Will face masks be mandatory in UK shops?

Retailers are seeking clarification from the government on face masks after conflicting comments from Boris Johnson and other ministers.

Face masks in shopsPrime Minister Boris Johnson first suggested that the government was considering making masks, or face coverings, mandatory in shops throughout England last week. Boris Johnson was pictured wearing a mask in public for the first time, and was quoted as saying, ”I do think we need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined places. We’re looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings, in shops, for example where there is a risk of transmission.”

The Prime Minister implied that the government was considering how to enforce mask usage, saying: “In places like China or Taiwan, the far east, they don’t actually have mandatory face coverings, it’s just part of the way they do things. Clearly, we don’t have that culture here in the UK, and we have to think about how we make it happen and how we make it work.”

The move would follow directives from Scotland, where the wearing of face coverings has now become compulsory. They are not currently required in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, although masks are mandatory on public transport in England, and official guidance says people should also wear them in enclosed spaces.

However, cabinet office minister Michael Gove has now created confusion by suggesting that that face masks in shops will not be mandatory in England and said the government trusted “people’s good sense” on the issue. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I don’t think mandatory, no, but I would encourage people to wear a face mask, where they are inside, in an environment where they are likely to be mixing with others and the ventilation may not be as good as it might. It is basic good manners, courtesy and consideration to wear a face mask if, for example, you’re in a shop.”

Retailers await an official statement to clarify the matter, as the shadow business minister, Lucy Powell, commented: “We think the government – instead of just showing a bit of leg occasionally on these things by briefing newspapers or saying things that are not clear guidance in press conferences, as the prime minister did on Friday – [should] get some clarity. That’s really something that would get confidence back into the system and get people feeling that they can go to the shops.”

Scientists have urged ministers to set a good example by publicly wearing face coverings. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has been frequently photographed in a tartan mask.

Prof Anthony Costello, a former director at the World Health Organization told a briefing of the Independent Sage committee: “Our message is: wear masks indoors, wear masks in public places, and I think ministers should be setting a good example. They are not doing that right now, particularly in England.”

Viral Group launches Influencer Hub

Influencer Hub, Viral Group’s new consultancy, will offer support and advice on social media and influencer campaigns. 

Influencer marketingThe Viral Group has announced the launch of Influencer Hub, a new own-brand specialist influencer agency set up to help companies plan and execute influencer campaigns across the globe. A video explainer can be found at the bottom of this story.

Laura Edwards, co-founder of Viral Group, told Toy World why the group has created Influencer Hub: “Over the last five years in the influencer marketing industry, we’ve learnt that some companies/brands really don’t know where to start when trying to find the right creators to work with and plan their influencer campaigns, from executing and distributing them, to understanding the social data reports.”

According to Viral’s official statement, those working with Influencer Hub will be able to:

  • Access 4.5m influencers across the world
  • Target influencers by their engagement percentage and followers
  • Target influencers by their brand affinity based on their lifetime posts
  • Target by percentage of followers for a particular city
  • Access next generation influencer reporting for the campaign, including real-time data
  • Gain insight into previous social campaigns to identify key peaks, uncovering who the best performing and most engaging social creatives/influencers are

The Viral Group already works with brands such as Sky, DreamWorks and MGA, and says it demonstrates a ‘new era of transparency and high-level targeting’ which can be used on a global scale.

Laura continued: “This new division will give brands the confidence that they are working with a reliable team of expert consultants experienced in planning influencer marketing strategies. The influencer vetting process is priceless; via our bespoke platform, and working with our agency, we are able to offer in-depth analysis of brands and creators utilising nine billion points of data. Companies can be assured that we will only offer creators with an authentic following that are going to complement their brand. We’re also able to examine brands’ competitors social media activity by age, gender, race, language and location, as well as each brand’s growth rate on each of its social media platforms. This is invaluable when media planning, especially for the launch of new products.”

Alex Chavez-Munoz, talent and brand director, added: “This was a real organic move for us. Because of the team’s experience, passion and knowledge of the space, clients were keen for us to utilise those skills in influencer marketing outside of our roster. Not only do we have a great network of influencers, but our social platform also allows us full access to over 4.5m influencers around the world. It’s been a tough few months, but the next six months are looking really positive and we’re excited to showcase our offering to as many brands as possible.”

To find out more, message info@influencerhub.co.uk or call 01202 555 655.

Moe Shalizi and Marshmello debut Mellodees

Offering music, animation and engaging characters, Mellodees will encourage pre-schoolers and their parents to play and learn together. 

Moe Shalizi and Marshmello have announced the launch of their newest entertainment initiative, Mellodees, a musically-driven video property. Featuring Dee the musical robot and music produced by Marshmello, it promises to deliver relevant messages and energetic music for pre-schoolers and their millennial parents.

“Over the past year, we’ve been diligently working on merging electronic music with educational content for children,” said Moe Shalizi, founder and CEO of management company The Shalizi Group (TSG). “Positive and inspiring content is critical, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, when children’s screen time is at an all-time high. Blending our creativity and passion for innovation, The Shalizi Group and Marshmello proudly present Mellodees, which aims to fill a gap in children’s programming.”

A 3D animated world filled with lovable characters, Mellodees will encourage children and parents to learn, play, dance and discover together. The star of the show, Dee, is a fun and friendly robot with musical built-in features. He and his friends go on adventures providing families with music, special dance moves and more. By ‘Following the Beets’, kids can easily read and sing along with the lyrics.

“Mellodees provides a safe place to learn not only educational material, but also age-appropriate holistic topics such as self-care, diversity, physical and mental well-being, community and culture,” said Krista Carnegie, COO of TSG.

Mellodees launches globally with the quintessential ABC’s Song, followed by other favourites such as Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle and Wheels On The Bus.

“We are starting with a fun twist on the classic nursery rhymes to introduce Mellodees and the characters,” added Hildi Snodgrass, CFO of TSG. “Our goal is to then expand into original music and storylines later this year, with an eye toward toys and other consumer goods in 2021.”

Mellodees will reveal new music and videos each week on all DSPs. Readers can find more information at Mellodees.com and follow its social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

Cancel culture …it’s the Friday Blog!

Long-term ‘friend’ of this column Mike Ashley, owner of Frasers Group and Sports Direct, has been making a name for himself again this week. Sadly, the name he has been making is unprintable in a Blog associated with toys (although it rhymes with Nat). This time, he has written to all his landlords to kindly inform them that he won’t be paying any rent on his stores until trading “reaches a level that was expected when agreeing rental terms.” So much for ‘we’re all in this together’ and sharing the burden – if he had been a passenger on The Titanic, we all know how he would have approached the lifeboat situation. To be fair, I suspect that the majority of retailers are not currently trading at traditional levels, but I’m not sure it is ethical (or even legal) to completely withhold payment from service providers. Most of us accept that we have to take our share of the pain in the current climate, except apparently Mr Ashley. And the fact that his letter has somehow gone public will surely make other tenants feel they are entitled to make exactly the same request. If every retailer does that, the house of cards is likely to come tumbling down rather quickly.

Intriguingly, Mr Ashley’s letter also asks for payments to be made monthly, rather than quarterly – although as he has declared he won’t be paying any rent at all, I am not sure why that would make a difference. ‘I’m not paying rent this month’ and ‘I’m not paying rent this quarter’ sound pretty much the same to me. I know it’s not like Mr Ashley to be unreasonable, but it just seems to me that he has a rather unique definition of the word ‘partnership’. As I have said before, everyone will be judged on how they behave during this time. I know how certain toy retailers are approaching the same landlord/tenant negotiations, and without giving away confidential commercial information, let’s just say the approaches are absolutely chalk and cheese.

Mike Ashley is not the only retailer making headlines this week: John Lewis has confirmed that eight of its stores will be closing – four ‘at home’ branches, two travel outlets (Heathrow & St Pancras) and two major stores in Birmingham and Watford. The closure of the ill-advised ‘at home’ branches is completely understandable, but poor Watford; my hometown has already lost the new Debenhams flagship branch and now John Lewis, which has been the fulcrum of that shopping centre for the past 30 years. Incredibly, John Lewis didn’t even wait to see if its sales rebounded after the closure of Debenhams. A letter from a John Lewis director to suppliers told how the eight stores had been ‘identified as financially challenged prior to the pandemic’, but maybe the disappearance of its biggest local competitor would have helped turn that round? As for Birmingham, it has been suggested in some quarters that John Lewis made a blunder in choosing the Grand Central location, rather than the Bull Ring, in the first place.

Despite these developments, I am hearing that shopping centres are seeing improving footfall, now that more stores, restaurants and public toilets are all now properly open. Let’s hope that trend continues.

Inevitably, retail is not the only area grappling with new post-pandemic realities. In news which will come as a surprise to precisely no-one, a string of trade shows and events have regrettably been forced to admit defeat and announce that they won’t be going ahead. London Comic-Con, Cologne’s Kind & Jugend and the rescheduled Toymaster show have all had to wave the white flag of surrender this week. Kind & Jugend was a particularly interesting example: over in Germany, trade shows have been placed in a different category to general mass gatherings, unlike the UK, where everything is currently lumped in together. What this means in practice is that the current government guidance would have to change for a trade show to be able to take place here in the UK. Talking to someone who modern media parlance would describe as a ‘person familiar with the matter,’ he suggested that for the current rule to be relaxed, we would have to hit the equivalent of number 2 on the ‘Nando’s scale’ of virus transmission– essentially, we need to get to Lemon & Herb, while we are probably still somewhere between hot and medium. Whereas in Germany, trade shows can now legally take place, naturally with all appropriate safety measures in place. And yet, despite this, Kind & Jugend was still cancelled; this infers that whether a show can legally take place in not only factor in play – visitor and exhibitor sentiment play a key role in the final decision. And one would have to assume that the cancellation suggests that many people still feel slightly uneasy about the prospect of visiting a trade show right now.

There is also the question of whether a trade show organiser would be happy to go ahead with a compromised event that doesn’t live up to its usual standards, and indeed whether it would even be economically viable to do so, especially if the appetite from visitors is in question. Would exhibitors feel comfortable making the traditional level of investment without being confident of footfall reaching expected numbers (and we’re back to good old Mike Ashley…)? To take the analogy a step further, I doubt that exhibition venue owners would exactly be falling over themselves to reduce rental costs.

Now, of course, second season / spring summer toy buying shows are markedly different to main season/ autumn winter events (i.e. those toy fairs held in Q1): second season events are generally viewed as ‘nice to have’, whereas main season events have hitherto been deemed pretty much essential. When lockdown started, many in the toy community remarked how fortunate we were with the timing: the trade shows were all behind us and it was not a traditional peak retail sales period for toys. At that stage, most people were working on the perfectly reasonable assumption that this would all be over by late summer or the autumn. Over time, it became clear just how optimistic that timeline was. Now, all eyes are on the festive selling season and Q1 2021, in the hope that measures being taken now can get the situation sufficiently under control to enable retailers to enjoy a good Christmas and all the trade shows to take place in January and February. Let us hope that aspiration doesn’t prove over-optimistic too…

Thames & Kosmos details latest games launches

Thames & Kosmos sales director Jo Drage explains what’s on offer this summer from the company’s games portfolio. 

My City Thames & KosmosThames & Kosmos has seen surging sales of its games during the lockdown, and with the summer holidays approaching, and a further easing of lockdown, the company is expecting this trend to continue.

Sales director Jo Drage told Toy World: “We remain amazed at the ingenuity with which some of our customers have widened their working remit and explored other avenues to bring in sales. Here at Thames & Kosmos we have been selling out of 2-player games and are now anticipating a rise in the need for larger group games as people start to meet up again in person”.

Designed by Reiner Knizia, the Spiel des Jahres nominated legacy game My City is anticipated to top the best-sellers list the same way the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominated The Crew did earlier in the year. This trick-taking cooperative game sold out in the UK within a record-breaking nine days in February and has sold over 11,000 English language copies since receiving the second run in May.

Aqualin is an eye-catchingly illustrated two-player strategy game that is easy to learn but challenging to master. During the game, each player attempts to group together as many matching tiles as possible and form the most groups; the bigger the group, the more points it’s worth.

Crazy Fishing is the latest in the company’s Devir board game range. Suitable for ages 6+,  two to six players assume the role of fishermen competing to catch the biggest fish in the sea, aiming for the highest score by catching fish and collecting bonus cards.

A reprint of the company’s co-operative classic for up to four players, Legends of Andor: Base Game, is due to arrive at the end of July.  Andor has spawned four expansions and two associated standalone games set, with The Liberation of Rietburg being the latest to hit the shelves back in spring.

The classic, award-winning family game Ubongo Travel offers a strong option for families on the go, while Thames & Kosmos’ Exit Games and Adventures Games series offers hours of fun for families looking for a challenge. The Dungeon, Theft on the Mississippi and The Stormy Flight are among the latest titles to join the best-selling ranges, which tap into consumer demand for both experiences and collaborative gameplay.

“Normal service has resumed at Thames & Kosmos”, Jo continues. “Our dedicated staff are on hand to assist retailers with any queries they have around ordering, product advice and any marketing queries such as images and support with social media campaigns on the different ranges.”

The company recently launched its revamped website at thamesandkosmos.co.uk, which gives retailers the ability to apply for a trade account via their website and place orders at any time.The website also hosts an image bank with hi-res images of all products.

“A few months ago, we introduced a monthly newsletter which is designed to inform about new developments, product arrival dates as well as any special offers we run for retailers”, Jo Drage concludes. Retailers can sign up via sales@thamesandkosmos.co.uk.

Walmart+ launch slated for this month

Walmart’s new membership programme, Walmart+, has been billed as an alternative to Amazon Prime. 

Walmart+ readies for launchUS retailer Walmart is readying itself for the launch of Walmart+, a membership programme offering same-day delivery of general merchandise and groceries, as well as discounts on fuel and early access to product deals.

The programme, which will cost $98 a year upon its launch, was scheduled to launch in March or April, but was postponed due to the pandemic. There remains some uncertainty surrounding whether Walmart+ will launch nationally, or initially on a regional level, later this month.

Walmart is hoping to capitalise on an increasing demand for online membership programmes with the launch of Walmart+, which is cheaper than Amazon Prime ($119 annually) and, like Prime, will offer same-day delivery. Walmart is aiming to  prevent the migration of its consumers, many of whom already have Prime memberships, from its physical stores to Amazon.

Reports indicate that Walmart+ expects to add video entertainment to the programme at some point in the future, as well as a branded credit card and a Scan & Go service that allows customers to check out in-store without queuing.

In order to compete with the many benefits of Amazon Prime membership, Walmart+ will offer fuel discounts, which households affected by the coronavirus may find attractive.

The Walmart+ initiative is reportedly a top priority for chief customer officer Janey Whiteside, who joined from American Express in 2018. Other Walmart executives that also been active in the planning of the programme include CEO Doug McMillon, signalling the importance of the initiative.

Breaking News: John Lewis announces eight permanent store closures

The department store chain has decided on which locations it deems unviable, placing 1,300 jobs at risk. 

John Lewis store closuresJohn Lewis has officially announced the eight stores it intends to permanently close.

Dame Sharon White, the department store chain’s chairman, had warned that not all John Lewis stores would reopen once the high-street lockdown was over, and although more stores openings were announced today, eight locations that will not reopen were also confirmed.

The locations facing closure include two ‘full-service’ locations; the 30-year-old Intu Shopping Centre John Lewis store in Watford, and the location in the Birmingham Grand Central shopping mall.

Smaller ‘At Home’ branches in Swindon, Tamworth, Newbury and Croydown will also be shuttered, along with travel outlets at Heathrow and St Pancras.

However, stores in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield are set to reopen on 30th July, and the Leicester branch will also reopen when the local lockdown is lifted, taking the total number of reopened John Lewis shops to 42. The Swindon outlet is also due to reopen on 30th July.

In a statement the company said: “Prior to the pandemic, the eight shops identified were already financially challenged and the pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online. Before the virus struck, 40% of John Lewis sales were online. This could now be closer to 60 to 70% of total sales this year and next.”

It added: “If redundancies are confirmed, every effort would be made to find new roles where possible for Partners who wish to remain within the Partnership. Opportunities could include transferring to local Waitrose shops or working for johnlewis.com and waitrose.com as they continue to grow. The Partnership has also made a commitment to provide support through a unique Retraining Fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any Partner with two years’ service or more.”

In an email to suppliers, director of General Merchandise, Simon Coble, wrote: “Making announcements like this is incredibly difficult, however, the closures have been proposed in order to secure the long term financial sustainability of the Partnership. Despite the challenges we face, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Partnership’s future. Our other John Lewis shops continue to play an important role within the business and plans are being drawn up to ensure these shops work harder commercially. We also plan to invest further in JohnLewis.com and our ecommerce capabilities.”

Exclusive: Toymaster’s Ian Edmunds speaks to Toy World

Ian explained how the buying group is supporting indie retailers through the reopening of the high street. 

Ian Edmunds Toymaster

Toymaster’s members have fared better than anyone expected throughout the pandemic and lockdown, utilising social media and online marketplaces to great affect and resulting in precisely zero permanent closures. This, Ian says, is largely due to the flexibility and adaptability of the indie channel, from which entrepreneurialism and a sense of team spirit pours forth. “By working together, sharing information on what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, our members have proven once again what an inventive and helpful group of people they are,” he enthuses. “The result is that they’ve come through this pretty well. Independent retailers have so much potential to be part of the solution, not part of the problem; they care, they’re a part of the local community, and this resonates with a lot of shoppers.”

He went on to discuss the lessons that have been learned about independent retail, and how some members have re-evaluated their approach. Ian also explained how Toymaster is supporting its members through re-opening and shared feedback from those members which re-opened earliest.

While Ian admits he’s surprised to see kids being taken into toy shops, he’s also keen to note the renewed enthusiasm and support for the ‘Shop Local’ messaging that has become a prominent feature of post-lockdown consumer spending.

“Everything we’ve seen would suggest that there’s increased support for shopping locally, he commented. “Consumers are arguably less willing to use public transport, and are wary of heading to the bigger city centres and shopping malls. And the issue of sustainability, which was of growing concern to people even before Covid-19, is now a major consideration for many shoppers. If ever there was a time that these messages weren’t falling on deaf ears, hopefully this is it. I’d like to think that all the positive things that our members have engaged in while on lockdown will stand them in good stead moving forward.”

With Christmas on its way, and a nation of kids deserving of a treat, he is also confident that Christmas will be a success.

To read the full interview with Toymaster’s Ian Edmunds, which was published in our July issue, click here.

Play Creators Awards 2020 finalists revealed

Designers from Lego, Posh Paws, Spin Master, Ravensburger, Moose, Golden Bear and Character Options are among those nominated for Play Creators Awards this year.

Play Creators Awards 2020Mojo Nation has unveiled the finalists for the Play Creators Awards 2020. The awards celebrate figures in the toy and game design community that have excelled over the last 12 months, including in-house design teams, outside invention studios and freelance design partners.

Panels of expert judges, comprising R&D execs, inventors and figures from design agencies and invention studios, will assess each category and select winners based on design merits in a series of virtual roundtable sessions.

As nominated by their peers, the finalists are as follows:

Toy Designer of the Year (Sponsored by The Toy Association)

  • Annalee Robbins (Spin Master) – Rainbow Jellies (Spin Master)
  • Big Monster Toys & Alpha Group’s Eric Dong & Glenn Yu – RC TerraTrax (Alpha Group)
  • Chantal Drenthe & Paul Martinsen (Fuse London) & Moose Toys – Oh My Gif (Moose Toys)
  • Lego – Lego Dots Range (Lego)
  • Moose Toys & Character Options – Heroes of Goo Jit Zu (Moose Toys/Character Options)
  • PlayMonster – Snap Ships (PlayMonster)
  • Seven Towns – Junk Bots (Hexbug)

Game Designer of the Year (Kids/Family Game) (Sponsored by Cartamundi’s Shuffle)

  • Adam Borton (Creating Unique Toys) & Jeremy Posner (Shenanigans Toys and Games) – Silly Seal (Entertoyment)
  • Big Monster Toys – Sky Score (Hasbro)
  • The Fantastic Factory – Trapped (Golden Bear)
  • Gary Pyper (Fun-Damental) – Windy Knickers (John Adams)
  • Heather Yates (Orchard Toys) – Mammoth Maths (Orchard Toys)
  • Nextoy – Puglicious (Mattel)
  • Nir Doran & Gilad Podgor – Slam Cup (Blue Orange Games)
  • Simon Toms (Spring Loaded Concepts) & Fuse London – Seasick Sam (Drumond/Tomy)
  • Tomy – Screwball Scramble Level 2 (Tomy)

Game Designer of the Year (Party Game) (Sponsored by Cartamundi)

  • Alex Hague, Justin Vickers & Wolfgang Warsch – Wavelength (Palm Court)
  • Ceri Price & Natalie Podd – Confident (Confident Games)
  • Chris Naylor & Rich Walton – Think Fast! (Ridley’s Games)
  • Dan Penn & Rich Coombes – Herd Mentality (Big Potato Games)
  • Identity Games – Nightmare Horror Adventures: Welcome to Crafton Mansion (Identity Games)
  • Nextoy – I Don’t Gif a ______ (Hasbro)
  • Oleksandr Nevskiy – Detective Club (IGames)
  • Peggy Brown – Bye Felicia! (Big G Creative)

R&D Team of the Year (Sponsored by Wynne-Jones IP)

  • Big Potato Games
  • Gibsons
  • Hasbro
  • Orchard Toys
  • PlayMonster
  • Ridley’s Games
  • Spin Master
  • Tactic Games
  • Tomy

Design Agency/Invention Studio of the Year (Sponsored by Hasbro)

  • Bang Zoom
  • Big Monster Toys
  • DesignbyTouch
  • The Fantastic Factory
  • Fun-Damental
  • Fuse London
  • Open 2 Design
  • Seven Towns
  • So Sound

Toy Designer of the Year (Licensed Product)

  • Big Monster Toys – Paw Patrol Split Second 2-in-1 Vehicles (Spin Master)
  • Denny Wong (Posh Paws) – Love Hearts Plush Range (Posh Paws)
  • Dominic Yard (This is YARD) – Little People DC Super Friends 2-in-1 Batmobile (Fisher-Price)
  • Eric Dong & Glenn Yu – Subway Surfers Spray Crew (Alpha Group)
  • Lego – Lego Super Mario Range (Lego)
  • Matt Bland & Matthew Jordan (Tomy) – Ricky Zoom Range (Tomy)
  • Open 2 Design – Peppa Pig Mud Kitchen (Character Options)
  • Paul Martinsen (Fuse London) – Batman Mega Gear Action Figures (Spin Master)
  • Gil Zalayet (StudioPlay) & Ryan Kratz (Sound Machine) – Rapid Change Utility Belt Batman (Spin Master)

Game Designer of the Year (Licensed Product)

  • Andrea Chiarvesio & Eric Lang – Marvel United (Spin Master/CMON)
  • Anthony Boydell & Andrew Harman – TfL Race the Rails (Gibsons)
  • Barry McLaughlin & Jason Lautenschleger – Anchorman: The Game (Barry & Jason Games)
  • Daryl Andrews – Titanic: The Game (Spin Master)
  • James Vaughn (Big Potato Games) – Top of the Pops: The Game (Big Potato Games)
  • Prospero Hall – Horrified (Ravensburger)
  • Richard Heayes (Heayes Design) – Disney Race Home & Home Sprint Ranges (Cartamundi)
  • Sam Roberts (So Sound) – Race to the Triwizard Tournament (Cartamundi)

Play Innovator of the Year

  • Audrey Tam (Spin Master) – CoolMaker Hollywood Hair (Spin Master)
  • Brian Whitehead (Briology Ltd) & Fuse London – Easy Knit (Character Options)
  • Dave Emblin (Moose Toys) – Team Gem (Moose Toys)
  • Emma Peat (Spin Master) – Go Glam Nail Salon 2.0 (Spin Master)
  • The Fantastic Factory – Trapped (Golden Bear)
  • Lego – Lego Art Range (Lego)
  • Melbot – Melbits POD (Melbot)
  • Phil Sage, Scott Clarke, Mel Hershey, James Brown and Colleen Dolan (Hasbro) – D-O Interactive Droid (Hasbro)
  • Tomy – Rizmo (Tomy)

Rising Star

  • Chantal Drenthe – Fuse London
  • Elif Atmaca & Ögeday Uçurum – Toyi
  • James Vaughn – Big Potato Games
  • Jacques Priestner – Seven Towns
  • Jason Loik – Loik Studios
  • Jessica Livingston – Gund/Spin Master
  • Ollie Hobbs – So Sound
  • Ross Monks – Moose Toys UK
  • Sam Roberts – So Sound
  • Steve Moore – Tantrum Innovation

The Design Icon award does not have a shortlist and the winner will instead be unveiled, alongside all the other winners, on Friday 11th September in a special Mojo Nation newsletter.

For more information on the Play Creators Awards, visit www.playcreatorsawards.com. The winners of last year’s awards can be viewed here.

Toymaster cancels September show

Dates for the 2021 Toymaster show have been confirmed. 

Toymaster logoSuppliers and Toymaster members have received an email, officially announcing the cancellation of the Toymaster show, which was due to take place from 2nd-4th September.

The event had already been postponed from its usual May timing, with government restrictions on gatherings now putting paid to the buying group’s plans to hold a later show. Despite support for the event, Toymaster has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 show, and focus on the 2021 May event instead, currently slated for 18th-20th May.

In an email to suppliers, MD Ian Edmunds said: “Due to the continuing need for social distancing, government restrictions on the number of people allowed to meet up, and ever conscious of the safety of attendees, the decision has been taken to cancel this September’s event.”

Suppliers are being given the option of a full refund, or booking for the 2021 show and carrying the money forward.