing year-on-year for the brand and Simba Toys investing in ramping up awareness and demand. The collector-ready, retro-styled Transforming Optimus Prime RC, which was named one of this year’s Toy Fair Hero Toys, will enjoy a wide-reaching media plan for this iconic yet affordable line, targeting kids and parents through multiple touchpoints in the lead up to Christmas. A dedicated TVC, which shows the toy transforming and being controlled in both Truck and Autobot form, will deliver almost 1m views through YouTube pre-roll between September and November, with an additional gaming pre-roll drive in the October half-term set to deliver a further 1.6m impressions. This rounded campaign also includes paid social media activity to target parents and drive clicks, as well as cinema advertising to capitalise on October half-term co-viewing opportunities.

Meanwhile, Dickie Toys’ new Streets n Beatz feature-packed vehicle brand for young racing fans will be the centre of attention this season. These cool cars have on-board music, stunning light effects and a friction motor that propels the wheels forward at impressive speeds when pushed, and will be showcased through a fun TVC that will deliver 800,000 pre-roll views over the October half-term period.

Earned media, celebrity collaborations and influencers will also be part of the mix for the other brands in Simba Toys’ all-encompassing portfolio.

Moose Toys


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In Q4, Moose Toys is launching a raft of toys spanning multiple categories, poised to bring surprise and delight to children this Christmas. All will be supported by robust marketing programmes spanning everything from word-of-mouth campaigns, in-store demos, events and celebrity endorsements to YouTube influencer content and TikTok activations, supported by an always-on digital approach and impactful TV media roll out.

Moose predicts Magic Mixies will top holiday wish lists again this year, as it takes the ‘real magic’ experience to the next level with two new products: the Magic Mixies Magic Lamp, with its wish-granting Genie Mixie, and the Magic Mixies Pixlings, a trio of dolls that kids magically create inside a potion bottle. The world of Magic Mixies can also be explored through its YouTube content, which follows Sienna, a young girl who unlocks a glittering pathway to Mixia, a mystical land filled with magical creatures. Season four will premiere later this year and will introduce Pixlings to the world of Mixia.

Moose’s marketing for Magic Mixies takes a digital-first approach, celebrating influencer partnerships and harnessing UGC content to showcase product features and the true ‘magic’ experience. The Pixlings campaign will include an immersive event, with a digital programme creating a virtual version of Mixia for kids to explore and engage with.

Moose is also bringing two new plush innovation sensations to consumers this season. Little Live Pets’ My Puppy’s Home is a one-of-akind DIY play set that kids and parents assemble together, offering all the excitement of bringing home a new puppy. Coupled with TV media, Moose’s marketing campaign celebrates the fun, joy and anticipation of welcoming a puppy home with celebrity partnerships, family creators, key press and hundreds of real families. A roll out of ‘Puppy Pawtys’ will document their doggie DIY creations and first-hand experiences of the magic puppy reveal.

Cookeez Makery is an oven-themed play set that lets kids mix and make ‘dough’ to create their new sweet-scented best friend. Marketing support includes numerous in-store events while a London-based showcase will demonstrate the ‘dough’ in the oven transformation, as it becomes a cute, warm-to-thetouch plush. The plush friends even make sweet sounds when squeezed and hugged. Targeted TV and a continuous digital campaign will help consumers associate the new brand with YouTube channels optimised towards kids aged 4-8.

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Navigating the mediashiftinglandscape

Pete: I’ve been tracking kids' media habits for over 15 years. During that time, YouTube has grown from a place of discovering UGC to a media monolith, and social networks have moved from social messaging platforms to content streams. And all the time users dedicate to these channels has come at the expense of existing media, most notably in the visual content world - linear channels. Netfiles, now in its fifth year, is our study benchmarking the performance of over 300 shows and movies in the media markets. It tracks how 0–16 year-olds consume their favourite brands across platforms.

The issue for brands, comes in:

• The volume of content choice, there are so many platforms and so many brands now.

• The franchise business models. Advertising has not, to date, been the revenue generator for many popular platforms.

• Social platforms reward clicks and views and not sustained viewing, which is what builds long term affinity to a show.

• Many of these popular platforms are not deemed appropriate for under 13s, even though kids are there - regulation and advertising effectiveness doesn’t always fit.

The sheer volume of choice creates two issues in building long-term brand engagement. Firstly, it is now harder to find your audience, and it is even harder to retain it amongst all the noise. Typically children had a preferred channel with a favourite show, and programming was consistent. Now they sift content served via algorithms on screens that parents often don’t see.

Over the years of tracking family media habits, we have seen a growth in streamers’ ability to motivate consumer product sales. NBC Universal has DreamWorks Netflix Originals. Spirit, with its fanbase, was one of the first brands that demonstrated the ability to build toy sales and intent.

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1 2 3 4

A great example of this is The Barbie Movie, which achieved remarkable success with the biggest box office weekend of 2023 by effectively engaging with fans in the run up to its release. One of the methods they used was a social filter. In June, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc launched the Barbie Selfie Generator, resulting in a staggering 23,350% increase of brand mentions during the

By offering tools for user-generated content, the brand encouraged its audience to actively participate, essentially creating an ecosystem where fans willingly did the promotional work for them. They cultivated a conversation, driving sustained brand loyalty in the digital age and driving a desire among parents to share

nsuring that kids are listened to in how they want to interact with their favourite characters

We’ve always wanted to give kids a voice and are obsessed with listening and learning from them. Brands should be dedicated to creating a world where kids are not only heard but actively involved in shaping their future.

A great example of this is how Paramount launched the SpongeBob x Minecraft DLC in 2022. It’s been over two decades since SpongeBob SquarePants first launched, and in that time, the brand has built a huge fan base. But as the show grew up, so did its fans. As a result, the internet was packed full of SpongeBob content, perfect for a Millennial, nostalgic audience, but irrelevant for younger fans who are seeing very little SpongeBob content

By genuinely listening to its kid audience and embracing the gaming space, Paramount successfully extended the brand's reach and relevance to a new generation of fans on Minecraft, allowing them to interact with their favourite characters in new and exciting ways. Shifts like this are essential, given the crucial role characters play in steering consumer purchase

elping children and parents build narrative and

Brands should emphasise imaginative activities that expand the show's storyline beyond the screen. While parents' primary motivation for buying branded products is often their child's affection for the characters, brands must discover innovative methods to make these beloved figures come alive in interactive play, ensuring that the experience remains engaging and dynamic rather than

The animated series Bluey shows how kids learn and grow through creating their own games. Parents appreciate the show's portrayal of family play dynamics, with fans praising its positive impact on family bonding and parenting experiences. The show's depiction of unstructured play is seen as a reminder for parents to

Bluey takes it one-step further by helping cultivate play experiences off-screen too. In the show, Bluey and Bingo can trigger the dance mode on their parents, which prompts them to stop what they’re doing and start dancing. Bluey released an augmented reality app to bring this experience to life in the real world, where families could interact and dance with their favourite characters from the show.

To conclude, brands that can effectively adapt to this environment by leveraging co-viewing experiences, social interactions and interactivity stand a better chance of maintaining brand loyalty and driving sales. The "fan bridge" model and involving children in shaping media experiences emerge as key strategies for success. Through interactive play and creative engagement, brands can create a lasting impact on young audiences while maintaining relevance in the digital age.

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Go Webs Go! Spidey has arrived at tonies®

Spiderman and his friends Ghost Spider and Miles Morales have arrived at tonies®. Travel a multiverse of stories in this swinging selection from Disney’s Spidey & His Amazing Friends.


The Christmas Marketing Mix: the secret to boosting sales this season

applied for all brands and products, however we use it in particular when thinking about kids’ brands focusing on children ages 2-12. At Precise TV, we know exactly where kids are spending their time and where your first pound of advertising should be directed.

Bi-annually, Precise TV, in partnership with Giraffe Insights, surveys 10,000 kids aged 2-12 and their parents to better understand their media habits. Our latest Precise Advertiser Report-Kids (PARK) uncovered that 9 in 10 kids watch YouTube, and the average child watches an average of 106 minutes every day.

Afilling a tower of champagne glasses, where you begin by filling the top glass, allowing the champagne to flow down to the others. Advertisers should identify the platform that represents the top glass and allocate their resources accordingly. This ‘champagne tower’ analogy can be

Furthermore, Antenna Group shows that the major Video on Demand and CTV apps kids use are mostly ad-free (only 3% of Disney+ and Netflix users are on adsupported plans). The vast majority of kids are reachable with ads on YouTube, making it the top glass of the champagne tower.

There is no denying YouTube is the place to reach kids, but will this help drive sales? Our latest research shows that YouTube ads drive three times more purchase behaviour than any other platform. Kids are watching

YouTube, seeing an ad and then asking their parents for the product in that ad more than ads seen on any other platform, including linear TV. While the reach and purchase behaviour on YouTube is No.1, it is important to keep in mind that due to COPPA and GDPR-Kids restrictions, the only way to target young audiences is with contextual targeting. The downside is that channel level targeting and affinity targeting deliver, on average, 56% media wastage according to our Precise TV audits of standard YouTube campaigns (consisting of eight leading toy brands’ analysis over 250m video views on YouTube). At Precise TV, we use our contextual intelligence platform to remove media wastage pre-bid, to deliver ads only on in-demo, relevant and brand suitable YouTube placements, on video-level.

As we head into the run-up to Christmas, it is important to note that 35% of kids are starting their wishlists at least three months before Christmas. Ensuring your ads are on YouTube, facing the correct audience, right now, is essential. According to our PARK study, 82% of parents are planning to spend the same or more, on gifts for their children this year.

If YouTube is where you are beginning your ‘champagne tower’ of advertising, what else can you do?

1. Take a data driven approach:

While YouTube is the top platform for kids, where else can you find your target audience? Taking a data driven approach will identify where your audience lives. Our assumptions about what apps and channels are popular with kids may not be wholly accurate. To avoid media wastage, you have to understand exactly what audience you’re reaching on the platform you have decided to invest in.

2. Embrace storytelling:

In our digital era, storytelling has become a potent tool that anyone can utilise. By leveraging the power of digital video, advertisers can craft compelling narratives that resonate with their target audience, going beyond the limitations of traditional advertising formats. Digital video enables advertisers to establish meaningful connections with viewers, enabling them to communicate brand values, showcase product features and depict real-life experiences. However, it's essential to approach digital advertising with a longterm perspective. Success may not be instantaneous, so adopting a sustained approach will lead to more consistent achievements.

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Precise TV’s chairman & co-founder, Christian Dankl, advises how to drive sales this holiday season. He starts with some simple advice: “Prioritise spending your first ad dollar on the largest platform that caters to your target audience the most.”
Special Feature Precise TV

3. Adopt ‘trend hacking’:

Advertisers need to adopt a "hack, test, iterate" mentality to stay successful. Many brand teams invest time in testing new video formats and measuring their success, enabling them to identify effective strategies that can be replicated. Trend hacking is the strategy to apply trending hashtags to TikTok videos to leverage their popularity. Although not always successful, when it works, it can lead to significant reach and impact.

In conclusion, once you know where your target audience is spending the majority of its time, maximize your opportunity on that platform. Creating highly targeted YouTube campaigns in the run-up to Christmas will ensure you reach your target audience and drive sales.

Precise TV is a leading kid-safe COPPA certified YouTube advertising platform using contextual intelligence to deliver brand-safe, relevant and privacy-compliant video campaigns reaching young audiences and families. If you would like to discuss how your brand can effectively engage with your target audience on the right platforms and devices, visit the website at or get in touch at

Toy World 117 For more information contact us: 01246 567097 FREE SHIPPING OVER £150 SAME DAY DELIVERY ON 1000’S OF ITEMS

New York Toy Fair’s re-imagination

Moving the date of a show that has been held at the same time for decades is a major decision – have you been pleased with the reaction to the news?

A 2023 show that has significantly more exhibitors than the one last held in 2020 is the best reaction. Our Board of Directors is committed to listening closely and responding to the needs of our members and customers, and for many, the shifting retailer timelines focused on August/September deal-making became a major point. The decision to move four months did not come lightly, while the listening continues to this very day as the industry continues to evolve.

Toy World spoke to Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association about the upcoming New York Toy Fair.

Taking place from Saturday, 30th September to Tuesday, 3rd October, this year marks a new timeslot for the trade show. Steve tells us how plans are shaping up for the event, which will naturally see some changes this year.

The move came at the same time as an in-depth, multi-year Toy Fair Reimagination Project, which included focus groups, surveys of toy manufacturers and retailers, and other research, along with consultation from an outside firm that specializes in trade shows. It was clear that Toy Fair is deeply beloved on so many levels by diverse audiences. It also became clear that the show’s timing was key; with September and February identified as the only viable time windows, and indicators showing a preference for September. While our goal is to serve the greatest expanse of the toy and play community, we recognize that there will never be a perfect solution for everyone. However, as an association serving an ever-evolving industry and everchanging buying behaviours, there must be an ongoing willingness and ability to adapt and make pivots as part of our post-pandemic existence.

How is the show shaping up in comparison to preview events?

As of this interview, 950 companies are set to exhibit, and we have registrants representing 49 states and 71 countries signed up to attend. Toy Fair has every quality of a must-attend event for the global play community, where attendees and exhibitors will take advantage of the show’s world-class content and opportunities

to meet their business needs. Additionally, 21 of the top 25 retailers representing the $40b US toy market, among hundreds of others, are registered to source the latest eye-catching products to draw in shoppers. That’s consistent with this point in the pre-show timeline of prior years while discussions continue.

The change of date has led to some discussion in the international toy community. Can you clarify the main reasons for moving the show forward by four months?

The shift came down to listening to our member companies, exhibitors, and a substantial portion of the retail community. Of course, the industry has changed and continues to change here after the pandemic with some past behaviours that no longer make sense and others that appeared changed but are returning to traditional ways. The goal of Toy Fair has always been to serve the greatest cross section of members, retailers, inventors and every other facet of the toy and play community. In this timeframe, it also presents a new opportunity for exhibiting companies to get more media eyeballs on product that is already available at retail for the critical holiday toy-buying season.

Is there any sense of what percentage of US retail buyers will be ready to start looking at selections at the end of September?

The overwhelming majority of toy deals in this $40b industry that move the market have their foundations in the August/September period. You have written eloquently in digital posts and in the pages of Toy World on the rise of Los Angeles and dealmaking in that timeframe. For specialty, late summer/early autumn is not optimal nor was February. Research and exhibitor feedback indicated Toy Fair in February served as a window-shopping trip with actual buying occurring in the months afterward.

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New York Toy Fair

Importantly, Toy Fair has a long history of meeting the needs of many kinds of stakeholders and serving the industry well beyond only the vendor-buyer connections made at the show. This includes network-building, education, trendspotting, media promotion and more.

New, dedicated sections at this year’s show reflect how play trends reach beyond the toy space and offer attendees new insights and avenues for growth. This includes the World of Toys Pavilion in partnership with Spielwarenmesse, featuring brands and playthings from around the world; other international Pavilions from France, China and India; a new Halloween Pavilion emphasizing the influence of those products and experiences; a Hot for Holiday display keyed into what families will be vying for in Q4 2023; and a Pet PLAYce section highlighting playful products for pets. All represent long-term growth opportunities.

Just as there were varied needs served for each group of stakeholders (vendors, buyers, financial analysts, the designer community, licensors, media, etc.) within the February timeframe, September 2023 will offer those and a variety of expanded and new avenues for growth as long as attendees are willing to take advantage. Plus, it’s yet another prime listening and feedback opportunity for us to hear from everyone.

Is it fair to assume that most of the exhibitors will be ready to show new ranges for autumn winter ’24 in September?

The pandemic greatly changed production cycles and the global supply chain in general, so many companies of all sizes have already moved up their development cycles to account for longer lead times, mitigate supply chain risks and remain competitive. Others are seizing the opportunity to finally get selections and catalogues completed earlier. Additionally, this is not a timeframe the industry is unfamiliar working within; many already use it as a window to preview their product to buyers.

Toy Fair also comes at a time when companies have already had some early reads on POS data, which can better inform at-show discussions on trends and 2024 holiday planning.

In the past, US toy companies have often been concerned about not letting information about new lines into the public domain too early, for fear of being copied – is that a concern which has been expressed to you by any of the exhibitors?

This is not something that’s been expressed by exhibiting companies thus far. While Toy Fair’s Visual Merchandising Initiative is designed to ensure that the show floor is not made up of closed-off booths and creates an inviting space for showgoers (media and buyers, in particular, demanded this change), how exhibitors choose to utilize the balance of their space and control who sees what product is still ultimately well within their control.

Do you have a sense of how many licensors will be comfortable with their licensees showing product openly at such an early stage of the selection process?

Again, no concerns have been expressed, and there has actually been some keen interest in the licensing community given the growing intersection of toy IP and licensing. In recognizing this immense value of licensing in the toy industry, Toy Fair 2023 will continue to showcase the powerful synergy between our two industries. And as an ideal environment for fostering new partnerships and collaborations, sparking innovation and propelling growth within the licensing and entertainment sectors, Toy Fair has already attracted licensors such as Disney Consumer Products, Moonbug Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony Pictures and others registered to attend.

research, focus-groups and interviews as part of the Toy Fair Reimagination Project, the global retail buying community and media were clear on what they want and expect of the show. To provide engagement requested by the buying community and create new opportunities for exhibitors to leverage media attention, the Visual Merchandising Initiative requires exhibitors to make product visible in at least 20% of their aisle-facing booth space.

The fact that the show is taking place on the cusp of our industry’s most critical selling season should not be overlooked in terms of building buzz. Media love a sneak peek, but they also love to talk about what’s available on shelves right now and what will be hot for this holiday. Toy Fair’s reimagination invites companies to take full advantage of that; feature your key 2023 drivers up front, preview your 2024 spring items and give a sneak peek of your 2024 holiday product to your trusted partners in a more closed environment.

Do you see the show as predominantly catering for the US retail channel, or is there an aspiration for it to have a global retail audience?

Toy Fair has always attracted an audience from around the world. Global interest in the event is already strong, with registered buyers and attendees representing Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Spain, Turkey and dozens more.

At this stage, do you have any idea how many toy companies will be exhibiting in both LA and New York? And long term, do you see US toy companies being happy to support both events, or will they ultimately need to choose between the two?

This is an essential part of that quality I mentioned, of continued listening to our members, retailers and exhibitors that must happen combined with a willingness to shift and pivot. Change is the order of the day. There is no question interest and activity in LA continues to grow. Buyer reactions to that growth and what it takes of their heart and soul to add yet more appointments to their already busy and tiring LA travel are becoming a limiting factor. LA will continue to matter, just as a mass coming together of every aspect and facet of the broader toy community also matters. It’s not binary. Both will evolve. Mass retailers have told us they will do both. They will go to LA to see who they always see in LA, and they will come to Toy Fair to find the unexpected and innovation that is the heart and soul of the toy and play industry and essential to retail. How will you judge the success of the event? And how many years do you feel you will need to evaluate if changing the show’s dates has been a successful move for exhibitors and retailers?

Even at Toy Fairs of the past, many exhibitors have moved away from showing autumn/winter upfront and kept some of their holiday drivers behind closed doors, only choosing to preview to select groups. This included closed rooms within closed booths, so we do not anticipate the new timeframe from deterring the productive business-building that has traditionally taken place at the show.

Paramount is the sponsor of the Toy Fair Press Centre, underscoring the company’s belief in the show. Is there a risk that the earlier show date could result in even more ‘secret’ rooms and some companies operating closed booths or ‘no media’ policies?

Completely closed booths are no longer possible, and all plans need to be pre-approved. Toy Fair leans further into its position as a meeting ground for media and relationship-building with new efforts like the Visual Merchandising Initiative, which is specifically designed to combat the aisles of closed-off booths. Through

Success can only be judged in the eyes of those who exhibit and attend. We don’t get a say. While enthusiasm and actions taken among those audiences make it clear 2023 will be a great show, we are already looking years ahead, doing research, having direct candid conversations and staying eyes wide open that what worked yesterday, may not today and certainly isn’t likely to in the future. If we claim to be an industry of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism, then those are the order of the day.

Toy Fair will take place from September 30th to October 3rd, 2023, at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. Visit to learn more.

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Do you perceive any difference between showing new ranges in a preview setting, as happens in LA, and showing them in a traditional trade fair setting, as will be the case in New York?


Amazon's Strategic Shift: The Aftermath of Bypassing Distributors

Asha Bhalsod

Asha has 10 years eCommerce account management experience, including at Amazon and managing the Amazon/eCommerce businesses at Tomy UK and Melissa & Doug. She now runs Etopia Consultancy, to help brands create their eCommerce strategy and grow their Amazon business, and can be contacted on for guidance with trading on Amazon.

In February, when it was first reported that Amazon informed its European suppliers about the shift towards sourcing products directly from brands rather than wholesalers, numerous questions arose regarding the implementation and the classification of a "wholesaler" according to Amazon. It has been intriguing to observe the evolving outcomes of this strategic transition since its initiation in April. This new approach involves a more direct relationship between Amazon and brand owners, creating a streamlined supply chain that aims to benefit all stakeholders involved.

“As is common for all businesses, we regularly review our approach to product sourcing as we try to control our costs and keep prices low for customers,” Amazon spokesman, Harry Staight, said in an email. “With this in mind, we’ve decided to focus on sourcing certain products for our European stores directly from brand owners.” This adjustment in Europe has impacted the products Amazon purchases directly from wholesalers, as well as the blockers many vendors have seen with purchase orders.

The initial challenges we encountered revolved around a reduction in purchase orders from vendors who acted as distributors for a specific brand. Despite their authorised status in the Brand Registry portal, we found ourselves perplexed by the absence of order placement through Amazon's systems. Additionally, when we escalated the issue, it became clear that nobody within Amazon had the solutions to address these problems. Frequently, our path led us to Brand Registry and the necessity for vendors to be designated as authorised sellers within it.

Brand Registry can be complex, and it's common for people to express a need for it without fully grasping how it operates within Amazon. Recognising the effectiveness of Brand Registry and implementing it with diligent supervision is crucial. Granting vendors "authorised seller" status also grants them permission to modify content for all ASINs associated with the brand.

Brand owners can provide selling authorisation to vendors via the portal, often with the assistance of the vendors Vendor Manager or Brand Specialist/AVS. We have seen instances when this is all that is required, but more often than not, additional actions and steps are necessary for a vendor to be acknowledged as an authorised 1P distributor in the eyes of Amazon.

One fundamental requirement is clear – a letter of authorisation from the brand owner addressed to Amazon granting authority for the vendor to supply the brand owner’s goods directly to or on Amazon. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily translate to authorised vendor seller status within the Amazon portal, it is unquestionably critical documentation, and we strongly recommend all vendors and sellers who operate as licensees and distributors on behalf of brand owners to source this letter from the brand owner prior to commencing trade on the platform.

However, as always with Amazon there is rarely a one size fits all simple solution to a problem and we subsequently discovered that numerous discussions on authorised sellers also revolved around Amazon's profitability. There has been significant recent chatter regarding Amazon's financial performance, but we also became aware of a substantial decrease in purchase orders and ASINS suppression due to profitability concerns and pending terms with vendors.

The adjustment to focus on direct purchases from brand owners is not only a strategic business decision but also underscores the significance of brand integrity, control and transparency. By forging closer ties with brand owners, Amazon aims to ensure that genuine and high-quality products reach its customers, further enhancing customer trust in the platform. But does it?

To wrap up, Amazon EU's decision to cut out wholesalers seems rushed, without considering the big picture. Relying solely on automated systems might work in some areas, but it falls short in understanding the complex human connections that drive vendor relationships. As Amazon continues to be a major player, it's clear that its systems aren't quite up to the task of effectively managing its own 1P strategy. This situation highlights a flaw where these streamlined systems unintentionally let down vendors and the overall market, which leaves me with some lingering doubts about the thoroughness of their considerations. While change can undoubtedly yield positive outcomes, the extent to which Amazon EU has meticulously assessed the intricacies of this decision remains uncertain. Wholesalers play a substantial role in the market's functioning and their exclusion demands closer scrutiny and most definitely a review of Amazon’s current systems which seem to be struggling to cope with this new change.

For more information on Brand Registry or Amazon related support, contact Asha on

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Hollywood shouts ‘cut!’

Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!” That quote won’t mean much to many young folk in the business. But for those of us ‘of a certain age’, this famous line from Dad’s Army will always ring out in our heads, every time a faff is caused over something that is arguably fixable with a touch of calm. That said, the ongoing Hollywood strikes might be a genuine cause of concern, even for Mr Mainwaring.

So, a very brief ‘Nick’s take’ on what’s going on: Hollywood writers and actors are on strike for the foreseeable future, meaning all production of shows and movies has shut down. On top of that, actors are banned by their unions from promoting any already finished, upcoming releases. In a nutshell, the main reason for these strikes is that many strikers believe contracts from the past don’t reflect the modern dynamic of the entertainment industry. They would like better pay, terms and conditions, in line with how the industry is monetised today. In addition, they are concerned that new AI technology could have a negative effect on how talent performances are used in shows, movies and advertising. It’s a complex situation, and there are many further issues involved, but those are the key bones of contention.

My view on all of this? I think everyone should be paid what they deserve, but I also think times have changed and much of the work only exists today because the streaming giants have come into the business. Some of those striking may not have become actors or writers if the streaming platforms didn’t exist. But, of course, everyone needs to operate within the realms of fair working conditions.

As for AI, this is something that needs lots of conversations between the right people, so it’s used in a way that benefits, rather than disadvantages, the workers within the entertainment industry. If used in a positive way, and with fair contracts in place, it could create many new opportunities within the industry. This new tech is not going anywhere, so we may as well embrace the benefits it will bring to the market, much like Laurel and Hardy did with the ‘talkies’ back in 1927. There was so much fear of sound in Hollywood initially. Many stars complained and disappeared. Laurel and Hardy embraced the new technology and went on to become global superstars.

Right now, the strikers and employers have reached a stalemate - and that’s not good for anyone. It’s likely that without a quick resolution (which is never going to happen), the situation will end up worse than during the Covid pandemic for anyone who makes a living off the back of film/ TV/streaming properties.

Sometimes who’s ‘right’ and who’s ‘wrong’ is almost irrelevant. What’s needed is calm - and lots of reasonable conversations between everyone involved, leading to a solution that works for all parties. But the talks seem to be limited right now, and that’s a big problem.

If there isn’t a quick solution, toy suppliers will struggle to show some of their exciting new ranges at Toy Fair in January 2024 – and maybe even 2025. Without production starting on those movies and shows, nobody will be selling those toys.  These issues could even affect movies that are scheduled to be released towards the end of 2023, as many productions need minor reshoots. It’s also rumoured that the studios are considering moving some of the autumn 2023 releases to 2024, as they don’t have access to the stars for promotion. Without promotion, the movies are less likely to do well at the box office. Suppliers talking to retailers about orders and stock levels of movie/TV related product will inevitably be asked about media support for the range - and the movies/shows themselves. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is ‘not as much as normal, while these strikes are happening’. It’s a real mess!

If things don’t get sorted in the next few months, there will also be a potential knock-on effect for future products. To be able to create merchandise and toy products for 2024, 2025 and beyond, you need to see scripts and early development imagery. All of which is on hold right now, so you’re unlikely to see any early content for quite a while. This means any deals already in place will be on pause until everyone is back working again. We all have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. This is genuinely a big problem for everyone who makes a living based on anything that comes out of Hollywood. And alas, we have no control over it.

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Nick Gibbs-McNeil
Nick Gibbs-McNeil has a particular interest in the kids’ space and the film industry and is publisher/editor at and

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The Great Toy Fair debate

The summer always seems to bring out a spate of controversial LinkedIn posts – it’s almost as if some people are bored and just fancy making a little mischief. They’ve have been out in force recently – I’ve just sat back with my metaphorical popcorn and watched as the debate gets livelier (and blunter) with each post.

Across the summer, many of the LinkedIn mischief-makers have been back to one of their favourite topics – the timing of global trade fairs. I tend to be more of an observer than an active participant when it comes to the debate around international events. But I do try to see all sides, rather than having a specific personal agenda to push. So, while I can certainly see that some of the points being made have merit, I also see why other people might have a different perspective.

I have been thinking a bit about why the perspectives differ so greatly and have reached the fairly obvious conclusion that it is because individual suppliers and retailers often have very different needs and approaches. As an example, I read a comment from someone (who I respect greatly) who claimed that Nuremberg is too late because “all the UK retailers have made their decisions” by then. That surprised me, but on reflection, I guess it comes down to how you interpret the phrase “made their decisions.” Has every UK retailer officially confirmed selections in writing to suppliers by that stage? Do they physically have written orders? From what I have heard anecdotally for the past few years, that would seem unlikely (although do feel free to prove me wrong by showing me the order confirmations for autumn winter selections dated January).

That would therefore infer that those suppliers may have been given verbal indications about selections. Fair enough, but…if they don’t have anything in writing, could the buyer’s mind be changed, or their head turned by things they see in London or Nuremberg? Of course, the more established and successful the company, the less likely that is to happen – but nevertheless, as they say, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Although, there is another way to look at it…and for this next section, I have Kids Know Best’s Rob Lough to thank. Talking to Rachael for this month’s Pre-Christmas marketing feature, he spoke about his “50-30-20” rule, which is a way of apportioning spend on proven tactics, calculated risks and experimentation. Now, what if we ascribe the same thinking to retail buyers? In their case, the 50% figure would represent carry forward lines and brands, the perennially successful performers; the 30% calculated risks are the new launches and emerging brands; and finally, the 20% are the ‘punts’.

Is it fair to say that by the time the January fairs start, the buyers may well have decided on their 50% safe bets, but that the 30% risks and 20% punts are still very much up for grabs? Would this explain why some people feel “it is all done and dusted” by the turn of the year, while many other companies

and retailers still see opportunities at the January and February shows? Presumably it depends whether you work for a company with established partnerships and ongoing guaranteed selections, or a company looking to grow market share and grab new opportunities?

That theory would at least go some way to explaining why some people claim the early year shows are too late to influence selections, yet Walmart and Target visited Nuremberg last year in February - that is a lot of time, cost and effort right there if all their selections were firmly locked down. And if that were really the case, why has the London Toy Fair already sold out, with a waiting list (and bear in mind that space had already been extended for the 70th anniversary show in 2024)?

I have reached the conclusion that essentially everyone is right – if they are looking purely at their own business. But as each business is different, that explains the variance in belief about the timing of shows. Not exactly rocket science to be fair, but I only detail my thoughts for the benefit of those who post about their own experience, with the belief that it is universal.

My plan is to visit the New York Toy Fair later this month to assess the impact that the change of date has on the show – both positive and negative. I would rather do that than pontificate in advance and potentially be proved wrong. Indeed, Toy Association president Steve Pasierb’s interview a few pages before this article is rather illuminating, especially when he states that realistically, there are only two timings that would work for the show – September or February. Clearly there is a split in opinion and coming down on one side or the other – which the Toy Association has to do – will inevitably please some people and not others.

I have previously drawn the metaphor of how the toy market selection period operates like an athletics race, with a start and finish line that may be as much as six months apart. There is certainly a healthy conversation to be had as to whereabouts along the race each individual show wants to locate itself –some exhibitors obviously believe the best place to be is at the start of the race, while others may prefer to showcase their new lines closer to the finishing line. I also believe there is a debate to be had about the difference in timing between a preview and a fully-fledged Toy Fair, while it's also undeniable that different retailers have different timescales – and that clearly has a knock-on effect on the thinking of the suppliers which are close to those particular retailers (as we have seen with the large US toy companies which have the majority of their business with Walmart and Target).

The challenge may well be that a perfect one-size-fits-all approach isn’t achievable, so compromise is required. The $6m question is – what does that compromise look like? And who is prepared to be flexible and who has made their mind up that their way is the only way…?

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John Baulch John is publisher of Toy World magazine
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More to Special Feature Xplore

Formed this year, Xplore already has a broad selection of brands in its portfolio, with the capacity to provide international manufacturers with full sales and distribution support in all channels within the UK retail market.

The company was set up by experienced industry stalwart Ravi Mashru, and his team Pritesh Davé and Katrina Daley. Ravi, who is CEO, has 15 years of industry experience, while Sales directors Pritesh and Katrina each have 10 years’ experience under their belts. Most recently, Ravi and Katrina were managing international sales for US-based toy company eKids (KidDesigns), while Ravi and Pritesh handled EMEA distribution for another major US company specialising in toys and consumer electronics.

Xplore is working on introducing a number of international brands to the UK market where the team has signed multiple exclusive deals, including with Eolo Toys to launch its Battle Cubes brand in spring/ summer 2024. The company will also be representing Kids Licensing – a Stationery, Tech, Pocket Money and Back-to-School business based in Spain. Xplore will distribute the company’s products across UK, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. Other partners which have given exclusivity to Xplore include Ciao, which manufactures licensed fancy dress, headquartered in Italy; Reig, which manufactures licensed musical instruments and Banbo Toys, which manufactures officially licensed football figurines. These are joined by My Arcade, a business based in Southern California which supplies a range of licensed retro handheld arcade games carrying licences such as Pac-Man, Street Fighter, Tetris and Space

Invaders. In the UK, OTL, a licensed headphones company, has also joined forces with Xplore, while The Noble Collection has given the business a list of key retailers to distribute to. A full list of products within Xplore’s portfolio is available to view on the company’s new website.

With a focus on bringing new and interesting brands to market, Ravi explained: “We want to offer our services to manufacturers looking to go into UK distribution. We also have our Xpand EU and Xplode USA divisions, offering distribution over those two continents as well as in the Middle East and South Africa. We’ve got the reach in each of these key markets – we already have people on the ground, working on multiple brands. These territories include Germany, France, Spain, Nordics, Italy, Middle East and USA. We also have an established e-commerce division – some of our partners have given us exclusivity to manage their entire e-commerce business for them. Thanks to our warehouse network, we can ship direct to retailers or despatch directly to the customer.”

The Xplore team and warehouse is based in Leicester, but the company also utilises third-party warehouses across Europe.

“We’ve already secured placement for autumn/ winter 2023 with a tremendous reaction from buyers,” commented Ravi. “We have some great manufacturing partners from around the world who have been very supportive through this process which has allowed us to ensure the availability of stock for our retail partners, which is of paramount importance.”

Retailers and manufacturers can meet the Xplore team, which will be visiting upcoming toy exhibitions including London, New York and Nuremberg, while its broad portfolio is also on permanent display in the company’s Leicester showroom. The business currently has in excess of

10 employees within sales, operations, e-commerce and warehousing, a figure which is set to grow in the near future. Xplore has a team of dedicated brand managers, who are experts in the individual brands they manage, which will help them to develop partnerships with multiple key retailers.

Pritesh added: “We have built strong relationships with our manufacturing partners who have the capabilities to secure licences and products to meet retailer requirements. When we speak to our retail partners, we ask them if they have any gaps in their range that we could help them with; we have strength and depth when it comes to sourcing – whether that’s a product at a certain price or a particular licence.”

Further to this, the Xplore team believes that there should be a strong focus towards sustainability and has made a conscious decision to become more ecofriendly. From 2024, some products will be supplied in eco-friendly packaging, and the team is working with its manufacturers in implementing this strategy right across the range.

Ravi concluded: “We’re always on the lookout for new brands. If anyone needs any assistance or wants to find out more about working with Xplore, then do get in contact and we can even meet in person at New York Toy Fair.”

For further details please email Pritesh on

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Just weeks into its official launch, Xplore Distribution has secured top retail partners and signed exclusive distribution deals with international toy companies for the various markets that include the UK and Ireland


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It has to be said that what Mattel has achieved with the Barbie movie is nothing short of remarkable; creating an incredible presence across every retail channel, without any retailers complaining that their competitors have been given preferential treatment. I also get the distinct impression that there was a focus on the positive contributions that licensees and retailers can make in building consumer engagement, in marked contrast to certain movie-driven entertainment companies, who seem more interested in telling partners what they can’t do or say, often imposing draconian restrictions at every turn. Ultimately, licensees and retailers are far more than just a sideshow to the main (movie) event, they play a crucial role in delivering the excitement…

Even Sainsbury’s Argos has thrown themselves into the world of Barbie with gusto, with an impactful Barbie-themed section prominently placed right at the front of 64 stores. It was reminiscent of the way grocers used to operate a few years back, when it arguably felt like they had greater passion and enthusiasm for toys, and it even had shades of the old Woolworths movie launch activity about it. This was exactly the kind of initiative that I thought the Argos acquisition might bring to Sainsbury’s, and I hope it gives them the confidence to do more of the same with other brands in the future…

Despite it being the height of summer, there have been several notable toy and licensing industry moves announced recently; I gather that Alpana Virani will shortly be leaving Universal to take on a new role at Netflix. Meanwhile, over in the US, the news that Richard Dickson has left Mattel to join fashion retailer Gap as COO came as something of a surprise to many.

I also understand that Neil Bandtock recently parted company with Canal Toys here in the UK, while the German CEO of Playmobil, Steffan Hopfner, has stepped down after eight years in the role and 26 years in the company…

I have written several Blogs and columns recently suggesting that the UK toy market was holding up reasonably well thus far this year: this viewpoint was very much based on the Circana data up to and including June, which saw the market down by a mere 2%. But that was then, this is now – life comes at your fast in the toy market. I have it on pretty good authority that the July numbers fell quite a way short of that level. From what I hear, the market was down every week in July, with the last three weeks all experiencing double digit declines. Of course, the inclement weather in July didn’t help – I would imagine outdoor sales slowed up dramatically. But even allowing for that, I get the impression that a normal level of outdoor sales wouldn’t have been enough to turn the figures around – even though that might have softened the blow for retailers, the underlying trend remains some way behind last July’s numbers…

As ever, though, it’s important to keep a sense of perspective: July is traditionally a solid month – better than February or even March without an Easter holiday in it, but not exactly Q4 either. And thankfully there are some bright spots: in addition to Barbie, another blockbuster movie has arrived in the form of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem film. I was impressed with the way in which the film delivered a fresh, modern take on an iconic toy brand. It’s without doubt the best Turtles movie since the original (“waaaay better than that Michael Bay rubbish” was the succinct summary of one toy retail superfan). I loved that it portrayed the Turtles as ‘real teenagers’, with all the sass, bravado and vulnerability that entails – kids will both relate to and aspire to the characters. There were also some nice ‘easter eggs’ for the diehard fans, and the animation was a refreshing change from the wall-to-wall CGI we’ve become accustomed to; it gave the movie an edgier,

cooler vibe that aligns perfectly with the brand. And crucially, the movie will sell toys – it showcases the heroes, villains and vehicles with plenty of wit and panache, without being overly commercial. Like Barbie, I gather that the toys are already selling well, so let’s hope that the ‘hero’ summer movies will help to make the August numbers a little more palatable…

There was more good news for the UK toy community last month in the form of another screeching U-turn from the UK government, which has sensibly decided that it will allow British companies to carry on using the CE mark after all. Thank goodness common sense has prevailed. This volte face is very good news for UK toy companies, saving them a lot of money, time and hassle in the long term (albeit I feel sorry for those companies which have already spent a fair bit preparing for the switch to the UKCA mark). However, why the government even contemplated changing the system in the first place is beyond me – we just have to be glad they listened to bodies like the British Toy & Hobby Association, which has been trying to persuade them they’d got it spectacularly wrong. Yet another Brexit own goal that could have cost companies millions had it not been scrapped – and once again evidence of the paradox that Brexit only really works when you don’t implement it…

It is great to hear that the London Toy Fair is now officially sold out, with the BTHA looking to expand the space on offer for the 70th anniversary show in January. Existing exhibitors are on board, a few recent drop-outs are returning (including Tomy) and a host of first-time exhibitors have applied for space. This is excellent news. When it comes to shows, you cannot beat clarity and being able to plan ahead – and it is lovely to see the show continuing to thrive when there is a little uncertainty in some other quarters…

Clintons has hit problems yet again, this time threatening to close 38 stores to avoid insolvency, after a failed attempt to merge with Paperchase. Plush suppliers will be keeping an eye on developments, although long gone are the days when Clintons was truly a major player in this area. Indeed, during our recent retail tour of London to view Barbie in-store activations first-hand, Mattel’s Michael Hick made the point that Primark may well be the biggest licensed plush retailer in the UK now. Disney has always been the master at ‘slicing and dicing’ licences, often juggling multiple companies with a variety of different plush deals for the same properties – which hasn’t always gone down well with individual licensees. But looking at Primark’s DTR range, I wonder if that is having a far greater impact on sales of Disney plush than any skirmishes between competing licensees. Thank goodness Primark doesn’t have Squishmallows, or it really would be building a dominant position in the tween plush category…

A couple of people have contacted me recently, raising queries about the New York Toy Fair admission policy. I can’t say whether it has changed dramatically from previous years or not, but if you are planning to visit the show, it is worth checking out the T&Cs on the website. Some key points to note; according to the website, “Registration for Toy Fair is exclusively online. There will NOT be any on-site registration at the Javits Centre.” Some have also intimated that they are surprised at the cost for non-retail attendees (£299 for many distributors) and in addition, specific credentials have to be submitted to be approved to attend. I’m not going to comment on individual shows’ registration policies; it’s their show, they can do what they like (within reason). But it doesn’t appear that you can just rock up with a business card and get in like you can at many trade shows, so forewarned is forearmed.

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