Thursday 16th April – Latest toy industry reaction to coronavirus outbreak

Published on: 16th April 2020

Today, Toy World has news from Warner Bros, Epoch, Big Potato, Lissi Dolls, MGA and Eolo.

Warner Bros and coach company Golden Tours have offered Harry Potter-branded buses as free transport for staff working in the NHS. The buses are normally used to take visitors to the Warner Bros. Studios Tour at Leavesden studios, which is currently closed.

The buses are decorated with scenes from the making of the Harry Potter films and will operate between three sites in Hertfordshire, with on-board social distancing rules. The initiative means that NHS staff who are well and able to work, but have transport issues, can get to where they are needed.

The NHS said the move was a “wizard idea”.

Epoch has launched the first Sylvanian Families filter for Instagram and Facebook, providing some light relief across the brand’s global social media channels. Sylvanian Families fans can transform themselves into iconic character Freya Chocolate Rabbit with the new filter, and a CGI version of Freya pops up in the corner of the photo.

Suzie Howes, marketing manager, commented: “We’re excited to announce the launch of our first filter during a time where it’s really important to stay connected and communicate with friends and family who are currently apart. We can’t wait to see our fans having fun transforming themselves into Freya selfies to spread a few smiles across their social channels.”

Big Potato has published a detailed blog on its website, explaining the many ways that favourite games can be played during lockdown: “whether you’re stuck on the sofa or killing time in the kitchen, here’s how to keep your gaming skills sharp and put the ‘social’ back in ‘social distancing’.”

The blog covers the many platforms on which online games can be accessed, applications that can be used to chat to fellow players and creative ways to vary the gameplay of many of Big Potato’s most popular games to enable them to be enjoyed remotely. With suggestions for Bucket of Doom, What Came First, Colourbrain, Mr Lister, Weird Things Humans Search For, Obama Llama and The Chameleon, by following the suggestions, only one player needs to have a copy of the physical game for a group of friends to have fun and stay safe.

Lissi Dolls has donated and shipped a quantity of face masks to healthcare workers in Germany, France, the UK and the USA, from the company’s Hong King headquarters. Owner Carsten Martin commented: ”We can’t help everybody but if all of us do a little bit, we will overcome this crisis. Stay safe!”

MGA is releasing a L.O.L. Surprise! PhD B.B. to support Operation Pac-Man, the initiative created to fight the spread of COVID-19; a worldwide effort that will deliver PPE to front line healthcare workers around the world. The doll comes with a white lab coat, a face mask accessory and an MGAE Cares heart decal, to represent the L.O.L. Surprise! and Operation Pac-Man collaboration.

“We are creating a way for moms, dads, kids and families to participate in the global fight to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Isaac Larian, CEO and founder of MGA Entertainment. “While this pandemic will pass, we want to help moms and dads talk to their B.B.s about the virus in a way that is helpful and without fear.” The limited-edition doll will be available in the US later this month and MGA will donate $1 for every doll sold to Operation Pac-Man.

A campaign group called TOTS (Turn On The Subtitles) has called on broadcasters and online platforms to turn on the subtitles on children’s tv programmes, in order to boost literacy. The organisation believes that the measure should be introduced without delay, to be of maximum benefit as children across the world are being educated inside their own homes.

Major names such as Stephen Fry, Cressida Cowell and Floella Benjamin have added their support to the campaign, signing a letter which expresses the belief that subtitles would cause reading levels to automatically rise. The letter adds that academic research proves that spelling, grammar and vocabulary would all be enhanced, even if children watching TV are not aware they are learning.

Many broadcasters have engaged with TOTS in recent months, although certain technical obstacles still need to be overcome before the plan would be workable.

Eolo Toys has become one of the first companies to create an virtual showroom, in order to maintain contact with partners around the world. Director Alex Prieto revealed the news on Linked In, pointing out that at this time of year, many toy buyers would soon be starting their travels to Hong Kong, Vegas & Distoy in order to make selections. He commented: “At Eolo we have been busy solving the problem. I’m proud to introduce our new Virtual Showroom starting 11th of May! Drop us a line to to schedule a visit. I always wanted to do a virtual showroom to keep close contact with partners around the world in a fun and personal way. This lockdown has given us the opportunity to finally make it happen.” Details can be found here.



Friday Blog

Forget about the price tag … it’s the Friday Blog!

Zuru unveils new Mini Brands collection in time for Christmas

Mojo Fun partners with Quercetti in exclusive distribution deal

Plus-Plus partners with Tumble Tots

Exclusive: Deddy Bears on the fright track

Exclusive: Asmodee’s Star Wars: Unlimited TCG

Tickets now available for Spielwarenmesse 2024

Exclusive: Curious Universe’s phenomenal five-year growth

Ravensburger launches UK’s tallest GraviTrax marble run

Mattel releases fourth Claudia Schiffer Barbie