Pokémon’s Pikachu and Eevee in a giant Poké Ball-inspired sled for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. | Source: The Pokémon Co. International

What a week it has been.

Last week, our team here at The Toy Book unleashed the 2022 Innovation & STEM issue of the magazine. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, our final print edition of 2022 is a forward-looking affair that offers insight into new innovations in a variety of categories, including eco-friendly toys, collectibles, vehicles & R/C, and more. Subscriber copies are landing in mailboxes this week, but you can certainly give it a digital flip right here. Now, we’re already working on The BIG Toy Book to kick off our 39th volume in 2023. Want to get in on the action?

Just when he thought he was out, the Mouse pulled him back in …

The big news that broke over the weekend wasn’t specifically toy-centric, but could potentially impact the toy department in a variety of ways in the months and years ahead: Bob Iger is back at Disney.

The return of Bob Iger is one of those classic “What If?” scenarios that didn’t seem possible even though departing CEO Bob Chapek’s reign was tumultuous, if not controversial, at times. Disney’s entire culture seems to have been upended over the past 2.5 years, first by the COVID-19 pandemic, and again by Chapek’s leadership decisions. Iger, who was at the helm of Disney from 2005-2020, led the company through some of its best times, overseeing the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. You’d be hard-pressed to find another CEO who’s almost universally liked in the way that Iger has been.

Bob Iger (left) and Bob Chapek (right) at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in February 2020 | Source: The Walt Disney Co.

In the toy department, the power of Disney’s licensing business can be felt in nearly every aisle and category. The success of Disney and its intellectual property (IP) is a huge driver of toy and game sales, and by welcoming Iger back into the fold, the company signals a renewed sense of urgency to make things right as it heads into its 100th anniversary year.

Hasbro, which holds toy rights to some of Disney’s biggest franchises, including Star Wars and Marvel, has been dealing with a few issues of its own. Last week, the company revealed plans to sell its eOne TV & Film business following months of rumors and speculation.

What’s particularly interesting about the Iger note is that he’d become closer to another player in the licensed toys and collectibles space during his “off months” from Disney: Funko.

Back in May, news broke that The Chernin Group (TCG) made a $263 million strategic investment in Funko in a secondary transaction. TCG and its investor consortium, including Mr. Robert A. Iger, along with Rich Paul (CEO and founder of Klutch Sports Group, Head of Sports at United Talent Agency), and eBay, now own 25% of the company.

This weekend could be one for the record books…

Inflation be damned, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics estimate that a record 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year. Should the numbers prove true, this weekend will set the record for the highest number of shoppers since formal tracking began in 2017. The estimate is 8 million people higher than last year.

Here at The Toy Book, we continue to monitor the health of the industry and toys at retail, and I’m doubling down on what I said two weeks ago about this season being a return to tradition.

Stores are stocked and excitement is in the air ahead of the big weekend. Our sister publication, The Toy Insider, just released its annual list of holiday shopping tips in an effort to help consumers find the best toys and games at fair prices this holiday season. Of course, our entire team continues to make the TV rounds, showing off fantastic gift ideas for kids and kidults alike.

Related: Stay on the Pulse of Play with ‘The BIG Toy Book’ in 2023

On Thursday, the 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will put toyetic characters and content front and center for millions of families. The Funko Pop!-inspired Grogu from The Mandalorian is back in action alongside Chase from PAW Patrol, the Red Titan from Ryan’s World, and Pokémon’s Pikachu and Eevee as giant balloons that will soar high above Manhattan.

And, for the first time in many years, Toys “R” Us will have a float.

To celebrate the opening of Toys “R” Us at Macy’s, Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party is a gigantic float that’s packed with supersized toys and a DJ booth for Geoffrey the Giraffe to rock out. Check it out below, and tune in on Thursday to see it in action!

Gobble gobble!

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.