Author: Maddie Michalik

CHATTING WITH THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2020: IMAGINE THAT TOYS, WICHITA, KS

Gwen Ottenberg, Owner or Imagine That Toys, Wichita, KS, discusses the latest trends, industry happenings, and how business strategies are evolving in the specialty toy market. The Toy Book: How have you done business differently since stay-at-home orders were put into place across most of the U.S.? Gwen Ottenberg: We have been able to remain “open” the entire time. For me, it was simply a shift in focus from my typical storefront to online and curbside options. We utilize many online channels, including Kibo, which fulfills for manufacturer’s direct websites. People were looking to websites like Ceaco/Gamewright that make...

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CHATTING WITH THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2020: *PLAY, CHICAGO, IL

Ann Kienzle, Owner of *play, Chicago, IL, discusses the latest trends, industry happenings, and how business strategies are evolving in the specialty toy market. The Toy Book: How have you done business differently since stay-at-home orders were put into place across most of the U.S.? Ann Kienzle: Like so many businesses, we’ve had to pivot. Initially, we created custom Easter boxes for shipping so that we wouldn’t lose the sales bump we get from the holiday. Then, we set up an appointment calendar online for personal shopping. We also have been selling via FaceTime, social media, and email. We’ve...

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CHATTING WITH THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2020: FAT BRAIN TOYS

Mark Carson, President & Co-Founder, Fat Brain Toys, Omaha, NE, discusses the latest trends, industry happenings, and how business strategies are evolving in the specialty toy market. The Toy Book: How have you done business differently since stay-at-home orders were put into place across most of the U.S.? Mark Carson: Because we do business across a number of different sales channels, we’ve had to orchestrate numerous changes to ensure that we’re still staying relevant to our customers and maintaining a safe environment for our employees. Most of those changes involved shifting resources to other areas of the company while...

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CHATTING WITH THE INDUSTRY Q&A 2020: WREBBIT PUZZLES

Claude Alary, Sales Director, Wrebbit Puzzles, discusses the latest trends, industry happenings, and how business strategies are evolving in the specialty toy market. The Toy Book: How have you done business differently since stay-at-home orders were put into place across most of the U.S.? CA: As early as the third week of March, in conformity with the strict requirements of Quebec Government concerning COVID-19 and for the health and safety of our employees, we have reduced to a strict minimum our business activities. All our efforts were put into the fulfillment of local and international orders exclusively for our...

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Talkin’ Toys: Nikko Toys Zooms Its Way to Success

The Toy Book caught up with Philip Redmond, CEO of Nikko Toys, about the company’s year since entering the market and various strategies to keep up with the ever-evolving consumer. Toy Book: What was it like re-entering the marketplace in 2019? Philip Redmond: 2019 was an exciting year for the team. We had always penciled it in as a “set-up” year, but things have progressed positively and more quickly than we had originally anticipated. The history and legacy of the Nikko and Road Ripper brands meant we needed to be at the top of our game from the get-go....

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YULU Celebrates National Tie Dye Day with Swirl & Style Set

Many families are turning to crafting during stay-at-home orders, and the proof is in the tie-dye pudding. YULU is celebrating National Tie Dye Day on April 30 with its Swirl & Style Tie Dye Studio Maker craft activity set. Swirl & Style embraces the current tie-dye trend, and at-home crafting kits have already been seeing increased sales fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The kit is selling out at retail locations, according to the company. With the Swirl & Style Tie Dye Studio Maker, kids can create mess-free creations using the set’s self-contained orb. Users can put tie dye bottles into...

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Sign Ups Are Open for WIT’s Mentorship Program

Calling all mentors and mentees in the toy, licensing, and entertainment industries! Women in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment (WIT) has launched its Ruth Handler Mentorship Program for the spring 2020 session. Active WIT members can sign up now  to be a mentor, mentee, or both. The personalized program is powered by Everwise, a mentor-match program. Mentees will be matched with a mentor for a four-month guided partnership, and the program will help set goals, make the matches, and provide a structure to keep mentors and mentees on track. It will take 2-4 weeks to get a match, but there will...

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The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. Makes Comeback to Introduce ‘Moonzy’

A pink ball of fluff is about to make its debut in the Americas. Under the revived itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. banner, Kenn Viselman (Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine, Noddy, Eloise) and Brooklyn Weaver (Extant, Reverie, Run All Night) are bringing Moonzy to the Americas. Moonzy has 9 billion views on YouTube, and the children’s series already airs throughout parts of Europe and in China on CCTV Kids. Moonzy is making its debut in North and South America in partnership with Viselman’s itsy bitsy Entertainment, Weaver, Claus Tomming, INK Media, Melnitsa Animation Studio, producers Sergei Selyanov and Alexander Boyarskiy, and Art Director Konstantin Bronzit. The deal,...

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Xilam Animation Secures New Deals in Southern Europe

French animation studio Xilam Animation has scored a wave of new deals across its portfolio of content in Southern Europe, including Portugal, Turkey, and Greece. In Portugal, a pair of package deals will bring 100 hours of content to the territory. Public broadcaster RTP has acquired nearly 80 hours of programming across Xilam’s titles, including Coach Me If You Can, The Daltons, and Athleticus. The network will also renew both seasons of Floopaloo, Where Are You? and What’s the Big Idea? In addition, Xilam has inked a new deal with Dreamia for its TV channel Biggs, which will air Moka’s Fabulous Adventures and Hubert & Takako. Xilam has...

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Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China Postponed Again

Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China join the growing list of trade shows that have been postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  The three shows have been postponed for a second time to take place on a date still to be determined. The decision was made as a result from an April 8 announcement from the Chinese government that all large-scale events should not take place. The shows were originally scheduled to be held in March, then rescheduled to late May when the Guangdong provincial government issued guidelines for businesses to resume. “It is unfortunate...

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