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As we enter August, I've now been writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us (TRU) for 11 months - hard to imagine that last year at this time, the dominoes were just on the verge of tipping, as positive announcements like the launch of Spin Master's Rusty Rivets toys and the pending Force Friday II ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were still taking place. Of course, by September things were looking bleak, and my "Toy Killer" feature about Bain Capital setting-up TRU to fail and fall - just as they did with KB Toys - was published just 12 days ahead of their filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The eventual motion for complete liquidation just six months later would be a surprise to many, but the fact that the process of shutting down the company and selling off its assets keeps getting drawn-out is one that continues to surprise and pour salt in the wounds of many. I still hold firm in my belief that certain parties at the top never had any real intention of allowing Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us to continue here in the United States, and now it appears as though by the time it's all said and done, even the names my hold little value. Once again, the Intellectual Property Auction that would allow buyers to purchase the IP assets of the company has been postponed - this time until October. For those playing along at home, the initial plans for the auction were outlined back in May with the original plan set for a June 18 action... postponed until August 6, and now delayed once again. With each passing day, the TRU brand loses more and more of its value, but life without Toys "R" Us isn't necessarily as bleak as some may have thought. In fact, the NPD Group reports that toy industry sales are up more than 7% so far in 2018 with double-digit increases in the sales of youth electronics and dolls. Still, the saga of Toys "R" Us continues, and as I said during my panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, it's like an L.O.L. Surprise Doll in that there's just more and more to discover as each layer is peeled back...

The biggest event in pop culture happens this week, and for the first time ever, I will be making the trip to Comic-Con International in San Diego. After "covering from home" for the better part of a decade across several sites, I'll be appearing as a program participant for a special panel on Saturday, July 21, 2018. I'm a late addition to the lineup for Living in a Post-Toys 'R' Us World: Navigating the Future of Toy Retail. Having written at length about the collapse of Toys 'R' Us, this will be an exciting chance to take part in a discussion about what the future might hold! Details below...

It was almost a month ago exactly when I reported news that Toys "R" Us Australia was entering voluntary administration. Now comes news that the toy store down under will be facing the same fate as its U.S. counterpart, announcing this morning that they will close all 44 Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores in Australia, resulting in around 700 jobs lost. The first Australian Toys "R" Us opened back in 1993, with the chain gradually expanding nationwide and adding 11 Babies "R" Us locations to the mix. The most recent news in North America finds Canada moving forward at a brisk pace, while more than 115 parties have shown interest in picking up select IP assets from the U.S. operation.

In the interest of full disclosure, GameStop has been a great promotional partner and ally of The Rock Father™ Magazine over the past few years, as has their sister company, ThinkGeek. I feature their content often (I was even wearing ThinkGeek-supplied Marvel High-Tops to the World Premiere of Avengers: Infinity War) and do so not just because of our relationship, but because I'm a fan first and I like their stores. I hope I can continue working with them for a long time to come, but then there's some occasional rumblings... word that things on the business end aren't as sunny as they could be. They're facing some challenges, but I don't think it's beyond fixing - in fact, quite the opposite. They could be on the cusp of an evolution that could set them up for years of success, or they can bow to investor pressure and wind up in a leveraged buyout situation with private equity involved. If GameStop is playing with private equity (which they confirmed this morning), they might add a few extra credits to gain a few more lives temporarily, but the debt they may incur could have them facing a "boss" they can't beat, ultimately leading to a premature "game over."

As the saga of Toys "R" Us here in the United States just continues to drone along, it appears that the much-anticipated June 18th intellectual property auction has failed to happen. As filed on June 11, an extension was being sought that would place the auction on August 6, dragging things out for nearly two more months. Up north, however, things are looking bright for the folks at Toys "R" Us Canada, and they've wasted no time in getting things back to fun - welcoming customers with a message that they're "here to play, here to stay!"  With that comes a search for a "fun, energetic tween who loves to play with toys" as TRU Canada kicks off the search for its next Chief Play Officer (CPO). As the spokesperson for Canada's leading dedicated toy product retailer, the CPO is the toy expert for Toys "R" Us Canada and gets to share expert recommendations on the hottest toys and trends with parents and gift-givers from coast-to-coast.

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. 

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