Trademarks have been registered in the EU, hinting at a potential radical direction for the Toys R Us brand.
Tru Kids, the parent company of the Toys R Us brand, saw a new owner take over last month, when WHP Global acquired a controlling interest in the retailer. When announcing the deal, Yehuda Shmidman, WHP chairman and CEO, commented: “We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16% and consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high. This is a natural fit for WHP, as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys R Us and Babies R Us around the world.”
At the time, it was assumed that this deal would lead to the launch of a series of traditional and pop-up retail stores. However, Figures, a consumer website covering toys and action figures, has allegedly uncovered a batch of Toys R Us trademarks which hint at a potential radical departure for the brand – a themed entertainment concept. As the names Toys R Us World, Toys R Us Park, and Toys R Us Land have all been trademarked, the conclusion is not unreasonable, however unlikely it may seem at first glance.
Toys R Us actually dabbled with a similarly named concept in the US in the mid-90s, when it opened a megastore called Toys R Us Kids World. Those stores, approximately the size of a modern Target, featured Toys R Us brands alongside family-focused experiences, such as play areas and cafes.
Just before the pandemic hit, there were tentative signs that a new generation of ‘retailtainment’ concepts was beginning to emerge across the USA. The new Nick Universe park is one of many attractions at the American Dream megamall in New Jersey, a mall filled with experiential retail and consumer experiences. Merlin has also been extending its branded experience portfolio; after enjoying success with multiple mall-based Peppa Pig activity centres, a half-day style theme park based on the brand is now under construction at Legoland Florida.
The Toys R Us trademarks appear to be focused on the international market, as they have been registered in the European Union, where smaller themed entertainment concepts such as Port Aventura are already established. Although whether the plans come to fruition, given the current parlous state of the theme park market across the globe, is another matter entirely. However, it remains an intriguing proposition worth keeping an eye on.