NEWS

Monday 11th May – Latest toy industry reaction to coronavirus outbreak

Published on: 11th May 2020

Today, a possible review to e-scooter laws, Debenhams closures, plus news from Rainbow Productions, Drumond Park and Tomy, Disney and Lego Batman.

It has been reported that trials to allow e-scooters on the roads are being fast-tracked in a bid to help the public commute to work safely. The government is to invest £250m in new cycle lanes and has indicated that it believes that the battery-powered vehicles could offer an alternative to public transport after lockdown easements.

Although it is anticipated that city centres will offer electric scooter hire facilities similar to those used to hire bikes, the news will be welcomed by toy manufacturers that supply e-scooters, which have been awaiting a change in UK legislation to allow more widespread use. In March, MV told Toy World: ““We are particularly excited about our array of adults and children’s electric scooters. There are a lot of new developments within the outdoor category and I think the electric scooter market will become a craze, should the law change on using them on public roads.”

Paris is just one of many cities that already offers a rental scheme. There are approx. 20,000 e-scooters available to hire, with a 12mph speed limit in place and fines for riding on the pavement. However, there have been concerns for both rider and pedestrian safety, and the UK government will study such models in order to draw up a safe policy.

Debenhams has announced that a further five of its UK stores will not reopen following the easing of lockdown. The company has been unable to agree terms with shopping centre owner Hammerson to reopen the branches, after falling into administration last month. Stores in Birmingham’s Bullring, Croydon’s Centrale shopping centre, Silverburn in Glasgow, High Cross in Leicester and Reading’s Oracle will face closure, resulting in about 1,400 job losses. Apart from seven branches that had already been closed for good, Debenhams hopes to re-open the remainder of its store portfolio. A spokesman said: “We continue to engage in constructive talks with our landlords and have agreed terms on the vast majority of our stores, which we look forward to reopening when government restrictions allow.”

Rainbow Productions has donated a quantity of medical gowns, made by volunteers organised by the specialist character costume company, to Princess Alice Hospice. Staff at the hospice were delighted with the gowns, which arrived packaged in bright fabric bags, that they were able to re-purpose for returning patients’ belongings to bereaved relatives. The hospice expressed its gratitude to Rainbow on Twitter: “Thank you for our gowns and bags. We love them! We are lucky enough to have a laundry on site, so we are reusing your beautiful bags for relatives … so much nicer than plastic bags. We hope you approve.” Rainbow Productions said the company was “truly privileged and so proud” to be able to help.

Following the success of the virtual Articulate! game, which has been accessed nearly 20,000 times since launch less than a month ago, Drumond Park and Tomy have launched additional cards to expand the virtual game. The new card sets include Articulate Phrases and Articulate for Kids and will be available for free on phones, tablets or PCs. Throughout the period of lockdown, the Drumond Park site has experienced three times the number of visitors compared to the same period last year, demonstrating the demand for games as people seek ways to keep themselves entertained at home. Claire Ridley, head of EU brands for Tomy, said: “With so many of us being separated from our family and friends during these difficult times, we wanted to make it easier to keep everyone entertained and encourage people to stay indoors.”

After a three-month closure, Shanghai Disneyland reopens today to a limited number of visitors, along with new social distancing rules and safety procedures. “During this initial reopening phase, the park will institute new measures and procedures, including opening with limited attendance and required advanced ticketing and reservations, accommodating social distancing in queues, restaurants, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park, and implementing increased frequency of sanitization and disinfection,” reads the Shanghai Disney Resort Website. Tickets went on sale on the morning of May 8th and very quickly sold out for the first week. No date has yet been set for other Disney parks around the world to follow suit, and parks in the US and Europe will be taking note of the procedures developed and refined at Shanghai Disneyland over the weeks ahead.

A Public Service Announcement video featuring Lego Batman has been produced by indie studio Pure Imagination, featuring the voices of Will Arnett and Ralph Fiennes. In the video, Lego Batman takes on Covid-19, which he decides has a “lame nickname” but is “scary,” and asks children to help him. The video was produced in approximately five weeks, by a team working remotely across several time zones. Three further videos are planned, each tackling different aspects of the pandemic and providing information tailored to a young audience. “Remember the things that we can all do to help get us through this time safely: wash your hands, maintain good social distancing and watch Lego Batman on repeat,” advises Lego Batman.

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