Author: Guest Contributor

PlayCon to Feature Sugarfina Co-Founder Rosie O’Neill

by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association Rosie O’Neill, co-founder and co-CEO of gourmet candy boutique Sugarfina, will share insight into her approach to retail and the confections industry during a “TED-Talk”-like session at PlayCon, May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif. “Rosie O’Neill’s fresh and exciting perspective on entrepreneurism and industry disruption is sure to get the creative juices flowing by all who attend PlayCon,” said Marian Bossard, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of global market events. “We are looking forward to hearing from our impressive speaker roster as the level of expertise and diverse knowledge at PlayCon...

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2018 Kids Time Toy & Baby Trade Fair in Kielce, Poland Breaks All Past Records

by Lena Hedo and Reyne Rice, co-presidents, International Toy Trade Magazine Association (ITMA) When the Kids Time Kielce Fair launched in 2009, it began as a two-day consumer show, with trade guests invited for only one day. Today, Kids Time Kielce has grown to be a significant and not-to-be-missed B2B European trade show for toys, games, baby products, furniture, and textiles. Boasting attendance from 22 different countries, exhibitors and trade guests travel from across all of Europe, Russia, Asia, and the U.S. In 2018, fair visitors increased to 7,515, and square footage hit a record 19,000 square meters (204,514...

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PlayCon to Feature Jefferies Analyst Stephanie Wissink as Session Presenter

by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association Bringing fresh insight into the world of toys, play, and youth entertainment, Stephanie Wissink, a managing director and senior research analyst at Jefferies, will lead one of several “TED Talk”-like sessions at the new PlayCon, taking place May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif. Wissink, who specializes in trend-oriented consumer products, will focus on her areas of expertise: demographics, distribution evolution, and demand dynamics. Her discussion will help conference attendees tap into the latest global trends as they consider developing new product lines and new avenues for distribution. “We’re excited to add Stephanie...

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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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