Funrise appoints James Xuereb as European account manager for e-Commerce

James Xuereb has been appointed as the European account manager for Funrise’s e-Commerce team.

James XuerebJames Xuereb joined the growing Funrise International team in November 2023 with 10 years of experience in planning and directing diverse e-Commerce businesses.

James said: “I am very excited to join Funrise at this stage in its journey and am looking forward to joining a strong team, the growth opportunities presented and using my skills to develop an e-Commerce strategy.”

Having served as head of e-Commerce at Wow! Stuff, he oversaw the implementation of the e-Commerce strategy in European markets. He brings to Funrise a deep knowledge of online business and marketplaces, combined with extensive experience in the toy industry.

“James has a distinguished track record implementing e-Commerce EU strategies and growing Amazon revenues, and we are thrilled to have him join the Funrise team,” said Annie Sullivan, GM, Northern Europe. “James will play an integral role in continuing to build the business even further and grow our e-Commerce business.”

James will lead all e-Commerce activity for Funrise’s portfolio of brands in all key European territories.

This is the third major hire at Funrise in 2023. In February, Mayur Pattni joined as marketing manage, Europe, overseeing all aspects of marketing and PR for Funrise’s portfolio in all key European territories, and Jonathan Wheatstone joined Funrise as national account manager UK/Ireland in late June. He is responsible for driving new business opportunities at Funrise UK and forging strong relationships across multiple national retail accounts.

L.O.L. Surprise! celebrates 50th anniversary of Hello Kitty with new collection

L.O.L. Surprise! Tots honours internationally renowned and beloved character Hello Kitty with new limited-edition collection.

L.O.L.MGA Entertainment has announced its collaboration with global lifestyle brand Sanrio to honour the beloved character Hello Kitty, in celebration of her 50th anniversary in 2024. The newly released L.O.L. Surprise! Loves Hello Kitty limited-edition collection features two L.O.L. Surprise! tots, styled in Hello Kitty-inspired outfits and packaged in a brand-new Hello Kitty shaped ball, complete with her ears and a 50th anniversary bow. The new line is perfect for kids, collectors and those who love Hello Kitty and L.O.L. Surprise! alike.

“L.O.L. Surprise! is proud to partner with Hello Kitty in celebration of this momentous anniversary, bringing together two iconic brands that share a common message to children and adults around the world,” said Isaac Larian, founder and CEO, MGA Entertainment. “The L.O.L. Surprise! Loves Hello Kitty collection is the perfect way to celebrate both beloved brands.”

The special limited-edition L.O.L. Surprise! tots feature Hello Kitty-themed fashions and accessories in a pastel colour scheme, chosen by Sanrio especially for the 50th anniversary. The tots, Crystal Cutie and Miss Pearly, have seven surprises to unbox, including an outfit, shoes, two accessories, a purse and a sticker.

“For five decades, Hello Kitty has inspired generations, and her message of friendship, kindness and inclusivity transcends cultures and continues to resonate with fans of all ages,” said Craig Takiguchi, chief operating officer of Sanrio. “In celebration of Hello Kitty’s milestone year, the new special edition L.O.L. Surprise! dolls are a symbol of friendship, creativity and self-expression, and we hope they inspire kids across the globe to be themselves and embrace their individuality.”

Hello Kitty’s core message of friendship is an integral part of the L.O.L. Surprise! brand and has been since it launched more than eight years ago. This celebratory collection joins the growing portfolio of new releases from L.O.L. Surprise! that are aimed at engaging both kids and kidults.

The L.O.L. Surprise! Loves Hello Kitty limited-edition collection is available now.

Bandai Namco launches additional stores in the UK

Bandai Namco has launched new stores in the UK in Brighton, Ealing and Sheffield, with more launches planned in the new year.

Bandai NamcoFollowing the successful launch of the first ever Bandai Namco Cross Store outside of Japan, and the recent Victoria Place brand store opening, a continued expansion of Bandai Namco brand stores will launch nationally in December 2023. This will include popular collectibles Gashapon, Ichibankuji, Sun-Star stationery, arcade experiences and more.

London’s Camden Bandai Namco Cross Store opened in the summer, followed by the Victoria Place brand store in November 2023. The upcoming stores will open in December, with Ealing opening on the 7th of December, featuring Gashapon, Ichibankuji and Sun-Star Stationery, Brighton’s North Street on the 12th of December, featuring arcade games and Gashapon, and Meadowhall Sheffield, featuring Gashapon and Sun-Star Stationery.

The appearance of stores in the UK has strengthened the love of Bandai Namco’s brands in the physical space. Expansion will continue into 2024, with plans for larger stores, tours and other brand appearances reaching out to fans nationally.

Bandai’s three main popular collectible collections are:

  • Gashapon – Bandai’s miniature capsule collectibles and vending machines. The name is a combination of the ‘clunk’ (gasha) sound made when the handle is turned and how the capsule ‘pops’ (pon) out of the machine. Gashapon Bandai’s official shop is a Gashapon dedicated capsule collectible shop, featuring many of Bandai’s products. Visitors will be introduced to some of their favourite Japanese characters and an array of on-trend miniature collectibles.
  • Ichibankuji – the unique Japanese experience where every player is a winner. Meaning ‘number one lottery’ in Japanese, the Kuji combines high-quality, exclusive Anime collectibles with a lucky-dip style draw, with prizes ranging from detailed statues, character plush and much more. Players simply peel and reveal a ticket to claim their prize, with every draw being a guaranteed win.
  • Sun-Star Stationery – a Japanese company that is part of the Bandai Namco Group. They create cute (kawaii) and practical stationery and everyday items, including products featuring popular Japanese characters. Consumers can enter the world of Practi-Kawaii at the Sun-Star Stationery Shop.

Lego Botanical Collection blooms with bouquet of roses

Lego has unveiled its latest product in the Lego Botanical Collection: the Lego Icons Bouquet of Roses.

Lego Icons Bouquet of RosesThe new Lego bouquet depicts a dozen red roses, including four in full bloom, four blooming and four in bud, plus a scattering of small white flowers. The bouquet can be kept in a vase for a touch of elegant decor that brightens a room, whether displayed at home or in the office.

The Lego Icons Bouquet of Roses can be a thoughtful gift, as an indulgent present or as a treat to a loved one to celebrate a special occasion. The building process has been designed to be enjoyable and easy, and the set comes with separate instructions for the three flowering stages, for a mindful solo project or as a bonding group activity with friends and family.

The Lego Icons Bouquet of Roses joins Lego Icons Tiny Plants, which was also recently added to the Botanical Collection. The building set contains nine plants, each from arid, tropical and even carnivorous species, each nestled in its own terracotta coloured plant pot. A great gift for gardening fans and plant lovers, this set is a project to enjoy with friends and family, with different models for easy, medium and advanced builders.

There is also a digital version of the building instructions available in the Lego Builder app. Here, there’s a space for relaxation with a range of Lego creative building projects designed specifically for adults. These have been introduced after finding 80% of adults are actively seeking new ways to unwind, with the vast majority (87%) adding that play helps them relax and feel calm (Play Well Study 2022 research).

The new Lego Icons Bouquet of Roses will be available from the 1st January 2024.

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Spielwarenmesse 2024 unveils revamped Toys Go Green exhibition

Spielwarenmesse has unveiled its new, revamped Toys Go Green exhibition titled A Celebration of Sustainable Play and Industry Innovation.

Toys Go GreenBuilding on the success of previous years, Spielwarenmesse 2024 and Sustainable Toys Action Consulting (STAC), which says it is the first and only sustainability consultancy specialising in toys, are joining forces to elevate Toys Go Green, an exhibition exploring the landscape of sustainable play.

Toys Go Green will feature a meticulously curated selection of sustainable toys, each a testament to the use of sustainable raw materials, durability, repairability and a profound commitment to planet Earth.

Attendees will have the opportunity to explore a diverse range of toys designed to minimize their environmental footprint through eco-design, recyclability, the use of natural and certified materials and recycled and bio-based polymers. Additionally, the exhibition will showcase toys that transcend play, educating children about the environment and instilling a sense of responsibility for the planet’s future.

Spielwarenmesse 2024 edition will include talks from sustainable toy brands, providing a rare glimpse into the visionary approaches shaping the industry’s green future. Attendees will have numerous opportunities to engage with the STAC team, a group of sustainable toy experts ready to answer questions, debunk myths and welcome everyone aboard the sustainability journey, from seasoned eco-leaders to those just embarking upon it.

The toy industry generates a significant carbon footprint from virgin fossil raw materials. Consumer expectations and regulations on eco-design, end-of-life and reporting are driving transformative change in the industry. In a joint effort to support toy companies and promote a greener toy industry, Spielwarenmesse and STAC have forged a groundbreaking collaboration, offering a glimpse into a more sustainable future, educational content and free consulting services to toy makers.

Boti secures victory in copyright infringement case

The court has ruled that Toi-Toys manufactured and distributed imitations of Boti’s Doctor Squish-Squishy Maker toys.

Boti Boti has won its legal battle against Toi-Toys, which was found guilty of manufacturing and distributing an imitation of the Doctor Squish-Squishy Maker toy through the retail chain Action.

The court has ruled that Toi-Toys is prohibited from further violating the copyrights of Boti‘s Squishy Maker and must cease exploiting the commercial success of the product. Additionally, Toi-Toys is ordered to disclose the scale of its distribution of the infringing product and to initiate a recall of all units from the market, including from various European branches of Action. Subsequently, the destruction of the products has been mandated by the preliminary relief judge.

Boti has expressed its satisfaction with this outcome. The lawsuit was initiated not only to safeguard Boti’s intellectual property, but to also deter the entry of counterfeit products into the market.

“Making and selling a counterfeit product is unacceptable from an ethical point of view and acting in this way, solely for the sake of financial gain, can never be a justification. We hope that this ruling will play a significant role in curtailing counterfeit activities in the Dutch and international market. We also hope that it encourages companies to revise their policies and firmly denounce counterfeiting,” commented Nico Blauw, CEO of Boti. He added: “Boti would like to thank everyone for the enormous support the company has received. The expressions of support have been overwhelming and clearly reflect how many fellow toy suppliers view these practices.”

In October, Boti identified that a counterfeit version of its Doctor Squish-Squishy Maker was being sold at Action for an unusually low price. Closer inspection revealed that the Squishy Factory product was essentially an exact replica, mirroring everything from the design and colour scheme to the content and packaging. Boti promptly initiated legal proceedings to halt the sales of Squishy Factory.

Boti stands for Big On Toy Innovation., with a mission to develop innovative, high-quality and safe toys, providing children with the ultimate play experience. The development of an innovative product at Boti typically spans one to two years, involving significant financial investment. This process includes extensive research, multiple design and development phases and various quality assurance processes to ensure a safe and responsible final product. Production only commences once Boti is completely satisfied with the product, which is then continually improved post-market launch. Significant costs are also incurred in developing marketing materials, such as TV commercials, culminating in a product that both Boti and its consumers can take pride in. This entire developmental process involves investment amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros.

In contrast, a counterfeit manufacturer incurs only a fraction of these costs by bypassing many of these critical steps, explaining the substantial price difference between the original and the counterfeit product.

Ravensburger launches UK’s tallest GraviTrax marble run

Ravensburger has partnered with science presenter Greg Foot to launch the UK’s tallest GraviTrax marble run. 

GraviTraxRavensburger has partnered with award-winning science presenter, Greg Foot. The collaboration has led to the creation of the UK’s tallest GraviTrax marble run.

The gravity-defying structure, measuring an impressive three metres high, showcased the open-ended nature of the GraviTrax system and was unveiled at Eureka! National Children’s Museum in Halifax.

Children were invited to send a marble down the track with the help of TV personality Greg, who provided insight into the science behind the giant build. The event also gave visitors the opportunity to get hands on with GraviTrax and design their own tracks.

Elaine Connell, Product Marketing manager at Ravensburger, said: “Throughout the day we saw children, and plenty of adults too, totally absorbed in GraviTrax. Greg Foot was an engaging and inspiring host whose passion for the system was clear in his discussions with visitors. There was also some incredibly creative construction going on in our Build Beyond the Usual free-play zone that really brought to life the unlimited fun and discovery to be had with GraviTrax.”

Attracting hundreds of families from around the region, as well as media guests, the event was also supported by the release of survey research findings that highlighted adults’ interest in encouraging imagination through play, both in themselves and their children. Press coverage from the story was generated nationwide.

The initiative was carried out as part of a year round, comprehensive marketing programme supporting the GraviTrax brand, which also includes TV, digital and PR.

Mattel releases fourth Claudia Schiffer Barbie

Claudia Schiffer’s fourth Barbie doll has been released by Mattel and is the first to be available for public purchase nationwide. 

BarbieClaudia Schiffer is celebrating global fashion icon, legendary supermodel and entrepreneur Claudia Schiffer with a Barbie doll in her likeness, featuring a recreation of her iconic runway moment from the 1994 Fall/Winter Atelier Versace show.

The Claudia Schiffer doll makes a bold statement, pairing Claudia and Versace – two glamorous and iconic brands. Recreated for Barbie, the showstopping cerulean gown, combined with a bustier inspired by the signature Versace corset bodice, creates a delicate shimmer from every angle. Claudia’s look is complete with matching strappy heels, her famous blonde locks and soft makeup.

“My earliest memories are playing with Barbie and wishing I could be just like her. Half a century later, Mattel has made my wish come true by designing a doll in my likeness,” said Claudia Schiffer. “I hope my doll can inspire all fans to dream big and follow their passions.”

Claudia Schiffer is a powerhouse and icon in the world of fashion. She has walked for virtually every luxury fashion label and graced the cover of Vogue US 16 times. Celebrities and tastemakers still embrace her chic signature style today. This summer, the Barbie movie’s own Margot Robbie was seen dressed in an all-pink 1990s Chanel blazer, originally worn by Claudia Schiffer on her global press tour.

In 2017, Barbie created a one-of-a-kind doll of Claudia to celebrate 30 years of her career and the launch of her self-titled book. Barbie recreated the golden Versace look she wore in the 1994 Real Barbie Vogue Italia shoot with Ellen von Unwerth.  

Barbie also celebrated Claudia Schiffer’s 50th birthday in 2020 by creating two one-of-a-kind Barbie dolls of the supermodel in her all-time favourite Versace and Balmain dresses. The Versace gown is featured on the Claudia Schiffer doll available for sale now.

Claudia Schiffer is not the only celebrity celebrated by Mattel. The Barbie x Mariah Carey Holiday Celebration Doll has recently been released in time for Christmas. Wearing a glittery red gown and holding a microphone, Mariah’s Barbie celebrates her success as a chart-topping singer, especially her holiday hit All I Want For Christmas Is You, and encapsulates the festive spirit.

Deck the halls with Hey Duggee this Christmas

New Christmas single Hey Duggee Deck The Halls is available on Hey Duggee YouTube, BBC iPlayer and all major music streaming platforms from 1st December.

Deck the Halls

BBC Studios Kids & Family has shared the release of Hey Duggee‘s brand-new Christmas track on the 1st December called Hey Duggee Deck The Halls. The song will be available on Hey Duggee YouTube, BBC iPlayer and all major music streaming platforms.

The festive track includes vocals from Hey Duggee narrator Alexander Armstrong, plus the BBC Singers and beatboxing champion Beardyman. Hey Duggee voice artists Sander Jones (who is also the series director for Hey Duggee), Lucy Montgomery, Anelisa Lamona and Adam Longworth, plus Hey Duggee creator Grant Orchard, also feature.

Alexander Armstrong commented: “Christmas is the most musical time of the year and it’s been a privilege and an absolute delight to contribute vocals for Hey Duggee Deck The Halls alongside the utterly brilliant BBC Singers, Beatboxing extraordinaire Beardyman and my wonderful Hey Duggee colleagues. I’m sure this lively track will bring lots of joy and merriment to families up and down the country over the festive season.”

“It’s been a real highlight of 2023 for the BBC Singers to join forces with Hey Duggee for The Choir Badge episode and now for the new festive track Deck The Halls,” the BBC Singers said. “Singing is such an important and joyous activity for everyone, and we’re particularly delighted this message shines through in all the work we have recorded with Duggee, Alexander and all the Squirrels.”

“It’s been a huge honour to be involved; totally surreal and wonderful to be invited to be part of the funniest cartoon on TV,” added Beardyman. “Everybody loves Duggee, and I will cherish the Christmas jumper I wore during the recording session for the rest of my life.”

Since launching in 2014, Hey Duggee has been streamed over half a billion times on BBC iPlayer in the UK and has won seven BAFTAs and two international Emmy awards. Additionally, Hey Duggee was the most streamed CBeebies show on BBC iPlayer in 2022, the third year in a row it topped the list, and has amassed over 2.8b lifetime views on its official YouTube channel.

Hey Duggee is created and produced by Studio AKA with BBC Studios Kids & Family and CBeebies. The series airs exclusively on CBeebies in the UK and all episodes to date are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Further afield, Hey Duggee broadcasts in over 100 countries.

Watch the Hey Duggee Deck The Halls music video here.

The Sidemen co-create new card game Hit Send

The Sidemen have announced that brand new card game Hit Send will be available from the 28th November.

Hit SendHit Send, the high risk game of text roulette, is a new card game co-created by the Sidemen. With a combined following of 240m fans, the Sidemen are made up of JJ (KSI), Harry (Wroetoshaw), Simon (Miniminter), Vik (Vikkstar123), Josh (Zerkaa), Ethan Payne (Behzinga) and Tobi Brown (TBJZL). Supporters tune in daily to watch them play games on their YouTube channels Sidemen and MoreSidemen, which rake in tens of millions of views per week. With Hit Send marking the Sidemen’s first venture into the games industry, Harry (W2S) announced: “We’ve played hundreds of games, it’s about time we made our own”.

The company behind Hit Send, Hot House Games, was co-founded by the Sidemen to develop ‘outrageously fun and dangerously social games for a gen-Z audience’. Hot House’s first release, Hit Send, is available to buy in limited numbers from the 28th November at

Hit Send asks players: “How far would you go to win a card game?” When playing Hit Send, too far is the answer. The game rewards risk, asking players to send twistedly funny messages to random contacts on their phone, and was originally inspired by Karen North, whose house burnt down in 2014.

When Karen messaged her friends to say that her home was destroyed, the replies she received were not what she was expecting. Everybody thought she was joking. This sparked an idea, which her son and daughter subsequently developed into a game.

Players win points by sending awkward messages picked by their friends to create ridiculously fun drama. Texts range from a cute “I love you” to “Think my mom is having an affair with your dad” and the outrageous “Just got with my cousin, is that legal?”. Recipients are chosen by a random contact generator, which could come up with their mum, their ex, or their boss. Players can still win without even sending messages by playing the right text, if their opponent backs out.

Hit Send was presented to the Sidemen in 2023. They loved the idea and embraced the message mayhem, proclaiming it to be one of the best games they’d ever played. With games at the epicentre of Sidemen content, the boys felt that it was the perfect risk to take. Wanting to get more involved, the Sidemen put their own spin on the game, twisting the rules and writing their own set of messages.

When filming the first episode of Hit Send, some wild scenes occurred. To see what happened, visit the MoreSidemen YouTube channel at 8pm this evening.

Co-founder Harry North of Hot House Games commented: “We got tired of playing games designed for a different generation. We wanted to create something that resonates with a fresh audience and the culture surrounding them. At any pre’s or house party, Hit Send will cause a social storm.”

Hit Send is distributed in the UK by Golden Bear Toys. Contact