Author: Guest Contributor

Accelerating Through Turbulence

Putting the brakes on marketing spend in the wake of the Toys “R” Us closure will only result in a crash  By Harold Chizick In this time of crisis brought on by the imminent closure of Toy “R” Us, I needed to remind myself the toy industry’s annual revenues have been sitting at around $21 billion—give or take a few million—for at least the last decade. That figure has remained constant through the closures of Zany Brainy, FAO Schwarz, KB Toys, the downsizing of Learning Express, and even the implementation of tougher COPPA legislation. And it’s also worth noting...

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PlayCon to Feature Trend Hunters Armida Ascano and Courtney Scharf

by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association Experts from Trend Hunter will share cutting-edge insight into today’s youth and how to get consumers to engage more with brands during two presentations at this year’s PlayCon conference, from May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif. The first session, titled “Millennial Myth-Busting and Gen Z: Destroying Assumptions of Millennials While Diving into the New Youth Generation,” will be led by Armida Ascano, Trend Hunter’s vice president of insight. Ascano will discuss misperceptions about millennials and critical subsegments of the generation, top priorities for Generation Z, and a comparison of the two generations....

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Toys “R” Us is Closing its Doors

Sean McGowan analyzes how this happened, and what it means for the toy industry. by SEAN MCGOWAN, managing director, Liolios Group Toys “R” Us is folding. It’s sad. No doubt about it. Many of us are processing the shock. Even oldsters might find ourselves singing, “I don’t wanna grow up; I’m a Toys “R” Us kid!” Quite aside from my memories as a consumer when I was young, or taking my kids there, I had a decades-long professional connection to Toys “R” Us. I covered the stock on Wall Street for 18 years. It was the first company in which...

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PlayCon Spotlight: Toy Veteran Tim Kilpin to Present

by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association Veteran toy executive Tim Kilpin has spent nearly 30 years developing innovative consumer products in the toy and children’s entertainment industries. Kilpin, who took on the role of Activision Blizzard’s head of consumer products last year, will share his knowledge into how brands can deepen their relationships with their audiences and engage fans during a special session at the new PlayCon when the conference returns May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif. Kilpin, who was recently elected to The Toy Association’s board of directors, has set brand strategies and creative direction for...

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Toys Not Included on China Tariff List

The Toy Association Will Hold FGAC Call on Thursday, April 5 The Toy Association sent out a Legislative Bulletin is to inform its members that toys were not listed in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) proposed list of products imported from China that could be subject to additional tariffs published Tuesday evening. Specifically, no products in Chapter 95 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule are listed, which includes toys, dolls, games, puzzles, magic tricks, etc., nor are crayons of Chapter 96. However, The Toy Association encourages each company, especially domestic manufacturers, to review the list closely because some machinery and materials that toy manufacturers import...

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COMMENTARY: HobbyTown Growing Toy Sales Nationwide

HobbyTown is the largest nationwide footprint of hobby/toy retail stores in the U.S., with nearly 150 franchise stores in 41 states. Established in 1985, HobbyTown retail stores have evolved from a merchandise mix of traditional hobby lines (model trains, radio control, plastic models, rockets, etc.) to a broader mix with a growing emphasis on specialty toys. HobbyTown stores are well suited to expand and support toy sales, as they are very accustomed to providing customers with a shopping experience that goes beyond the sale with in-store events, activities, and a website to support omnichannel shopping. The HobbyTown Franchise Service...

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COMMENTARY: Without Toys “R” Us, Where Should Toy Manufacturers Play?

Toys and game makers should focus on the grocery channel to help fill the hole from the Toys “R” Us liquidation, according to industry vet Tim Hall by Tim Hall, CEO of Simporter.com Sadly for millions of Americans, Toy “R” Us (TRU) may soon be a relic of our collective, nostalgic history. The $10 billion company’s announcement of its pending liquidation has sent tremors across the toy industry. Toy and game manufacturers now need to pivot and backfill some of the huge crater that now looms for their profit and loss statements. The retail giant helped pave the foundation of...

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Google Design Lead Victoria Fang to Present at PlayCon

by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association During a special presentation at PlayCon, Victoria Fang, Google’s UX (user experience) design lead for the tech company’s new kid-friendly features, will share insight on emerging technologies when the conference returns, from May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif. During her presentation, “Google Assistant for Kids & Families: Conversation, AI, and Play,” Fang will highlight more than 50 games, stories, and activities tailored to kids and families recently introduced on Google Assistant, its virtual personal assistant app which can engage in two-way conversations and is primarily available on mobile and smart home...

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Learning Express Toys Statement on Toys “R” Us Chapter Liquidation

The hard lesson to be learned from Toys “R” Us’ (TRU) bankruptcy, and now liquidation, for all those fast-growing businesses that dream of going public or aggressively expanding using private equity is: “Beware!” Hindsight is always 20/20, but had TRU taken a more conservative growth path, and invested its profits in developing a knowledgeable sales force, remodeling old stores and offering a great in-store experience, TRU would be hugely profitable. Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and other big box stores will likely enlarge their toy departments in hopes of picking up the $4 billion in U.S. toy dollars left behind by...

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#SaveToysRUs and the Importance of Brick & Mortar Retail

Bob Wann shares his perspective on the evolving retail landscape and its impact on the business of toys by BOB WANN, chairman of The Toy Association Board of Directors, chief play monster at PlayMonster LLC It’s clear the retail landscape is undergoing seismic, disruptive change. Through all the confusion and uncertainty that everyone in our industry has been feeling in recent months—made far worse by news of the past week—the possibility that there might be an avenue to save some 200 Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. by combining those in a sale with the Canadian operations finds me and everyone...

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