Moose Toys reveals new Octonauts toy line

The collection of Octonauts figures, vehicles and play sets has been created in partnership with Silvergate Media and will launch in August.

Moose Toys has given a first look of its new Octonauts toy line, which it will launch this August, in partnership with Silvergate Media, which produces the popular animated TV property.

The range will include vehicles, figures, plush and play sets based on Octonauts and its latest series Octonauts: Above & Beyond, and Moose will continue with line expansions, including new characters, vehicles and more, in late 2022.

“Anticipation for the new line of Octonauts: Above & Beyond toys has been building since we announced our partnership. We simply could not contain our enthusiasm and desire to share this first look at the line any longer,” said Belinda Gruebner, chief marketing officer, Moose Toys.

“Moose’s strength and expertise in the pre-school aisle shines with these toys designed to capture the hearts and imaginations of young Octo-fans. Widely regarded as one of the top pre-school properties, Octonauts is action-packed, educational and anchored in learning through problem solving and teamwork, and our toy line continues this outside of the episodes.”

Ron Allen, executive vice president, commercial, Silvergate Media, added: “When we tapped Moose Toys as our partner to develop a toy line that captured the world of Octonauts: Above & Beyond, we knew the team would bring its signature innovation and vast experience in creating toys that have proven success with the pre-school audience. What they delivered with this debut line is above and beyond, and we could not be more delighted. We share in Moose’s enthusiasm and look forward to Octonauts’ fans enjoying imaginative playtime with their favourite characters and vehicles from the Netflix show.”

The toys will feature all the usual Octonauts characters such as Captain Barnacles, Kwazii and Peso and the entire Octocrew, as they respond to a range of new dangers across the globe.

The first wave includes the Octoray Transforming Headquarters Playset, Octopod Action Playset, featuring the command centre of the Octonauts, and Octonauts Deluxe Vehicles, including new vehicles from the latest series as well as must-have vehicles from the original Octonauts show. Each vehicle comes with an Octonauts crew member, creature, and a collectible mission card.

There will also be collectible Adventure Packs, which include a figure, an environment, a creature and a mission card to take kids on their own Octonauts adventure and Gup Racer Assortment, which includes six collectible  characters and their vehicles.

The new range also includes Plush and Talking Plush: soft and cuddly Octonauts featuring four of the series’ most popular characters, and including a talking Captain Barnacles who delivers some of his signature phrases.

The launch of the new line will be supported by a 360-marketing campaign including TV, digital media buys, influencer partnerships and in-store point-of-sale features.

There are five seasons and a trio of Netflix Original movie-length specials currently available on Netflix. The Octonauts official YouTube channels have delivered more than 2b lifetime views, with around 2m subscribers.

Exclusive: Talking Shop – the rollercoaster of retail

In this month’s Talking Shop, Sam Giltrow spoke to no less than 15 indie retailers to find out how Christmas trading was for them, and how they see the year ahead.

Many of those we spoke to agreed that Christmas trading had started earlier, with fears of stock shortages and the threat of possible lockdowns looming, spurring shoppers into heading to the High Street as early as October. Given the disappointment of Christmas 2020 when families were unable to meet up and celebrate, customers were also going all out to celebrate for 2021 with many retailers reporting a rise in basket spend.

“Christmas trading for us has been very good – up 60% on Christmas 2019, mainly driven by Pokémon, Lego and Funko,” said Dave Middleton, of Midco Toys in Burton-Upon-Trent. “I would say Pokémon has become a backbone for independent stores, and I hope this continues in 2022.”

“Basket spend has been up, particularly among the customers who use our loyalty scheme, and I’m sure this is because they prefer to physically get their hands on what they want rather than shopping online and worrying about whether things will turn up or not,” said Brendan Will, of Aberdeen based Wills Toy Shop.

Unlike some years, there was no stand out toy or line this Christmas, with sales spread across the board and across other usual strong performers such as Lego, Sylvanian Families, Schleich, VTech, Playmobil, Barbie – and, of course, Pokémon,.

Though some retailers had experienced a few stock shortages, many had not really been affected having ordered in enough stock earlier than usual to cover demand. Nigel Kemp, of Halesworth Toy Shop in Halesworth told Toy World: “I managed to get most of the stock I wanted, despite all the problems, and I strategically topped up all my ranges in September and October. I packed the shop out with as much stock as I physically could, and I think it was a good move.”

Looking to 2022, there are still concerns around supply challenges and price increases, along with increases in the cost of living and the ongoing pandemic, but many retailers are hopeful of more normality and certainty this year.

“We begin 2022 with a positive outlook and belief that the local support we have received throughout the previous two years will continue,” said John Testori, of Bambola Toymaster in St Helier, Jersey.

Other retailers were spoke to were: Karen Sasse, of J & J Wilson Toymaster, Bude; John Bentley, of Howleys Toymaster, Weymouth; Brian Buckby, of Blewetts of Hayle; Tim Evans, of Toys & Games of Worcester; Phil Heath, of Heaths Toymaster, Barrow-in-Furness; Dee Mellor, of Salter Street Toys and Models, Stafford; Libby Osborne, of Osborne Sports & Toys,Rushden; Lynda Bartlett, of W & J Walker Toymaster, Ballmoney; Ian Bailey, of Bailey’s Toymaster, Gorey; Maggie Tibbenham, of Imagine Toy Shop, Holmfirth; and Lisa Clay, of Armadillo Toys, Leeds.

To read the full article, which appears in the January issue of Toy World, click here.

 

Exclusive: Viewpoint – key themes for the year ahead in advertising

Tristan Brooks, head of Client Services and managing partner at Havas Entertainment, looks at how companies can maximise their advertising strategies in 2022.

“Be prepared for the unexpected” is Tristan’s first pointer, as he outlines how recent times have taught us the importance of having the flexibility to react and adjust plans at short notice. “Your agencies should have built flexibility into your plans for the coming year, giving the ability to adapt to changes with minimal disruption and cost,” he warns.

Tristan also highlights the need to change mentality surrounding audience and “think digital first” rather than going straight to kids’ TV in campaigns. He points out that with kids’ TV continuing to decline, there is more need than ever to pinpoint exactly where the required audience is, and invest in that approach.

This includes YouTube, which Tristan says is the top kids’ TV channel, yet many companies are not investing in it at the same level as broadcast TV. “Your approach to YouTube may well make the difference this year for the effectiveness of your campaigns,” he warns.

Creating the right content is also key to a successful campaign, and Tristan discusses the merits of other digital video platforms such as TikTok, Facebook and Instagram in reaching and engaging with a younger audience. With cinemas set to show a bumper crop of blockbusters this year after a Covid-induced lull, there is also advice about planning for big screen budgets.

Tristan also stresses the need to bring the “right people together from different disciplines at the right time” in order to ensure campaigns are successful and to agree on the role of agencies based on their competencies to ensure best delivery of campaign objectives. Making the most of data and innovation are also two other topics he tackles.

To read the full Viewpoint article, please click here.

The latest Toy World recruitment round-up – new roles added

United Wheels, Harris Carlton and Funko are the latest companies looking to fill vacancies through Toy World’s popular recruitment section.

United Wheels is looking for a Sales Manager to focus on its Huffy cycle brand across the UK, Ireland and Nordics. The successful candidate will lead the sales strategy with responsibility for defining key customers, range plans, promotional execution and new business development.

The ideal candidate will be a dynamic and hands-on person with a minimum of five years’ experience selling in a relevant consumer goods sector and possess experience of working with major UK retailers. Knowledge of EU retailers would also be preferred. For full details click here.

On behalf of a client, Harris Carlton is looking for an accomplished Senior NAM to take the strategic lead as National Account Controller in a small team of other national account managers selling into the retail and the wholesale toy/gift channels. The customer portfolio includes grocery, wholesale/distributor and specialist toy retailers. The successful candidate will need to be able to demonstrate evidence of being a strong influencer as well as the ability to think and act independently.

On offer is a basic salary of between £62,159 and £74,894 plus bonus and company car, as well as career advancement opportunities. For more information click here.

Funko, which specialised in pop culture consumer products, is seeking a new Marketing Manager for Germany and Eastern Europe. Reporting to the Senior Marketing Manager, the post-holder will play a key role in supporting the marketing team to deliver effective brand activation initiatives across a complex product portfolio including grocery, retail and e-retail channels within their dedicated regions.

Spoken and written fluency in English and German is essential, along with strong experience in marketing and/or key account management in an EMEA capacity. Click here for further details.

Funko is also looking to appoint a Marketing Category Manager for its Non-Core product lines, who will be responsible for developing and executing the company’s brand strategy across board games from Funko Games, Funko’s own IP launches, apparel and fashion accessories from its subsidiary, Loungefly.

The successful candidate will have proven multi-channel brand marketing experience and possess strong analytical skills. For more information click here.

Other roles currently being advertised are as follows:

  • Funko is seeking an EMEA Amazon National Account Manager (Amazon NAM) who will be responsible for creating, developing and maintaining ongoing business relationships with Amazon EMEA, as well as managing a team of direct reports supporting this business unit.
  • Engino is looking for a UK National Account Manager to undertake the sales development of its toys and systems for both the Retail market (toy stores, department stores, supermarkets etc.) and the Education market (public and private schools).
  • Epoch Making Toys is looking for a Territory Manager (Midlands) to maintain existing relationships for the area for growth in line with budgets advised. The successful candidate will have previous experience at Territory Manager level with experience in the toy industry preferred, along with an understanding of the ethos of the Sylvanian Families brand.
  • Moose Toys is growing and is seeking an experienced, passionate, and dynamic Senior National Account Manager to join the team. They will be responsible for managing, consolidating and growing sales for Moose brands and products in the UK market.
  • National Account Manager is being sought to continue to develop the UK business of Clementoni, which has seen 50% growth in the last few years. Responsibilities include implementing new business plans and strategies for key accounts and executing new product development and promotions within these accounts.
  • Funko is seeking a Key Customer Sales Support Manager to manage the Key Customer Sales Support Team (who handle mass customer and operational transactions in partnership with designated members of the sales team).

Do you have a vacancy you’d like to fill? Toy World is where the trade goes for the latest recruitment opportunities. For more information or to place an advert, contact Mark Austin, sales director – mark@toyworldmag.co.uk.

Kidicraft expands sales team to support long-term growth

The seven new appointments will bolster Kidicraft’s company growth amidst continued strong demand for its products.

Pictured clockwise from top right are: Bob Duxbury, David Neale, Steve Davies and Craig Kidd.

Kidicraft is kick starting 2022 with the addition of seven new sales agents taking the team to 11 in total.

The company has welcomed Bob Duxbury, sales agent for the North East; Craig Kidd, business development manager; Steve Davies, sales agent for Wales; Trish Easter, sales agent for the South West, and Sarah Hobbs, sales agent for the Midlands. Working alongside Craig Kidd will be David Neale, and Sarah Hobbs will be joined by Victoria Wilkinson to strengthen those areas further.

Bob Duxbury was first introduced to the sales industry by his father who worked for Rosebud Mattel when Mattel first came to the UK. Bob brings a wealth of puzzle knowledge with him having worked for Gibsons for 31 years.

Craig Kidd will be focusing on Kidicraft’s key account customers and working closely with David Neale. Craig has worked in the industry for over two years, while David is now into his fourth year within the toy industry.

Steve Davies brings with him over 25 years of experience within the gift, toy and greetings industry, while Trish Easter has spent 16 years working in the gift industry.

Pictured, left to right, are Vicky Wilkinson, Sarah Hobbs and Trish Easter.

Sarah Hobbs and Victoria Wilkinson are lifelong friends and have worked together in the gift industry for many years covering the Midlands. They feel that Kidicraft’s portfolio is the perfect addition for their customers and are looking forward to showcasing Kidicraft’s range of jigsaw puzzles.

The new agents are joining Kidicraft at an exciting time with new product launches from Star Wars, Marvel and Discovery. 2022 is set to be a very busy year for Kidicraft and the seven new additions to the sales team will support the long-term growth of the company.

 

Lego Duplo Marvel app developed with StoryToys

The new app enables pre-schoolers to engage in activities with their favourite Super Heroes and build structures with 3D Lego Duplo bricks.

A new app has been launched for pre-schoolers which combines the learning benefits of Lego Duplo with the fun and adventure of Marvel.

Young Marvel fans can engage in activities with their favourite Super Heroes and help them to save the day, whether shooting webs with Spider-Man or rescuing a cat with Captain America. They can also create and build structures with virtual 3D Lego Duplo bricks.

Marvel Entertainment and the Lego Group have developed the app with StoryToys, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Team17 Group plc, and it already has over one million pre-orders globally. Free to download, the Lego Duplo Marvel app is available from the App Store and Google Play in 26 languages., with more to come throughout 2022.  Additional content is available to purchase.

The app is carefully aligned with the Headstart Early Learning Outcomes Framework to ensure it meets the developmental needs of 2–5-year-olds. Each play pack features fun problem-solving challenges to support learning and development skills including early maths, creativity and reasoning.

“As a lifetime fan of both Marvel and Lego bricks, this project is one that’s very close to my heart,” said Emmet O’Neill, CEO of StoryToys.

“We’re delighted to once again be collaborating with our amazing partners at the Lego Group, and to be working with Marvel for the first time on such a special project. Pre-schoolers adore and aspire to be Marvel heroes and this app will offer them a positive digital experience tailored to their abilities. Whether kids are Lego Duplo fans, Marvel fans, or both, it’s our absolute privilege to bring them the opportunity to engage with their favourite heroes in this fun and educational digital experience.”

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring Super Hero adventures to our youngest fans,” said Daniel Fink, SVP of Business Development and New Initiatives, Marvel Entertainment. “Not only will it delight today’s young Marvel fans, it also provides an all-ages experience for parents to introduce their own favourite Marvel super heroes to their children. The Lego Group and StoryToys are both experts in making high quality preschool educational products, and we look forward to how the app will resonate with families everywhere.”

Sean McEvoy, VP of Lego Games said “Building on the Lego Group’s long history of successful partnership with Marvel and our expanding partnership with the digital play experts at StoryToys, we were keen to bring the Lego Dul Marvel world to life in digital form. The app perfectly encompasses our core values of imagination, fun, creativity, learning, caring and quality. We’re excited to bring this world to young Marvel fans while inspiring and developing the builders of tomorrow.”

Lego has taken the decision not to exhibit at London Toy Fair this January. A company statement reads: “Due to the continued high rate of the Omicron infection and the risks associated with attending large events, we’ve decided not to have a physical presence at the London Toy Fair this year. We will connect with our customers and partners online to share our exciting plans for the coming year.”

 

Funrise International appoints general managers across Europe

The appointments form part of a wider aim to build on and expand the company’s international business. 

Funrise International has appointed two new general managers for Europe and expanded its international team to support its international growth strategy.

Annie Sullivan has become general manager, UK, Northern Europe & MEA, effective from December and will now be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the UK/Ireland region as well as the EMEA territory. She had spent the past five years at Funrise as commercial director EMEA and, in her new role, will expand her leadership across the whole of Northern Europe and continue to develop the MEA business along with the support of her team.

“During Annie’s time at Funrise, she has been able to grow the EMEA business exponentially with various licensed and IP brands within our portfolio. I’m confident she and her team will continue to build the business even further and grow our company’s distribution,” said Martin Good, senior vice president, International.

Sebastien Cardi stepped into the newly created role of general manager, Southern Europe on 1st January and is now responsible for the entirety of Southern Europe. Since joining Funrise in 2017, he has worked to grow the business and achieve distribution for Funrise’s products across all retailers within the French market.

Martin said: “Sebastien’s proven leadership skills in tackling the very tough but growing French business will see his responsibilities expand across the whole of Southern Europe.”

To help support the company’s international growth, Benn Bramwell has joined the Funrise team as marketing manager UK & EMEA. He will work closely with the Global Brand Team and be responsible for implementing marketing strategies across all functions, including linear, digital and social media planning, as well as trade marketing, PR and the eCommerce business.

Annie Sullivan said: “We are very excited to welcome Benn to the Funrise team to help drive our global brand strategies and grow our business in Europe even further.”

The Funrise International team can be visited at London Toy Fair, Stand G90

Golden Bear announces strong sales and profit growth

Bing, Hey Duggee and Smart Ball were among the Golden Bear brands seeing the biggest growth in the UK market.

Sales at Golden Bear increased by 9.5% to £25.1m in the 15-month period ending 31st March 2021, the company has announced. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, operating profit also saw a huge increase from £1.2m in the calendar year 2019 to to £2.3m.

In the UK market, the company saw dynamic growth in the Bing, Hey Duggee and Smart Ball brands while its strategy to increase international sales also paid off with increased sales of 33% to international distributors, driven by the Bing brand which is now the number one pre-school licence in Italy.

Golden Bear has also made significant investments to underpin future sales and profit growth, including investing in its own intellectual property with the launch of Curlimals and Squirty Gertie for 2022 and further new brands being developed for future years.

The company has also invested in its people with a number of new hires and the promotion of Becky Matthews and Rebecca Henchey to the board as UK Sales and Marketing director and Product and Innovation director, respectively. Golden Bear has also invested considerably in its sales and marketing capabilities with the creation of its virtual toy fair platform and in-house photographic studio.

The company’s push for sustainability has continued at pace with investment in solar panels and electric car charge points at the company’s premises in Telford, and further initiatives are planned.

Barry Hughes, managing director, said: “Everyone at Golden Bear is rightly proud of the company’s performance in 2020/2, and a massive thanks must go to all our staff and retail and licence partners who delivered great results despite all the challenges.  We continue to trade strongly in 2021/22 and look forward to sharing our fantastic new portfolio of products at London Toy Fair later this month.”

PMI to launch Brawl Stars toy line this summer

The Brawl Stars range will include collectibles, action figures, plush and stampers based on the global hit mobile game.

A new line of Brawl Stars toys will be launched this summer by gaming-sector toy manufacturer and distributor PMI, following a deal with Supercell, makers of the highly popular Brawl Stars brand, and Line Friends, a global consumer products licensing partner for the brand.

First launched in 2018, the Brawl Stars mobile game has become a global hit with 300m downloads in over 164 countries, boasting a huge worldwide fanbase globally. It is a multiplayer online battle-arena and third-person hero shooter game with multiple game modes and features distinctive characters.

PMI will release a multi-territory, highly detailed Brawl Stars toy line that will include collectibles, action figures, plush, stampers and more. The deal was brokered by licensing agency WildBrain CPLG on behalf of Line Friends, and by Big Picture Licensing representing PMI, known for bringing licensed IP to life through engaging and affordable toy lines and collectibles.

The range will launch in EMEA as well as North America, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore and will be a key addition to the brand’s existing licensing programme which covers apparel, accessories, health and beauty, home, party, promotions, stationery and back-to-school.

Boaz Dekel, CEO  and chairman at PMI, commented: “A big shout-out to everyone involved in bringing together this exciting new partnership with Supercell. We’re fully geared to roll out a winning line of authentically designed Brawl Stars toy products and bring a large range of exciting and affordable toys to fans around the world. Supercell’s Brawl Stars is a great fit for our IP portfolio of today’s hottest brands, aligning perfectly with our marketing and growth strategies and to our commitment to professionalism, uncompromising quality and authenticity in all our toy lines.”

Maarten Weck, EVP & managing director at WildBrain CPLG, added: “There continues to be significant growth and demand for consumer products based on gaming IP all around the world.  When it comes to arcade and action games with pulling power, the Brawl Stars brand consistently ranks in the global top 10. We’re very excited to welcome PMI on board as a strategic toy partner for Brawl Stars and with the game’s extensive international fan base, we anticipate strong consumer products traction in 2022 across all key markets.”

On behalf of Line Friends, WildBrain CPLG represents Brawl Stars across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Iberia, Benelux, Nordics, CEE, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Rubies’ Fireman Sam licence is ready for action after extension

Deal will see the costume company adding more new designs through 2022 as well as expanding its portfolio across EMEA.

Rubies has announced the continuation of its successful partnership with Mattel, which has seen an extension of the popular Fireman Sam licence. The company says the new deal reflects the strong relationship built up over the years between Rubies and Mattel, as it looks to expand its dress-up portfolio across EMEA.

With over 30 years of heritage, the Fireman Sam series currently airs in over 100 countries. Rubies will continue to manufacture and distribute its current costume styles alongside the addition of exciting new designs to the range for 2022.

Tracey Devine-Tyley, head of Portfolio and Licensing at Rubies, commented: “Our partnership with Mattel and its subsidiaries, responsible for the creation and continued success of the Fireman Sam brand over the years, is set to grow exponentially following this extension. The Rescue Team has been educating young children for over 30 years on the importance of teamwork and safety and we are proud of the values it upholds; they align with our own company morals, which we wish to share and impart to our youngest audience, children. We are happy to be able to continue to provide youngsters with dress-up that encourages them to act in the heroic and ambitious way that the rescue team of Pontypandy does. Part of our company mission is to inspire children to be the best they can be with our costumes and we are delighted to be able to continue doing this.”

Helen Genia, head of UK Licensing and Hardlines EMEA Mattel Consumer Products, added: “Fireman Sam is an important piece of British pop culture and a much-loved character across toys, books, fashion, nightwear and dress-up. We are thrilled to expand the licence with Rubies to offer children more role-play opportunities and bring to life the characters and world of Pontypandy through fantastic new dress-up looks, allowing children to play out heroic adventures.”

The Fireman Sam show is available to watch in the UK on Cartoonito, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Milkshake (Channel 5) and Virgin Media, as well as networks across Europe, Middle East and Africa.