It’s a Wrap! Here Are Some Of The Interesting Things We Found Out at New York Toy Fair
Licensed products were on display in all shapes and sizes at the International Toy Fair as suppliers pitched retailers in some cases with narrower assortments and others rolled new lines in the increasingly crowded collectibles business. We also found, among many other things, a lot of poop and toilet humor.
Here’s a look back at some of what we saw during a busy week at the Javits Center:
Collectibles Continue To Expand
Collectibles continued to be a major draw. Spin Master, expects to double its Hatchimals licensee roster to 50 this year and hosted its first Hatchimals summit on Monday at the Javits Center. The brand is expanding into beauty products and party goods and licensee Penguin Random House is expanding the book line to 24 from two. The company also recently purchased Fugglers, little monster dolls with fake teeth that were created by an Etsy artist known online as Mrs. McGettrick. The collectibles line includes 55 characters including 9- and 12-inch dolls and licensee Bioworld is readying a licensed line, including t-shirts, mugs, and hats that will launch at Target in August.
Meanwhile, Jazwares entered collectibles for the first time, buying a majority stake in Zackwear’s Zag Toys division. Zag markets a Domez line of Disney, Marvel and Digimon mini-figures that are packaged in glass display cases. Zag also has Hello Neighbor licensed plush. And Moose Toys is expanding its licensing program beyond Shopkins into other brands, including Cutie Cars, which has a children’s book agreement with Scholastic Corp. Moose also readying a licensing program for its Pikmi Pops, which are plastic lollipop-shaped containers filled with mini-plush figures that were introduced last year.
Toilet-inspired toys were plentiful, including Basic Fun’s licensed Poopeez, a collection of 36 characters that are packaged in a toilet roll capsule and leverage the look of the poop emoji. Basic Fun developed the line with the agency Brandberry, whose owner, Ashley Mady, whose has since joined the company. Also in evidence, although non-licensed at this point, are Moose Toys’ Grossery Gang collectibles and Spin Master’s Flush Force mini-figures, two of which are packaged in a mini-toilet and emerge when the toilet dissolves. Tomy also unveiled Stink Bomz collectible characters, while Hasbro fielded a Don’t Step in It board game.
Hasbro Shows Off Fruits of HasLab
The first fruit of Hasbro’s HasLab was on display at the company’s off-site showroom. The platform, introduced at Toy Fair last year, combines crowdsourcing with product development. It is starting with a four-foot version of Star Wars character Jabba the Hut’s sail barge, featuring a 3.5-inch Jabba figure and soft-cloth fabric sails. The catch is that the $499 barge needs 5,000 pre-orders by April 3 for Hasbro to move forward with development. The barge, which would ship a year from now assuming sufficient pre-orders, had 1,684 backers as of this morning. Those pre-ordering will get a 64-page “Behind the Workbench” book that ships late this month and details the development of both the barge that appeared in the Star Wars film and the Hasbro toys. It also includes photos, blueprints and interviews.
Tomy Combining Lamaze License With Entertainment Brands
Among Tomy’s new programs is one in which its agreement for the Lamaze brand has been extended to include dual licenses with entertainment properties. Tomy is readying a nine item assortment of Lamaze/Incredibles 2 playmats, clip-ons that can attach to strollers, shape sorters and other products and will seek additional pacts for entertainment properties, says Licensing Director Jennifer Pondel. “Combining entertainment properties with Lamaze products made complete sense given that both are aimed at young children,” says Pondel, whose company has had the Lamaze license for 25 years. Meanwhile, Tomy showed a “J is for Jeep” line of six pre-school toys, filling a void for the brand, says Tomy’s Travis Hoy. Tomy also is fielding a Realtree licensed toy line, including all-terrain vehicles, pickup truck and trailer and Gator trucks, the full-size version of which is produced by John Deere, for whom Tomy also has a license.
Mattel Display Reflects Narrower But Deeper Philosophy
Mattel slimmed down its showroom at Toy Fair, evidence of the company’s plans to go narrower and deeper with its product assortment. For example, the company highlighted its Call of Duty and Halo Mega Bloks construction sets, but didn’t show the Shimmer and Shine and Blaze and Monster Machines products. Mattel also showed a Mega Bloks “Inventions” brand that features 102-400-piece construction sets that are tied to an app that offers six designs for creating a finished product. “We are highlighting the products behind which we will put a major push this year,” says a Mattel spokeswoman. At the same time, Mattel is readying doll clothing apparel for Barbie with licenses including Hello Kitty, DC Comics, Despicable Me, Care Bears and SpongeBob Squarepants. Mattel also showed a Barbie + Crayola Confetti Design Studio that allows the user to design apparel for Barbie using stencils, Crayola Color Gel markers and 15 papers.
Funko Supporting Own Characters With Animation
Funko Animation Studio is expected to release mid-year 1-2 minute shorts on YouTube based on its Fred Funko and Wetmore Forest characters as the company moves to build IP for a potential outbound licensing program, says Funko’s Mark Robben. Funko also uses the characters in its Pop! and Dorbz vinyl collectibles lines. The studio previously focused on creating short-form videos of its licensed figures.
Meanwhile, Funko added to its portfolio, signing its first agreement with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The deal fills out Funko’s collection of professional sports league licenses, which include the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. Funko will launch its MLB series in April with about a dozen players including Clayton Kershaw, Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant and Noah Syndergaard. Funko also took the wraps off a dual-licensed product – a Deadpool character topped with the well-known hair style of the late PBS personality and painter Bob Ross.
Jazwares Testing Direct-to-Consumer Business
Jazwares will test the direct-to-consumer business with an eight-piece pre-school collection stemming from the “Bob the Train” YouTube series, developed as part of a licensing agreement with India-based USP Studios, which formed an alliance with Jazwares last year. “Direct-to-consumer was the route to go with this property so we could test the waters first,” says Jazwares’ Monika Salazar. JazWings, the company’s brand development arm, also is working with USP to create animated fare based on brands in its incubator including Crypto Trucks and MeBear. JazWings, launched in 2015, has so far brought one property to market – “Panda a Panda” created by comic book artist Siuhak — that was introduced at Toys R Us. “It is taking some time to build awareness of JazWings within the artist community and let them know this platform exists,” says Salazar.
Wicked Cool Launching Jojo Siwa Headphones
Wicked Cool Toys is bringing CozyPhones – a fleece headband merged with very slim headphones – into licensing under agreement with Nickelodeon star Jojo Siwa. It’s also readying a Pokemon version. More than 250,000 units of Cozyphones, which also can serve as a sleep mask, have been sold since developer Paul Miller launched them on Amazon in 2016, says Wicked Cool’s Gerhard Runken. Meanwhile, Wicked Cool also is readying a launch of Pokemon product for August, the first since it replaced Tomy as the brand’s licensee. Wicked Cool will start this year with 60 of the most popular characters, says Runken. The company also will change the pace of character introduction, going with six waves of up to nine characters each versus the two waves previously used by Tomy.
WowWee Expanding Fingerlings Assortment, Readying New Brand
WowWee Group, fresh from strong sales of its Fingerlings during the holiday season, is extending its licensing program to include candy, sleepwear, stationery, Chia Pets and bedding and readying a new brand for introduction later this year, says President Richard Yanofsky. The company has 21 licensing agreements for Fingerlings and is readying mini collectibles and a larger plush that features touch and motion sensors and a built in accelerometer and sells for $29. While not disclosing details, WowWee also confirmed it has another line in the wings that builds on the touch and motion sensor technology used with Fingerlings.
The Fingerlings, which shipped late last summer, were about two years in development as the company sought a lower-priced product that could use the technology behind its robotic toys that typically sold for $79 and up, says Yanofsky. WowWee also is creating video based on the Fingerlings that will be ready by spring, says Yanofsky.
Rovio Says It’s Nearing Master Toy Agreement for New Angry Birds Movie
Rovio expects to have a master toy and QSR promotional agreements in place by spring as it readies a broad licensing program for the upcoming Angry Birds 2 film, says the company’s Simo Hamalainen. Rovio will promote the new film, scheduled for Sept. 20, 2019 release, at Licensing Expo in June and have a stylebook complete by August. Rovio will seek to reach markets where its presence in consumer products was lacking for the first film, including Eastern Europe, says Hamalainen. Spin Master was the major toy licensee for the first movie. Rovio also has separate licensing program for Hatchlings, the break-out stars of the first Angry Birds film, and is weighing one for its Battle Bay mobile game, says Hamalainen.
Studio Ghibli Expanding Licensed Product Distribution in U.S.
Anime film developer Studio Ghibli is expanding its reach in the U.S, having signed Bluefin to distribute licensed products and with a pop-up shop based on its “My Brother Totoro” series poised to open in San Francisco on Friday.
Bluefin, which distributes collectibles for many Japanese companies, has charge of more than 250 lifestyle SKUs from 10-12 Japanese licensees, including Benelic, Ensky, Skater and Marushin. Bluefin showed more than 100 items — coin banks, puzzles, tea cups, plush dolls — at the International Toy Fair tied to “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Spirited Away,” and “Princess Mononoke.” Bluefin has a display with Studio Ghibli products chainwide at Barnes and Noble, with My Neighbor Totoro accounting for about 50% of sales and Kiki and Spirited being 25% each, says Bluefin’s Shin Ueno. Meanwhile, Studio Ghibli licensee Her Universe and the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya are readying a “My Neighbor Totoro” 1,000-sq.-ft. pop-up shop in San Francisco that will feature apparel and accessories, including those from other third-party licensees, and be open through March 18. Kinokuniya will manage the store.
NECA Buys Chia Pet
The National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) purchased Joseph Enterprise Inc. along with its Chia Pet and Clapper products. The San Francisco-based company will become a NECA subsidiary under its VPs Michael Hirsch and Al Lam. Joseph Pedott, who founded the company in 1982, will remain to help with the transition to new owners. NECA showed Chia Pet products at its booth during the International Toy Fair. It sprang to prominence in 1982, and about 500,000 Chia pets were being sold annually as of 2007 under variety of licenses. Joseph Enterprises has made a push behind outbound licensing of Chia Pet and Clapper in the past.
Amloid Readying Crayola/Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Construction Sets
Amloid, expanding on its Crayola-licensed construction products, will launch cobranded Crayola/Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in 32- and 46-piece sets through Walmart and Jet.com in April, says Amloid’s Wayne Nathan. The company, which sells its building blocks in crayon-shaped tubes, also has a version of the product under its own Kids@Work label and is weighing similar products for other entertainment properties, says Nathan. Amloid also has a license with Hasbro for Tonka Mighty Builders Next Step playsets.
Marcy George, ex-Level 5, returns to MGA Entertainment as Vice President of Global Consumer Products, replacing Juli Boylan, who left in December… John Parker departs as President of Bluefin Distribution, replaced on an interim basis by Founder/CEO Steve Fujimura… George Vorkas departs as Chief Marketing Officer at 720 Brands.
Jada Expands Licensed Figures
Jada Toys, known for its licensed die-cast cars, is moving more deeply into collectible figures. The company launched its MetalFigs banner last year with a line that ranged from miniature to six-inch figures with licenses that included Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Harry Potter. It’s expanding this year to include figures from Minecraft, Halo, Street Fighter, Nickelodeon and Nightmare Before Christmas. Most of the figural licenses are extensions of licensing agreements for vehicles. It also is combining the die-cast figures with a cars in a “Hollywood Rides” line that features Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and others.
Also at Toy Fair
- The Fisher Price brand is returning to food play sets after a five-year absence, via a license with Just Play. Mattel previously handled food play products internally, says Just Play’s Jimmy Chang. The line includes a stove top set, a counting pizza activity, cash register with a “scanner” and other items.
- The hit card game Exploding Kittens is moving into toys under an agreement with Basic Fun!, which developed an exploding house play set, eight buildable figures based characters from the game and blind bags.
- Funrise signed a multi-year renewal with Hasbro for Tonka construction toys, continuing its 20-year run with metal and plastic vehicles as well as the Tonka Tinys collectibles that were introduced in 2016.
Amloid, Wayne Nathan, Chief Marketing Officer, 973-328-0654, wayne.Nathan@amloid.com
Basic Fun!, Jay Foreman, Pres., 561-997-8901, email@example.com
Bluefin, Shin Uneo, Brand Development Dir., 949-553-8800 x120, firstname.lastname@example.org
Funko, Mark Robben, Head of Marketing, 425-783-3616 x191, email@example.com
Funrise, Randy Shoemaker, SVP Global Brand Marketing, 310-255-5026
Hasbro, Bryony Bouyer, SVP Global Category Management and Marketing, 401-431-8697, firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Universe, Ashley Eckstein, CEO, 310-497-0715, email@example.com
Jada Toys, Amy Austin, Licensing Dir., 626-810-8382, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jazwares, Monika Salazar, Senior Dir. Trade and Retail Marketing, 954-845-8000, email@example.com
March George VP Global Consumer Products, 818-894-2525, firstname.lastname@example.org
Just Play, Jimmy Chang, Senior Dir. Marketing, 267-989-3036, email@example.com
NECA, Joel Weinshanker, CEO , 908-686-3300 x1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mattel, Sejal Shah Miller, VP Global Marketing, 310-252-2000
Moose Toys, Menal McGrath, Licensing Dir., 310-809-6438, email@example.com
Rovio Entertainment, Simo Hamalainen, SVP Brand Licensing, +358 50 585 9757, firstname.lastname@example.org
Spin Master Corp., Adam Bender, VP Licensing, 416-364-6002 x2256, email@example.com
Wicked Cool Toys, Gerhard Runken, VP Marketing and Brand Strategy, 818-257-4508, firstname.lastname@example.org
WowWee Group, Richard Yanofsky, Founder and Pres., 514-344-1252