How can toy licensing recover its sparkle? Part 3

The third and final instalment of the research piece Toy World and Informa, the organiser of BLE, have collaborated on.

Rounding off our three-part breakdown of the August issue’s bumper licensing survey, here are questions 7 and 8, giving a sense of how the toy community views the state of play in the licensing arena right now.

Look out for the follow-up piece in September’s issue, which will look at the biggest challenges that licensees and retailers will face in the coming years, and what licensors could do to improve their partnerships with licensees and retailers.


Question 7

Slicensing is clearly affecting the vast majority of licensees, either to a modest (54%) or significant (40%) degree. Obviously the practice is more prevalent in some categories than others, while there is also a massive variance between the levels of slicensing on a ‘hot’ brand compared to steady, long-term properties.

Comments –

  • It is a nuisance and often it is the licensors lust for extra revenue at the expense of partnerships and their inability to say ‘no’ to certain big retailers.
  • The majority of licensors offer genuine exclusivity – with one main exception. With them, it’s a nuisance and does nothing for the category.
  • We have seen RRPs driven down in several categories because of slicensing and it is not sustainable – to the extent where businesses have gone into receivership because of it. Thankfully, we tend to be the licensee that remains, but our business is impacted. Also, the lack of communication between licensor and licensees on this is deeply frustrating – we need to know who the players are or we look pretty stupid in front of our retailers.


Question 8

Responses were fairly evenly spread here – clearly grey imports are an issue in certain quarters, and they can have an impact at various stages of a product lifecycle, especially if a property or range has been launched at different times in different markets.



Comments – 

  • It’s a massive issue which licensors do not want to tackle. UK- based agents are getting away with it illegally day in day out, without any risk or financial stake in the property. It brings gross margin and licensed down massively (for both parties). It affects investment in product development, marketing and dumbs down/devalues licensed products.
  • It’s getting to be more of a concern: certain retailers will source from European manufacturers who do not officially have the licence to sell within the UK. That said, licensors are not happy either, but say they are powerless.
  • We are massively affected by ‘inspired by’ and counterfeit product – this is a growing problem that licensors should invest more in tackling.


To read the full article, published in the August issue of Toy World, click here.

How can toy licensing recover its sparkle? Part 2

The second instalment of the research piece Toy World and Informa, the organiser of BLE, have collaborated on. 

Picking up where we left off yesterday, here are questions 4-6 from our licensing survey, giving a sense of how the toy community views the state of play in the licensing arena right now.


Question 4

Again, with a negligible number believing the approval process to be straightforward, views are split between those who feel it is largely workable and a slightly larger number who find it over-complicated and protracted. With speed to market becoming increasingly important and the short window of opportunity for movie-related properties, a long approval process can put tremendous pressure on the supply chain and result in licensees missing key sales opportunities.


  • Some licensors expect refreshed designs every year, which simply isn’t practical for some licensees or retailers. A protracted approvals process slows down the speed to market, costs valuable turnover and in some cases fines by retailers for late new lines.
  • There is such a difference – some are a joy to work with and others give feedback that is simply not commercial.


Question 5

I suspect that answers to this question were heavily dependent on which licensors were being referenced. Inevitably, there was a noticeable split between movie licences and other properties, with one specific licensor repeatedly identified as the main culprit. It seems that just about every licensee that has tried to sell product to retailers based on only having a SKU number and a retail price has experienced ‘challenges’ – who would have thought it?

Comments –

  • They need to realise we are in the world of “NOW”, consumers want things quicker than ever.
  • It is absolutely a barrier when a licensee is kept under embargo and the trailer and lots of information is already out there on the internet. It significantly inhibits sales when a licensee can’t send images or launch product at the start of the season.
  • Recent examples have certainly deeply frustrated retailers. However, I am not sure it will impact the end number – it just causes a lot of stress and pressure on relationships along the way.


Question 6

On the plus side, slightly over half say they plan to spend the same or more than they did in the past. On the other hand, almost half say they plan to cut back. One interpretation could be that licensees will increasingly look to just back the winners, rather than taking more of a risk by signing multiple new properties. Responses may also be affected by product category: clearly, licensing remains dominant in some product sectors, while in some other areas, innovation and trend-driven product could be replacing character products.

Comments –

  • We must remain cautious right now and ensure we balance our level of risk as a business.
  • It is really near-impossible to get product to retail without a strong brand. The only way to grow as a company is by creating innovation, delving into new and tangential categories and by having licences to carry those product lines to market.

To read the full article, published in the August issue of Toy World, click here.

How can toy licensing recover its sparkle? Part 1

Toy World has collaborated with Informa, the organiser of BLE, on a research piece which explores the current attitudes of toy licensees and retailers towards the licensing category.

We received some very honest feedback from licensees and retailers to the survey we sent out. The full results appeared in the August edition of  Toy World, and over the next few days we’ll be bringing you some of the highlights. In the September’s issue, the follow up piece will look at the biggest challenges that licensees and retailers will face in the coming years, and what licensors could do to improve their partnerships with licensees and retailers.

For now, here is a sense of how the toy community views the state of play in the licensing arena right now. Each chart shows the question we asked and the percentage of respondents, and is accompanied by additional comments from suppliers and opinion from Toy World publisher John Baulch.


Question 1

The good news is that two-thirds of licensees feel that despite its challenges, licensed toys are as popular as ever with their retail partners. However, one third of licensees are seeing a downturn in retail interest. I suspect that, to some extent, this may be category specific – while some categories are still heavily reliant on licensing, others have shifted emphasis to favour more generic lines.


Comments – 

  • Retailers are sticking to evergreens or innovation – anything in between is a hard sell in our secondary category.
  • All licensing is a gamble, especially new properties – launching new IP in the current climate is challenging. But hasn’t it always been like that?


Question 2

The feedback here is relatively clear cut. Not one licensee believes that every licensor is taking the current retail climate into consideration. One third of respondents believe that at least some of their licensors are playing ball, while an emphatic two thirds feel that ‘few’ (i.e. the minority) are being realistic. The overwhelming evidence suggests therefore that toy licensees perceive that the majority of licensors have not adjusted their thinking despite the evolving economic and retail situation.

Comments – 

  • More and more are getting realistic and understanding the risk to the licensee if a brand bombs in year two and they’re trying to hold them to annualised MGs.
  • Most seem to have become more realistic. It is a shame that a few of them are still so arrogant and do not consider trading conditions.


Question 3

No great surprise that not a single licensee thinks they are paying too little for a licence, but with only 7% perceiving the costs to be about where they should be, a whopping 93% agree that terms are weighted strongly in favour of the licensor. I suspect this reflects a number of current trading factors, particularly the cost of developing tooling and the demands of retailers.


Comments – 

  • Licensees don’t always appreciate the financial pressure that licensors are under, given the investment required to create the content and launch the brand.
  • You always want to help the licensors that are pragmatic. Everybody needs to make money; it’s just about agreeing the fairest possible way for all parties.


To read the full article, published in the August issue of Toy World, click here.

Licensing Expo and American International Toy Fair announce collaboration

Advanstar Licensing and the Toy Industry Association have announced a new collaboration to cross-promote attendance at their two trade events in 2014.TIAlicexpo300

The American International Toy Fair represents the $22b US toy market. The event features more than 1,100 exhibiting companies and nearly 25,000 attendees. Licensing Expo, which represents the $230b licensing and brand extension market, draws more than 5,000 character, entertainment, art and consumer brands from 420 exhibitors and more than 15,000 attendees.

Through the newly established alliance, Advanstar Licensing and TIA will introduce Licensing Expo exhibitors to current and emerging toy trends, and inform Toy Fair exhibitors of licensing issues and opportunities in domestic, international and emerging markets.

“Considering that roughly 30% of the three billion toys and games purchased in the US each year are the result of licensed partnerships, a collaboration with the largest toy trade show in the western hemisphere made perfect sense for Licensing Expo,” said Jessica Blue, vice president of Licensing Expo. “This is going to bring many benefits to both sets of exhibitors. Our exhibitors can attend Toy Fair to seek out the latest trends in the market and every Toy Fair exhibitor could find a potential licensing partner by attending Licensing Expo.”

The new collaboration will also provide cross-promotional opportunities via direct mail and electronic marketing, editorial content and co-hosted seminars.

Marian Bossard, vice president of meetings and events at Toy industry Association, owners and producers of The American International Toy Fair, commented: “TIA is pleased to collaborate with Advanstar in support of our mutual stakeholders. This allows both groups to elevate awareness of the inextricable link between toys, youth product and playthings for all ages, and brand and entertainment properties.”

The American International Toy Fair will take place February 16-19, 2014 at New York City’s Jacob K Javits Convention Center. Licensing Expo, which is sponsored by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, will take place June 17-19 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For more information, visit or

If you would like to receive our daily newsflash email, please enter your email address in the “sign-up” box at the top of the page; you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and request a print subscription here.

Amscan gains Peppa Pig licence for partyware

The announcement comes as 2019 marks Peppa Pig’s 15th Anniversary.

Amscan International has confirmed that party goods will be joining its portfolio alongside its existing range of Peppa and George dress up and balloons.

Available to pre-order now, Amscan’s initial new range will be ready to ship from August. The colourful line-up of Peppa Pig themed party goods incorporates best-selling items such as plates, cups, napkins, table covers, decorations, party bags and favours.

This new party range complements Amscan’s existing range of Peppa Pig foil and latex balloons, which continues to be a best-selling licensed franchise for the manufacturer year on year. A broad offering of balloon formats is already available, including Air-filled Mini Balloons, SuperShapes, Balloon Bouquets and an AirWalker (measuring 1.2 m).

Amscan’s new Peppa Pig and George costumes are also available to order now for Q4 2019 delivery, featuring three different styles; Peppa’s everyday dress (complete with bear accessory), a Peppa party dress and a George cape.

Mel Beer, licensing director EMEA for Amscan, commented: “We are thrilled that eOne has supported us in our ambition to offer Amscan’s customers a ‘one stop party’ opportunity for Peppa Pig, across party goods, balloons and costumes. Balloon sales for this truly evergreen property continue to grow year on year, and, with the recent addition of costumes and now party goods, our full range offering provides everything a Peppa Pig fan could possibly need to celebrate with their favourite character in style.”

The August issue of Toy World is out now

The latest issue of Toy World is available to view online now.

The August issue, which boasts Kids@Play’s Harry Potter Magical Infinity Calendar as its cover star, includes comprehensive category features on plush toys, STEM toys and wooden toys. We also take a look at what will be on show at this year’s Autumn Fair, and speak to some leading exhibitors in the toy & games category about their presence at the event.

We’ve spoken to Richard Stone, founder of UK company Beehive Toys, about how independent retailers can benefit from the company’s innovative product range and refreshingly simple terms, and caught up with N. Smith’s MD Nigel Reynolds about the display and packaging solutions making a difference to brick & mortar stores. Victor Caddy of Wynne-Jones IP looks at the potential implications of a departure from the EU for UK toy companies, and familiar faces including Nat Southworth, Jim Hawker and Ruth Clement offer their Viewpoints on topics ranging from the perfect line to sustainable packaging.

Plus, we present the first part of our in-depth look at the licensing industry. Working in conjunction with Brand Licensing Expo, Toy World publisher John Baulch has gathered comments and insight from some of the most straight-talking licensees the industry has to offer, in an effort to better understand how the toy community views the state of play in the licensing arena right now. We’re sure you’ll all agree that it makes for fascinating reading. Part two of this article, which will be published in the September issue, will look at the biggest challenges that licensees and retailers will face in the coming months, and what licensors could do to improve their relationships with licensees and retailers.

To read the August issue of Toy World Magazine, click here.

Popular licensing execs to take on Thames Bridge Challenge for Mind

Ian Downes, Paul Bufton, Simon Gresswell and Chris Isitt will take on new Hike For Cal challenge.

The popular licensing executives will take on the Thames Bridges Challenge this September walking together for Mind in memory of Ian’s son, Calum, who passed away in 2015 aged 19.

The event will see Ian Downes, Paul Bufton, Simon Gresswell, and Chris Isitt cross every London bridge, starting at Putney Bridge and ending at Tower Bridge, covering approximately 16 miles along the way. The aim is to raise £7,000 for Mind – the mental health charity which provides help and care for those with mental health issues.

“This is the third walking fundraising event that we have organised in memory of our son Calum,” said Ian. “It is a positive way to remember him and for us to demonstrate our love for him whilst raising money for an excellent charity that provides help and support for those affected by mental illness. I have also found walking a good way of keeping fit, relaxing, and in lots of cases a great opportunity to talk to people. Walking and talking is good for everyone!”

Ian continued: “In our first year, Simon and I completed a gruelling 24-hour course and last year, myself and Paul completed the Mind Hike in Cornwall where we also walked for 24 hours, raised over £7,000 and crossed the finishing line with lots of new friends. This year we’re delighted to welcome Chris Isitt into the fold, and we’ll walk together to demonstrate the power of community.”

To kick start the 2019 fundraising effort, Ian, Paul, Simon and Chris will be hosting a taster ‘#hikeforcal’ and they extend an open industry invitation to join them for this summer social.

The walking tour set in South London that will start from the The Anchor pub on Bankside (34 Park Street, SE1 9EF) at 5.15pm on Monday 19th August. The tour will take in some of the best sights (and pubs) of London and will take approximately two and a half hours. Attendees will get a free drink at the finishing pub – The Mayflower in Rotherhithe. Tickets cost £30 and can be bought via Just Giving or the organisers directly. All proceeds go directly to MIND.

Alternatively, readers can simply pledge their support and donate via the page.

PhatMojo named master toy partner for Paddington outside EMEA

The deal will see PhatMojo become master toy partner for the USA, Canada, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

Copyrights Group has announced the appointment of PhatMojo as the master toy partner for Paddington outside EMEA.

PhatMojo will create new product ranges tied into all new media content being developed for Paddington, to include the TV series launching next year and the Paddington movies.

PhatMojo will produce a full range of toys at different price points to include figurines, play sets, plush and role-play items. The initial product launch linked to the TV series will take place in autumn 2020. Products will be available for distribution across all other markets via new and existing partners.

The deal was brokered by Copyrights’ local licensing agents for North America, Bravado and Retail Monster.

Fully animated in 3D, the new Paddington series, The Adventures of Paddington, sees a younger Paddington writing to his Aunt Lucy from Windsor Gardens. Each episode will open and close with Paddington’s letter, as he tells Aunt Lucy what he has learned about life through the day’s exciting new adventure. The Adventures of Paddington will launch with 26 x 22 minute episodes, airing on Nickelodeon’s networks worldwide in 2020 (except France, Canada, China and Japan).

The movie, Paddington 3, is currently in development.

Shawn McCarthy, PhatMojo CEO, said: “It’s so cool, and such an honour, to become part of the great Paddington tradition. The new TV and film content is inspiring to us. Bringing Paddington to the pre-school aisle will be a joy.”

Sophie Kopaczynski, Copyrights Group CEO, added: “We are thrilled to partner with PhatMojo to create a new range of products for a whole new generation of fans, who will discover Paddington for the first time through his new adventures on TV. We believe this is a great new chapter for Paddington.”

TrendCommittee expands toy know-how

The TrendCommittee, established by Spielwarenmesse team, is joined by three new members this year. 

Recognising relevant trends as they emerge and keeping track of developments can be extremely challenging. The international TrendCommittee, created by the Spielwarenmesse, keeps a close and exacting eye on the market. Based on their findings, the twelve committee experts, including Toy World publisher John Baulch, will identify the main trends for 2020, which will be revealed from mid-October 2019. At the next Spielwarenmesse, taking place on 29th January to 2nd February 2020, the trends and related products can be experienced in action at the TrendGallery.

Three new members have joined the team this year, contributing their expertise and providing constructive input. The American journalist Jackie Breyer is group publisher of The Toy Book and The Toy Insider and has been reporting about trends in the retail trade and the toy industry for the past 17 years. In 2012 she was awarded the accolade of Wonder Woman in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment. Urszula Kaszubowska, the new editor-in-chief of the biggest Polish trade journal for toys and baby products Branza Dziecieca, is taking over Marek Jankowskis’ position on the TrendCommittee. She is also a member of the jury for the annual Polish Toy of the Year competition. Lena Hedö, who has been Chairwoman of the Swedish Toy Retailers Association since 2002, will bring her knowledge of the Scandinavian toy market to the table. She can draw on more than 40 years experience in the toy sector. She is editor-in-chief of Lek & Babyrevyn, a Swedish trade magazine for toys and baby products, as well as Co-President of International Toy Trade Magazine Association (ITMA).

The TrendCommittee shines a light on overriding, medium-term industry trends that look set to influence the toy industry in the near future. Emerging toys often seize upon similar themes, giving rise to a new trend, as Christian Ulrich, director marketing at Spielwarenmesse eG, said: “These trends are not yet visible on the market en masse, but are increasingly being embraced by manufacturers and discussed by the media.”

BLE and Licensing International announce new networking and socialising events

The after-hours events will take place close to to the BLE new show location at Excel London. 

The Museum of Docklands, which plays host to the official BLE after party.

Brand Licensing Europe and headline sponsor Licensing International will deliver a packed programme of after-hours networking and socialising events for exhibitors and visitors to BLE 2019. The three events will take place in east London venues close to the show’s new home at Excel London. BLE 2019 runs from 1st – 3rd October. You can register for BLE 2019 here.

After-hours events include the Exhibitor party, taking place on Tuesday 1st October between 5-7pm. All exhibitors are invited to join the BLE team for informal drinks and networking at the end of day one at the Novotel, less than a two minute walk from Excel.

On Wednesday 2nd October, the Novotel will play host to the Global Licensing Group drinks between 5-7pm. This is the perfect opportunity to meet the team as well as members of Licensing International chapters from around the world. Everyone is welcome to attend this new drinks reception before heading to the Licensing International Official BLE Party.

From 7pm, after the Global Licensing Group drinks, will be the Licensing International Official BLE Party. Organised by Licensing International, this is the biggest networking event at BLE and will feature a fun mix of live entertainment, karaoke, food, drinks and networking. The official show party will take place at the Museum of London Docklands this year. An exciting new venue in the heart of London’s vibrant financial centre of Canary Wharf, the museum is just a short hop from Excel. Readers can reserve their Early Bird tickets now.

“The licensing industry is a proudly sociable one, which is why we are holding two new events on the Tuesday and Wednesday in venues close to Excel,” said BLE event director Anna Knight. “We’re also really excited that Licensing International has booked the Museum of Docklands for the official BLE after party – it’s an inspired choice – and one of many great venues in the vibrant and metropolitan local area. Our After Hours guide, which can be downloaded free from the BLE website, is full of bars and restaurants that are perfect for a spot of post-show networking, with lots of variety to suit everyone’s needs, time limits and budgets.”