Toys "R" Us: A Consumer Warning, A Buyer Walks and Employees "Rise Up" as Trouble Heads Down Under...Written by James Zahn
The Toys "R" Us saga gets bleaker by the day, and if it's not crystal clear at this point, "saving" the U.S. operations of the company was never in the cards. As I've been saying for awhile, the endgame is that Toys "R" Us as we've known it for the past 70 years is over. The name will eventually live on in a new form as a complete reboot much like we're seeing happen with FAO Schwarz and KB Toys. As for who will own it, that's still a mystery, though as I reported earlier this month, there are people interested - including a group that has the involvement of former TRU CEO Jerry Storch. One player that's out is MGA Entertainment's Issac Larian, who tweeted his disappointment after his repeated attempts at salvaging parts of the company were shot down.
Presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and Mattel
There’s several trends in toys for 2018, and Mattel has managed to tick the boxes on many of them with one new line - Pooparoos Surpriseroos, available only at Walmart. Coming out of Toy Fair back in February, the world knew that bathroom fun would be a big deal, and here we see that combined with squishy collectibles, micro-collectibles and the ever-popular element of both blind boxes and blind bags. Kids will love the unboxing experience that these provide, with each adorable toilet playset including one squishy Pooparoos character paired with three blind Surpriseroos. Check out our hands-on video to see five-year-old Finley (youngest of The Rock Daughters™) cracking some open!
2018 is the year of Legendary Pokémon, and to celebrate this epic occasion, families have a new ways to add some fresh characters to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon (full disclosure: We received copies of those games from the folks at Nintendo) the newest Nintendo 3DS games in the franchise. Legendary Pokémon are some of the most powerful and well-known Pokémon out there - and throughout the year, there will be multiple ways for kids to add them to their Pokémon Ultra Sun, Pokémon Ultra Moon, Pokémon Sun or Pokémon Moon game! For May, those are Yveltal and Xerneas, originally discovered in the Kalos region - and the FREE DOWNLOAD CODE to get them is only available at GameStop (an affiliate) through 5/27.
Back in 2015, Entertainment Earth (an affiliate of The Rock Father™) partnered with Funko for an exclusive glow-in-the-dark Pop! Vinyl Bobblehead of Thanos, based on his appearance in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy. A double-sized 6" figure, this version of the "Mad Titan" sold out quickly, but no one could've predicted just how popular Thanos would be three years later. Thanks to his finger-snapping villainy in Avengers: Infinity War, Funko and Entertainment Earth are doing a second run of the popular figure - the only 6" Funko Thanos that can currently be purchased new (an Avengers version sold as a Hot Topic exclusive is now only found on the secondary market). Pre-orders are open now with delivery expected in September.
Updated 5/21/2018 - Hopefully you were there for GameStop's most recent Pro Day Event, which took place on May 19 - another momentous occasion for Pros to buy games, gear, accessories, collectibles and more for super-low prices that are even lower than the low prices that they enjoy every day. You could say that Pro Day offers "heroic savings" during a single epic one-day event, and if the folks at GameStop were to go any lower they'd risk fracturing Earth's tectonic lithosphere plates. If you missed it, fear not! This is a perfect opportunity to become a PowerUp Rewards Pro or Elite Member and then keep an eye on the Pro Day site for when the next one will go down. In the meantime, The Rock Father™ and GameStop are teaming-up like Mario and Luigi to give YOU a chance to score a PowerUp Prize Pack right here! It's a chance to gear-up for summer with a sampling of items from some of the awesome companies that make Pro Day happen with brands you love like PDP Gaming, Funko, PowerA, Gunner Optiks and more. Ready to rock? Let's take a look at the latest installment of GameStop TV for a preview of some much-anticipated upcoming games, then enter for your chance to win below...
A Former Toys "R" Us CEO Surfaces as TRU Preps to sell Geoffrey the Giraffe, Dozens of URLs and Piles of Augmented Garbage...Written by James Zahn
Monday, May 14, 2018 marked the end for many employees working at the Toys "R" Us Global Resource Center in Wayne, New Jersey. While "several hundred" staffers are said to have stayed on as the wind-down of the U.S. businesses continues, there's the "highly unusual" early exit of many top executives, including Chairman and CEO David A. Brandon. "Unusual" seems to be the key word as this story just gets weirder... could former CEO Jerry Storch want back in on the Toys "R" Us action?
Toys "R" Us Workers Meet with Senator Bernie Sanders and March Against Private Equity as the Legacy of Geoffrey is Further Tarnished...Written by James Zahn
As the final wind-down of U.S. operations for Toys "R" Us continues, it should be crystal clear by now that saving the business and its 33,000+ workers was just not a real priority. If it was, the company and its lenders and ownership would've found some way to make it happen, but we knew as early as the beginning of February that Bain Capital was pushing for a full liquidation - and that's exactly what they got. The private equity industry is a scummy bunch, and when it comes to representation, that's even clear in their own lobbying organization, the American Investment Council, which softened its name over the years from the more ominous "Private Equity Growth Capital Council" and "Private Equity Council" to become the AIC. While these groups have powerful representation, it's the American worker that gets caught in the crossfire during leveraged buyouts and their eventual collapse, and in retail this is a group who is typically under-represented (I do not believe that Unions are the answer, but that's a lengthier story for another time). Retail workers - both hourly and salaried management included - are generally underpaid and lack any long-term benefits. In a situation like what's happened with Toys "R" Us, you have the people who've been doing the real work - the ones out there on the front lines - facing unemployment with no severance as they have to deal with the general public and the sad position of closing up shop. Meanwhile, you have Chairman, CEO and LinkedIn Enthusiast David A. Brandon still kicking around the increasingly ghostly halls of Toys "R" Us HQ in Wayne, NJ, having to ride things out until the very end as part of the terms of the $2.8M retention bonus he took in September of 2017, just days prior to the company filing bankruptcy. Today, a group of Toys "R" Us employees met with Senator Bernie Sanders in Washington D.C., later marching alongside representatives from The Center for Popular Democracy and Rise Up Retail as they took to the AIC in protest of private equity destruction at the hands of Bain Captial, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Vornado Realty Trust. Watch the video below...
Hasbro is getting into the micro-collectible blind box realm with a new collection called LOST KITTIES. There will be over 100 to collect beginning this June, and each will have their own mischievous interests as part of eight Lost Kitties "squads" including the #Nomz, #Cattitude, #WorkinIt, #ifIfits, #Adorbs, #ScaredyCats, #Cathletic and #NotFelineIt. Ahead of the launch, Hasbro has unleashed the first-ever Lost Kitties music video, called "Who'z Hidin' Inside" - a parody of The Knack's "My Sharona."
It took all of about twelve hours to happen - the first round of Coleco Evolved Mini Arcades hit Kickstarter and became fully-funded. Back in 1981, Coleco first issued their classic tabletop arcade machines - versions of arcade favorites like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, shrunk into miniature form by a suspicious character known as "Mr. Arcade" (that's how it happened in the commercials, anyway). These machines have become iconic, and now they're coming back in a new form, ditching the primitive calculator screen for a full-color LCD display that's powered by a powerful new gaming chipset. They've also chucked the C-batteries in exchange for a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, and the joystick and buttons have been revamped as well. The first two games available will be Rainbow Brite: Journey to Rainbow Land and Robotech The Macross Saga.
At The Toy Association's PlayCon in San Francisco, Ellia Kassoff, head of Strategic Marks, LLC, addressed toymakers and others about the plans for resurrecting the KB Toys brand in malls around the country. First announced back in March (with an update here), KB Toys will return as a new retailer rooted in nostalgia - and the plan is to do it starting with pop-up shops this coming holiday season. Prior to being destroyed by Bain Capital Partners (who also killed Toys "R" Us), KB operated under many variations of their name, including K•B Toys, K•B Toys Outlet, K•B Toy Works and Kay-Bee Toys between 1922 and 2009. With Toys "R" Us currently in the final processes of winding-down operations in the United States, the biggest question is how, exactly, will Strategic Marks be able to pull this off - and how it's going to be done in time for this year's holiday season. Today, Kassoff offered up answers - some of which came directly from members of the audience.
I feel so out of the loop on the Fortnite craze - I've never played it and don't even know where to start. Now comes news that Thanos is getting involved for a limited time mashup and I'm really tempted to jump in. As of today, the Fortnite x Avengers Mashup is live, and a short teaser has been released. Check it out below and then see if you have what it takes to control the Infinity Stones...
In honor of Star Wars Day, the team over at Lucasfilm has just unleashed a new clip from Solo: A Star Wars Story. In this new look at Ron Howard's upcoming film, we see Chewbacca and Han Solo taking control of the Millennium Falcon together as pilot and co-pilot for the very first time. Tickets for the film are also now on-sale via Fandango, so get yours ordered today!