This article will be updated daily with additional cancellations, postponements, and the other ways in which COVID-19 is affecting the toy industry and adjacent businesses including gaming, licensing, entertainment, and retail. Last updated: May 15, 3:00 p.m. EST.
The spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes — COVID-19 — is receiving an unprecedented response. Like the rest of the world, the toy industry is working to adapt and evolve in order to maintain business while practicing social distancing and other measures to curb the spread of the virus. The changes not only affect the toy industry itself, but also adjacent industries such as pop culture and entertainment.
As of April 14, 43 states plus the District of Columbia were under mandatory “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders. Some exceptions for “essential services” have been allowing some businesses to stay open, including select retailers and various pieces of the supply chain. For the first time in history, all 50 states are under Federal Disaster Declarations. The seven states that did not issue stay-at-home orders are Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming. As of April 28, some states — including Georgia and Iowa — had begun to reopen some parts of their economies. By May 15, some states, such as Wisconsin, began opening wide, while others including New York, California, and Illinois presented multi-phase plans for reopening.
OFFICE CLOSURES, REMOTE WORKFORCE, CORPORATE UPDATES
- Adventure Media & Events — publisher of the Toy Book, the Toy Insider, and the Pop Insider — has shifted to a remote workforce. Regular operations and services continue uninterrupted. Please reach out to your usual contacts with any questions.
- The Toy Association has temporarily closed its offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. Services continue uninterrupted as the staff works from home. A full list of resources and details on how The Toy Association is assisting members at this time can be found in this guest post by President and CEO Steve Pasierb.
- Diaframma Advertising is getting #CreativeAtHome. The company released a test shoot showing what can be accomplished within the safety guidelines of self-quarantine.
- Faber-Castell USA employees who are able to are working from home.
- Funko employees are working from home.
- Games Workshop has closed all factories, offices, and retail locations until further notice.
- Hasbro has closed all of its offices globally until further notice. Employees will work from home during this time. The company will debut its Bring Home the Fun campaign this week.
- Jazwares/Wicked Cool Toys offices are temporarily closed. Employees are working from home at this time. The companies are also hiring and will be conducting interviews virtually.
- Kids2 staff in the U.S. began working from home on March 16. All employees at the company’s Hong Kong office and its new factory in Zhongshan City, China are back to work. The first products from the new factory begin shipping April 17. Company recruiters are available to family members of current staff who may have been laid off or furloughed and are looking for work.
- LEGO has mandated that “every colleague whose job allows them to work from home must do so.”
- Mattel employees in the U.S. are working remotely.
- MasterPieces continues to ship puzzles and games amid a massive sales spike. The company is experiencing delays from its Indiana warehouse.
- Moose Toys has adjusted its workforce to a predominantly work from home model across office locations, and has also adopted skeleton staff in some offices to ensure smooth operations.
- Plus-Plus USA corporate staff is working from home. Orders are still shipping from the company’s warehouse.
- Spin Master has withdrawn its previously issued full-year financial guidance. The company plans to offer an update on May 6. In the meantime, most employees are working remotely and some locations are closed based on direction from local governments. The company is continuing to fill orders for shipments and is pivoting to support the needs of its customers.
- Stern Pinball employees are working from home as much as possible. Factory staff is temporarily reduced, but production continues.
- Super7 office staff is now working from home. All non-essential domestic and all international travel has been canceled.
- What Do You Meme? staff is working from home.
- ZURU has closed its offices around the globe and has its teams working remotely from home. The company says it is educating staffers on social distancing and has provided masks and sanitization resources to its team members.
- Entertainment One, Netflix, Amazon Studios, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, and STX are among a growing list of entertainment companies shifting to a remote workforce for the time being.
LAYOFFS & FURLOUGHS
- American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has laid off several members of its senior staff following the cancelation of Marketplace & Academy.
- Alex Brands/Alex Toys has reportedly closed. The company’s website is offline and lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey courts on behalf of manufacturing and logistics partners. Story developing.
- Basic Fun! has reduced its global workforce by 10%.
- b8ta, the “retail-as-a-service” partner of Tru Kids Brands in the two new Toys “R” Us stores in New Jersey and Texas, has laid off more than half of its corporate employees, mandated pay cuts for those that remain, and has furloughed retail staff.
- Build-A-Bear Workshop has furloughed more than 90% of its workforce.
- Funko has furloughed “a significant portion” of its staff.
- Hornby America has reduced its U.S. workforce by 15%.
- Macy’s, which carries toys during the holidays, has furloughed most of its 125,000-person staff.
- Magformers has slightly reduced its workforce.
- Mattel slightly reduced its workforce.
- Moose Toys made cuts to its headquarters staff in Australia.
- Party City has furloughed approximately 90% of store employees and 70% of wholesale, manufacturing and corporate staff. Executive staff will take a temporary pay cut.
- Rubie’s has reduced its workforce by 75%.
- Toysmith has terminated contracts with its independent specialty sales reps and has placed some employees on standby. Staff is work-from-home at this time.
- WWE furloughed a large portion of its workforce and mandated pay cuts for executive staff. The company also released/terminated approximately 20 members of its WWE Superstar (talent) roster. Mattel is the master toy partner for WWE action figures.
- The Walt Disney Co. began furloughing employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” on April 17. Executives have taken a temporary pay cut.
- The Bandai Foundation donated $55,000 to charities in Southern California. The Bandai Foundation has been working closely with Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and CASA to help make a difference in the community.
- Basic Fun! donated 4,000 3M brand N95 surgical masks and an assortment of toys to facilities across the country.
- Blankie Tails is working with WGirls to get masks and other materials into the hands of healthcare workers in New York and New Jersey.
- Chalk of the Town is donating 10% of profits through June 15 to City Harvest.
- The Chicago Toy & Game Group has launched a digital resource hub for families to discover fun ideas to do at home. Additionally, the group has launched the 15th Annual Young Inventor Challenge early with its first-ever virtual spring event.
- Crazy Aaron’s has shifted production from Thinking Putty to hand sanitizer. The company’s online store is open, but shipping is suspended temporarily.
- CreateOn released a Healthcare Heroes Luminary Magna-Tiles collection that honors healthcare providers. 20% of proceeds will benefit Global Empowerment Mission’s (GEM) BStrong efforts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare providers across the country.
- Disney Parks donated 150,000 rain ponchos to MedShare for distribution to hospitals, and more than 100,000 N95 masks to the states of New York, California, and Florida.
- Goliath Games will give all proceeds from all sales of its Virus card game during the month of April to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, the company is supporting organizations with in-kind donations of puzzles and games.
- Hasbro is working with No Kid Hungry and Save the Children. The company also launched its Bring Home the Fun campaign and online resource hub to help families stay engaged. Additionally, the company partnered with Cartamundi to produce 50,000 face shields each week.
- Jazwares donated masks and cleaning supplies to various hospitals including Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Broward General, Memorial West, and Stanford in addition to individual healthcare providers across the country.
- Jupiter Creations donated 5,000 masks to the New York Police Department.
- The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation have launched initiatives to aid families through content and financial donations. The company is also producing more than 13,000 visors a day for healthcare providers in Denmark. Additionally, LEGO has partnered with Fairy Bricks to donate 30,000 LEGO sets to the children of healthcare workers in the UK.
- Maingear, a New Jersey-based maker of custom gaming PCs, has retrofitted its factory to produce LIV ventilators for intensive care units.
- Mattel donated toys and art supplies to kids as part of Los Angeles Unified’s “LA Students Most in Need” charitable effort. Additionally, Mattel design and development teams in El Segundo, California and East Aurora, New York are producing face masks using Barbie and Fisher-Price fabric. The company is also producing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields. The company is also producing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields. The company also launched the Mattel Playroom, an online resource hub for families and has debuted a #ThankYouHeroes line of action figures and Fisher-Price Little People.
- MGA Entertainment (MGAE) launched “Operation: Pac-Man” in an effort to pool resources and get medical supplies to healthcare providers. The company sourced 2 million masks from overseas; will offer use of its 15 3D printers to hospitals; and has re-tooled the Little Tikes factory in Ohio to produce medical equipment — including an original ventilator design — domestically. An MGAE Cares website with resources is live for donations and PPE requests. Additionally, an L.O.L. Surprise! Frontline Hero doll will be sold to raise funds for the efforts.
- MMG Brands is responding to the desperate need for personal protective equipment by shifting its resources and production focus to the sourcing and manufacturing of FDA-approved N95 respirator masks, nitrile gloves, hospital gowns, and other items.
- The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame is producing bobbleheads of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. As of April 15, more than $130,000 has been raised through sales of the Dr. Fauci bobblehead alone. $5 from each bobblehead sold will be donated to the Protect The Heroes Fund in support of the 100 Million Mask Challenge.
- The ORB Factory, parent company of ORB Toys, is shifting production to help meet the need for hand sanitizer and other anti-bacterial products around the world.
- Playmobil released a new video explaining the coronavirus situation to kids and launched the reusable Playmobil Nose and Mouth Mask.
- Radio Flyer donated 1,000 wagons, tricycles, scooters, and ride-ons to Cradles to Crayons Chicago. The company also launched its #PlayingAtHome initiative.
- Rainbow Loom founder Choon Ng has purchased 10,000 N95 masks to that will be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
- R&R Games is supporting customers’ favorite local game store (FLGS). When customers purchase family-friendly games from R&R Games’ website using the offer code “StayNplayAtHome,” the company will take 30% off the price and donate another 25% of its proceeds to consumers’ FLGS. All customers need to do is send their order number to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the name of their FLGS, and R&R Games will take care of the rest and write a check.
- Shore Buddies is donating 100% of its profits from online sales to organizations that protect related animals.
- Spin Master created face shields using headbands from its Hedbanz game fitted with PET inserts. The first shipment was delivered to Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, Ontario this week. The company is producing more than 10,000 per day and will be shipping to hospitals in North America and eventually globally.
- The Toy Association is calling upon toy designers and others with 3D printing capability to help create medical parts. Full details can be found here. Additionally, The Genius of Play has launched a new initiative called “Play Today.”
- Ty has issued a Hope Beanie Boo with proceeds supporting the United Way COVID-19 Fund.
- Vermont Teddy Bear is sewing masks to donate to healthcare providers. Interested parties can email email@example.com for more information.
- VTech and LeapFrog are partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org to support classrooms impacted by COVID-19. AdoptAClassroom.org is working directly with educators, schools and vendor partners to identify their needs and get tools in the hands of students. Through Friday, April 3, VTech and LeapFrog will be matching all donations made here: bit.ly/LearnThroughThisDonation up to $50,000. Additionally, the companies have launched Learn Through This, an online resource for families, parents, and caregivers.
- What Do You Meme? is partnering with Feeding America to provide 1 million meals to families in need.
- ZURU is sharing its COVID-19 Prevention and Control Handbook. The 21-page resource is being offered to all business owners worldwide, free of charge.
For a detailed list of consumer resources and free activities being offered, visit our sister publication, the Toy Insider.
A number of voices from around the industry have provided the Toy Book with exclusive commentary, tips, and opinions on navigating our new world.
- Navigating Uncertainty: Toy Association Activities Support Members and Families Across North America | Steve Pasierb, The Toy Association
- Coronavirus Impact: What Independent Toy Stores Should Expect and How to React | Richard Derr, Learning Express Toys & Gifts
- Now, More than Ever, Play is Essential | Richard Dickson, Mattel
- We Own Play, and That’s a Powerful Commodity | Donna MacNeil, ChizComm
- Toy Companies Must Rethink, Not Shutdown Marketing and Communications | Bill Southard, Southard Communications
- What to Expect from Your Agency Partners During COVID-19 | Aaron Wade, CanspanBMG
- Challenge Accepted: ASTRA Members Were Born for This | Amy Saldanha, kiddywampus
- Rethinking Brand Messaging and Ad Spend in Times of Crisis | David Becker, Blue Plate Media Services
- Working from Home Is One Thing; Running a Business Is Another | Clark Nesselrodt, Brilliant PR & Marketing
EVENTS & EXPERIENCES
- The Toy Insider will debut Sweet Suite @ Home, a virtual edition of the long-running “Biggest Night of Play.” For details on how to participate or exhibit, click here.
- ASTRA Marketplace & Academy: The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has canceled its annual Marketplace & Academy which was scheduled to take place from June 7-10 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
- DISTOY London has been canceled. Organizers will now focus on next year’s show.
- E3: E3 was officially canceled in a statement on its website. Originally scheduled for June 9-11, the producers behind the video game trade show are looking for ways to move the showcase online.
- The Children’s Media Conference (CMC) is temporarily becoming The Children’s Media Community for 2020 in response to the cancellation of its planned July conference in Sheffield, UK. With a revised theme of “Still Here Right Now,” CMC will provide an ongoing webinars over the next few months, culminating in a virtual conference in July.
- Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) has been canceled.
- Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC): ECCC will now take place from Aug. 22-23. According to a statement from Reedpop, which produces the show, organizers tried to continue the Seattle-based show, but ultimately decided it was in fans’ best interest to postpone. Fans of the event and companies that were set to participate in ECCC came out in full force to put on a virtual con.
- Free Comic Book Day will not happen on May 2 as originally planned, Diamond Comic Distributors stated in a press release. The group is looking to move the annual comic event to some time in the summer.
- Game Developers Conference: The gathering of famous video game creators will not go on as planned. In its place, GDC Summer, a three-day celebration of the art, craft, and business of game development, will be held from August 4-6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
- Hot Wheels Legends Tour: Mattel and Walmart put on the brakes for the third annual traveling car show. All dates through the end of April are postponed until further notice. Organizers hope to reschedule them for later this year.
- The Independent Toy & Gift Show scheduled to take place in the UK this April has been canceled. Organizers will focus on next year’s show.
- Licensing Expo: The world’s largest licensing trade show has rescheduled from May to Aug.11-13. Read more here.
- Licensing Japan, originally scheduled to be held from April 1-3, has been rescheduled to take place Oct 27-29, 2020 at Aomi Hall Tokyo Big Sight.
- Messe Frankfurt‘s Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China fairs have been rescheduled to take place May 25-27. Update on 4/23: The shows have been postponed again to an unknown date due to a government directive.
- Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards: Deadline reports that the event scheduled for March 22 is postponed until a later time for the “well-being of every person involved with the show.”
- Pokémon Events: Check here to see if your local Pokémon Championship was canceled or postponed.
- Record Store Day: You’ll have to wait two months longer to get your hands on some exclusive vinyl. Record Store Day will now take place on June 20 instead of April 18.
- Stern Pro Circuit 2019-20 Championships: The pinball championship is postponed until a later date, according to an email from Stern Pinball. Tickets will be transferable to the new date, the email says.
- Yu-Gi-Oh Championship Series: The gathering of trading-card-game players in North Carolina has been postponed indefinitely. Konami says it continues to monitor the situation for other upcoming events.
Local toy stores across the country are adapting to the current situation by offering order online, pick up in-store; phone orders; and local delivery in many locations. Contact local stores for details. For other retailers, online shopping is largely running uninterrupted despite temporary store closures.
- Amazon temporarily limited inbound shipments of non-essential items to its warehouses. As of 4/15, the company has resumed inbound shipments on most items. Shipping to prime customers has been sporadic for toys with some delivery dates pushed out longer than usual. The company is reportedly pushing Prime Day back to August.
- Best Buy, which has been carrying an increasing selection of toys, has temporarily closed its stores as of March 23 and is offering contactless curbside delivery instead. In-home delivery is suspended at this time.
- BoxLunch and Hot Topic: The sister stores are temporarily closed until further notice. Online shopping still open.
- Camp Stores are temporarily closed but the company is hosting virtual birthday parties on Fridays.
- Build-A-Bear Workshop stores around the globe are closed indefinitely.
- Disney Store: All Disney Store and Disney Store Outlet locations in North America will close beginning on March 17.
- The Entertainer (UK): All character appearances and in-store demonstrations have been canceled.
- FAO Schwarz has temporarily closed its flagship store in New York City.
- Five Below stores are closed until further notice.
- Funko has temporarily closed its flagship retail locations in Everett, Washington and Hollywood, California.
- FYE stores are still open pending local mall hour adjustments and closures.
- GameStop stores are closed following a nationwide backlash in which company leadership deemed its stores “essential retail.” Some locations are offering contactless Delivery@Door service.
- Hamleys (UK) is temporarily closed.
- JCPenney missed interest payments and is reportedly considering bankruptcy. The company had increased its toy and baby offerings post-Toys “R” Us.
- Kohl’s canceled orders from many suppliers — including those in the toy industry — and temporarily closed its stores. The company also pulled back its financial guidance.
- LEGO Stores outside of China are now closed until further notice.
- Macy’s is closed until further notice.
- Meijer is reducing store hours and has closed in-store Starbucks and other service locations after initially pledging to stay open 24 hours with increased cleaning schedules. The company is emphasizing touchless delivery options.
- Neiman Marcus will reportedly file for bankruptcy protection. The high-end retailer carries a variety of specialty toys.
- Simon Malls are now temporarily closed.
- Super7 stores in San Francisco and San Diego are temporarily closed.
- Target is reducing hours and will close by 9 p.m. daily to aid in stocking and cleaning. The company will also make the first hour of shopping each Wednesday available only to what it’s calling “vulnerable guests.” This includes the elderly and guests with health concerns. The company is closing all Target Cafés, Pizza Huts, snack bars, beverage bars, Starbucks seating areas, and condiment stations in stores. The company also withdrew its financial guidance.
- Toys “R” Us (Toy Retail Showrooms) has temporarily closed its two concept stores in Paramus, New Jersey, and Houston, Texas.
- Toys “R” Us Canada and Babies “R” Us Canada have closed all 82 stores until further notice. The company debuted a Stay-at-Home Play Initiative with various family fun packs available for sale online.
- Walmart: 24-hour stores will operate on reduced hours from 6 a.m.- 8:30 p.m. until further notice. The move will increase time for associates to better stock and clean each store.
Movie theaters in some cities have been ordered to close while others are limiting ticket sales for social distancing. Following a two-decade low in ticket sales during the second weekend of March, Universal revealed plans to release some films currently in theaters and a selection of upcoming films as digital rentals that will begin streaming the same day as their theatrical screenings. This began with DreamWorks Trolls World Tour, which had a variety of toys and consumer products already available at retail.
Other films with toys and consumer products affected include:
- Black Widow (Marvel Studios): The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been postponed until November . Toys from Hasbro, LEGO, and others are already on shelves.
- F9 (Universal): The ninth installment of The Fast Saga has been pushed back a full year. Mattel, Jada Toys, and LEGO are among the licensees with toys tied to the release, which is now slated for April 2021.
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony/Columbia Pictures) will now be released on March 5, 2021. The film was slated to be released this July. Hasbro is the master toy licensee and some products have been spotted at retail already.
- Minions: The Rise of Gru (Illumination/Universal) has been pushed back to July 21, 2021. The film is not yet complete and the animation studio is temporarily closed. Toys from a variety of licensees including Mattel, LEGO, Just Play, and others debuted at Toy Fair New York and will begin hitting retail this summer.
- Mulan (Disney): The live-action remake of the animated classic already had its world premiere in Los Angeles but is now postponed until July 24. A collection of dolls from Hasbro is already at retail.
- Onward (Disney and Pixar) hit theaters during the first major weekend to be hit by reduced theatrical attendance. The film was released as an early digital rental and joined Disney+ on April 3. Toys from Mattel are at retail.
- Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Sony/Columbia Pictures): Originally set for an April 3 release, the CGI-film will now come out on Jan. 15, 2021. A publishing program from Penguin Young Readers has already been launched.
- Scoob! (Warner Bros.) will go straight to digital on May 15. New toys and other products from Basic Fun!, Funko, and others are available exclusively at Walmart.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) received an early digital release on March 31. Toys from Jakks Pacific are available now.
- Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) has been pushed to December. Mattel revealed its Matchbox line of die-cast vehicles and playsets at Toy Fair. Action figures and vehicles from Lanard Toys are hitting Walmart now.
- Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.) has been pushed back to August. Licensees include Mattel and Funko.
THEME PARKS AND AMUSEMENT
Companies that service the amusement, redemption, and attractions business will be impacted by the following closures.
- Cedar Fair theme parks will delay opening until at least mid-May.
- Disneyland: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are closed indefinitely.
- Legoland locations in the U.S. are temporarily closed.
- Seaworld theme parks are temporarily closed or will have delayed season openings. More than 90% of the workforce has been furloughed.
- Six Flags theme parks are temporarily closed or will have delayed season openings. The company will reopen using an advanced ticketing reservation system.
- Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando: Universal’s theme parks are temporarily closed. CityWalk in Orlando has begun reopening with social distancing in place.
- Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris: Both Disney parks closed starting on March 15 and will remain closed indefinitely.
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Burbank, California-based tour for all things Warner Bros. has temporarily closed out of an abundance of caution. There is currently no word on when it will reopen.
Post-coronavirus reopenings have begun at parks in Asia. Legoland Japan has reopened on a limited basis. Shanghai Disneyland remains closed, but adjacent properties including Disneytown, Wishing Star Park, and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel have reopened with limited operations.
For additional pop-culture related cancelations and postponements, visit the Pop Insider.
Do you have an update we should know about? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.