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Thursday, September 13 2018 12:08

Kid CEO? Toys 'R' Us China has a New Army...

While Toys "R" Us is currently dead here in the States, Geoffrey lives on in other parts of the world, including China. What's of concern right now is that a growing battle between a couple of the very companies responsible for the swift collapse of TRU here in the States (led by Solus Alternative Asset Management, because "Soulless" was too obvious a name) may put the entire Asian operation at risk due to a fight over the use of the Toys "R" Us name. In the meantime, it's business as usual in the Far East, and the folks at Toys "R" Us China just wrapped their hunt for a "small CEO." Actually, about 150 of them - children dubbed as Honorary "Chief Experience Officers."

"Generations of children around the world have grown up with deep emotional connections to Mattel's brands and characters. There are so many stories to be told and so many imaginations to be captured by these iconic brands..." -- Robbie Brenner, Executive Producer, Mattel Films

There's a lot to be said about controlling your own properties and guiding their destiny. Marvel has done it... Hasbro has done it... now Mattel wants to do it. After years of bouncing projects around between various stages of development at numerous studios, Mattel has announced the creation of Mattel Films, a new division of the Company focused on developing and producing motion pictures based on the Company's iconic and globally-recognized franchises. Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner has been appointed to lead Mattel Films as Executive Producer, reporting to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel's Chairman and CEO.

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It wasn't long ago that The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Genius Brands had raised $4.5M to help give Rainbow Rangers a proper push ahead of the series' November 5 launch on Nick Jr. Now comes word that Genius has secured KIDdesigns to work on the development of a youth electronics line for the property, and Basic Fun!, who will develop a novelty toy line based on the colorful superheroes geared toward pre-schoolers. They join more than 20 licensees for the property, including master toy licensee Mattel, bicycle manufacturer Dynacraft, Jay Franco (bedding and bath), Disguise & Spirit Halloween (costumes) and more.

The holiday season continues to loom large on the horizon, and as the toy wars of 2018 continue, another player has entered the octagon - JCPenney! As the retailer continues their evolution and gets back into categories like baby products, this fall marks the one-year anniversary of their successful toy shops. Like many of my generation, the JCPenney Christmas Catalog was a must-read while growing up, and now a hint of that spirit is coming back as they unwrap their Top 20 Toys list, "inviting shoppers to discover the most popular toys sure to top kid’s wish lists this Christmas." The JCPenney Top 20 Toys will be featured prominently within a dedicated toys book, which will be delivered to customers’ homes in time for the holiday season and will include a sticker sheet enabling kids to mark the items they want from Santa.

In the toy world, one of the biggest happenings of fall is the arrival of Toy City. Launching now alongside Halloween City pop-ups in around 50 cities (I revealed the store list exclusively last week), this is Party City's big foray into filling the seasonal gap left behind following the collapse of Toys "R" Us this year. There've been many questions from both consumers and industry players alike, and as I mentioned in my recent feature at The Toy Book, the launch of Toy City was a hot topic during the Future of Toy Retail panel that I took part in at San Diego Comic-Con. So what will these stores look like? The Toy Insider's Jackie Breyer gives us a tour in this new video showcasing a Toy City location in the former Toys "R" Us in Rockaway, New Jersey. Check it out...

When I began writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us last summer, I had no idea just how deep the rabbit hole would go. In fact, I had no intention of writing much beyond my initial concern, and even a few months in, I was still sharing some of the public-facing statements issued by the company - that it was "business as usual" during the "restructuring." But it wasn't business as usual, and we all know what ended up happening. It's the summer of 2018, and in the United States, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" us no longer exist. One of my most widely-shared articles was published back on March 27, and in addition to news that a group of vendors led by Crayola was gearing-up for a fight and alleging "irresponsible and potentially illegal behavior" by certain executives at Toys "R" Us, I raised another concern: that numerous charities would be taking a potentially devastating hit. This week, I received word that ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) and Good360 have stepped-up to face the challenge with the launch of TOYS FOR JOY. Even more surprising was that I was told that it was my writing that inspired the movement.

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