Heathside Trading signs licence agreement with Molang

Heathside Trading has signed an agreement with Millimages to distribute a new line of Molang gifts and collectibles, set to launch in Q3.

Heathside has established an agreement with Millimages to become a licensee for Molang in the UK, Europe and the USA. The agreement was brokered by Kirsty Guthrie for Brand-Ward Service. The Molang licensed line, which will launch in the third quarter of 2024 through selected retail partners, will include a variety of toys, collectibles and gifts.

With over 7m followers across social media, Molang is an international TV, social media, licensing and merchandising phenomenon. It has had huge exposure and engagement worldwide, with 712m views on YouTube Kids and 18m on the adult YouTube channel. In 2023 alone, Molang gained 821k TikTok subscribers and 335k followers on Instagram.

Darren Epstein from Heathside commented: ’We are so thrilled to be working with Millimages and Brand-Ward on this series of Molang pop culture and gifting products. As big fans of the brand, we are excited to offer new product ranges under our Khadou brand.”

Alexandra Algard-Mikanowski, Licensing and Merchandising director at Millimages, said: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Heathside and develop a huge range of Molang’s products across the UK, Europe and the USA. Together, our shared goal is to develop cute products and expand the Kidult toys, collectibles and gifting areas for Molang.”

Just Play launches FurReal interactive pet toys

The new FurReal line, featuring interactive and lifelike animal toys, will be stocked at a broad range of major UK retailers.

Just Play’s much-anticipated line of FurReal interactive pets has launched into major UK retailers. Under licence from Hasbro, the range features fresh innovations to continue the legacy of pet and nurture play.

The collection includes a variety of pets including Newborns, Wag-a-lots, Walk-a-lots and My Minis, all created to cater to different styles of play. Newborns reflect the needs of a younger animal, and children can care for their newborn puppy or kitten by brushing, feeding and swaddling them. For active playtime, Wag-a-lots and Walk-a-lots recreate the excitement of taking a pet for a stroll with detachable leads, animal sounds, bobbing heads and swishy tails.

The all-new FurReal My Minis are palm-sized pets that include interactive features such as moving heads and tails when they are stroked as well as making animal noises. The pets are packed in a house-shaped box, designed to look great on display and provide a home for these mini pets. The range consists of three different animals: a calico kitty, a brown and white pup and a pink piglet. Just like the original FurReal toy, My Minis are made from super soft fabrics but sized at just five inches long. These toys fit perfectly into coat pockets, backpacks, or even lunch bags for on-the-go fun.

Amy Saunders, sales director at Just Play, commented: “After such a positive reaction to the FurReal collection of pet toys, we’re thrilled to now see them at retail. This range of toys mimics the joys of having a pet and teaches children the value in nurturing and caring for an animal.”

FurReal pets provide interactions that help develop emotional bonds between children and their furry friends. With authentic animatronic features that mimic the mannerisms and behaviours of real animals, the FurReal brand has led the interactive pets’ category for nearly 20 years, selling over 100m pets in more than 75 countries. Millions of children worldwide have learned about animals and pet care while nurturing their beloved FurReal friends.

Just Play has a comprehensive 360 marketing campaign lined up to support the range, including digital activation, influencer partnerships, and PR activities.

Rubies launches Care Bears costume collection

Rubies has released a new costume collection for EMEA featuring the iconic Care Bears, now available to order.

Rubies has announced the launch of a new Care Bears costume collection for EMEA. This vibrant collection features iconic characters, including Cheer Bear, Good Luck Bear and Grumpy Bear, which are now available as Comfywear onesies.

Designed with nostalgia in mind, these onesies provide fun and fond memories while being extra comfy. Whether worn for a cosy night in or as a standout costume at events and parties, the team at Rubies has designed these onesies to provide a blend of comfort and style.

The Care Bears Comfywear Onesies are made from premium materials to ensure durability. Each onesie features the signature colours and unmistakable symbols associated with each respective Care Bear.

The Cheer Bear is adorned with cheerful rainbow stripes and a heartwarming rainbow emblem, while the Good Luck Bear features a playful shamrock pattern and the iconic good luck symbol. Grumpy Bear boasts a cloud and raindrop pattern alongside the iconic grumpy face emblem.

“Our new Care Bears costume collection adds another fan favourite to our portfolio. Many of us grew up loving these beloved bears, and the new range adds modern style to the nostalgia of the characters,” said Fran Hales, head of Portfolio at Rubies. “We are looking forward to adding more Comfywear Onesies to the range, offering the perfect mix of costume and apparel for consumers.”

The Care Bears range is available in a range of sizes. To find out more, visit the Rubies website or contact customerservices@rubiesuk.com for more details.

Funrise unveils new Furlings brand

Funrise will introduce Furlings to the market, a new interactive companion toy which is set to launch later in 2024.

Funrise will be entering the interactive companion segment later this year with its all-new brand, Furlings. The company reports that retailers were impressed with the products at both Nuremberg and the London Toy Fair, with one mentioning it was one of the best things they had seen during Toy Fair.

Consumers can expect a feature-rich, interactive companion toy that leans heavily into innovation and is packed with what Funrise describes as ‘fur-mazing wow features’. Furlings will launch later this year and marketing is promised to be a major pillar in the launch. Funrise tells Toy World, it will “go all out” with a heavyweight marketing campaign comprised of multiple levers to create major demand for Furlings.

“Furlings is shaping up to be one of our biggest launches in recent years, and we are going to put all our weight behind it to make it an absolute must-have toy this Christmas”, said Mayur Pattni, Marketing manager Europe at Funrise.

Furlings was revealed alongside a host of other new brands at London Toy Fair, including a craft meets fashion doll range that also sparked interest from retailers during the September 2023 LA show and recent UK previews.

Geek Retreat launches new loyalty app to reward customers

Retailer, gaming café and events space Geek Retreat has released a new app where loyal customers get a market-leading 20% back on every purchase.

Peter Dobson, CEO of Geek Retreat

Geek Retreat, the geek culture retailer, gaming café, community hub and events venue, has launched a new app to reward its loyal customer base. Customers using the app can earn 20% back, a digital discount voucher, which can be redeemed in store and other high street brands such as Uber and Tesco. This new app has transformed Geek Retreat stores into the best value destination to buy and play popular games such as Pokémon, Lorcana and Dungeons & Dragons.

The app has been developed by Enigmatic Smile, a reward technology provider. It has developed technology which collects digital discount vouchers on transactions and is being used by several major retailers such as Tesco and Amazon. This means that customers with the Geek Retreat app also have the option to redeem their vouchers at a cohort of other retailers.

Geek Retreat has rolled out the app to 27 of its stores and aims to offer the programme across the entire estate by spring. Since its launch a few months ago, over 3000 customers have signed up and made a total of 14,000 transactions.

Peter Dobson, CEO of Geek Retreat, commented: “The app is proving a huge success. Our franchisees love it because it is another investment in our bricks and mortar and is encouraging new collectors and players to come and enjoy their hobbies in-store, generating revenue growth. Our customers love it because they are getting the best price on games and accessories.”

The Geek Retreat franchise, which opened its first store in Glasgow in 2013, now has 31 stores compared to ten at the end of 2019. The retailer offers local communities and individuals a safe and inclusive place to enjoy their hobbies and interests.

Lego unveils Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Cottage set

The set, which features 10 mini-figures and recreates memorable details from the iconic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs film, will be available from June 2024.

The Lego Group has unveiled the enchanting Lego Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Cottage set, a tribute to the very first Disney Princess character. This quaint forest cottage meticulously recreates the memorable details from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film in brick form.

Based on the original 1937 Disney Animation film, this 2228-piece set contains 10 mini-figures, including Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, the Prince and the Queen with the red apple, as well as accompanying animal friends. A wishing well featuring a dove is also included, along with the glass box depicting Snow White’s awakening.

Nestled deep in the enchanted forest, the iconic cottage is packed with nostalgia, from the bedroom with seven beds to the room with the pipe organ, baking table, sink and cupboards. The set is designed for users aged 18 and over, and includes 2,228 pieces. The dimensions of the build are 35cm in length by 20cm in height and width.

The Lego Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Cottage set will be available for Lego insiders from 1st March 2024 online, and at Lego stores for all from 1st June 2024 and will be priced at £189.99.

Catering to builders of all ages, the Lego Group has also recently announced a highly anticipated Peppa Pig partnership, as it continues to develop its innovative portfolio with new products, characters and storylines set to launch later in the year.

MGA’s Miniverse makes it mini at AnimeCon London

At this year’s AnimeCon London, MGA distributed 7,000 MGA’s Miniverse product samples to Anime, Manga and Ota-Culture enthusiasts.

MGA’s Miniverse hosted a sampling event at AnimeCon London which debuted at the capital’s hottest new event space, Drumsheds, and saw over 5,000 Anime, Manga and Ota-Culture fans descend onto the space.

MGA’s Miniverse attended the London weekender to hand out samples of MGA’s Miniverse Make It Mini Food: Diner and Café Edition as well as Make It Mini Lifestyle after identifying the brand resonating well with the cosplay audience on social media due to the intricate and detailed crafting process of the miniature collectibles. MGA’s Miniverse handed out more than 7,000 samples across the two days, leaving no fans disappointed.

Pamela Justice, head of marketing UK & Ireland, at MGA Entertainment, said: “MGA’s Miniverse is a truly unique brand which has gone from strength to strength since launching in the UK. In less than a year, we have showcased incredible growth across the market and kidult audience and we’re starting to see the brand resonating with broader audiences – one of them being cosplay. 2024 will be another record year for MGA’s Miniverse as we reveal exciting and innovative new realistic Make It Mini items.”

MGA’s Miniverse has seen exponential growth in the UK market since launching in April 2023, reaching No. 1 in Circana’s roundup of the Top 10 New Properties in Total UK Toys. It is also the No. 2 property in Miscellaneous Toys and the No. 1 gaining property in this subclass. In addition, MGA’s Miniverse Make it Mini Food has just been granted a patent for its “make it” component, protecting the brand from counterfeit versions of the highly popular collectible line.

The brand’s success has been catalysed by collaborations with the biggest crafting and Gen Z influencers as well as partnerships with like-minded brands such as bubble tea retailer, Bubbleology and the dessert brand, Pleese. Through carefully crafted campaigns and partnerships, MGA’s Miniverse has been able to target new Gen Z and lifestyle audiences on social media, amassing over 44.6m views, 29.3m impressions and over 100m follower reach in 2023. The popularity in mini-collecting and tiny kitchen creations alone also shows no signs in slowing and has led to the rise in other mini phenomena such as #minikitchen, which has amassed over 2.3b views on TikTok alone.

MGA’s Miniverse appeals to all ages including those wanting to create viral social content for their TikTok profile, and fans of the trend who use these quirky miniatures as a form of self-expression and amusement.

In 2024, MGA’s Miniverse will expand with a new series of the MGA’s Miniverse Make It Mini Food collection, a brand-new miniature MGA’s Miniverse Make It Mini Lifestyle collection, Make It Mini Appliances, a limited edition Make It Mini Food Valentine’s Day Series and a Make It Mini Food Spring Diner Edition.

The new range is available to purchase now: Make It Mini Food / Lifestyle Mini Collectibles; Make it Mini Appliances Mini Collectibles and the Make it Mini Kitchen. MGA’s Miniverse Make It Mini Food Multipack is also available.

Barbie launches new Colour Change Mermaid doll

The Barbie brand is set to release a new Colour Change Mermaid that transforms under both hot and cold water and comes complete with stylish accessories.

Barbie has added new products to its Fantasy segment with the new Barbie Colour Change Mermaid doll. Designed with beautiful detail from head to fin, the Barbie Malibu doll has 7.5-inch-long pink hair that kids can brush out and style for endless fun.

Kids can witness the colour transformation when the Barbie Colour Change Mermaid doll is dipped into icy cold water, which turns her hair, bodice and tail to a purple colour. When dipped in warm water, they will see her change back to her original bubblegum pink look.

The doll comes packed with accessories including a headband, choker and a floral necklace designed to style her before playing out adventures with her mini dolphin friend.

This follows the launch of the Mini BarbieLand range which was announced at Spielwarenmesse last month and introduces the brand’s most iconic dolls, vehicles and play sets in a much smaller version.

It has also been announced that the new Barbie Touch of Magic series is also set to be released on the free-to-air children’s television channel Pop, to bring viewers more magical moments which they’ll be able to enjoy.

The Outdoor Toy Awards to return in June

The annual Outdoor Toy Awards is making a comeback in June to crown some of the best outdoor toys for active play.

Outdoor Toy Awards 2023

Once more, the Outdoor Toy Awards will invite kid testers to put the very best outdoor toys through their paces. The Toyology and the Kidzcoolit network will oversee the media and social coverage of the awards and ten, toys will be crowned as the must-haves for get-out, get-up and get-active play.

Last year, the Outdoor Toy Awards had solid success with media coverage of the event, ranging from trade and parenting press to national consumers both online and in print. This year, the goal is to reach far and wide to further improve media spread.

Nick Gibbs-McNeil, from Kidzcoolit, said: “We’re into our seventh year gathering all that is fun to do in the garden, and the support for our efforts is stronger than ever to highlight this important category. The testing involves a host of youngsters and helps us judge the products giving a far more authentic experience. They play, we observe and, as ever, we’re excited at the impending chaos these awards always bring and seeing the kid testers having a blast.

“Post pandemic, families have embraced being outside and outdoor play more than ever. You don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s taken away from you. Unlike any other event, The Outdoor Toy Awards celebrates the best of play in parks and gardens. As well as encouraging families to enjoy the world outside of their front and back doors. We’ve always been very proud to be involved with this event.”

The are 10 categories, as follows:

· Climbing & Adventure

· Sport & Splash Fun

· Outdoor Games

· Science & Nature

· Ride-On

· Trampolines

· Pre-School Play

· Battle & Blaster Toys

· Houses, Tents & Hideaways

· Flying Toys

The #OTA23 will be working to secure coverage across print, online and broadcast media.

“Outdoor play is essential for children’s development and wellbeing,” commented Nicole Sparrow, marketing communications manager at Learning Resources. “The Outdoor Toy Awards are a great way to get kids excited about going outside to explore, play, learn and have lots of active fun, and Learning Resources is delighted to be part of this year’s awards once again.”

Lucy Figg, senior marketing executive, Zuru UK & Ireland, said: “We’re champions of outdoor play, which is why we’re big supporters of the Outdoor Toy Awards. We love to see children of all ages enjoying themselves outside – getting creative, getting active and having a blast, so it’s great to have these awards which honour products helping to facilitate this.”

For more information and to receive an entry form, email: peter@toyology.co.uk.

Mattel Television’s Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue to debut on Netflix

Mattel Television Studios will be launching its one-hour movie Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue on Netflix this March.

The film will air in the US on 14th March and in the UK in September. The hour-long special will follow Barbie’s middle sister, Stacie, as she quickly comes to the rescue of Barbie and Skipper. Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue marks the first time Stacie plays a lead role in Barbie content and includes five new original songs as well as new friends.

In Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue, the two characters embark on a brand-new journey. Adventurous Stacie finds herself caught in the middle when the Roberts family heads to Wisconsin for a hot air balloon festival where she is too young for adult activities, yet too old to play with the little kids. When her older sisters Barbie and Skipper find themselves in trouble, Stacie finds she has the right skills to save the day.

“Our animated Barbie content is developed to both empower and entertain,” said Michelle Mendelovitz, global head of Mattel Television Studios. “By placing Stacie at the centre of the story, Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue provides audiences with a new heroine in Stacie and an entirely new perspective on the Barbie universe. We cannot wait to share this fun-spirited special with Barbie fans.”

The latest instalment of Mattel’s animated Barbie content follows 2023’s fan-favourite series Barbie: A Touch of Magic as well as other successful titles including Barbie: It Takes Two, Barbie: Epic Road Trip, Barbie: Mermaid Power and Barbie DreamHouse Adventures. Mattel Television Studios’ family-friendly series and specials allow fans of all ages to feel the imagination and fun of Barbie while instilling messages of friendship, discovery and kindness.

Christopher Keenan and Frederic Soulie serve as executive producers on Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue, which is written by Kay Donmyer. The movie will be available on Netflix in the US, Canada, APAC (excluding China) and EMEA (excluding the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Romania) on 14th March. The special will debut in Latin America, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Romania and MENA on 5th September, also on Netflix. Broadcast partners including Super RTL, Cartoonito, POP, Kanal2 and Kidzone will distribute the special throughout the year.

The five-song music album for Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue will also release on 14th March and be available on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music.