Source: Just Play/the Toy Book

In the Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A, Just Play‘s Co-President Charlie Emby addressed licensing partnerships, product launches for the year ahead, and more.

The Toy Book: How did Just Play respond to the early challenges presented by the pandemic?
Charlie Emby: The first order of business was to proactively close our offices to ensure the well-being of our employees and their families. Fortunately, we had spent the last 10 years setting up the organization virtually due to regular interaction with our global staff and partners, and we were quickly able to utilize and adapt these technological resources in additional ways, including virtual sales meetings and press events like Sweet Suite.

COVID-19 has changed both the way families are consuming content and the way they shop. It’s a true testament to the core competencies of our team and the strength of our partnerships that we have been able to adapt quickly to deliver the products consumers value. For example, we recognized a lack of children’s face masks in the market, and we worked with Nickelodeon, Mattel, pocket.watch, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. to launch licensed face masks at an accelerated pace while simultaneously partnering to donate to various COVID-19 relief funds, hospitals, and schools.

We also worked closely with Disney to introduce the Doc McStuffins Wash Your Hands Singing Doll that enabled parents to have discussions about healthy habits with their kids, while allowing us to give back through a charitable tie-in to Feeding America.

TB: Coming off of 2020, what do you look forward to in the year ahead?
CE: While we are definitely thankful for the way our team, partners, and industry managed through a challenging year, I think we can all agree we’re excited for 2021. We had a great launch with Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You! toys this past season, as it ended the year as one of the fastest-growing properties and a Toy of the Year finalist. There will be much more to come from this beloved property as we build to Blue’s 25th Anniversary celebration this fall with some hot new introductions.

There is a ton of newness coming from our Disney lines. New series will launch in Disney Doorables, as well as a line of toys inspired by the upcoming Disney Junior Mickey Mouse Funhouse series. Kids will be able to recreate their favorite adventures from the show with an all-new Mickey Mouse Funhouse Playset that is packed with features, as well as new vehicles, figures, plush, and role play from both our Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse lines. Our Ryan’s World line will be full of new surprises in 2021 with some licensed mashups and fun ways for fans to engage with toys developed with Ryan.

We also have some amazing new partnerships that will be announced later this year.


This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!