Easter reflections, entertainment news and ‘Chris’ Rhea… it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 25th April 2014

I hope you all had a very pleasant Easter. I had to sacrifice a small part of my bank holiday to finish several articles for our May edition, as regrettably print deadlines aren’t always compatible with the way bank holidays fall. Nevertheless, I did still manage to make it along to several retail destinations over the weekend: the Tesco Extra store I visited was absolutely thronging, while Homebase wasn’t far behind (wine and compost, in case you were wondering…). So I was therefore a little surprised to see data suggesting that retail footfall for Easter was significantly down. I’d be curious to know if toy retailers agree with these findings, or whether my own anecdotal evidence is any closer to the truth. Do let me know if you have anything to share….

Jakks has released its first quarter results, showing a strong improvement in both sales and profit levels. It’s great to see the company making positive strides, and having caught a glimpse of their Autumn/Winter line-up recently, I’m sure this progress will continue. They appear to have a number of real winners on their hands, especially with a couple of absolutely cracking Frozen items. You can read more about this in our May edition, which will be landing on desks at the start of next month.

Meanwhile, in probably the least surprising news of this – or indeed any – week, the shareholders of Mega Brands have approved the Mattel takeover deal. In fairness, it was always going to be an agreement that the words ‘fait accompli’ were made for. In other Mattel news, it has been announced that a Barbie live-action movie is in the pipeline. Production is set to begin at the end of the year. Mattel has clearly come a long way since denying Pixar’s request to feature Barbie in the original Toy Story movie, apparently through concern that the portrayal would limit girls’ ability to imagine Barbie to be whoever they wanted her to be. A live action comedy, though, is one heck of a bold move – it will be fascinating to see the result.

In other entertainment news, a second series of popular animated show The Hive has also been confirmed. Disney Junior has already acquired the series for the UK, which will be aired in 2015. Also unveiled this week was the latest instalment in the popular Skylanders franchise: Trap Team will be available this October, and hopefully Activision will find a suitable new route to enable them to supply the toy market, after their previous toy distributor went into administration. If you missed any of these stories and want more details, they are all still available in our online news archive.

Finally, I was watching a local TV news programme last weekend when lo and behold, who should make a surprise on-screen appearance but well-known licensing industry PR guru Jane Garner. My first thought was what has she done this time (only kidding, Jane…)?! The answer was infinitely more bizarre than anything which might have initially crossed my mind. It turns out that Jane is co-ordinating the hunt for an escaped Rhea – the very bird which had appeared on the front page of a newspaper that morning, under the heading, “Watch out, this bird can disembowel a man” (or something preposterous along those lines). Apparently, this sensationalist claim couldn’t be further from the truth: the bird in question is completely harmless, and Jane was on a quest to track it down before it met a cruel fate at the hands of local farmers (who were threatening to shoot the poor bird on the very same report). It transpires that as well as not being remotely dangerous the bird was not called Chris either – although more’s the pity in my opinion. Anyway, it’s apparently still at large as I write this, so it looks like this one will keep running and running (rather like ‘Chris’).

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