Hasbro unveils Nerf’s first ever brand mascot

New global mascot Murph is made from Nerf darts and will begin to appear across all brand touchpoints including social media.

Murph with the Nerf Rival Fate XXII-100 Blaster.

Hasbro, Inc. has officially unveiled Murph, the Nerf brand’s first-ever official mascot. Made of Nerf darts from head-to-toe, Hasbro says Murph is ‘by far the most fun, playful and social member of the Nerf team’. Working with The Martin Agency to kick off an exciting brand campaign for Nerf this summer, Hasbro is placing Murph at the centre of its activity to drive the new brand mnemonic: Unleash the Play in You.

Consumers will start to see Murph appear across all Nerf touchpoints, including social media and retail, plus pop-up ‘surprise and delight’ moments throughout the year and beyond. The multi-year, always-on brand campaign encourages fans and families to step away from their screens and get up and active with Nerf to create memories that will last a lifetime.

“For over 50 years, Nerf has remained an unrivalled category leader in action-based performance toys, and the brand continues to expand through innovative products, digital and gaming offerings, licensed partnerships, sports collaborations, in-person experiences and much more, giving consumers a variety of unique ways to experience the brand,” said Adam Kleinman, SVP & GM, Nerf, Hasbro. “The launch of Murph is a testament to the success of Hasbro’s Brand Blueprint strategy and in turning Nerf into the social, active play brand it is seen as today. We are thrilled to introduce Murph to fans, a mascot that represents the playful spirit that lives inside us all and is unleashed through Nerf.”

Made completely out of official Nerf dart materials, Murph is the personification of a playful spirit, and one that can only be unleashed with Nerf.  Described as a ‘natural athlete’, Murph is great at Nerfoop and an expert at surprise Nerf Super Soaker ambushes. They can also toss a Nerf Vortex Football like no other and are a fantastic trick shooter with any Nerf blaster.

Photos produced to support Murph’s grand unveiling show the mascot playing with some of the biggest Nerf products of the summer: the Nerf Elite 2.0 Motoblitz Blaster, Nerf Elite 2.0 Eaglepoint RD-8 Blaster, Nerf Elite 2.0 Commander RD-6 Blaster, Nerf DinoSquad Armorstrike Dart Blaster, Nerf DinoSquad Raptor-Slash Dart Blaster, Nerf Rival Fate XXII-100 Blaster and NERF Super Soaker Hydro Frenzy Blaster.

Murph also has their own Twitter account. Yesterday’s first ever post garnered some 33k likes and plenty of interaction, while they have so far racked up nearly 8k followers.


Licensing-X Germany prepares for October debut

Data shows the German licensing market is recording growth due to the effects of ‘cocooning’ as Licensing-X prepares to open its doors later this year.

The organisers of Licensing-X, Spielwarenmesse eG and Licensing International, say preparations for the show’s debut are in full swing. The show will take place from 5th-7th October at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre alongside the stationery expo Insights-X. The event will offer new programming and networking opportunities for the entire licensing industry, which continues to grow rapidly. Spielwarenmesse eG and Licensing International will announce the latest industry facts and figures before their worldwide release as well as give an overview of the current industry trends and their potential.

According to the Global Sizing Study by Licensing International, worldwide retail revenue in licensed products and services amounted to $320b US dollars in 2021. In the German market alone, the total is $12.5b US dollars, an increase of 4.5% in comparison to the last study in 2019. The strongest growth was registered by corporate brands, which grew disproportionately in the last year. This is due to the ‘cocooning’ trend during the pandemic, as Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the Executive Board of Spielwarenmesse eG, explained: “In times of crisis, consumers fall back on familiar brands whom they trust.”

The categories with the highest revenue are fashion and accessories, toys, video games, sports, entertainment electronics and foodstuffs.

Licensing-X Germany gives all participants the opportunity to exploit the second largest European market, get to know its particularities and conclude new licensing deals. Currently, tried and tested properties dominated by blockbusters and famous characters from the pre-school sector as well as innovative licences from digital worlds are trending. These include NFTs, platforms such as YouTube, and streaming services. The organisers of Licensing-X Germany say the possibilities ‘span much more than just the toy industry, offering the opportunity to reach new horizons with exciting business opportunities’.

Peter Hollo, the man responsible for Licensing International’s activities in Germany, explained: “Licensing-X Germany follows the long tradition of Licensing Market, which we have been organising for the licensing industry in the German-speaking area for over 20 years. After the pandemic continuously threw a spanner into its works, it was now high time to replace an outdated hotel trade fair format with a professional licensing trade fair. That is why Licensing-X Germany is not just a place for licensors alone, but rather the large overarching platform for all who offer services in the German-speaking licensing business.”

The event will be rounded off with an informative supporting programme of talks and events. Licensing International will contribute with its own, already established formats such as the Licensing Awards and the Licensing University. Confirmed speakers include Karl Peter Fischer, lecturer for applied management and digital marketing, and patent lawyer Christian Fortmann. Anika Scharlock, global relations manager – Brand Protection at Amazon, has been signed as keynote speaker.

In addition, there will be a get-together with all participants of Insights-X on the first evening of the event. The parallel event is the only independent specialist expo for the international stationery industry in Germany. 1- Euro KombiTickets provide access to both expos for the entire duration and can be used as a ticket for local public transport. Opening hours are from 9am-6pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and from 9am-5pm on Friday. Ticket sales will begin on 27th July.

“With Licensing-X Germany, we are expanding our portfolio into a rapidly growing market that is well-known to us and does business across various industries,” says Christian Ulrich. “We are doing everything we can to make the event the ‘place to be’ in the German-speaking area.”

Further information is available at the two websites: www.licensing-x.de and www.insights-x.com.

Hong Kong’s refusal to ease Covid rules dismays business chambers

International business leaders and consulates have urged the outgoing Carrie Lam to ease the region’s restrictions, to no avail. 

Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive, Carrie Lam, has explicitly stated that she won’t ‘give in a single inch’ to calls from business groups to relax the regions strict Covid-19 quarantine and testing measures.

Speaking at a press conference last week, Carrie made it clear she felt the risk posed by coronavirus had not abated, telling those assembled that cases have risen to more than 800, up from 200. As of Sunday 19th June, that figure was more than 1,200.

She also stated that relaxing the rules, only for tougher ones to be introduced in a few weeks – a possibility once the new administration, overseen by former chief secretary John Lee Ka-chiu, takes office on 1st July – would ‘create a lot of confusion and uncertainty for people’.

“Even though there are many voices and substantive demands, including those from business groups, especially the international ones and financial institutions, asking the SAR government to relax our measures guarding against imported cases, so that people coming from overseas would not need to be quarantined in hotels or undergo more tests, we refused to give in a single inch,” Carrie said in the press conference. “I also personally explained to these groups that we need to be very cautious during this period of time.”

Her words will only add to concerns among the international community that travel to Hong Kong remains untenable at the moment. This is particularly true of the toy community, many of whom were hoping a reasonable compromise would be found that would allow overseas business and buying trips to go ahead in the coming months. Under the current rules, all arrivals – including those who test negative for coronavirus upon landing at the airport – need to undergo seven-day compulsory quarantine in a designated hotel, adding considerable expense to any trip. Those who test positive for Covid-19 whilst in Hong Kong may be placed in a government isolation facility for a minimum of seven days.

According to the South China Morning Post, Carrie Lam said her administration would provide all the information and advice from its medical experts to John Lee Ka-chiu’s team, so he could ‘assess and provide a timely response when he assumes office’.

Carrie also acknowledged in a televised interview at the weekend that the business sector was ‘losing patience’ with Hong Kong’s strict entry requirements, and that the region may need to decide soon whether to ease them to help revive the economy.

Mighty Jaxx acquires Kinetiquettes and Playe

Mighty Jaxx has bought the two companies as it bids to develop more products that live in both the physical and digital worlds. 

From L – R: Kelvin Chan, Woon Chong, Adeeb Md (co-founders, Kinetiquettes), Jackson Aw (founder and CEO, Mighty Jaxx), Bryan Tan (chief strategy officer, Mighty Jaxx), Chris Sng (founder, Playe)

Mighty Jaxx, a Singapore-based integrated future culture platform that designs and produces digital and phygital collectibles, has announced the multi-million dollar acquisitions of local companies Kinetiquettes, a high-end statue collectible company, and Playe, a specialised DTC platform of consoles, video games, collectibles, and action figures.

The annoucement comes soon after its recent Series A+ funding in excess of US$20m and is part of a growth strategy aimed at extending the company’s capabilities in and beyond the future of collectibles, and growing its global footprint.

The company said bringing Kinetiquettes and Playe under the Mighty Jaxx umbrella will allow all three companies to collaboratively evolve, develop better technical expertise, and increase product offerings.

“The physical collectible has always been our core business and while that will not go away, the intention is to take what we have and amplify it both digitally and phygitally. The acquisition of Kinetiquettes and Playe moves us closer to our creative vision of working towards connecting all our fandoms onto the MightyVerse,” said founder and CEO Jackson Aw.

“We are looking to develop real life experiences, the MightyVerse, digital collectibles and work towards a true hybrid phygital offering via our platform that will reimagine the full-experiential journey for all fans and create value for them.”

Kinetiquettes, known globally for its expertise in high-end statue collectibles, will offer opportunities for Mighty Jaxx to develop a new product category. Key to the acquisition is the addition of new significant licensed intellectual properties (IPs) into the Mighty Jaxx portfolio, where Kinetiquettes will bring on board cult gaming IPs such as Capcom’s Street Fighter, Monster Hunter, SNK’s King of Fighters, Arc System Work’s Guilty Gear and the wildly popular anime titles Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia, adding to the One Piece IP Mighty Jaxx already has in its portfolio. Both companies have already started exchanging technical know-how and resources to jointly develop new product line-ups in blind boxes, window boxes, single releases and statue formats that will carry the same signature-designed phygital offerings in both traditional and digital mediums for its global fandoms.

The Playe acquisition offers an opportunity to leverage Playe’s direct-to-customer channels, with an established business-to-business network in the world of pop culture that will greatly enhance the visibility of Mighty Jaxx products in stores.

Already armed with multiple DTC touchpoints locally, Mighty Jaxx will work closely with Playe to establish new business-to-business channels and multi-brand DTC touchpoints across Southeast Asia for a stronger omnichannel shopping experience.

“We are incredibly excited to join with Mighty Jaxx to exchange our know-how in creating new lines of products across a greater portfolio of character intellectual property. Coupled with new access to the Mighty Jaxx platform, fans can look forward to unlocking an immersive digital experience like no other,” said Adeeb Md, co-founder at Kinetiquettes.

Chris Sng, founder of Playe, added: “Together with Mighty Jaxx, we look forward to introducing the future of collectibles to our community through our DTC touchpoints and channels.”

Kinetiquettes and PLAe will continue to operate independently while actively collaborating under the umbrella of Mighty Jaxx’s management.


New exhibitors at Spielwarenmesse offered special packages

At the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg next February, new exhibitors can enjoy the benefit of tailored first-time participation packages.

After a two-year break imposed by the pandemic, Spielwarenmesse will be opening its doors again at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre from 1st to 5th February 2023. Both the industry and the organisers will be delighted to return to  the physical fair and its live events, while the associated new online platform, Spielwarenmesse Digital, will continue to support the event by providing useful additional services. For companies participating for the first time, a selection of attractive packages are available to support their attendance.

Christian Ulrich, of the Executive Board of Spielwarenmesse eG, explained: “This business depends on live experiences – there is simply no substitute for person-to-person communication. Only by being there on site can one truly appreciate the products in all their diversity.”

For new participants – whether new to the Spielwarenmesse or to the toy industry – the event organisers are offering support in the form of participation packages. The New Exhibitor Package, in addition to the previously available 9 m² stand, also offers new exhibitors the option of a 12 m² area. This package includes full basic equipment, from the stand area to stand construction and comprehensive marketing services.

Additional services such as webinars are being planned to provide companies with support in preparing for their first appearance. Every exhibitor has a specified personal contact who is available from registration right up to the fair itself for any questions about the event.

Booking for stands has already started, and new exhibitors can register until 31st July 2022. Newcomers to the industry have their own area at the Spielwarenmesse in the StartupArea.

Christian Ulrich added: “We received a large number of bookings from all over the world within a short time of registration opening, which shows the high level of interest and attachment. We are already looking forward to meeting everyone again in 2023.”

Register for HKTDC webinar on sourcing from mainland China

The Successful Sourcing from Mainland China event will help highlight potential pitfalls, risks and solutions to mitigate problems.

A sourcing expert will share some of the best practices for successful sourcing from Mainland China in a special webinar hosted by Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) next Thursday (16th June).

The  ‘Best Practices for Successful Sourcing from Mainland China’ webinar will include key steps to carry out, potential risks and failure of sourcing in Mainland China, solutions to mitigate potential risks, and case studies and live Q&A session. HKTDC London office director Daisy Ip will also be taking part in the webinar.

Mainland China is one of the most sought-after countries and sourcing can be challenging for those who are not familiar with the regulations, logistics and production process.

The webinar will hear from Richard Laub, CEO and co-founder of Dragon Sourcing, who has over 30 years of consulting and operational experience. Prior to finding Dragon Sourcing, Richard had worked for a range of blue-chip consultancies including Booz Allen and Hamilton in London and Accenture, and managed large international procurement programmes across a variety of industries including automotive, chemicals, FMCG, electronics, paper & financial services. He holds a commercial engineering degree from Solvay Business School (Belgium) and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University (USA).

The webinar runs from 10.30am to 11.30am BST.

To register for the event, click here.

Just Play and The Toy Foundation partner on Ukraine Slinky

100% of profits from each Ukraine Relief Special Edition Slinky sold in the US will go towards funding Ukraine relief efforts.

Just Play has announced the release of a Ukraine Relief Special Edition Slinky in partnership with The Toy Foundation (TTF), which will help provide humanitarian aid for Ukrainian children and families. The blue and yellow Slinky is available now for $5, with 100% of profits funding Ukraine relief efforts through TTF’s Emergency Relief Fund.

“We are horrified by the unprovoked invasion in Ukraine, which has caused extreme destruction and chaos to innocent families,” said Charlie Emby, co-president of Just Play. “In partnering with The Toy Foundation, we proudly join the global toy industry in raising much-needed funds to provide aid and resources to the Ukrainian community, in particular the children who have been impacted by the devastation of war and deprived of the joys of childhood. We hope that by putting something as simple as a blue and yellow Slinky into the hands of Slinky fans everywhere, we can help ensure this crisis remains top of mind while providing additional support.”

“At The Toy Foundation, we aim to serve and support children everywhere with the benefits of play, especially those enduring incredible darkness across the country and globe,” added Pamela Mastrota, executive director of The Toy Foundation. “We are working with the play community to create a greater impact for Ukrainians in need and thank Just Play for its partnership and generosity. The funds raised from every Slinky purchased will help transport and deliver food, toys and other critical necessities to displaced Ukrainian children and families.”

The Ukraine Relief Special Edition Slinky was created through Just Play Cares, the philanthropic branch of the company that was established to expand the company’s charitable outreach to support families in need and child development programmes.

To learn more about The Toy Foundation’s work, visit toyfoundation.org.

Spielwarenmesse eG joins in World Play Day fun

The organisers of the Nuremberg toy fair took part in the city’s World Play Day with events to promote the right to play.

World Play Day was celebrated on Saturday with Spielwarenmesse eG, organisers of the Nuremberg toy fair, joining with DVSI (the German Toy Industry Association), VEDES, the Toy Museum and the House of Games (Haus des Spiels) to support the initiative of the German Children’s Fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) and draw attention to the right to play.

World Play Day, sponsored by the International Toy Library Association (ITLA), is held on 28th of May to commemorate the day the ITLA was proposed in 1987.

Under the slogan ‘We need play and movement – outdoors and together!’, children joined in at five different play locations in central Nuremberg, staffed by teams from participating companies.

All the various attractions, whether photo action, mobile play, a bouncy castle, handicraft or classic play, proved highly popular.

Summing up the event, Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the Executive Board of Spielwarenmesse eG, said it had been a very positive day: “Along with our partners, we brought this nationwide campaign to the Toy City of Nuremberg very successfully and helped make society more conscious of the importance of play.”

The first World Play Day was celebrated in France and Korea in 2000. France already had a play festival but converted it to World Play Day, while Korea held an event for children from an orphanage and other play groups held a fund raising dinner for adults.

Each year, World Play Day has a theme that captures the spirit of the day and past themes have included Playing is Healthy (from 2021); Be Safe, Play at Home and Sustainable Play.

Moose Toys appoints David Norman to spearhead global games

The appointment of David Norman as global general manager, Games, further supports Moose Toys’ expansion in the games sector.

Moose Toys has announced that well-known and highly respected industry veteran, David Norman, will join the company as global general manager, Games. In his new role, David will be based at the company’s US headquarters in El Segundo, California.

Ronnie Frankowski, chief commercial officer, Moose Toys, commented: “David will help ensure we successfully combine our innovative product design capabilities with the unique aspects and requirements of the games category and, over time, to build our games division into a powerhouse.”

This executive level hire is in response to Moose Toys’ announcement earlier this year that the games category would be one of the toymaker’s primary growth strategies.

“We’ve aligned our entire company around a very clear strategic roadmap,” added Ronnie Frankowski. “We’re aggressively executing against this plan and set out to find a dynamic leader with the best ‘game’. Our search led us to David, who is one of only a handful of truly recognized thought leaders in the global games industry.”

Moose continues to develop an extensive and playful games portfolio that the company says is “loaded with Moose Wow”. The company’s broad range of offerings includes board games, card games and a range of high-quality and engaging educational games.

“My career has been spent creating new and more innovative ways to engage consumers in games across multiple genres,” said David Norman. “Moose’s enthusiasm for the category and its commitment to over invest in the category across all genres piqued my interest from the get-go.”

Bringing a wealth of knowledge and skill to Moose, David co-founded successful global games business Goliath Games, where he spent 13 years as president. Prior to Goliath, he spent 12 years with University Games, amassing incredible sales, marketing and product development experience.

David added: “I love the range of games that Moose already has both in its line-up and in development for 2023; they are consistent with the innovation and creativity that Moose is known for in traditional toys. I look forward to blending my expertise with Moose’s vision and being an integral part of growing the company’s reputation in games as well as contributing to its overall continued growth.”

Last year, Moose Toys grew more than 50% — four times faster than the Total US Toy Industry, according to NPD. As the company looks to continue its upward trajectory, it says it will continue to engage children with its emerging and proven brands, while drawing in new consumers, namely adults, through its new games portfolio.

Hasbro names Najuma Atkinson as chief people officer

Najuma Atkinson’s appointment follows the retirement of Dolph Johnson after more than two decades with Hasbro.

Hasbro has announced that Najuma (Naj) Atkinson has been appointed chief people officer. In her new position, Najuma will lead Hasbro’s global Human Resources organization, building a people and culture strategy that attracts and retains top talent, supporting the acceleration of Hasbro’s brand blueprint. She will also champion the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, an area where she’s had long-standing commitment, fostering an environment where leaders and team members exemplify Hasbro’s values of treating people with fairness, dignity and respect, and always operating ethically.

“Naj has already been a terrific addition to our team with her global HR experience, digital-first mindset and deep expertise developing talent, and I’m thrilled to continue working with her as chief people officer,” said Chris Cocks, chief executive officer, Hasbro. “She understands the capabilities and new technologies needed to recruit top talent to execute the Hasbro gameplan and position us for future success.”

Chris continued: “On behalf of our Board, senior management team and all of Hasbro, I also want to express my deep appreciation to Dolph for his countless contributions to Hasbro over the last 20-plus years and his transformative work leading our global Human Resources organization and strategy. He has been a loyal teammate, friend and mentor, and we wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.”

Najuma joined Hasbro in September from Dell Technologies, where she most recently served as senior vice president of Global HR services. Prior to that role, she spent two decades at the company serving in positions of increasing responsibility across Human Resources, Customer Experience and Strategy functions.