The Independent Toy & Gift Show has been rescheduled

Following the recent government announcement, the Independent Toy & Gift Show has been rescheduled from 13th &14th April to 14th & 15th September 2021.

In a release sent this morning, Play-room, the organiser of the show, says Cranmore Park is set up in accordance with Covid secure measures and that recommended safeguards will be implemented to ensure all attendees feel confident, safe and secure. Government regulations are being monitored and the rescheduled event will be adjusted in accordance with the regulations applicable at the time of the event.

The Independent Toy & Gift Show is designed with the independent retailer in mind, providing everything from bespoke offers to unique merchandising solutions, and most importantly access to the most prominent toy and children’s gift suppliers. The show attracts a wide range of professional buyers including those from department stores, toy and gift shops, garden centres and leisure attractions.

The theme for 2021 is Wooden Toys, celebrating the classic play patterns and aspirational attributes of toys made of natural materials. Ravensburger is sponsoring the café and will be showcasing its popular Brio range.

Hosted by Play-Room, the toy division of buying group Associated Independent Stores, the show is open to all independent toy and children’s gift buyers and is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere, along with its relaxed buying environment.

Play-Room preferred suppliers will be notified in due course regarding bookings, those suppliers previously booked into the 2020 show will have first refusal of their originally reserved stand(s).

Register here.

Highlights of the 2019 show can be seen below:

Playmobil 1.2.3 set to expand with new themes and packaging

New Playmobil 1.2.3 sets will highlight three learning stages, with each building on the previous, promoting development in a targeted and fun way through the first years of life.

The colourful world of Playmobil 1.2.3, which celebrates its 30th birthday in the UK this year, is expanding. New and imaginative play ideas will be launching in March, joining the existing range of products for children aged 1½ – 4 years. Complete with overhauled packaging which will better highlight the developmental benefits of the range, the new sets will highlight three learning stages; each will build on the previous, promoting development in a targeted and fun way through the first years of life.

  • Easy Start: In beginner sets with simple figures, the learning focus is on feeling and exploring, imitating animal sounds, and naming figures, animals and objects.
  • First Challenge: In extended play sets, the learning focus is on exploring first functions, promoting fine motor skills and understanding cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Little Expert: In advanced play sets, there are many functions to discover. The learning focus is on more complex contexts, social skills and first role-play.

Jamie Dickinson, head of marketing at Playmobil, told Toy World: “The 1.2.3 range is a fantastic entry into the world of Playmobil for kids aged 18+ months, but it’s a range we’ve never made full use of as it’s been an ongoing challenge to situate it in the right area in-store, with good visibility. The brand-new relaunch happening this year will target just why parents should buy Playmobil1.2.3, highlighting the developmental benefits of the range and what it offers younger children in terms of play and learning. Core messages are tailored to the parents, and will tell the story of the range in a way that feels totally fresh.”

New offerings will include the Animal Train as well as the My Take Along Preschool, which lets kids replicate fun activities from their own learning establishments. The entire contents of this set fit inside the carrycase, making it perfect for on-the-go play. Children can also visit the enchanting world of fairies thanks to a special new play theme that features sets such as Unicorn Carriage with Fairy, and Fairy Playground. Rounding out the new additions, various figure sets, including Construction Worker with Wheelbarrow and Rider with Horse, are suitable as a gift or as a first introduction to the world of Playmobil 1.2.3.

Playmobil 1.2.3 provides little ones with varied play themes and features, as well as opportunities to explore, understand the world, and grow through play, while incorporating Playmobil’s Sand and Aqua ranges will enrich the system further.

As explained by Jamie, the range will benefit from a strong marketing campaign featuring TV, digital and social channels across the year, alongside family and lifestyle bloggers that will emphasise the new messaging and packaging. Retailers can also make sure of striking in-store POS and digital assets to support the range throughout the year.

Look out for an exclusive interview with Jamie Dickinson in the March edition of Toy World, which is out soon, detailing this and other exciting ranges from Playmobil. Or for more information, email sales_uk@playmobil.de.

Canal Toys launches innovative new Anti-Bacterial Slime

The new range lets kids sanitise their hands while enjoying the tactile AMSR experience of slime. 

Canal Toys, the company behind fun make-it-yourself ranges including So Slime DIY, So Sand DIY and So Bomb DIY, is preparing to launch its latest product – Anti-Bacterial Slime.

With the Covid-19 pandemic raging on across the globe, the need for enhanced hygiene and cleanliness, especially hand washing and sanitising, is more important than ever.

Canal’s Anti-Bacterial Slime is unique and the first of its type to hit the market. The product is the result of a long period of R&D, testing and certification, starting before Covid-19 emerged. The company has been able to accelerate its launch plans, meaning Anti-Bacterial Slime is now ready to hit shelves and countertops in February. Each pocket-sized metal tin contains a generous amount of the non-sticky, super stretchy slime compound, which kills up to 99.99% of bacteria on hands – the same as commercially available gels or foams. This makes the now-routine practice of hand-sanitising fun and enjoyable for kids, as well as those who may find the sensation of gel unpleasant. The slime can be used over and over, as the anti-bacterial properties last up to one month, and the slime is fully EN71 and EN1276 tested.

Anthony Grimaud, Canal Toys CEO, commented: “As a parent, teaching your kids about the importance of washing their hands is a challenge. We’re excited to bring Anti-Bacterial Slime to market and seeing children everywhere using it every day which will help keep their hands sanitised through play in an innovative way.”

UK retailers can opt for a 24-piece CDU display of individual pots, perfect for POS pick-up purchases, and 4-pack tubes containing a range of colours. There are six colours of slime in total, broadening the appeal – green, red, blue, light blue, pink and purple – with RRPs from £2.99-9.99.

The Anti-Bacterial Slime is an attractive proposition for all retailers, not just toy shops; garden centres, supermarkets, corner shops and newsagents – anywhere people shop, and kids might visit.

Please contact MD Anthony Grimaud for more information: email anthonyg@canaltoys.uk or call 07400 261 857.

NPD Group announces winners of 2020 Global and European Toy Industry Performance Awards

The Lego Group, Spin Master, Mattel, Hasbro, Playmobil and Warner Bros. are among those unveiled as winners of this year’s awards. 

The Lego Group has been named Global Top Toy Manufacturer, with its Lego Super Mario Bros. property taking home the title of Top Gaining Toy Property in Building and Construction

The NPD Group, a leading global information company, has announced the winners of this year’s Global and European Toy Industry Performance Awards. The awards were given to the manufacturers or licence owners of Europe’s top gaining toy properties by category, as well as the top gaining toy property of the year, top global toy manufacturer, global top toy property, and global top selling toy, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.

The Lego Group has been named as the Global Top Toy Manufacturer of the Year, while Mattel’s Barbie takes home Global Top Toy Property of the Year. Mattel has also scooped the award for Global Top Selling Toy of the Year with its Hot Wheels Singles 1/64 Assortment. 

Nintendo, meanwhile, wins Europe’s Top Gaining Toy Property of the Year for Super Mario Brothers & Mario Kart.

“This year’s award winners should be recognised not only for their great accomplishments and dedication to excellence, but also for excelling during a particularly tumultuous time for manufacturers and retailers brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said François Klipfel, president, Toys, The NPD Group. “Congratulations to all award winners. We wish you continued success in 2021.”

At the same time, the The NPD Group has presented the Ninth Annual Toy Industry Performance Awards for The Americas – Mexico, the US, Canada and Brazil.

MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! was named as US Top Toy Property of the Year, while Mattel’s Barbie Dreamhouse was the US Top Selling Toy of the Year. MGA has also seen success in Canada, scooping Top Toy Property and Top Selling Toy of the Year in the country for L.O.L.Surprise and L.O.L. Surprise O.M.G. Doll Assortment respectively. In Brazil, Mattel was the big winner; Barbie has won Brazil Top Toy Property of the Year while the company’s Hot Wheels Singles 1:64 Assortment won Top-Selling Toy of the Year.

Boohoo acquires Debenhams’ online business for £55m

The move will mean that all Debenhams’ remaining physical stores will close, and 12,000 staff will lose their jobs. 

The online fashion retailer Boohoo has purchased Debenhams’ online business for around £55m, meaning the department store chain’s remaining 118 brick & mortar stores will now close. As a result, some 12,000 jobs will be lost.

Debenhams has been in administration since April 2019, and liquidated in December 2020 after Philip Green’s JD Sports pulled out of talks when Arcadia Group also went under. At the time, Debenhams had 124 UK stores to its name.

Boohoo, which is also buying the brands Maine, Mantaray, Principles and Faith, said Debenhams’ remaining stores will be wound down after the high street lockdown ends and they can reopen to sell off stock.

“This is a transformational deal for the group, which allows us to capture the fantastic opportunity as eCommerce continues to grow. Our ambition is to create the UK’s largest marketplace,” said Mahmud Kamani, executive chairman at Boohoo. “The acquisition of the Debenhams brand is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion eCommerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”

Boohoo has previously bought a number of well-known high street fashion brands out of administration, turning them into online-only operations.

Analysts say the acquisition of Debenhams’ website will help Boohoo appeal to older shoppers and give it access to new markets. Boohoo hopes to use its existing systems to take Debenhams brands such as Principles, Maine and Mantaray overseas, and improve their distribution in the UK. The company’s plans to set itself up as a marketplace will use Debenhams’ existing relationships to sell third-party brands for the first time.

It has also been noted that Boohoo also has adequate resources to broker additional similar deals; the company says it has £387m of cash left to fund further acquisitions and expects the impact of coronavirus on the high street to produce more targets.

Timothy Armoo, CEO of Fanbytes, has prevously raised investment from the Kamani family behind Boohoo and is familiar with the workings of the company. He described the deal as “a pretty big shift in the fast fashion industry, as it moves Boohoo from being purely a fashion retailer to being a technology play.”  As Debenhams operates on a marketplace model, where 3rd party retailers sell on the site, he suggests, Boohoo may choose to not own the stock but take a fee for each transaction, in what would prove to be a “high margin and scalable business – similar to how Amazon and eBay operate”. With a large and established customer base, Boohoo could also offer its own brands through the marketplace, then third party brands, then potentially advertising tools for those brands.

“In the same way that Amazon has dominated online commerce in general, we may be seeing the birth of the most dominant fast-fashion marketplace in Boohoo,” Timo added.

Retail trade union Usdaw said it was is seeking urgent meetings with Debenhams’ administrators and called on the government to do more to save high streets. Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer, said: “It is devastating news for our high streets that Debenhams’ administrators have sold the company brand to an online only retailer. Throughout Debenhams’ difficulties, the company and then administrators have refused to engage with Usdaw; the staff are being treated appallingly.”

An investigation into modern day slavery at Boohoo, which alleges workers in Leicester making clothes linked to the company were found to have been paid as little as £3.50 an hour, according to an undercover report, is ongoing, raising further concerns about the deal.

Chengzhen International’s die-cast cars move into the fast lane for 2021

The new Metal Speed Zone brand introduces light and sound to die-cast vehicles, moving beyond the ‘traditional but basic’ features often seen in this category. 

The BMW M850i Coupe

Chengzhen is a Hong Kong-based die-cast manufacturer that specialises in the production of officially licensed model cars. With its production headquarters located in Shantou, China, Chengzhen benefits from two manufacturing plants and more than 1,500 staff. From product development and manufacturing – starting with 3D drawings, prototypes, mould tooling and mass production – to the final finished goods, the entire one-stop process is carried out under the highest levels of quality control.

Over the years, Chengzhen has been manufacturing model car replicas under its own-brand MSZ (Metal Speed Zone) label. The brand enjoys close cooperation with more than 30 iconic vehicle manufacturers, from worldwide prestigious car makers including Lamborghini, Porsche and Audi, to legendary British marques such as Bentley, Land Rover and Jaguar. The resulting range of products covers a range of scales, with cars, motorcycles, trucks and construction vehicles available in 1:24, 1:32, 1:43 and 1:64.

The 1:32 scale of models is the most successful, marking a significant step change beyond the traditional but basic features of most die-cast collections. Enhancing the basic licensed metal car are lights and sounds features; when kids open the vehicle’s doors, or press it while using the pull-back function, the headlights and taillights will turn on, along with realistic engine or horn sounds. These additional features inject more play value into every model, bringing the vehicles to life.

The highly detailed 1:43 scale line is another best-seller for Chengzhen. Complete with opening doors and pull-back functions, this range allows kids to collect their favourite vehicles from nearly 80 different makes. Included in the range are exotic supercars like the McLaren P1, luxury SUVs like the Mercedes Benz G350d, or iconic passenger cars like the like Toyota Camry.

Chengzhen recently launched a new series within the MSZ brand. Speed Metal models retain the light and sound functions and die-cast metal moulding, but come at an even more competitive price. Each licensed vehicle within the series is approximately 5.5” in length. Speed Metal will be Chengzhen’s key product range for 2021.

Behind the scenes, the company continues to drive forward the die-cast vehicle category with constant creativity and well-known licences. Chengzhen is keen to work with current and new customers and welcomes enquiries from importers or retailers to Sam Chung, who can be contacted at sales09@caipotoys.com.

The Toy Trust details how it supported children’s charities in 2020

Despite the extraordinary challenges of 2020, the charity still donated over £100,000 to help kids and their families.

"Dear colleagues and friends," writes Toy Trust committee chairman Graham Canning. "I hope you, your families, friends and colleagues are all keeping well.

2020 was certainly no ordinary year, and I wanted to share with you a fantastic summary of the projects the Toy Trust supported in 2020. Covid-19 made for an extremely challenging year for many UK children's charities the Toy Trust supports, many of whom saw their income severely impacted and, in some cases, completely depleted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I am pleased to report that the Toy Trust Committee remained active in 2020 and felt compelled to respond positively. We invited small UK children's charities, which had received support within the last three years and were already known to us, to apply for funding. We assessed applications carefully in line with the Toy Trust’s application criteria, to ensure funds achieve the best possible outcome for disadvantaged children all over the UK through grants given.

As always, you can get involved in fundraising for the Toy Trust this year; more details are available at the end of this article. In the meantime, I encourage you to place your bid in the annual Media Auction which is now live. There's plenty of valuable airtime to bid on, generously donated by our media partners. All funds will go to the Toy Trust. The deadline for the auction is Monday 1st February at 5pm.

Click here to view the Media Auction live page. 

The Toy Trust will remain active in 2021. We will shortly be re-opening applications for funding, which will be available once more to small UK children's charities this year. Supporting our chosen charities would not be possible without you, so on behalf of the toy trust committee, thank you."

Below are some examples of the charities supported by the Toy Trust in 2020

 

Handicapped Children’s Action Group (HCAG)

Handicapped Children’s Action Group is a registered charity working to provide specialist equipment for children with disabilities, learning difficulties and other special needs. The children, from all areas of the UK, are unable to obtain this equipment from the NHS and because of the cost. It is also usually unaffordable by the families.

HCAG currently has a long waiting list of children requiring trikes, buggies, car seats, wheelchairs and sensory equipment. Covid-19 has depleted its income, and priority has been given to children requiring trikes and buggies since they provide mobility to children who cannot walk. The Toy Trust gave £5,000 to this very well-run charity, which brings mobility to children across the UK.

Here is Henry from Leicester enjoying his new trike, which allows him to get out and about, and to take part in bike rides with his his family and friends.

Bradford Toy Library

In 2020, the Toy Trust supported Bradford Toy Library with a donation of £5,000 to fund a “Boredom Buster Bags” initiative during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Founders Michelle and Emma said: "With help from The Toy Trust we were able to help families with Boredom Buster bags which included food, kitchen essentials, and a selection of either specialist toys or sensory equipment. Each package was bespoke to the child and the family. May we take this opportunity to thank you again for supporting us, and enabling our families to have something to look forward to every week."

NARA - The Breathing Charity

NARA – The Breathing Charity is the registered title for ‘The National Association for the Relief of Apnoea’. Since 1984 the charity has assisted many those who suffer or know those who suffer from a variety of respiratory conditions. Through its ‘Breathing Monitor Appeal’ and ‘Breathing New Life Campaign’, NARA provides medical equipment that relieves symptoms, helping the patient to breathe easier and enabling a more normal lifestyle.

Ann Jiggle, Chair at NARA, said: “We were delighted to receive the Toy Trust’s wonderful gift of £5,000 in July 2020, to support work being carried out by NARA`S UK Child Health Community Care Programme. Offering a simple 'Thank you' for your generosity never quite feels like it is enough; you help us to continue to provide and strengthen vital services to children who struggle to breathe. The funds have helped NARA purchase specialised nebulisers and suction machines helping those with Palliative Conditions to breathe, giving physical, emotional, sensitive support. Thank you."

Bag Books

Bag Books designs and produce multi-sensory books for children with profound, multiple learning disabilities. The charity's books can be found in 94% of special schools, where caregivers are also trained in multi-sensory story telling techniques. The Toy Trust grant helped Bag Books produce 350 of its hand-crafted, multi-sensory workbooks, which featured a brand-new story, 'The Friendly Caterpillar'.

William is nine and has profound and multiple learning disabilities. Born with a brain malformation, he has the cognitive and physical abilities of a newborn baby and needs one-to-one care throughout the day. William's mum, Helen, talks about the difference Bag Books has made to William and his family: "We get quite emotional watching Williams sister tell him a Bag Book story. It’s lovely to see her interacting and talking to her brother; she likes sharing the story as it gives them meaningful time together. Bag Books has provided William with more opportunities to engage with the rest of the family and broaden the world around him.”

All Hallows Bow

Sara Brayford, fundraising manager at All Hallow's Bow, said: " The Toy Trust's support has meant we've had the resources to provide flexible and Covid-safe support to vulnerable families with young children throughout the changing restrictions over the last six months. We used our funding to put together 36 Storysacks, which we've used to run socially distanced play sessions at our centre, and to lend out to families to use at home. Video support from our team has been made available during lockdowns, when in-person work was no longer possible. One of the most important things for us is being a consistent part of the lives of vulnerable children and families. The Toy Trust's support has given us the resources we've needed to be there for families in a very stressful and isolating time.

It's meant that disadvantaged children have still had access to play-based learning, and that our team has been able to continue providing high-quality input to support children's learning and development in a safe way throughout the pandemic. The story-themed toys we were able to buy with The Toy Trust's funding have really helped us keep bringing books to life for the children we work with, and continue planting that love of reading. As we head into week three of our third lockdown, the Storysacks are coming into their own again. Thank you so much!"

The full list of charities supported by The Toy Trust in 2020:

  • The Daisy Garland
  • The Voice that makes a difference
  • All Hallows Bow
  • Cedarwood Trust
  • Dingley’s Promise
  • NARA The Breathing Charity
  • The Bradford Toy Library
  • Handicapped Children’s Action Group
  • Shepherds Bush Families Projects
  • Walsall Bereavement Support Service
  • Quaker Service
  • Dorset Children’s Foundation
  • Tarka Child Contact Centre
  • Brighter Opportunities through Supported Play
  • Barton Community Association
  • WHISH – Whitby Hidden Impairments Support & Help
  • Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust
  • Christchurch Open Awards Centre
  • Special Stars Foundation
  • Bag Books
  • Children’s Aid Team
  • Friends of Alfreton Park
  • Reading Family Aid Group
  • Three Ways School
  • The Jessie May Trust
  • Special Educational Needs Families Support
  • CP Sport
  • The Churn Project
  • Friends of St Luke’s
  • Living Paintings
  • Pontllanfraith Children’s Contact Centre
  • Families United Network
  • Noreen’s Kids
  • Wyvern School Foundation Trust
  • ​Devon Development Education

Inspired to do something for the Toy Trust in 2021?

Readers are advised to get in touch with The Toy Trust or visit the charity's website to make a donation, view its upcoming events, and download fundraising materials.

If you have a fundraising idea of your own, please email Matt@btha.co.uk to discuss how it can be brought to life.

Click here to visit The Toy Trust's website now. 

Chinese government encourages workers not to travel home for Chinese New Year

Some Chinese factories may keep running during the Spring Festival holidays this year, as workers are incentivised to stay in order to curtail the spread of Covid across China.

China’s week-long Spring Festival holidays are less than one month away. During this time, factories traditionally shut down for a couple of weeks as migrant workers return home to their families. Last year, the coronavirus outbreak saw production grind to a halt, with a shutdown rate nearing 90%.

This year, the picture could be very different: it appears that the threat of spreading the virus has prompted some workers not to return to their hometowns. According to a report in Global Times, a toy factory in Dongguan has confirmed that more than 100 migrant workers have decided to stay in the city during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays. The factory, which employs about 800 workers, has offered migrant workers 1,000 – 2,000 yuan, plus overtime pay, to stay.

The policy echoes calls from local governments in recent days, including cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as well as manufacturing bases such as Dongguan and adjacent Foshan, to encourage employees to stay. Foshan said it will release consumption coupons worth millions of yuan and free entrance to all local top-level tourism spots as stay-in-Foshan benefits.

One factory manager told Global Times: “In the past, operations at the factory were suspended for more than two weeks during the Spring Festival break. And we generally face a labour shortage issue afterward. But as more workers are staying this year, we’ll be able to resume production very quickly after the holidays.”

However, not all factories are experiencing this trend. Vantage Sourcing’s Ger Murphy, who is on the ground in Hong Kong, posted this comment on LinkedIn: “China is doing everything it can to restrict travel during Chinese New Year to avoid another massive Covid wave. However, many factory workers want to go home immediately because of the updated policy from the Chinese government. It could restrict workers crossing the province in the next few days, or might lock down the province border completely. My advice is check with all your factories immediately as it could affect your pre-Chinese New Year orders if workers have already gone home or are planning to go soon. Hebi Province is already locked down.”

In addition to the evolving Chinese New Year situation, there are also multiple reports coming out of China that highlight increases in the price of raw materials and labour costs, while the yuan has strengthened against the US dollar in recent weeks. All of these developments point to imminent price rises on products manufactured in China, which would pose another challenge for suppliers already grappling with sky-high freight costs.

PlayMonster set to expand global presence with rebranding of Interplay UK

PlayMonster UK will remain a subsidiary of PlayMonster LLC, headquartered in the newly refurbished High Wycombe office with its own unchanged UK team.

PlayMonster LLC and Interplay UK have announced that Interplay will be rebranded as PlayMonster, beginning immediately and continuing through 2021.

The rebranding strategy reflects the company’s vision for the future and further strengthens PlayMonster’s global position in the toy industry. PlayMonster UK will remain a subsidiary of PlayMonster LLC, headquartered in the newly refurbished High Wycombe office with its own UK team. No change to staff roles or responsibilities will take place, and the team will continue to be led by managing director Adrian Whyles. PlayMonster LLC will continue to operate out of its Beloit, Wisconsin headquarters, reporting to CEO Bob Wann.

In 2016, PlayMonster acquired a North American licence for Interplay’s best-selling My Fairy Garden brand, which has seen major global success. After two years of strong partnership and continued growth, it acquired Interplay’s operations and full brand portfolio. Following years of successful cooperation, integrating business strategies and developing synergy in brand line-ups, the 2021 rebrand is a natural transition of the flourishing business relationship. With combined depth and breadth of resources, the new PlayMonster global business will become an even stronger performer in the global marketplace.

“This announcement will serve to expand PlayMonster’s worldwide brand presence, and to further growth and evolution towards becoming one of the industry’s top toy companies,” said CEO Bob Wann. “Everything we do across PlayMonster worldwide champions the power of play in children everywhere, by continuing to innovate and bring smiles to young faces across the globe.”

“PlayMonster LLC is a rapidly growing, global business, and Interplay has benefitted hugely from being a member of this great ‘family’,” said Adrian Whyles, managing director, Interplay. “We have extensive expansion plans in place; unifying the two companies with the PlayMonster brand gives us unique scope to align famous brands and further extend our business relationships internationally.”

Last year saw significant growth for PlayMonster/Interplay, which has expanded its commitment to the power of classic play with added strength in leadership, brand partnerships, multiple TOTY finalists and successful product introductions including Snap Ships, FabLab, My Fairy Garden and Drone Home.

TRA’s Toy of the Year Awards winners announced

This year’s somewhat different awards reflect the unique and challenging trading conditions seen in 2020, and honour those companies that have kept UK families happy and entertained during the pandemic.

Toy suppliers and retailers played a major part in keeping the nation’s children smiling, entertained, healthy and educated in 2020, resulting in a 5% increase in overall toy sales in a year heavily impacted by Covid-19.

Four outstanding categories played a big part in delivering this growth, all of which have outperformed the overall market. As such, the Toy Retailer’s Association selection panel has highlighted a ‘winner’ in each of these categories, recognised for offering the largest overall contribution to each category in a unique year for the industry.

Games & Puzzles was a key performer in the overall market. This category topped the YOY growth performance with various suppliers driving this increase, including Orchard Toys, Gibsons Games, Asmodee, Hasbro and Tomy (Drumond Park). However, the panel has chosen Ravensburger as its standout performer in this category.

Speaking to Toy World, Tim Hall, managing director of Ravensburger, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to hear we are a 2020 Toy of the Year winner. We were delighted to finish in the top 10 toy suppliers according to NPD and especially pleased to grow with nearly every customer. This news really is the icing on the cake, and I would like to thank the entire Ravensburger team in UK and Europe, together with our trade partners and licensors for making this possible during the most challenging trading period many of us have ever experienced.”

Building and Construction is an area dominated by one supplier, notes the TRA, although Hornby’s Airfix range added a different dimension to this category, alongside notable new lines from Geomag and K’Nex. The winner in this category is Lego. Delivering remarkable growth consistently over the last 10 years, Lego has yet again outperformed the market and is to be commended for keeping the nation’s children (and kidults) entertained and amused throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and various lockdowns.

Marius Lang, UK & Ireland head of marketing at Lego, said: “We are proud that we were able to support children, families and adults through 2020 via creative play inspiration and pushing the boundaries of what traditionally was defined as a ‘construction toy’. Last year, we also launched into the Arts & Craft category with Lego Dots and Lego Arts, brought Super Mario fun to life in physical form with Lego bricks, and welcomed many new adult fans to engage in joyful focus through our more advanced builds. We‘re committed to the continued support and inspiration of families in new and innovative ways. We’ve just launched ‘Bygge Hygge’, encouraging families to embrace The Art of Cosy Building together and, looking ahead, have many exciting launches, plus much more, on the horizon.”

A category that benefitted from people having to stay at home, it was inevitable that growth would be achieved in Outdoor & Sports. Many products helped with our children’s mental and physical health, such as bicycles, trampolines and skateboards, as well as outdoor ranges from the likes of Little Tikes. The standout performer in this category was Mookie Toys, which has been recognised for its Swingball range.

Several suppliers contributed to making the Arts & Crafts category such a success in 2020, including Galt, Crayola, John Adams and Spin Master, plus many more. The winner in this category is Hasbro, which was recognised for its domination in the arts & crafts sector with its Play Doh brand.

Highly Commended certificates have also been awarded to the following companies: Bandai (for CoComelon), Character Options (Peppa Pig, Goo Jit Zu, Pokémon), Funrise (Fart Ninja), Golden Bear (Hey Duggee, Bing), MGA Entertainment (L.O.L. Surprise!), Mattel (Barbie, Hot Wheels, The Mandalorian), Spin Master (Paw Patrol), VTech (pre-school learning toys), and Zuru (5 Surprise Mini Brands).

Licences played a big part in the success of 2020. In addition to properties already mentioned, Frozen, Super Mario and Harry Potter continued to deliver throughout the year.

In a press release, The TRA said it sincerely hopes that normal service resumes in 2021. “[Then] we can revert to our customary criteria and identify the actual toy winners and allocate awards accordingly. In the meantime, we wish you all a successful and healthy 2021,” the statement added.