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February 10 - 17, 2023


Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!


All Aboard Friday!

Who's going to be on the ASTRA Toy Boat? I am! I'll be speaking with ASTRA's Jenna Stirling about our Young Inventor Challenge and a cool new opportunity for ASTRA members' toy stores to become Young Inventor Challenge hubs. More on the exciting program next week - it is a win-win-win for everyone! 

If you've heard about the LA Toy Fair Directory and room block and want more information, just send me a note! 

​Thank you for reading the Bloom Report. If you can't wait for the news to arrive each Friday, check out the Bloom Report 24/7 News Feed!


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  • "I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.

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Person of the Week - Jean Butler

Taking the Helm of the enCourage Kids Foundation

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(Mary) Congratulations on your new role as President and CEO of the enCourage Kids Foundation.  What drew you to the organization?

Thank you, it’s been exciting!  The enCourage Kids Foundation (EKF) had been part of Starlight Children’s Foundation, so I knew they had an established track record of high-quality, direct service programs for children in hospitals across the country.  In addition, the enCourage KidsFoundation’s mission of providing a different kind of healing touch to children dealing with cancer and other critical illnesses struck an emotional chord with me, and made it hard for me to pass up an opportunity to help expand their business and reach more children and families coping with the trauma of illness.  

How do you think you’ll incorporate your toy experience into this role? 

I will broaden our Board of Directors with executives from the toy and children’s entertainment industry who can lend valuable expertise and insight to advance our business objectives.  We have lofty goals, both domestically and internationally, which require additional resources and intellectual horsepower.  I know some thoroughbreds from the toy and game industry who could help us run the good race for a great cause!  We'll also develop strategic partnerships with companies who are eager to burnish their brands among consumer audiences; support an esteemed organization which does phenomenal work on behalf of children who are sick and in need; and willing to create innovative programs which are at the forefront of children’s healthcare.


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Company of the Week - Pockimals

Hilary Kurinsky and Dani Cupps Share their Journey to Success 

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Hilary is on the left and Dani on the right.

(Mary) We are delighted to have Hilary and Dani with us today. They are co-founders of Pockimals, a woman-owned children’s lifestyle brand featuring adorable mini plush animals, high quality clothes and fun accessories for kids ages 3-10 and for kids at heart of all ages.  Hi Hilary and Dani, where did the idea for Pockimals come from?


HK: It was holiday time, and my husband and I were having dinner with our girls.  We are a blended family and celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. We were dreaming up business ideas when my husband asked, “Why don’t kids’ clothing come with pockets for favorite loveys?” We laughed remembering the panic of the lost lovey during holiday travel, then I remembered we had a small plush teddy bear ornament on our holiday tree. I grabbed an old t-shirt, cut four holes in the pocket, pushed the arms of that teddy bear through the holes in the pocket, and we had our first “pocket-animal.” I showed that “Pockimal” to Dani and we launched a company together to solve the problem of the lost lovey.


DC: Soon after, while in lock down for COVID, we appreciated the broader opportunity to delight kids of all ages with a collection of Pockimals that button into custom designed pockets on t-shirts, hoodies, tunics, backpacks and more. Today, our line includes a collection of 12 Pockimals, clothing in six colors for kid sizes 3T to 9/10, and a junior size backpack. We put kids in charge to mix-and-match across the collection, at affordable prices for parents, grandparents and other gift givers.  READ MORE...

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Cartoon of the Week from...

Jon Vanderbeek, Sweet Spot Studio, Inc.

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Backstory on this amusing feature:  Bob suggested we add Cartoon of the Week to the Bloom Report and our readers are loving it! 

Have a cartoon or a joke to share with your colleagues? Send it to me at! Can't wait to see what you've got! 

Financial and Legal


Amazon Bets On Toy Design Design Studio Superplastic With Cash & First-Look Deal; Series Based On Crazed Janky & Guggimon Characters In The Works.  In 1967’s The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s fresh out of college Benjamin Braddock is told the future is in plastics. In 2023, Amazon is taking some of that advice to heart and betting some of its future on Superplastic. To be specific, that wager on the snarling character design...

Amazon to cut out distributors in favor of dealing directly with brands. The move is part of a new policy that will come into effect in January 2024, when Amazon will only deal directly with manufacturing brands. Amazon has advised Vendors of a revised buying policy, under the terms of which, it no longer intends to deal with 1P distributors. Many brands currently rely on distributors to reach customers via the online...


Saudi Arabia investment fund increases stake in Nintendo. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has upped its stake in Nintendo to 7.08 percent. Per Trading View, the fund backed by deputy prime minister and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud recently upped its stake in the game publisher and developer.  Salman's involvement in PIF has drawn scrutiny from observers, given he was allegedly linked...


UK regulator finds Xbox Game Pass eats into game sales. The UK CMA's newest report confirms that Xbox Game Pass has a negative impact on game sales. GamesIndustry found buried in the regulatory board's investigation into the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger a brief aside on how the popular subscription service affects games added to its library. .


Microsoft will attend EU hearing to defend Activision Blizzard deal. Microsoft will attend a hearing with EU regulators on February 21, 2023, to defend its proposed Activision Blizzard deal. The $68.7 billion merger is currently being investigated by the European Commission over concerns it could reduce competition within the game industry. In January, it was reported that Microsoft would be hit with an EU antitrust...


China considering further restrictions for young players. With only three hours to play on weekends and holidays, how else could China's government restrict game time for young players? China's government is reportedly looking to crack down even harder on game time for young players. According to the South China Morning Post, the government is aiming to "further improve the level of protection and bolster...



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Stories, Comments, and Advice


John Baulch, Toy World, UK - A ******* game changer … it’s the Friday Blog! I apologise if I tempted fate last week by saying we were all hoping for a more ‘normal’ year. It seems that my old friends at Amazon have decided to do their best to keep everyone on their toes. The eCommerce giant has announced that it will be cutting out distributors and dealing directly with brand owners in the European market,...

Nearly 78% of American teens are aware of the metaverse, but adoption could be a slow process, according to Dubai-based BrandTrends Group’s latest Kids Digital & Media Lives report. The research firm surveyed more than 200,000 people of all ages in 42 countries about the metaverse in December 2022.

Magic: The Gathering Becomes a Billion-Dollar Brand for Toymaker Hasbro. The fantasy card game has surpassed the sales of the 100-yr-old company’s other brands, including Transformers and G.I. Joe, but some are worried about the downsides of rapid growth. That milestone was achieved after 30 yrs of nurturing the game for longtime fans while finding ways to coax new players to pick it up. It was a “winning playbook,”...

Basketball legend Michael Jordan proves that it is better to give than to receive by making a record-setting donation of $10 million to Make-A-Wish America in honor of his 60th birthday on Feb. 17. The gift – the largest from an individual in the organization’s 43-year history – is Jordan’s latest show of commitment to the wish-granting organization that he has actively supported for more than 30 years.

***The above was posted after tBR starting sending***

Kidcos are choosing their own interactivity. DreamWorks, Hellosaurus and Gamisodes are crafting their own unique approaches to interactive content to meet kid demand for personalized content that makes them feel a part of brands. Interactive content isn’t new, of course—Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was making headlines five years ago. But interactivity is on the rise in the kids entertainment market, which is...


Never Alone explores five decades of video game history at MoMA. As the world around us becomes more and more integrated with technology, it’s easy to overlook how much our interfaces, and the programs we use, have evolved. From Windows and Mac icons to the ubiquitous power symbol, the design language of interactivity has become refined and ever more invisible.


The importance of LGBTQ+ representation in kids content. Producer and LGBTQ+ advocate David Levine maps out how representation has improved in kids media, which demo needs more content attention, and why allyship matters. Inclusion and LGBTQ+ representation in kids content has been on the rise over the past number of years. However, there are strong cultural headwinds fighting against this direction. 


INSIGHTS FROM OVERSEAS: THE TOY BOOK AT SPIELWARENMESSE 2023. Hallo! I attended Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg, Germany last week for the first time in my 20+ years at The Toy Book, and I’ll never miss one again. Spielwarenmesse, held annually since 1949 (with the exception of 2021-2022), is the largest international toys and games fair in the world. I’ve been told a million times over the years that this show is HUGE...


American Library Association’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table has released its 2022 Best Graphic Novels for Adults and Best Graphic Novels for Kids lists. The lists are curated by a committee of library professionals and students, and they cover graphic novels published in the second half of 2021 and all of 2022. The lists include over 100 selections, but the committee also chooses a top ten. Here they are...


4 toy industry predictions from 5 experts to carry into the rest of 2023. Experts are predicting a decrease in discretionary spending, more focus on social media and more. Time to dust off the old crystal ball and see what the year ahead holds for toy manufacturers and retailers … if only it were that simple. While industry insiders have their own vision on how 2023 will play out, they are inspired by the prospect of starting...

9 trending TikTok toys that will save your sanity this half term. These TikTok viral toys are sure to keep the kids (and you!) happy. Yes, we'll admit it. Half-term can be daunting. A week away from school can make any parent nervous, especially in February when the weather isn't on our side, and the kids end up spending most of their time cooped up indoors. Luckily for you, we have found some of the most popular viral TikTok...

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History and Nostalgia

Mattel Toys – Movin’ with Mattel catalogue (1976). The 1976 Movin’ with Mattel catalogue reflected a company in transition. At the time, Mattel was operating under a new management team led by former vice-president Arthur Spear. Roughly two years earlier, founders Elliot and Ruth Handler had been ousted from the company under a cloud of an S.E.C. investigation around false and misleading financial reports. 


I Dream of Jeannie Game from Milton Bradley (1965). Released in 1965 by Milton Bradley, the I Dream of Jeannie Game roll-and-move board game engaged players in a race to be first to place their magic discs on each letter of the word JEANNIE. The game was based on the I Dream of Jeannie television sitcom created by Sidney Sheldon, starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. 


Hub-Bubs Happy Hollow from Mattel (1975). Released in 1975 from Mattel, the Hub-Bubs Happy Hollow playset promised “a whole world of friendly folk” for young preschool-aged children. The playset encouraged imaginative play with seven animal figures, three buildings, and a mail truck. Dave is the toy enthusiast behind the Lucky Penny Shop YouTube channel established to offer hands-on demonstrations of vintage...


James Bond's Aston Martin D.B.5. Arguably the most famous Corgi Toy ever produced, this feature packed model was rush-released just in time for 1965’s festive season. In only seven weeks Corgi sold three-quarters of a million of this marvellous model, causing stocks to completely run out by Christmas Day. Despite this huge number (it went on to sell just under four million!), fully-working mint condition examples...

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Licensing and Entertainment 

Trefl inked a multiyear licensing deal with Hasbro to create a new range of puzzles designed “for kids and kidults” that will feature properties including Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, Transformers, Magic: The Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons. “Hasbro is the perfect partner for us,” says Kazimierz Wierzbicki, Founder of the Trefl Group. “We’ve had a long-term relationship with Hasbro that extends decades, developing...

Mattel inked a deal with Wow! Stuff to launch the “connectable collectible” brand at retail this spring. The small-scale hexagonal pods come with a licensed character figurine inside and can be connected using a patent-pending slot-together system. The line is inspired by Wow! Stuff’s Wow! Pods that launched two years ago.


Project X Entertainment and Titmouse have acquired the TV rights to Serena Minott’s popular kids book series The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete, and the California-based studios are working on an animated series concept that will encourage kids and families to explore different cultures.


Against a backdrop of corp. consolidation, changing demographics and media’s ongoing digital evolution, movement in entertainment’s upper ranks has shifted into overdrive.  In some cases, high-profile executives who have spent their careers at major media conglomerates are cashing in hard-won wisdom for gigs at smaller studios, driven by a longing to get closer to the action, return to their creative roots...


Hulu has acquired 11 shows featuring popular digital-first creatives, and the new content will start rolling out on the streamer this month. The buy includes Dan Rhodes Quick Tricks MiniMash, a package of the teen magician’s short tricks; Kids Diana Show Ultimate Mishmash; and LankyBox Ultimate Mishmash, where best friends play Roblox games and make parody videos. It also covers content from...


***The above posted after February 17th***


Crayola and Dan Dee, a plush maker, are partnering to bring plush experiences to the Crayola lineup. The licensing agreement is expected to include plush, home decor, and additional products that combine Crayola’s crafting and Dan Dee’s plush design, such as the Color Me plush that kids can draw on directly with washable markers. 

'My Little Pony: Adventures in Equestria' expansion announced. Renegade Game Studios announced Princess Pageantry, an expansion for My Little Pony: Adventures in Equestria, for release into retail in March 2023. The new expansion adds Celestia, Luna, Cadence, and Shining Armor to the list of playable characters. Each of these characters offers new mechanics and abilities for players to utilize. 

The Lego Group’s latest set is a tribute to global pop icons, BTS.  The Lego Ideas BTS Dynamite set, designed by a Lego fan, features the band on the video set of the global smash-hit single “Dynamite”, which when released in August 2020, reached over 100m views in less than one day, and a billion views in just eight months, giving the band its first number-one single in the United States. 

IMG brokered a new licensing deal between The Topps Co. and Automobile Club de l’Ouest for a new line of collectible trading cards inspired by 24 Hours of Le Mans. Under the new deal, Topps — the physical and digital trading cards and collectibles co. within the Fanatics Collectibles organization — will issue trading cards featuring artwork from original race posters spanning a full century from 1923 to 2023.


Paramount has decided to roll the 20-sided die on John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. The studio has signed the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves filmmakers to a multiyear first-look deal. The duo will write, direct and produce feature films via their newly launched production company, GoldDay. 

Universal Pictures has started work on a How to Train Your Dragon live-action movie, with Dean DeBlois, the filmmaker behind the original animated trilogy, returning as writer, director and producer. The project has already begun the development process, and Universal is planning a March 14th, 2025 release. The new movie will be adapted from the trilogy of movies from DreamWorks Animation which were released...

Design-led lifestyle brand Scatterbrain Studios has appointed Larkshead Licensing as its Global licensing agency. Scatterbrain is a quirky brand featuring a raft of characters including brand mascot Mr Kitty and patterns from the creator of Letters by Julia, Julia Broughton. Scatterbrain’s colourful and charming characters are featured on a successful range of greeting cards, available on

Gold Valley Films will attend EFM 2023 in Berlin to showcase their latest original animation film, Little Emma, which was recently awarded the MPA Asia-Pacific Cooperation Special Award for best work-in-progress at the Beijing International Film Festival. There are two screenings of the film’s first 50 minutes on the 16 and 18 of February. In addition to Little Emma, GVF will also be presenting at EFM Nils: The New Adventure...


Turkey’s Fauna Entertainment and Guinness World Records/GWR Studios in the UK are teaming up to develop a new animated series called Brody Luckystar. This is the first animated project from GWR Studios (Guinness World Records’ production arm), which opened its doors last October to develop new kids and family content. 

Falcon’s Beyond, a leading fully integrated global ent. dev. co. specializing in IP creation and expansion, has announced that Katmandu Park | Punta Cana, its forthcoming world-class theme park, will officially open to the public on March 15, 2023 with tickets on sale now. The new park in the Dominican Republic features cutting-edge, first-of-its-kind rides and attractions...

EA is reportedly close to signing a £488 million ($588.6 million) licensing deal with the Premier League so it can retain its exclusive electronic game license. According to Sky News, the deal will run for 6 yrs and would allow EA to include Premier League teams–including major clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea–in video games such as upcoming FIFA...


Paramount and Spin Master have gathered together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the hit pre-school animation Paw Patrol. Pam Kaufman, president and CEO of International Markets, Global Consumer Products & Experiences at Paramount, said: “We’re incredibly excited to be celebrating 10 years of Paw Patrol with Spin Master Entertainment at our London HQ. This is a momentous occasion that...


Ageless Innovation, a global company devoted to reimagining how we positively live and age together through the power of play, has joined forces with Hasbro to create new gaming experiences specifically for older adults and their families. Ageless Innovation will be the first-ever Hasbro licensee dedicated to enhancing the lives of older adults through classic gameplay.

Game developer Gamefam has announced a partnership with Paramount Consumer Products and Nickelodeon that will bring two fan-favourite franchises – SpongeBob SquarePants, the most-watched animated series for almost two decades, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one of the most popular kids’ franchises – to Roblox.

Cyber Group Studios, a leading producer and distributor of animated series for children and families worldwide, best known for its award-winning preschool show Gigantosaurus, has expanded its relationship with Splash Entertainment, the multi-award-winning children’s entertainment studio, to include exclusive distribution of the co.’s entire catalog of shows, including original Splash series Chloe’s...

CBC Kids has commissioned a second season of 2D-animated series Jeremy and Jazzy, produced by Toronto-based Vérité Films. Aimed at three- to seven-year-olds, the 55 x two-minute show is “composed” of musical shorts that explore various ways music is intertwined with daily life, and how feelings can turn into songs.

Unicorn Entertainment Limited, Tencent Video, along with independent IP creators and distribution company Epic Story Media Inc (ESM) are bubbling-up to launch the newest 3D animated preschool series, Bubble’s Hotel. Created by Korean native, Narae Ha (Rainbow Ruby), and written by Vancouver-based showrunner, Nancy Lees (Slugterra), the show marks the first collaboration between the companies that...

Invisible Universe has partnered with podcast studio Audio Up to develop original music for its recently launched preschool brand My Friend Lovie.  Next up, Invisible Universe plans to move the IP into publishing, longer-form content, games and consumer products, according to a release.

Maurizio Distefano Licensing, Italian agent for the hit pre-school shows Bluey, Masha and the Bear and Bing, has highlighted the growing success of all three titles on the leading Italian linear kids’ channel Rai YoYo, its on-demand service Rai Play, and numerous other platforms. In fact, Rai Yoyo has now increased Masha and The Bear’s presence to 11 episodes per day. 

MORI – the award-winning sustainable baby and toddler lifestyle brand – has launched a collaboration with the much-loved World of Peter Rabbit in a licensed deal executed by Penguin Ventures on behalf of brand owner and Beatrix Potter publisher, Frederick Warne & Co (now part of Penguin Random House). 

Korean animation studio MOSTAPES has teamed up with PGS Entertainment and toyco Aurora World to finance, develop and produce a 2D-animated preschool series showcasing a seemingly evergreen kids TV theme—dinosaurs. Dinosally & Friends featuring the simplistically cute designs and bright colors that characterize all MOSTAPES projects—is about a group of young dinos learning to draw, play music...

Peacock is commissioning two new animated series and renewing a third, continuing its commitment to originals that give its content offering for kids a unique feel. The US streamer has ordered CG-animated series Tea Town Teddy Bears (26 x 11 minutes) from Thailand’s M2 Animation. Rob Hudnut, Mads Munk and Torsten Jakobsen are executive producers on this series for kids ages four to seven about three teddy...

DeAPlaneta Entertainment and Fourth Wall’s award-winning, hit animated pre-school co-production Milo launched on Chinese screens at the end of January via Mango TV. This latest release consolidates the international strategy rolled out for the show, which is already broadcast on four continents, including the UK. Milo is continuing its global expansion with multiple licensing deals, covering several categories...

Asmodee unveils Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game. This March, Star Wars fans will be able to get their hands on Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game, from Asmodee and Fantasy Flight Games. A fast-paced game that brings the galaxy-spanning war between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance to tabletops, Star Wars...

United Smile appointed as Zoonicorn’s master toy licensee. Toonz Media Group and Zoonicorn have entered a new partnership with United Smile, a boutique toy company, as the new worldwide master toy licensee for the global preschool property, Zoonicorn.  United Smile will develop and introduce an assortment of Zoonicorn toys, beginning with a range set to launch globally in spring 2024.


Disguise announces ’Minecraft’ contract extension. Disguise, the costume division of toy and consumer products manufacturer, JAKKS Pacific, has announced its partnership renewal with Microsoft, making it the only costume partner for “Minecraft.”The company will retain worldwide rights to continue to design, market, manufacture and distribute Halloween costumes and Halloween costume accessories for the Minecraft...


Playmobil debuts cult classic Citroën 2CV. Affectionately called the “duck” in Germany (after a journalist described the model as an “ugly duckling” at first sight) and “tin snail” in English, the Citroën 2CV is an iconic French car. Joining Playmobil’s collection of classic cars, the legendary Citroën is recognisable the world over. The model was so popular that it was chosen as part of a list of Cars of the 20th Century in France in 2002.


Fairytale Beginnings: Spotlight on Magical World of Anboran. Spotlight appointed to expand licensed merchandise range for Ronnie Anderson Jr.’s fairytale book series starring characters of color. For Ronnie Anderson Jr., sharing his Anboran fairy tales with the world has been a magical, heroic journey. It is a journey that began when Anderson, a laboratory scientist, realized he could not find new, original, fairy tales...


Genius Brands’ Frederator Network inks content deal with Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed just inked an exclusive, first-look content deal with Frederator Network, a division of WOW! Unlimited Media, owned by Genius Brands International. Under the new deal, Genius Brands’ Frederator Network has the first right to develop and produce long-form series based on digital properties created by the BuzzFeed Animation Lab.


Pocket.Watch extends deal with Roku. inked a new deal with The Roku Channel Kids & Family, an ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) streaming service with family-friendly content. The deal will bring four new content specials and one new series to The Roku Channel. The partnership kicked off with The Roku Channel’s launch of Ryan’s World Titan Universe Holiday Adventures on...

Lion Forge Animation Taps All-American Licensing for ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’. Lion Forge Animation has signed All American Licensing & Management Group (AAL) as the exclusive North American agency to develop a comprehensive portfolio of products tied to Lion Forge’s new animated television series “Iyanu: Child of Wonder.” 


JAKKS Pacific reveals new toys inspired by ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’. JAKKS Pacific has revealed more from the line of toys coming to retail on Feb. 26 for the new film from Illumination and Nintendo, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” arriving in theaters on April 7. The licensed products from JAKKS Pacific include movie-inspired mini figures and playsets, 5-inch premium figures, 7-inch feature Bowser...

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People of Play

Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO and one of the most prominent women in Silicon Valley, said she was stepping down from her longtime role leading the internet’s most popular video service. Ms. Wojcicki’s departure signifies an end to the early, pioneering days of YouTube and its parent co., Google, and adds to a lengthening list of women who have left senior roles at big Silicon Valley companies in recent years. 

***The above posted after February 17th***


FAO Schwarz hosted author Megan Hess this past weekend for a book signing event to precede the release of her latest book and associated merchandise. Megan Hess is the author and illustrator of the Claris “The Chicest Mouse in Paris” books. The little mouse visits all sorts of places in the series, the latest being NY. In Where is Claris in New York, Claris gets to see the iconic FAO... 


In this week’s episode of the “Power Kid Podcast,” host Phil Albritton  welcomes Evan Katz and Josh Roberts of Very Special Games to the show. Katz and Roberts deliver intel on the guerrilla warfare tactics required to self-produce games. They launched their first successful game, Charity Party, on Kickstarter in 2019 and have since built a catalog of games including Ransom Notes, Abducktion, and Puns of Anarchy.


Pipeline Studios (Alma’s Way) has hired Jane Crawford as its first-ever SVP of production and operationsIn this newly created role, Crawford is tasked with managing Pipeline’s growth plans and overseeing operations in Canada, Latin America and Europe. She will also support the expansion of the company’s development and production capabilities. Based in Toronto, Crawford officially started this month...


London-based Two Daughters Entertainment has hired former Hasbro exec Finn Arnesen as its first-ever COO.  Arnesen started in his new post last mo., and is responsible for creative/commercial strategy, driving revenue growth and original IP oversight. He reports to CEO and founder James Reatchlous, who set up Two Daughters last year to manage and expand on the success of his CG-animated series Moley.


Toy designer Jim Swearingen will join the Rotary Club of Florence on Feb. 13 to share an overview of his career with Kenner Products, working on products such as the Star Wars toy line, Easy Bake Oven, and PlayDoh. Swearingen was born and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and as a child spent many Saturdays taking art lessons at the Cleveland Art Museum, and later in high school the Cleveland Art Academy. 

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Companies and Brands

Mattel and Family Entertainment Live are teaming up again to create another touring experience based on a classic brand. Following the success of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live, the companies have tapped Full Stop Productions to create and design Monster High Live. The news comes on the heels of the Monster High reboot last year.


Melissa & Doug is taking a new step towards sustainability. The company is partnering with PCs For People, a national nonprofit dedicated to recycling old technology, refurbishing them, and donating or selling them at low cost to families in need. “We are excited for the potential impact that our retired technology can have for families in need,” says Mike Macrie, CIO of Melissa & Doug.


Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the co. is launching a new broadcast chat feature on Instagram called “Channels.” The feature lets creators share public, one-to-many messages to directly engage with their followers. Channels support text, images, polls, reactions and more. Zuckerberg announced the feature by starting his own broadcast channel, where he plans to share Meta updates going forward.


From Toymaker to Dealmaker. Despite inflation hitting consumers’ wallets, there are still some things people will spend money on no matter the economic conditions, like toys. This is why companies such as Moose Toys find it a good time to look for acquisitions. We spoke to one of the company’s executives in an interview. The team is led by the firm’s global head of business development and industry veteran, Giles Musker.

Mother-Daughter duo works to bring diversity to the toy industry. Melissa and Esi Orijin, founders of “Orijin Bees”, have created Black and Brown dolls with the hope of teaching kids to embrace their natural features.WATCH ...


Lego is the world’s most valuable toy brand for a ninth consecutive year, according to a new ranking from independent brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance. Lego, which accounts for a quarter of the value of the whole ranking, saw a 24% yr-on-yr brand value increase to $7.4b. It is worth more than 4 times as much as the next most valuable brand, Bandai Namco. Behind Lego, US toy brands dominated the top 10...


***The above was posted after tBR starting sending***

‘Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts’ Trailer Drops During Super Bowl With Mirage Making Debut. The trailer for Paramount’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the latest installment of the franchise based on the Hasbro toy line. Steven Caple Jr directs the new pic, which hits theaters June 9. The plot is driven by a ‘90s globetrotting adventure with the Autobots and introduces a new breed of Transformer – the Maximals – to the...


Following years of success in developing toys inspired by Jurassic World, Mattel is bringing another dinosaur back into toy depts around the world. Barney is being prepped for a major comeback as Mattel promises “a comprehensive revitalization of the Barney brand” that will begin next year with the debut of an all-new animated series. From there, the Barney relaunch will extend beyond TV and across film, YouTube...

Fun in Motion Toys is adding even more designs to the Shashibo Puzzle Cubes.  The Shashibo Puzzle Cubes feature 36 internal magnets and can be manipulated to create new shapes including cubes, pyramids, and more. Each move reveals new patterns and images as the user folds, unfolds, and shapes the cube. This yr, Fun in Motion Toys added 2 new lines of Shashibo Puzzle Cubes to its collection: the Holographic Series...

Cloudco Ent., owner of entertainment property Care Bears, and world-renowned dept. store, Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, are pleased to announce the launch of France’s very first Care Bears Pop-Up, in a deal brokered by Sagoo. The Care Bears, lovingly referred to as “Bisounours” in the territory, collaboration celebrates over 40 years of “Sharing and Caring” and features a high-end...

World’s Smallest is a highly collectible miniature toy range featuring iconic toy brands such as Barbie, Rubik’s Cube, Hot Wheels, Lite Brite and more. Already an official UK distributor for Hasbro, Mattel, Spin Master, Jazwares and Moose Toys amongst others, A.B.Gee is now able to offer the World’s Smallest range to its customers. “We are very excited to be introducing World’s Smallest into our portfolio of brands,” ...

The Madame Alexander Doll Company launches its yearlong Centennial Celebration, commemorating its 100-year legacy of Madame Alexander dolls as part of American childhood. Madame Beatrice Alexander is a true American original and pioneer in American history. In 1923, she founded the Alexander Doll Company, which would revolutionize the doll industry. Today, her legacy lives on as the Madame Alexander...


Douglas’ newest Baby Ensemble has got everyone all a flutter at Douglas. The soft toy maker and lifestyle gift creator has recently added Bria the Butterfly to their swarm of baby ensembles. Douglas has 18 Baby Gift Ensembles in all. Bria the Butterfly is a beautiful addition for baby. Her rounded plump pale pink body holds up two glorious mint green wings embroidered in lavender accents. 

IMC launches eco-friendly Cry Babies sub-brand Little Changers. The launch of the new Little Changers sub-brand is one of the latest expansions to sit within the hugely successful Cry Babies brand, which is also experiencing a growing licensing roll-out for Cry Babies Magic Tears. Consisting of six characters – each representing a natural element of the Earth – the Little Changers sit within their own flower-shaped capsules...


Genius Brands International is harnessing AI tech as a primary resource for Kidaverse Fast Facts, a new educational series of two-minute shorts. Targeting kids ages four to 11, the series centers on three smart kids—History Henry, Science Sally and Sporty Steve—who impart bite-sized knowledge on a variety of subjects.

Aqua Dragons by World Alive has announced the release of a new animated video, a celebration of 10 years of Aqua Dragons and the love that families have shown for these unique and educational pets. The video features a catchy song and animation, created by @dakotasheperd and @hopscotch, that will engage and educate kids about the life cycle of Aqua Dragons.

Wham-O, the company known for classics such as the Frisbee, is celebrating 75 years of toy-making. Wham-O got its start in 1948, initially selling slingshots and similar toys. Now, the company represents a number of household toy brands such as Frisbee, Slip N Slide, Hula Hoop, Hacky Sack, and more. 

Melissa & Doug – recharging imaginationsCatching up with Fernando, and Francisco Anselmi, managing director International, at UK Toy Fair – Fernando’s first visit after taking up the role three years ago – Toy World heard how Melissa & Doug is raising its brand awareness, particularly in the UK, where the company says it “started getting serious” in 2009. The company launched just over 30 years ago, with int'l expansion starting...


The Lego Group, which took the top spot in Superbrand’s list of favourite UK brands in 2019 and 2018, has narrowly missed out to to luxury watchmaker Rolex, coming in in a very respectable second place this year. The results of the 2022/23 survey place Lego ahead of electronics giant Samsung, payment option Mastercard, and tech manufacturer Apple, which complete the Top 5.

Toys for Tots had a record-breaking year for its 75th anniversary in 2022. The U.S. Marine Corps’ premiere community action program distributed 24.4 million toys, books, and games to a record 9.9 million kids last year. There were local collection and distribution campaigns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

Carrera is celebrating 60 years of designing slot car races this year. Carrera sets vary across car types and themes, with police chases, race car races, and licensed racing sets from a variety of popular brands. The company focuses on both kids and “kidult” racing fans. The Carrera First sets are designed for younger slot car fans, with sets appropriate for kids as young as 3.

Mattel Makes A Play For Collectors With Super Bowl Little People. At the Super Bowl on Sunday, quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes will be competing for more than titles and championship rings. They also will be battling for a chance to see themselves immortalized as Fisher-Price Little People figures. Mattel is using its Mattel Creations special edition platform to give fans a chance to order collectors sets...

The Pokémon Co. International launches Pokémon Together brand campaign. Every year on Feb. 27, Pokémon fans around the world celebrate Pokémon Day by trading cards, building a community, and sharing their love of Pokémon with others. This year, The Pokémon Co. International is launching the Pokémon Together brand campaign to encourage trainers to share their love of the franchise with others.


World of EPI launches Fresh Fairies evoking a new and authentic Bantu knots, Puff Balls, and more. Doll maker World of EPI reimagines winged pixies and fairies from folklore with the Fresh Fairies. Each of the collection’s 3” tall dolls have been created with the same tender care and attention to detail as all of the award-winning Fresh Dolls’ brand that spotlights ethnicities from around the world — and in our neighborhoods. 

Lookout Games will release 'Patchwork' Spinoff into U.S. retail. Lookout Games will release Stack'n Stuff: A Patchwork Game, a spinoff board game, into retail on February 24, 2023. In Stack'n Stuff, players assume the roles of mover trying to find a way to pack up a moving truck. They have to pack up the truck, in a cost effective and efficient manner, before daylight runs out. 


Dinosaur monsters trample their way into 'Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG' new 'Wild Survivors' expansion. Konami Digital Entertainment announced Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG: Wild Survivors, a new booster set, for release into retail on June 2, 2023. This new 60-card booster set features new Dinosaur monsters to add to Extra Decks; including a Fusion, a Synchro, and an Xyz Monster. It also introduces three new strategies for duelists to explore.

Rio Grande Games unveils '1930: The Golden Age Of Airlines'. Rio Grande Games unveiled 1930: The Golden Age of Airlines, an airline economics game by Alex Sorbello, which will be coming soon to retail. This game is set in the early years of the aviation industry. Players assume the roles of aviation investors, promoters, and presidents that are looking to make their fortunes. 


New 'Warhammer 40,000: Combat Patrol' incoming. Games Workshop revealed Combat Patrol: Astra Militarum, for Warhammer 40,000, which will be on preorder on February 18, 2023. The new Combat Patrol: Astra Militarum features a group of dependable troopers and heavy firepower. This patrol is led into battle by a Cadian Command squad with 20 Cadian Shock Troops in tow.

'Revive' civilization with new board game by Matagot; coming to retail. Asmodee will release Revive, a new board game by Matagot, into retail on March 17, 2023. In this game, civilization was destroyed 5000 years ago, and players need to lead their tribe in exploration of the frozen earth. To survive, they will have to harness the resources of the land and recruit survivors to help build factories.

Bezier Games offers 'Blueprints of Mad King Ludwig'. Bezier Games has announced Ted Alspach’s Blueprints of Mad King Ludwig, set to release in February next year. Architects will once again compete for the favor of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in a new game from the creator of the award-winning Castles of Mad King Ludwig, this time in a “flip and draw” format.  

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Hogwarts Legacy has got off to a very big start at UK games retail, and is comfortably the No.1 game of the week (GfK data). It is the biggest launch for any Harry Potter game ever, with sales 64% higher than the previous best -- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from 2001. In fact, the biggest week for a Harry Potter game wasn't a launch week at all, it was the second week of the Philosopher’s Stone...


Bayonetta 3 hits 1 million sales in under four months. Bayonetta 3 has sold 1 million copies in less than four months. The Nintendo Switch exclusive launched on October 28, 2022, and according to developer PlatinumGames is now officially a millon-seller. Platinum previously indicated the franchise wouldn't exist in its current form without the aid of Nintendo, which published Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U in 2014...

Highlighted Press Releases


WEIGHT, WHAT? NEUROLOGIST SAYS GIVE A FLUFF SO KIDS FEEL/SLEEP BETTER AT HOME & AWAY WITH FLUFFYWEIGHT CAT, DOG. Portland, OR (February 17, 2023) – When a child reaches for their favorite stuffy, their world just feels better.  But some children (and kidults), perhaps dealing with neurodivergent attributes (anxiety, ADHD or autism or sensory processing disorders) need a bit more heft to their toy. Say hello to FluffyWeight weighted Cat, Dog ($78) and FluffyWeight Puppy ($48). Parents who gave a fluff reported fewer child meltdowns, smoother bedtimes and overall wellbeing in the house and on the run in a scientific study coast to coast!


***The above posted after February 17th***


Trade Show Ventures, run by Christine and Alan Blumberg, have partnered with industry veteran, Lea Culliton, former president of HABA and Chairman of the ABC Kids Expo, to create the North East Toy Show (NETS), designed to bring manufacturers, retailers, buyers and key accounts together in Feb., where there is a void in Northeast trade shows. NETS will run from Feb. 11-February 13, 2024 in Springfield, MA.


Grand Prix International and Floship Collaborate for Efficient Crowdfunding Fulfillment. A Collaboration Between the Two Companies Allows Ease of Fulfillment Leading to Fewer Delays and Cost Savings. [Springfield, MA], February 14, 2023 –Grand Prix International (GPI) and Floship have joined their collective expertise to provide toy and game companies a friction-free shipping process to crowdfunding backers.  The ability to ship products from Southeast Asia, where manufacturing occurs, to backers anywhere in the world saves both time and money. 


WITH DIVERSITY ALL AROUND US, FRESH FAIRIES EVOKE A NEW TALE WITH THEIR AUTHENTIC BANTU KNOTS, PUFF BALLS, HEAD WRAPS & AFROS  Say Hello To 3” Fairies Ambrosia, Bella Rose, Merri, Sugar Bae & Sunny Arriving March 2023 At Target,, and Amazon. San Diego, CA (February 13, 2023) — Doll maker World of EPI reimagines winged pixies and fairies from folklore with the Fresh Fairies ($6.99). Each of the collection’s 3” tall dolls have been created with the same tender care and attention to detail as all of the award-winning Fresh Dolls’ brand that spotlights ethnicities from around the world — and in our neighborhoods. These whimsical fairies have the sweetest facial expressions, adorable poses, plus authentic Bantu Knots, Puff Balls, Head Wraps, Afros and Afro Puffs hairstyles.


LITTLE KIDS INC. & WORLD OF EPI HOP ON KIDSTUFF PR’S CAROUSEL AS AGENCY OF RECORD. Thousand Oaks, CA (February 8, 2023) — KidStuff Public Relations founder Lisa Orman announced today that Little Kids, Inc. and World of EPI (Entertainment, Publishing and Inspiration) have retained KidStuff PR as their agency of record. Both beloved and respected brands will now have KidStuff PR handle its media, social and influencer relations, effective January 2023. In addition, small businesses Fireside Games and FluffyWeight are joining as clients in February 2023. 

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Safety and Counterfeiting


Senators talk about upping online safety for kids. This year they could do something. Senators from both parties are once again taking aim at big tech companies, reigniting their efforts to protect children from "toxic content" online. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, they said they plan to "act swiftly" to get a bill passed this year that holds tech companies accountable.

Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals

14th Annual Kidscreen Awards Announces Winners. At a high-profile 14th Annual Kidscreen Awards ceremony hosted by drag performers and child educators Fay Slift and Fluffy Soufflé ( stars of The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy) and exclusively sponsored by the Canada Media Fund, the year’s best work in children’s television and digital media was singled out and celebrated tonight by the global kids entertainment community. 


The finalists of the Bologna Licensing Awards, the prestigious awards of the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair, have been announced. The products of all the Bologna Licensing Award finalists projects will be on display throughout the fair at the BLTF/Kids Awards showcases located in the BLTF/Kids zone at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Hall 29 – Mall 2. The winners will be announced at the BLTF/Kids Awards Ceremony...


On March 8, the toy community has the opportunity to showcase their newest products at The Play Date, the jointly sponsored event from Adventure Media & Events and The Toy Association. And now, the two have announced new events in partnership with Women in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment (WIT) to celebrate International Women’s Day, which happens to take place the same day. 


IP creation and innovation topline Kidscreen Summit day one. Delegates were moved to laughter, tears and business inspiration as first-day speakers stormed the stage at Kidscreen Summit 2023. There’s no “i” in team, but there were plenty of them at Kidscreen Summit on Monday, as innovation, intentionality and improvisation emerged as the themes of the day. 


KidsOut helps child victims of abuse who have had to leave home for the safety of a refuge with nothing except the clothes on their backs. This year’s Toy Fair welcomed back KidsOut as the show’s charity partner for the end-of-show Trolley Dash for the sixth year running. The Trolley Dash once again marked the end of a successful Toy Fair, with exhibitors kindly donating 5,000 toys and games to the KidsOut...


UK Autumn Fair, which will take place from the 3rd–6th September 2023, sees the launch of Connect @ Autumn Fair. Endorsed by leading UK retailers, the organisers say this is a transformational new approach to buying, designed to revolutionise the traditional trade show model by connecting retailers and brands on a scale never achieved before.


Reassurance over Istanbul Toy Fair in aftermath of earthquake. Istanbul Toy Fair has reassured exhibitors and visitors that the show will open its doors as planned following the devastating earthquake, which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria. Spokesman Reyhan Alemdar said: “Istanbul Toy Fair will open its doors on 28th February with 192 brands, 158 companies and company...

The Toy Foundation secures toy donation & financial aid channels for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief. In anticipation of the toy industry’s collective interest in responding to the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, The Toy Foundation (TTF) has secured partners for toy donation deliveries and for bringing direct financial aid to on-the-ground organizations. 

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.  For those we lost in 2022, may they rest in peace and play.

John Sepenuk - Co-Founder and CEO of Cryptozoic Entertainment. The following is a tribute from Nico Blau, President & CEO at BOTI Ltd & BOTI Europe BV:

Earlier this week I was informed my dear friend and former colleague John Sepenuk passed away. I was blown away, couldn't believe it and felt a deep dark colored emptiness. 

John died while he was exercising one of his favorite passions, kite surfing. He was only 54 yrs young and is now survived by his wife Tania and their beautiful young son Brandon. 

It is hard to imagine only 2 weeks ago we had a couple of beers and shared some memories and jokes at my booth in Nurnberg.

John and I met in June 1999 in Carlsbad, California where we were both working for Upper Deck. John was running Asia and I was in charge of Europe. John was charismatic, smart, funny, good looking and he spoke fluent Japanese and Mandarin. When John walked into a bar, not only his good looks would catch the attention of the ladies, but his dark brown voice would make them melt: "Hi, I am Jaaawn, how'you doin'...?" 

He lived in Japan for a couple of years and even made it to become a sushi chef. 'Seppi' as many called him was flamboyant and entertaining. He loved life and loved to walk the line. One of his claims to fame: ‘At Upper Deck I was fired 2 times, but hired ... 3 times!’

It was not very difficult to get fired at Upper Deck. Richard McWilliam kept 100's of bullets in his office. Each one holding a name of one of the employees. John had at least 5 bullets with his name on it. If you caught McWilliam at a bad moment..bang! were "gunned down". Richard never re-hired people he fired, so for John to be fired twice and hired 3 times was a major achievement (according to John). The truth was John had unique skills and in the relationship with the Japanese Seppi was crucial.

McWilliam would always brag that he and only he made Konami grant Upper Deck Company the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG distribution rights. The reality? It was John who made it happen. Like many others, also Konami didn't like Richard (at all) but the alternative options weren't much better and Upper Deck had John. Seppi did the trick and no-one else. He never got the credits for it. In Nov 2008, John decided himself to leave Upper Deck for good. The paradox: Richard McWilliam had only 1 bullet left, this one carrying his own name.

The truth was you couldn't stay angry with John, even though he would cross the line from time to time. He loved life too much, he lived it to the max and people loved John for that. 

Seppi died at age 54, but he didn't leave a stone unturned, so I would argue he lived his life twice. I am sure he had much for more fun than those preaching a healthy, monotone & religious life stile in the hope they turn 100+ years. I am not sure what is better. John wouldn't want to miss anything, and he didn't.

And now God is having his hands full dealing with John in heaven.

John Sepenuk RIP

 #cryptozoic #johnsepenuk #upperdeck #licensing #toys #konami #yugioh

Dave Hollis, Former Disney Distribution Exec, Dies at 47. He led the studio's theatrical distribution operation from 2011-18, playing a key role in the 'Avengers' series and the relaunch of the 'Star Wars' franchise. A charismatic executive, Hollis led theatrical distribution at Disney from 2011-18 during an unprecedented winning streak for the studio. He played a key role in the relaunch of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the Avengers series, Frozen and Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster superhero film Black Panther (2018).

During Hollis’ tenure, Disney experienced unprecedented box office growth, in 2016 becoming the first studio to cross the $7 billion mark in global ticket sales in a given year.

Hollis surprised many in 2018 when he announced he was leaving Disney to relocate his family to Texas to run his then-wife Rachel Hollis’ company, home of podcasts, conferences and TV shows. Rachel Hollis is an author, motivational speaker and social influencer.

He revealed in his 2020 self-help book, Get Out of Your Own Way, that he had found himself morose, at odds with his wife and drinking too much toward the end of his Disney tenure. “There is something unbelievably liberating about owning the truth of my experience,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.

The following year, he wrote a second self-help book, Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant For, that chronicled his difficult, public divorce and personal reckoning.

He most recently published the children’s book Here’s to Your Dreams and had a podcast, Rise Together. He was a large part of an online fitness and transformation community with his partner Heidi Powell called Get Fit. 

Denni Rivette - A Tribute from Steve Rehkemper: A Vietnam Veteran and a toy industry veteran, Denni Rivette, passed away in Hong Kong on January 20, 2023 at the age of 80. Denni was a gifted illustrator and product designer throughout his long career which started in the 70's at Marvin Glass and Associates where he created many playful products, one of which has endured the test of time and is still sold today, the Hot Lips Telephone. After leaving Marvin Glass in the early 80's, Denni started a design consultancy in Chicago where he worked for many toy and consumer products companies. One of his earliest independent playthings was called Glazers, a squirtgun built into sunglasses. In the 90's Denni moved to Hong Kong to work for Tai Nam Industrial Co Ltd where he designed a continuous stream of toys across all categories for countless customers until he retired in 2007. Denni is survived by his wife Tammy Leung and was an extremely happy fun loving person until just days before his passing.

Worldwide Magazines Weekly Top Stories

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Toy Trade Monthly Issues​​

Adventure Media & Events (US)

aNb Media (US) 

Toyworld (UK) Powered by Toyworld


ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

Games Workshop Sales Flat in North America
Rolling for Initiative -- Games Workshop Woes
Gale Force Nine's 'ALIENS' Core Board Game Returns to Stores
'Disney Lorcana' Graded D23 Collector Sets Sell for Big Money on eBay
Holy Grail Games Folds
Delve Deeper into the 'Advanced Dungeons & Dragons' 'Monster Manual'
'Adult Lunar Dragon' Descends Upon 'D&D Icons of the Realms'
Preview: 'D&D Icons of the Realms: Honor Among Thieves - Monsters Boxed Set'
'Axis & Allies: WWI 1914' Returns to Retail
Games Workshop Announces Price Increases on Some Products

Nación Juguetes (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile & Spain)

The Bugg Report (Australia)


​On vacation! 

Casual Game Revolution

News Flash: Roller Coaster Rush Announced, Dixit Disney
Pandasaurus Games has announced a roller coaster building game, Dixit is getting the Disney treatment, and 25th Century Games has released a new card game.

Video of the Week 

Azhelle Wade Interviews Rachele Harmuth about M.E.S.H.
Check out the
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