Kidicraft unveils latest product launches

This month will see the greatest launch of new Kidicraft products in the company’s history. 

Following the successful launch of the Harry Potter range, Kidicraft is preparing to launch a DC Comic Batman and Superman range in Super 3D.

These 500pc jigsaw puzzles are created using the latest Prime 3D lenses to give great depth and movement. Striking images and packaging are complemented by a new branded DC Comic Batman and Superman floor display unit. This display is available free with an order of 48 puzzles or more from this range.

The new products will be on display at the London Toy Fair (Stand H30) and Spring Fair International (Hall 5, Stand K28).

Happy Christmas from the Toy World team

Today’s newsflash bulletin will be the final one of the year – and indeed, the decade.

After today, the Toy World team will be taking a well-deserved break until 2nd January. When we return in the New Year, keep a look out for our new-look website and daily newsflash, along with a brand new mobile-friendly site.

Shortly afterwards, the ‘legendary’ January Toy Fair issue of Toy World will be landing on desks, containing the most comprehensive preview of the London Toy Fair that you’ll find anywhere. It includes everything you need to make the most of your trip to the show: a full list of exhibitors, show floor maps and, most importantly, an extensive round-up of the unmissable new product which will be unveiled over the three days. This is your essential guide to the show, and the perfect way to prepare for your visit to this fantastic event.

In the meantime, from everyone at Toy World – John, Anita, Rachael, Lisa and The Marks – we would like to wish all of our readers across the globe a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and let’s hope that 2020 will be a year to remember – for all the right reasons.

Rummikub given the stamp of approval

Rummikub, distributed in the UK by John Adams Leisure, has been celebrated in Israel with its own bespoke postage stamp.

The new commemorative Israeli stamp features iconic tiles from game, which has been bringing people together since 1950, including the much-loved Joker tile. Rummikub was first created and developed by Ephraim Hertzano, who started hand-making sets in the backyard of his home with his family in Israel. Since then, an estimated 50m games have been sold in over 60 countries around the world. The game has also been translated into 27 languages.

Brilliantly simple, Rummikub provides hours of amusement. Each game is as different as the combinations of moves participants choose to play. The aim of the game to is to be the first player to clear their rack of tiles onto the table as part of a ‘run’ or ‘group’ and then shout ‘Rummikub’. Players must use strategy and sharp moves to outwit their opponents but the Joker can fire up the game – or, if he is smiling on a rack at the end of the round, that players loses 30 points.

Rummikub is available in variations including Classic, Travel, Junior and more, and can be played with two to four players aged 7+ (Junior from 4+).

Subway Surfers named most downloaded game of the decade

News coincides with Subway Surfers merchandise hitting retail, social gaming launch and more.

Boasting over 2.7b downloads around the world, Subway Surfers was named the most downloaded mobile game of the decade by App Annie, closing out a strong year for Sybo and Kiloo and setting the stage for 2020.

This latest accolade coincides with the debut of apparel from Subsurf, the brand’s consumer and lifestyle merchandising arm, which hit UK retailer Next this week. Subway Surfers Airtime, the first franchise extension, will be released by the end of this month worldwide on Snap Games, Snapchat’s real-time multiplayer gaming platform. Among the first games available on the Snap Games platform, Subway Surfers Airtime is the first of many ways that Sybo will further explore the Subway Surfers brand.

“We’ve hit several incredible download records over the years, yet this App Annie report naming Subway Surfers the most downloaded mobile game of the decade is truly epic,” said Mathias Gredal Nørvig, Sybo Games’ CEO. “We’ve pioneered many new programmes this year, with partners including Google and SnapChat, as well as our master toy licensee Alpha Group. The coming year promises to be spectacular.”

At NY Comic Con, Sybo and publisher iDreamsSky previewed a new AR app, Mark AR, which utilises new ARCore technology built by Google, and allows users to create and share their Subsurf AR art with friends and followers in real-world locations. With Persistent Cloud Anchors, users can return to their pieces as they create and collaborate over time, ‘gamifying’ the creative experience. Closed beta is planned for January, with various pop-ups planned until it launches wider in mid-2020.

Additionally, Sybo took an active role in the Playing for the Planet initiative by the United Nations. 21 companies are representing 970m gamers globally, all of whom have pledged to actively use their platforms to take meaningful action in the fight against climate change.

Additional exclusive Subsurf designed T-shirts will debut in January at UK retailer Tesco. In the summer of 2020, the first products from global master toy licensee Alpha Group will debut globally. Figures, vehicles, plush, toyetic accessories and more. A retailer announcement is planned for late spring.

New Year, new job?

For those seeking a job in the toy industry, Toy World brings you the highlights of the roles currently featured on our recruitment page. For further details, plus details of how to advertise a position, see below.

The latest vacancy to be listed this month is for the position of marketing manager with Craft Buddy, one of the UK’s fastest-growing Arts & Craft companies whose brands include Crystal Art, Pretty Gets Gritty and Forever Flowers. Designed and produced by the company, products are exported to over 20 countries worldwide from the head office and warehouses based in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

A marketing manager is sought to join the company in a key strategic role; responsible for significantly growing brand awareness of the company’s arts & craft ranges both in the UK and abroad, to other businesses (B2B) and to consumers (B2C).

To read further details of the role, and how to apply, click here.

Carter’s is the largest branded marketer in North America of apparel exclusively for babies and young children. The Company also owns Skip Hop, a global lifestyle brand for families with young children. Skip Hop UK is seeking a key account sales manager for its UK office.

The role will be responsible for driving sales and distribution for a selection of omni channel customers throughout the UK and support the development of independent customers and distribution partners.
Office-based in Luton, there will be the opportunity for regular travel for a dynamic and hands-on candidate with 2-5 years’ experience selling in the Toy, Nursery or Gift sectors – although other sectors will be considered

For more information, click here.

Geomagworld is recruiting additional sales agents for a number of different areas including Scotland, North West, North East and East Anglia.

Geomag continues to grow strongly within UK and values the independent sector highly. The company’s TV campaigns and media investment are driving some great opportunities, and as a result of this it wishes to recruit a number of different sales agents.

More information on this role can be found here.

Redlands Distribution wishes to appoint Sales Agents for the UK market. Redlands is the exclusive UK supplier for the recently launched FAO Schwarz toy ranges. In addition, the product offering also includes toys and science/STEM ranges from the Discovery and Discovery #Mindblown brands, as well as a diverse RC range under the Sharper Image brand.

The successful candidate will primarily be focusing on building trading relationships with Independent Toy Retail; Buying Group Members; Garden Centres and Gift Retail.

For more information, click here.

See the website for even more roles, including positions at Maxx Marketing, IMC Toys, Innovation First International and Marbel/Hape.

Looking for staff?

Toy World’s Recruitment section is the place to advertise your latest vacancies; recent recruiters have reported a high volume of credible applications. Ads tailored to your individual specifications can be placed online within 24 hours and enjoy daily exposure on our popular email newsflash, plus front-page visibility on our website for the duration of the ad placement. Print ads are also available.

To discuss your requirements, get in touch with Mark Austin mark@toyworldmag.co.uk.

Mattel takes new steps for sustainable future

Mattel will introduce an environmentally sustainable version of the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack in the first half of 2020.

Mattel has announced its goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics materials in both its products and packaging by 2030. In the first half of 2020, the company will debut the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack made from sugarcane-based plastics and packaged in 100% recycled or sustainably sourced material.

This new goal expands the company’s Environmental Sustainable Sourcing Principles that were announced in 2011. It now sources 93% of the paper and wood fibre used in its packaging and products from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) content, surpassing its 2018 goal of 90%. In addition, Mattel has adopted the How2Recycle label, a standardised labelling system that communicates recycling instructions to the public.

Earlier this year, Mattel established an Environmental Sustainability Council comprised of a cross-functional team of leaders dedicated to advancing the company’s sustainability efforts in several areas, including materials innovation.

“Environmental sustainability is a corporate priority at Mattel and creating sustainable products and packaging is an important part of our commitment to the planet,” said Ynon Kreiz, chairman and CEO, Mattel. “Our dedicated cross-functional team made sustainability a key priority throughout the product and packaging design and production process. Today, we are delivering on that priority by announcing our first product made from sustainable materials and we look forward to expanding our efforts to all Mattel brands.”

Fisher-Price will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2020 and by the end of the year, all Rock-a-Stack toys sold worldwide are on track to be made with plant-based plastics and packaged in 100% recycled or sustainably sourced material. The Rock-a-Stack toy, launched by Fisher-Price in 1960, introduces babies to relative size and stacking.

ViacomCBS Consumer Products appoints Venetia Davie

Venetia has previously held senior roles at DC Thompson, Wild & Wolf, Parragon Book Publishing, Mattel and Harper Collins. 

ViacomCBS Consumer Products (VCP) has announced that Venetia Davie will join the company as vice president, UK and Ireland. She will start the role in January, reporting to Mark Kingston, senior vice president, International, VCP.

In her new role, Venetia will lead VCP’s UK and Ireland business, managing the London-based team and overseeing local relationships with key VCP partners. Additionally, she will be responsible for both developing promotional partnerships and leading local VCP retail sales and marketing divisions across the two markets.

“Venetia has extensive experience across a range of branded consumer products businesses, and a proven track record of  transforming and expanding key properties in markets around the world,” said Mark. “She will play a pivotal role in developing and implementing a consumer products strategy for our growing business in the UK and Ireland.”

Venetia previously held several senior roles at leading media company, DC Thompson. Most recently, she led DC Thompson’s acquisition of Petit Collage, a children’s toy and gifting company, and was named managing director at Petit Collage in 2017. She also served in leadership positions at DC Thompson’s other brands, Wild & Wolf and Paragon Book Publishing. Her roles at Parragon Book Publishing spanned Children’s and Licensed Publishing, Global New Business Development, International Sales, and Gifting. In addition, she previously held senior publishing roles at Mattel and Harper Collins.

VCP has an exciting year ahead in 2020, with a number of big cinematic releases alongside its iconic franchises. In January, pre-school property, Paw Patrol, will expand further with the launch of Paw Patrol: Ready, Race, Rescue following the success of Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups in 2018. SpongeBob SquarePants’ 20th anniversary celebrations continue with the release of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run in May 2020, and the anticipated Top Gun: Maverick will hit cinemas in July 2020.

World Alive S.L. launches new Soul Mates brand

The initial offering includes child sized eco yoga mats and storytelling plush pillows with nature themed characters.

In 2020 World Alive S.L., the creators of Aqua Dragons’, will be entering into a new territory with the launch of a new eco-lifestyle brand, Soul Mates.

Soul Mates mission is to help ameliorate the effects of inactivity and overuse of screens with yoga and mindfulness. The company aims to tap into the international wellness trend towards yoga and mindfulness by adapting the traditional practise into fun toys and playthings for kids aged three and above.

The initial offering includes child sized Eco yoga mats and storytelling plush pillows with nature themed characters; Sun, Moon, Cloud, Wave, and Earth. The yoga play-mats have animal and nature themed poses embossed on-top. The Soul Mates Mindfulness Storytelling Pillows see the characters tell a whimsical two minute story and include short mindfulness exercises. Kids simply squeeze the pillow to hear the story.

Amy Holden, founder, product innovator and developer of Soul Mates, said: “This project is the culmination of many years of study in perinatal psychology, child development, and mindfulness. I was motivated by my own motherhood, and my personal practise in yoga. I actively searched for, but was unable to find yoga and mindfulness products or simple at home programmes that were fun, easy and adapted to children, for my own kids. So, I felt compelled to develop a fun, flexible and easy program that does not require reading, videos, classes or teachers. Children can play whilst they get great benefits for their physical and mental health, not to mention that their parents and friends can join in to play too. Our goal was to create something to play that is fun and healthy for kids to play by themselves, with family or in a group that is caring for the environment too, and I believe we have successfully done that.”

All Soul Mates branded products are made ecologically, and include materials like organic plush, recycled fillers, 100% biodegradable bio-plastics and recycled packaging.

The launch will be supported by a communication campaign including influencers. This is a cross category brand spanning girls, sports, fitness, outdoor, games, plush and impulse, with more developments to come in 2021.

The full initial line of Soul Mates will be on show at Spielwarenmesse in Hall 10, stand H03.

World Alive is actively looking for distribution partners and would be happy to speak with interested parties. Please contact amy@world-alive.net for more information.

Alice Morrison returns to Diaframma

Alice will be taking on the role of international sales director.

Alice Morrison has re-joined Diaframma as international sales director. Alice previously worked for Diaframma from 2015-2017, before joining Moose Toys as one of its international account managers, where she managed southern and northern European accounts, helping to spearhead the company’s European expansion.

Diaframma CEO, Duccio Abolaffio, commented, “I am delighted to welcome Alice back to the team and look forward to working with her once again. I am sure that Alice’s expertise, combined with her prior knowledge and experience of the company, will be a real asset.”

Alice will be attending all the major international toy fairs in January and February, starting with the Hong Kong trip, and looks forward to catching up with Diaframma’s existing and potential customers during Toy Fair Season.

It’s the final countdown…it’s the Friday Blog!

We’ve finally made it through to the last Blog of the year…and indeed, the final Friday Blog of this decade. On one level, I am envious of friends who have jobs where December largely consists of long liquid lunches and evening functions with clients. While many people are in the process of winding down as Christmas draws near, we are at our most frantic – putting the finishing touches to the ‘legendary’ January Toy Fair issue of Toy World (well, if the Radio Times refers to its Christmas edition as legendary, and our January issue is even bigger, I figure we can appropriate the phrase). I certainly sympathise with all the retail staff that are busy right down to the wire; like them, the last week before Christmas is crucial for us too. But I’m not sure I’d have it any other way: the buzz that we get from uploading and signing off our January issue must be just how retailers feel when they finally close the doors on 24th December. Hopefully they’ll be feeling as ecstatic – and relieved – as we will be to finish the year on a high.

Because, let’s not beat around the bush, it has been a rollercoaster of a year. While few were enthusiastic about a December election, it has at least delivered clarity – a definitive path now lies ahead of us, with any potential disruption likely to be at least 12 months away. Whether the decisive outcome has resulted in a pre-Christmas retail sales boost is yet to be determined: one retailer messaged me last weekend to say that the anticipated surge in footfall had yet to materialise in his neck of the woods. But he did admit to trading on parity with last year, which may not turn out to be all that bad, all things considered.

While I have grown accustomed to working right up until Christmas, we do at least have the luxury of being able to take off the week between Christmas and New Year. I feel particularly sorry for shop workers who finish late on Christmas Eve and then have to return to work on Boxing Day. That just doesn’t sit right with me, so we don’t even think about the sales until at least 27th – we’re still far too busy with visitors and celebrations on Boxing Day. Indeed, a survey this week suggested that 97% of shop workers oppose Boxing Day trading; no great surprise, any other result really would have been a ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’ scenario. But fair play to Home Bargains, Aldi, Lidl and Homebase – plus any other retailers – who have taken the decision to remain closed on Boxing Day. I’m sure staff and their families appreciate it.

The nominations for UK Retailer of the Year were announced this week. There were some great names on the list (see the full list here), and, inevitably, the occasional curveball – in this instance, one retailer which made the list and one which didn’t. Of course, you can never please all the people all the time, and I did wonder whether changes to the judging process might see such an outcome. In terms of the ‘surprise’ inclusion, let’s just say that one account has repeatedly cropped up in conversation this year as having failed to live up to (admittedly sky-high) expectations. The same retailer was the subject of the most talked about post on LinkedIn his week – yes, someone else has wrestled that particular mantle from Isaac Larian, if only for one week! The post in question – from a former senior employee of said retail operation – certainly pulled no punches in its critique. That said, others clearly have a different perspective, hence the fact the retailer is up for an award.

The exclusion from the list was perhaps less of a surprise – our friends at Amazon once again failed to make the shortlist. Clearly, this doesn’t reflect Amazon.co.uk’s contribution to toy sales, which is immense and grows with each passing year. Some may even think it uncharitable that the proprietary arm of Amazon is being penalised for the sins of sellers on its marketplace (and other online marketplaces, of course). But I try think of it this way: what if a large toy retailer – let’s call them Jones – set up an area called ‘Jones marketplace’ in one of its car parks or the corner of its stores, facilitating companies to sell directly to the public from this section. If there was a problem with an item, who would the customer think was responsible: the individual seller that no-one knows or will ever see again, or the name over the door – Jones? While all the online marketplaces are attempting to put their own houses in order, let’s be honest, they are still some way off. Hopefully further progress will be made in 2020 – the new SANTA Act in the US, a legal bill which will require online marketplaces to verify third-party seller information and disclose key seller details to consumers, points the way forward. You can read more about that initiative here: hopefully the UK and Europe will look to introduce similar legislation in the not too distant future.

I’m looking forward to seeing who ultimately triumphs at the awards night, which will be held on the first evening of Toy Fair – you can get your tickets here. But even though that is only a month away, there is still a lot to happen before then. So I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic last few days trading before Christmas, and equally positive sales in the days following Christmas. Toy World’s final email newsflash of 2019 will appear on Monday; after that, we’ll be ‘going dark’ until January 2nd. Keep a look out for an upgrade to our online offering in the New Year – our website and daily email newsflashes will be receiving a ‘wash and brush up’ to usher in the new decade. Although following our most successful year ever online, it will certainly be a case of ‘evolution, not revolution’. We may be the best in our field, but we always strive to be even better.

All that remains for me to do is wish you all a fantastic Christmas, a Happy and prosperous New Year, and to thank you all for your fantastic support this year. On so many levels, it was quite a brutal year – yet it was our best year to date. We literally couldn’t have done that without our readers and advertisers, so thanks to each and every one of you. May 2020 bring all you hope it will bring.