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Craft Buddy expands European toy retailer network

The announcement will see Craft Buddy’s flagship Crystal Art brand available across all 500 Müller stores and 95 Rofu outlets pre-Christmas.

Craft Buddy Crystal Art

Following the recent announcement regarding the company’s distribution outlet expansion in the UK, Craft Buddy can confirm a new retail partnership with two of Germany’s biggest toy retailers – Müller Handels & Co.KG and Rofu Kinderland Spielwarenhandels.

Having launched across retailer networks in September, the announcement will see the company’s flagship Crystal Art brand available across all 500 Müller stores and 95 Rofu outlets pre-Christmas.

“In a difficult year for many businesses, it has been great to gain a substantial foothold in the German market with these two new partnerships,” comments Daniel Ward, head of sales at Craft Buddy. “Along with our growing business with Vedes, we are confident 2021 can be even bigger for us. With excellent partners in most key markets globally, we are excited for what the next 12 months will bring.”

Also known as “diamond painting” or “diamond art”, Crystal Art has taken toy and hobby stores by storm on the continent during 2019 and 2020. The collection has captured retail space in mass market retail chains across France, Belgium, Netherlands and now Germany. Following Craft Buddy’s recent online listing in The Range stores in the UK, Crystal Art is also set to see success across mainstream UK retail over the coming months.

Re-orders are already flooding in from German retailer chains, as Crystal Art has made an impression on German children, parents and adult crafters ahead of the key Christmas period.

Target partners with FAO Schwarz for exclusive toy collection

This announcement comes as Target unveils its largest Bulleye’s Top Toys list to date.Target

Target has announced an exclusive collection with FAO Schwarz available this season, alongside its largest Bullseye’s Top Toys list ever. Customers shopping in store or on Target.com can get more than 600 exclusives selected to offer value for money for the 2020 festive season.

“This year’s exclusive FAO Schwarz collection and our largest Bullseye’s Top Toys list ever provides something new and exciting for kids of all ages, all at an incredible value,” said Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Target. “We also recognise our guests have a lot to think about this holiday season, and we hope they find comfort in the safe, easy experiences we’ve created, whether shopping in our stores or using one of our convenient fulfilment options.”

Target and FAO Schwarz’s exclusive 70-piece toy collection will be available later this month at Target stores and online at Target.com, as well as at the FAO Schwarz store in New York City. This renowned FAO Schwarz store will also will carry more than 300 Target items from the retailer’s exclusive brands, including Cat & Jack and Pillowfort.

Meanwhile, Target’s 2020 Bullseye’s Top Toys list features 50 of the most anticipated toys on the market, including 19 exclusive toys from top brands like Disney, L.O.L. Surprise! and Lego. Deals start this month with prices beginning at just $20. Continuing its partnership with Tots for Tots, Target is donating $2 to the charity for every Top Toy purchased. Target Circle members can also vote to direct Target’s community giving funds to support the organisation.

Click here to view the full Bulleye’s Top Toys list.

Target offers convenient same-day fulfilment options for customers, including a drive-up service, order pick up and same-day delivery with Shipt. These services are available at over 1,500 Target locations nationwide in more than 5,000 US cities.

People of Play’s 15th annual Young Inventor Challenge underway

Deadline for entries for the 2020 Young Inventor Challenge is 31st October. 

2020 Young Inventor Challenge

People of Play (POP), formerly known as the Chicago Toy & Game Group, is kicking off the 15th annual Young Inventor Challenge. This year’s contest is sponsored by Mattel, Magformers, Goliath and Hasbro, four companies that have a long history of working with and developing inventors young and old. Also sponsoring the event is The United Inventors Association and Female Strong.

As the challenge enters its 15th year, POP has announced that Jazmine Darden, an innovator and educator in the 3D printing field, will assume leadership of the programme.

The Young Inventor Challenge attracts kids aged 6-18 years old from around the world to create and pitch their original toy and game ideas. More than a dozen winners from previous years have seen their concepts manufactured and sold in stores nationwide.

The 2020 Young Inventor Challenge is open to enter here now. Deadline for entries is 31st October.

One winner will be chosen for each of the following categories:

  • Most Creative
  • Most Marketable
  • Best Game
  • Best Playful Learning
  • Best Outdoor or Active Play

Hopeful individuals and teams are asked to submit a pitch video explaining their original toy or game. The first 200 entries receive valuable feedback from professional inventors, and winners will receive a $250 prize package of the latest toys and games. Prizes will be awarded on Saturday 21st November as part of People of Play’s presentation of CHITAG Week. There is a suggested donation of $25 to enter, and $15 for registrations completed by October 15th.

Overseeing entries for the 15th annual instalment of the YIC, Jazmine Darden is an innovator at heart with a background in mathematics, physics and engineering. As a 3D printing enthusiast, her latest invention, IAMEARHERO, ear savers for masks, took off during the pandemic. Jazmine has a passion for mentoring young people and regularly takes her 17 3D printers on the road for workshops in schools, museums and clubs.

“We are so fortunate to have Jazmine on our team,“ said Mary Couzin, president and founder of People of Play. “She brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the programme. Her background in innovation and mentorship are huge assets and will help shape the future of this program.”

This latest Young Inventor Challenge follows a successful contest that was held in the spring due to the pandemic. Four young inventors took home prizes and were celebrated for their original toys and games.

A highlight reel of the spring Young Inventor Challenge winners can be viewed below:

ATA transitions Australian Toy, Hobby & Licensing Fair 2021 to online-only event

The Australian Toy, Hobby & Licensing Fair was due to take place from 28th February to 3rd March. 

The Australian Toy Association has become the latest to announce a transition away from its physical event format amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The Australian Toy, Hobby & Licensing Fair, was was due to take place from 28th February to 3rd March at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, will now be an online-only event following investment into a new digital platform by the ATA. New dates for the event have also been announced, with the digital show taking place from Monday 1st to Friday 5th March 2021.

"We believe this is the best outcome moving forward and this is also the message we are hearing from both exhibitors and attendees alike," said the ATA in a statement. "[A digital fair] provides many positive possibilities that a physical fair, while the preferred option, does not offer in these current circumstances. It removes travel constraints for both national and international attendees as well as opens up the potential for world class international guests to present such as ICTI Ethical Toy Program and NPD Global."

The ATA will be contacting those exhibitors already booked to attend to advise them of the options available. One-on-one demonstrations of the technology used by the show platform will also be on offer for anyone unsure of how to make the most of their presence at the digital show. 

The statement continued: "This is a time to adapt, and the ATA intends to be at the forefront of this new climate we find ourselves in. We look forward to both delivering another successful and meaningful event for the industry in 2021 as well as bringing the physical fair back, bigger and better in 2022."

2021 Toy Industry Hall of Fame Inductees revealed

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were nominated and voted on by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their contributions to the industry.

The 2021 Toy Industry Hall of Fame inductees are William C. Killgallon – who transformed the Etch A Sketch into a household name; Pleasant T. Rowland – the trailblazer who founded American Girl; and the late Margarete Steiff - inspiring inventor of the world’s first stuffed animal. Additionally, Phillip Bloom, founder of The Bloom Report, was inducted for his work as a respected journalist in the toy arena.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were nominated and voted on by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry and the impact they have had on the lives of children through a lifelong commitment to toys and play. They will join an impressive roster of 77 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since it was established in 1984, including those who brought to life Mickey Mouse (Walt Disney), Barbie (Ruth and Elliot Handler), The Muppets (Jim Henson) and more.

“This year’s Hall of Fame inductees have made an enduring mark on the toy industry and in the hearts of countless millions of children worldwide,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “Phillip Bloom, William C. Killgallon, Pleasant T. Rowland and Margarete Steiff are changemakers and innovators whose careers and inventions are an inspiration to us all. If these past months of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that toys and play have the awesome power to comfort, heal, and bring hope to kids both young and old. So, it is with great pleasure and pride that we announce their induction and celebrate their myriad achievements.”

The Toy Industry Hall of Fame lives alongside the National Toy Hall of Fame in a special exhibit at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York. The cutting-edge installation features inductees of both halls under one roof.

The latest inductees will be honoured during the virtual 21st annual Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY) on Friday 12th February 2021.

For complete biographies and more information, click here.

First wave of panels announced for Toy & Game International Innovation Summit

Headliners for the Toy & Game International Innovation Summit include current and former presidents of Mattel and Spin Master founders.Toy & Game International Innovation Summit

People of Play, formerly known as the Chicago Toy & Game Group, has announced its first wave of notable speakers and keynotes for the Toy & Game International Innovation Summit, taking place between 16th-20th November. Sponsored by Longshore Limited, this virtual education and networking event, focused on the toy and game inventing community, will cover a wide range of topics including creating new IP, promoting brands, best practices for pitching, navigating the pandemic and much more.

Participants from around the world can enjoy more than 35 panels over five days as well as daily networking sessions. Keynotes will feature industry leaders, legends and key executives including:

  • Mattel 75 Years and Fisher-Price 90 Years: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with current and past Mattel presidents, moderated by Richard Dickson with Jill Barad, Tom Kalinske and Neil Friedman
  • Spin Master founders Anton Rabie, Ronnen Haray and Ben Varadi
  • Industry Trends and the Future of Play moderated by John Barbour of Volta Capital with Tim Kilpin, president of PlayMonster
  • A conversation with industry titans Adi Golad, founder of the Goliath Group, and Gerry Crown, founder of Crown & Andrews, who recently won the Peking to Paris Endurance Rally for the 3rd time at age 87

Closing the conference, participants will hear from inventors Reuben Klamer, founder of Toylab and inventor of the Game of Life, and Eddy Golfarb, inventor of Yakity-Yak Teeth and KerPlunk. These TAGIE Lifetime Achievement Honorees with 150+ combined years of inventing and friendship will share the secrets of their success.

More speakers and more panels are being added every day. For updated information, click here.

Click here to register for the Toy & Game International Innovation Summit. Tickets include access to the Toy & Game International Innovation Summit; the Toy & Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIEs); POP’s Got Talent; Chicago Toy & Game Fair, and one year membership to the People of Play (POP) database.

Voting now open for the Toy and Game International Excellence Awards

This year’s Toy and Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIES) features eight categories and 80 nominees and honorees. 

People of Play, the international toy and game community leader formerly known as the Chicago Toy and Game Group, has announced the finalists for the 2020 Toy and Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIES). The 13th annual TAGIE Awards will honour the best innovators, designers, marketers, retailers and suppliers in the toy and game industry. This year’s awards, sponsored by Hasbro, The Michael Kohner Corporation, PlayMonster, Cartamundi and Nexttoy, are more inclusive and bigger than ever, featuring eight categories and 80 nominees and honorees.

Winners will be revealed during a virtual awards show on Friday 20th November at 7pm CT. The 90-minute programme includes award presentations, acceptance speeches, musical guests and an opening act that gives a nod to David Blaine’s recent Ascension stunt.

“This year has been pivotal and unprecedented for our industry. We look forward to coming together with our colleagues from around the world and celebrating our individual and collective successes,” said Karri Bean, TAGIE Awards host and senior manager, licensing at Disney experiences and consumer products. “The TAGIE Awards will be a night to remember that no one in the toy and game industry should miss.”

New for 2020, immediately following the TAGIE Awards, toy and game industry professionals get an opportunity to show off their talents at the TAGIE after party, POP’s Got Talent, featuring magic from Danny Kishon, president at All in 1 Products, and Jim McCafferty, founder of JMP Creative and professional inventor Mark Setteducati. Randy Klimpert, chief creative at Creata performs and shares his ukulele and guitar collection. Plus, see the latest peanut art from Steve Casino.

This year’s categories are as follows:

  • Toy Inventor of the Year
  • Game Inventor of the Year
  • Rising Star Inventor of the Year
  • Young Inventor of the Year (Under 18 years old)
  • Art and Design Visuals of the Year
  • Innovative PR and Marketing Team of the Year
  • Most Innovative Retailer of the Year
  • Most Innovative Supplier of the Year

People of Play will also honour Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Inventors Norman and Arlene Fabricant will be honoured for Celebration of Life and Lifetime Achievement respectively.

The Roachy Fund, a scholarship fund founded in honour of Alan Roach, an acclaimed and loved game designer, will be the recipient of the Hassenfeld Humanitarian Award.

Click here for the full list of nominees and for public voting, open from now until 30th October.

Ikea becomes member at The Toy Association

The Toy Association welcomes Ikea as its newest member, having previously worked alongside the retail giant within the consumer product safety community.

Ikea The Toy Association

Ikea is the latest major retailer to join The Toy Association as a member. It is now among roughly 1,000 manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that make up the organisation’s membership, helping to drive the $27b US domestic toy market and key markets around the globe.

Toy Association staff have worked alongside Ikea for many years on issues and committees within the consumer product safety community; Ikea has been a long-standing member of ICPHSO (the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation); previously served on the ICPHSO board of directors; and has participated in various ASTM consumer product safety committees.

“We are proud to welcome Ikea to The Toy Association family as we continue our work together to ensure the well-being and safety of children around the world,” said Ken Ebeling, executive vice president of strategic development and member services at The Toy Association.

For more than 100 years, Toy Association members have enjoyed a wide range of benefits including programmes, events, services and tools to bring them greater prosperity in the US and overseas.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Association advocated for economic relief and funding of government assistance programmes; created an online resource to help businesses and retailers navigate the pandemic; and hosted a series of weekly webinars to guide companies during these turbulent times. The Association continues to make headway on ongoing issues affecting the toy community and is helping toy sellers and buyers forge ahead via Toy Fair Everywhere, the toy community’s only virtual marketplace.

“As an Association that is committed to fostering growth and prosperity for all members, helping retailers, manufacturers, and others in the toy community succeed and grow in a changing global toy market is our number one priority,” added Ken.


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade reimagined for 2020

The annual parade that kicks off the US Christmas shopping season will feature smaller, pre-recorded events for a TV spectacle.

Macys Thanksgiving Parade

Macy’s has announced that it has reimagined the upcoming parade, due to take place on November 26th. The 94th iteration of the annual event will now be staged in order that it can be enjoyed safely by all.

“Following our successful, safe and innovative production of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, it is our intention to similarly reimagine Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November,” Macy’s said in a statement.

This year’s fireworks were staged and recorded at several small displays across the five boroughs of New York in the days leading up to Independence Day. Each display lasted just five minutes to avoid drawing crowds, and was then televised.

This year, parade events will be staged over two days, the overall number of participants will be reduced by approximately 75% and no-one under the age of 18 will take part. All participants will be appropriately socially distanced, and the parade will then be broadcast on NBC.

The event’s trademark massive balloons, many of which feature popular children’s characters, will still make an appearance, but will not process along the usual 2 1/2 mile route throughout the city. They will be  more static, without the traditional 80-100 handlers, instead employing “an innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five speciality vehicles.”  Elements of the parade will be performed in and around Herald Square, where Macy’s flagship department store is based.

NY Mayor Bill de Blasio commented: “It will not be the same parade we’re used to. (Macy’s) is reinventing the event for this moment in history. And you will be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online — not a live parade, but something that will really give us that warmth and that great feeling we have on Thanksgiving Day.”

US credit insurers cause concern for suppliers and retailers

Uncertainty caused by Covid-19 has caused some credit insurers to pull back on cover. 

Reports from the USA indicate that the impact of coronavirus has caused some credit insurers to step back from offering cover to suppliers, leaving both them and their retailers in the lurch.

Credit insurance, which covers supplier losses if shipments cannot be paid for by the stores that receive them, is increasingly only being offered to big-box retailers more likely to ride out the pandemic than smaller, independent or family-owned ‘mom and pop’ stores. As a result, numerous small and medium enterprises have been left in a precarious position, shipping goods to stores that may be unable to settle their invoices.

According to Robert Litan, an economist and attorney who published a report in early July on the issue, trade credit insurance provides cover on some $600b in US sales. As a result of insurers’ shifting loyalties, Robert says smaller suppliers (60% of which have revenues of less than $20m) are now faced with tough decisions on whether or not to cut back on their production levels to minimise risk, and estimates that insurers have cut back their coverage by 14% across all industries this year.

As reported by Insurance Journal, James Daly, CEO of credit insurer Euler Hermes North American, said his company has had to scale back coverage across all industries by 15%, including retail. He noted the retail industry is in the “eye of the storm,” though he wouldn’t name companies he’s declined coverage. He says his company will stay cautious for at least six to nine months.

In response to the news, some American trade associations have reached out to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to ask for credit insurers to receive more support.