New report highlights a greater need for diversity and inclusivity across toys and games

Family-focused marketing agency Kids Industries (Ki) has launched a new report today exploring the concept of diversity and inclusion amongst children and their parents – and what this looks like in the toys and games that they engage with.

The survey – carried out across 2,001 parents of children (aged 5-15) in the UK and USA – paints a picture of rising concerns among parents over screen time, yet also acknowledges how they appreciate the benefits of digital play. There is however a desire from parents for more inclusive toy and gaming attributes.

When it comes to the toys their children play with, parents are looking for skills support the most

What parents notice: Parents would like more opportunities to play as a family (38 per cent) and 35 per cent would like to see toys that focus on imagination. Another important observation was that parents are looking for toys made from materials that are better for the planet (33 per cent).

Key issue: Parents are busy people and 21 per cent say that they struggle to always find the time to play, watch, or do things with their child that they enjoy (rising to 27 per cent amongst US parents; 16 per cent in the UK). With that in mind, parents are keen to support their children’s skills development and 40 percent would like to see more toys that help with traditional education, such as maths, and the same number would like more toys that help with ‘soft’ education such as problem solving.

Moving forwards: In terms of representation, parents would like to see no differentiation between “girl” and “boy” toys (22 per cent) and an increase in positive role models (37 per cent).

More ethnically diverse toys were a desire for 22 per cent and 17 per cent wanted to see better disability representation. Better LGBTQ+ representation sat at nine per cent.

Parents want to be involved in children’s video games

What parents notice: 46 per cent of all parents feel that screen-based play is good for their children’s development (42 per cent of UK parents versus 49 per cent of US parents). 57 per cent of parents also recognise that digital play is relaxing for their child and 56 per cent say that it puts them in a good mood (rising to 62 per cent amongst US parents – UK sits at 51 per cent). They also feel that digital play expands the things their children are able to see and do (56 per cent). 52 per cent felt that it enables their children to be more creative or imaginative also.

Key issue: Over four out of five parents (84 per cent) feel that their children spend too much time in front of screens – consistent across all ages (5-7 – 83 per cent; 8-11 – 85 per cent; 12-15 – 84 per cent). They’re also concerned that screen-based play leads to less socialisation (42 per cent) and feel that it limits the things their children can see or do (17 per cent).

Moving forwards: Parents would like more opportunities to play as a family (37 per cent – 39 per cent in the US and 35 per cent in the UK) and 31 per cent are keen to see new and innovative ways to play and interact.

Again, there’s a strong desire among parents for more positive role models in the games their children play (41 per cent) along with support for games that provide soft’ education such as problem solving (37 per cent) and traditional education such as maths skills (31 per cent).

Having games that include better disability representation is of interest to 18 per cent of parents and 11 per cent would like to see better LGBTQ+ representation.

Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Kids Industries and Children’s Commissioner for Products of Change, commented: “Play underpins everything that our children will become – it is as Maria Montessori said: ‘The work of the child.’

“Our research indicates that 67 per cent of parents feel their children’s schools are good or excellent when it comes to their diversity and inclusion policies and approaches which shows there is much more work to be done. We must listen to children and parent voices and ensure their needs and wants are reflected in the toys and games that they consume.

“Nothing is more important than protecting and promoting a child’s right to play and making those play experiences the very best that they can be is essential and something that the industry needs to give serious consideration.”

Toonz Media Group partners with Leadbelly Productions for Creepy Candy

Global kids and family entertainment major Toonz Media Group is partnering with Leadbelly Productions to co-produce a brand-new animation property: Creepy Candy.

Developed by multi-award-winning creator and founding president of Leadbelly Productions Alan Jude Summa, Creepy Candy is targeted at children aged 4-11. Season one of the 2D animation show will include 26 x 3-minute episodes and is slated to launch in October 2022. The project’s first phase will also include a 30-minute Halloween special episode to be released in October 2023.

Creepy Candy is a unique property that offers us immense opportunities to explore beyond series development,” says Toonz Media Group CEO P. Jayakumar. “Our idea is to develop this property into a 360-degree brand that includes digital media shorts, mini-movies, consumer products, and other L&M avenues.”

Licensing veteran and CEO of NXT GEN Brand Marketing, Debi Rosenfeld, will work with Toonz on building the brand in the consumer products market.

“We are excited about our partnership with Toonz Media Group, to bring the Creepy Candy story and characters to life in a new animated series and Halloween special,” says Alan Summa. “For years this space has been content with the usual traditional holiday programmes. Creepy Candy is bringing something new and fresh to captivate the imaginations of children and adults alike. We’re bringing the fun and excitement of Halloween all year round! The special is scheduled to air in October 2023 and promises to be a new classic for this popular time of year.”

Debi Rosenfeld adds: “I am thrilled to be working with the Toonz Media Group and the Leadbelly Productions team to partner on the consumer products programme. We will be supporting the team by building a robust merchandising and licensing portfolio with key manufacturers and promotional partners. The Creepy Candy animation series and Halloween special will be packed full of fun, with its spooky candy characters and their creep-elicious adventures, and is sure to delight and captivate young fans around the globe.”

Creepy Candy is the tale of a bag of candy accidently left behind in a spooky old library. On Halloween night the candies mysteriously come to life and are joined by host spirit, Ty Poe, who haunts the old library. The result is a creepily comedic adventure with the candies frantically trying to avoid being eaten by the delightfully wicked librarian, Miss Page Turner.

The show will be distributed worldwide to television and OTT partners by Toonz Entertainment, the distribution wing of Toonz Media Group. Toonz will also leverage its digital ecosystem, social media and existing partnerships with AVOD platforms to build the Creepy Candy brand.

The Hut Group debuts new Swizzels collection

DTC platform The Hut Group has added Swizzels Matlow to its portfolio of brands.

Brokered by Blonde Sheep Licensing, the deal includes multiple sweet-inspired products including apparel, homewares, gift, and more, which first launched in February with ranges on,  and

Swizzels is the largest independent British-owned manufacturer of sugar confectionery in the UK and is still run by members of the families who founded the business back in 1928. The company makes a range of well-known products including Love Hearts, Squashies, Refreshers, Drumstick Lollies, Rainbow Drops, Double Lollies and Fruity Pops.

“It’s great to see the range of on-demand products available through various websites,” says Natasha Dyson, Managing Director at Blonde Sheep Licensing. “The Hut Group is recognised for selling the biggest on-trend brands, so we’re thrilled to be part of their portfolio, which offers the opportunity to get Swizzels products directly into the hands of fans both old and new.”

Blonde Sheep Licensing continues to investigate other opportunities for Swizzels in categories including jewellery, toys and food.



DeAPlaneta and GO-N to co-produce Monster Shaker

DeAPlaneta and French production company GO-N Productions have signed an agreement to coproduce Monster Shaker, the TV series adaptation of the books by Mr Tan and Mathilde Domecq, published by Editions Gallimard.

Monster Shaker (52 x 13’) is an epic adventure comedy, in which 9-year old Justin discovers his grandfather’s cocktail shaker. The magical object allows him to create extraordinary, crazy creatures with incredible powers, but it must be kept secret, no matter what, in case it falls into the wrong hands… 

The first season of this zany series for 6-10 year-olds, comprising 52 episodes, will launch on TV and in France in 2023. The accompanying YouTube channel will broadcast selected episodes. 

DeAPlaneta and GO-N Productions are also working on key initial merchandise categories, including shaker toys, and collectible cocktail shakers “complete with all the crazy monsters featured in the show”. 


Rocket Licensing gears up for Beano’s 85th anniversary

Having begun its story in 1938, Beano has become one of the most recognisable British brands of all time. In 2023 it celebrates a momentous 85 years since it first hit newsstands, and Rocket Licensing is preparing a celebratory range of consumer products to mark the milestone.

Now the world’s longest-running weekly comic, Beano has recently reported its fifth year of consecutive sales growth, and with more than 28 million Brits having read the comic as kids, it’s unsurprising that it boasts 84% brand recognition amongst children, and a whopping 94% recognition amongst adults.

The special birthday will be commemorated by the brand across the year with a special comic issue, a national press and media campaign, schools’ activity and special appearances from the comic’s celebrity fans. More details of the celebrations will be announced soon.

Rocket Licensing, which manages the rights for the property in the UK, is preparing an exciting schedule of consumer products and events not only to mark Beano’s birthday, but to celebrate Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx and the Bash Street Kids, who will be celebrating their 70th anniversary milestones, and The Numskulls, who will be marking their 30th anniversary.

The celebrations follow in the wake of Dennis’s 70th celebrations, which saw fans young and old join in the anniversary fun and Dennis trending worldwide on Twitter across the year. Beano also won the inaugural Children’s Magazine of the Year at the 2021 PPA awards.

Beano will, as always, be supporting World Book Day 2023, with licensed products and categories planned to feature in-store during this important seasonal window including new Beano book releases from Farshore, dress-up from Rubies and nightwear from Aykroyds.

Charlie Donaldson, Joint MD at Rocket Licensing, says: “Beano is part of the culture of Britain, and we’re thrilled to be able to honour the brand’s 85th birthday next year. Dennis’ 70th anniversary in 2021 was a huge success and the nation celebrated in style with a range of fabulous products and events. We’re planning even more excitement for 2023 and are looking forward to working with existing and new partners to ensure the anniversary is one to remember.”

Vanessa Andreis, Franchise Planning and Partnerships Director, Beano Studios, adds: “2023 is going to be Beano’s biggest year yet! Kids and their families won’t be able to miss our celebrations as we commemorate both the iconic comic and our incredible characters which are so loved.”

As part of the celebrations, the brand is also delighted to launch Beano: The Outdoor Game, in partnership with the Outdoor Gaming Company, for families all over the country. Starting with London and Dundee, followed by other major towns and cities over the coming months, the game will see families help Dennis find Gnasher in their local town or city by solving clues, completing tasks, and answering questions.


Floral Street expands Van Gogh Museum partnership with home fragrance collections

In 2021, the collaboration between British “clean” fragrance brand Floral Street and the internationally renowned Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, introduced vibrant vegan fragrance Sunflower Pop to the world. Following its success, the partnership is extending, in summer 2022, into two ethical home fragrance collections.

Once again inspired by Van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers (1889), and also by his Almond Blossom (1890), Floral Street and the Van Gogh Museum have endeavoured to capture the mood and emotion of these renowned masterworks through the sensory experience of home fragrance.

“So many loved our bright and happy Sunflower Pop fragrance, that they wanted their homes to smell like it too,” says Michelle Feeney, Floral Street’s founder. “But this time we have also been inspired by Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom, creating two different facets of his masterworks. Van Gogh brought the plants to life visually and we are bringing them to life in our clean fragrances.”

Bursting with optimism, the new Sunflower Pop home collection evokes the warmth of Provence, while the serene Sweet Almond Blossom range boasts a fresh aroma reminiscent of the first buds of spring, bringing a tranquil and mellow ambiance to the home.

Ian Wickham, director at Licensing Link Europe – which represents the Van Gogh Museum in the UK and Ireland – is excited to see the home fragrance collections’ impact at retail. “This extension to the Floral Street range has been as carefully planned, researched and considered as the launch of our Sunflower Pop fragrance, so we are all hugely excited to see the reaction when the range goes live,” he says. “The team have done an incredible job.”

The collections include vegan wax candles made from sustainably sourced rapeseed and coconut oil, with unbleached cotton wicks; naturally derived vegan oil diffusers; 100% plastic-free scented reeds and non-toxic, alcohol-free room fragrances, with products presented in exclusively designed FSC certified recyclable packaging.

Marijn Veraart, Licensing Manager at the Van Gogh Museum, says:  “We’re so proud of this range extension to the already incredibly successful Sunflower Pop parfum. Moving into home fragrances was the obvious next step and we are all hugely excited by these new developments. A huge thank you to an amazing team who have worked so hard to make this a reality.”




Fans invited to explore Wimbledon in the metaverse

In partnership with American Express, the All England Lawn Tennis Club has announced the official launch of The Virtual Hill, a virtual companion experience to the Wimbledon live event.

A day on The Hill is a bucket-list fan experience. The Virtual Hill provides fans worldwide with the chance to share in this unique tradition via a social interactive experience. Fans can create their own personalised avatar, test their Wimbledon knowledge and learn more about the tournament and its history in daily quizzes, pick their own picnic spot, rub shoulders with other visitors from around the world, or invite friends and family to explore the Hill with them.

While reacting to matches with emojis and sharing moments directly to social media, fans can take on daily missions around the Hill for the chance to earn WimbleCoin and daily prizes.

For American Express Cardmembers, alongside exclusive avatar items and picnic blankets, the Virtual Hill features an American Express Lounge and experiences. These include ‘The Andy Murray Experience’, where they’ll be able to go on a quest with the Virtual Sir Andy and capture a selfie, and ‘Up Up We Go’, a hot air balloon experience through which they’ll have a special aerial view of the Hill and a sneak peek into the hidden items around it.

American Express Ambassador Sir Andy Murray says: “The Hill is one of Wimbledon’s most treasured traditions, and I’ve certainly hugely appreciated the atmosphere fans on The Hill add to the Wimbledon spirit. Making sure we create the same type of feeling and passion in the virtual world is critical to driving engagement with fans who don’t get to be here, and so I’m really proud to be part of the Virtual Hill. Make sure you track me down and I’ll set you some challenges to complete while you’re there.”

Shiz Suzuki, Vice President, Global Experiential Marketing & Partnerships at American Express, says: “Recreating special memories is an important part of what we want to bring to tennis fans this year during Wimbledon, and the Virtual Hill is an important example of this. We can’t wait to celebrate our fourth year partnering with The Championships, and to give fans across the globe access to the iconic Wimbledon Hill, in its virtual form, to experience their own unforgettable moments.’

“The Hill at Wimbledon is one of our most iconic traditions, and, in partnership with American Express, we are thrilled to be immortalising that experience through the Virtual Hill,” adds Alexandra Willis, Communications and Marketing Director at Wimbledon. “Making sure we are always finding new ways to reach and engage with fans is a critical part of our strategy, so whether it is choosing your outfit, or taking on the daily missions, or simply just having a lovely picnic, we hope everyone enjoys this innovative experience in celebration of Wimbledon 2022.”

Beyblade Burst to debut at Anime Expo this weekend

Japanese IP Specialist ADK Emotions NY Inc. (ADK) has confirmed that Beyblade Burst will be making its debut at Anime Expo 2022, the world’s biggest anime convention, which takes place in Los Angeles from 1–4 July, 2022.

Visitors to the consumer-facing event, a celebration of Japanese pop culture, are invited to visit the Beyblade Burst panel, which will feature screens showing the latest Beyblade Burst animation and a quiz where participants can answer questions to win a prize. The brand’s interactive booth will feature a free play area for some casual Bey-play and a stamp rally game where participants can collect stamps by winning matches. Formal tournament battles will also run throughout the weekend where players can battle it out for the chance to win a Swag Bag complete with toys, pins, stickers, merchandise, and limited-edition t-shirts.

A spokesperson says: “ADK Emotions is excited to make an interactive space for creators and fans to come together and celebrate in person, bringing the tournament atmosphere to the largest Anime Expo in the world.”

With the brand’s continued success including Beyblade Burst QuadDrive airing on Disney XD, ADK Emotions is enjoying the rise in popularity of the anime genre and is committed to exploring global growth opportunities for the franchise.

MeteoHeroes and Real Madrid join forces for summer workshops

Mondo TV Studios, part of Mondo TV Group, one of the largest European producers and distributors of animated content, has announced that the popular video game based on award-winning hit kids’ animation MeteoHeroes – a series co-produced by Mondo TV S.p.A and Meteo Expert – will be playing a leading role in the kids’ summer camp taking place at Real Madrid City, the world-famous football team’s training complex.

The aim of the Campus Experience Football and Responsible Gaming camp is to offer a unique experience that encompasses football training, gaming activities and the encouragement of positive values. With this in mind, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has announced a programme of PlayStation Talents activities at the event, which will open its doors to thousands of girls and boys from all over the world from 3–15 July 2022.

The Responsible Football and Gaming programme is an opportunity the Real Madrid Foundation offers boys and girls aged 9 to 12 to combine their two passions – football and gaming – in a responsible way and with a strong educational component.

PlayStation Talents is playing an important role in the programme with activities centred on various PlayStation titles including MeteoHeroes – Saving Planet Earth.

These activities will include entertaining and informative sessions and activities incorporating an environmental theme. They will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 July to 16 July and will accompany the training programme prepared by The Global Esports Academy, a benchmark esports academy in Spain.

This year the show has arrived in multiple Latin American and Portuguese-speaking markets and, thanks to the exclusive partnership of the show’s co-producers with mega hit-maker Kenn Viselman (Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine), also made its broadcast debut on PBS in the US with an Earth Day Special. As a result of a deal struck between Viselman and Adventure 2 Learning, MeteoHeroes will debut in 30,000 schools across America this autumn, impacting as many as 15 million children.The first series of MeteoHeroes is now available in over 20 languages and has been sold into or confirmed in over 145 countries. Starting in April, the second season of MeteoHeroes (52 episodes x 13′) had its world premiere on Cartoonito in Italy, where season one is already among the most successful Cartoonito children’s series. MeteoHeroes has enjoyed similar success in Spain on Clan.

The MeteoHeroes videogame, like the TV show, builds on the unique value proposition of the MeteoHeroes brand, one that combines an important and valuable message about climate and environmental issues, and ways to protect the planet, with fun and entertainment.

MeteoHeroes – Saving Planet Earth invites children of all ages to join the much-loved characters from the popular environmentally themed TV series in a fun action platform game. There are enemies to escape from, fast-moving adventures and multiple locations on all the world’s continents, where players have to find hidden items on the screen that will help them rid each city of pollution and decay.

The MeteoHeroes videogame has been available worldwide on PlayStation and PC (STEAM platform) from 28 February. It is expected to start launching in retail stores in autumn 2022. Release dates and territories will be confirmed later this year.

The video game is a co-production between Sony Interactive Entertainment España (SIE España), development partner Gammera Nest and Mondo TV Studios. It can also boast the support of PlayStation Talents in its area of PlayStation Alliances, the company’s programme that promotes the development of video games in Spain. Worldwide publishing is managed by PlayStation Talents, as well as communication, promotion and launch activities. North American distribution and marketing for the game is managed in partnership with The Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company, from producer Kenn Viselman.

MeteoHeroes is the only cartoon in the world dedicated entirely to climate and environmental issues. Each episode focuses on issues related to ecology and respect for nature through the adventures of six superpowered kids who can control weather phenomena.

Maria Bonaria Fois, CEO of Mondo TV Studios, says: This is an important opportunity for MeteoHeroes, both to let children known more about an excellent video game based on their favourite TV series and to highlight the message of the show about caring for the planet. We are delighted to be working with Sony and Real Madrid at this important and timely event.”


Trend-driven content agenda announced for B&LIS North America

Following Licensing Expo’s return to in-person events in Vegas this May – which welcomed a record number of retailers – the Global Licensing Group is shifting its focus to the Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit (B&LIS) North America, which aims to deliver thought leadership on trends as well as forecasts, retailer insights, spotlights on growth categories, and deep dives into digital and content innovation.

B&LIS North America trails the successful European launch held last year and is confirmed to make its debut on November 8-9 at Convene in New York City. The in-person conference is designed to connect senior-level brand licensing leaders and decision-makers for a two-day conference focusing on the future of consumer products, the changing retail landscape, and the importance of transformation.

More than 200 licensing, manufacturing and retail executives will gather at B&LIS for a content-rich agenda structured to incite peer-to-peer dialogue and inspire action to propel the $300+ billion global licensing industry forward.

“The licensing and retail industries are undergoing disruptive change, from navigating supply chain challenges, the rising cost of living impacting consumer spend, to unprecedented levels of content consumption,” says Anna Knight, SVP of the Global Licensing Group at Informa Markets. “There is so much to discuss amongst the industry as societal behaviors continue to shift and B&LIS is the perfect platform to do this. While it’s an exciting time that presents a huge amount of opportunity for the licensing industry, adapting to these changes comes with challenges that require cross-industry discussion. With B&LIS, we’re initiating this much-needed conversation and providing a platform to bring new approaches into play that will shape how people view, shop for, and engage with brands.

“We look forward to re-convening the industry at B&LIS in New York following a well-attended and productive Licensing Expo held last month in Las Vegas, where thousands met in person for the first time since 2019 to renew relationships with customers, sign new partners, and discover the hottest new IPs. Our large-scale trade shows are designed to facilitate deal-making and trend discovery and are perfectly complemented by the thought-leadership-driven nature of B&LIS. The licensing industry’s leading change-makers have the opportunity to apply their learnings from Licensing Expo at B&LIS for two days of trend-driven education, discussion, and debate that will inspire the next new ideas and creative approaches to brand extension strategies.”

Content for the 2022 edition is highly curated to reflect the industry’s leading challenges and explore new growth opportunities. The focus of the conference sessions, workshops, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities will touch on major issues impacting business today and into 2023. Themes of the agenda include:

  • Market Trends – Join market leaders exploring the dynamics shaping licensed products, current trends in consumer behaviour, and what those changes mean for the future. Through presentations and panels, decipher how to spot emerging trends and where the next opportunity lies.
  • Retail Disruption – Explore ideas and strategies that are changing the face of retail, from direct-to-consumer tactics to the impact of retailtainment and more.
  • Digital Advances – New technological advances such as NFTs and the metaverse have opened up new opportunities for licensed consumer products. Discover what these opportunities are and how to create these experiences. Reaching consumers has greatly transferred to the digital space and recognising the right platform to use is critical for business growth.
  • Sustainability – Through a series of panels and presentations, understand how to practically realise environmentally sustainable business practices in your organisation and what roadblocks you may encounter along your journey.

“B&LIS provides the rare chance to learn from industry greats and brainstorm amongst notable retailers and licensors to drum up new approaches that may become the next viral idea,” concludes Knight.

CLICK HERE to sign up for updates about B&LIS: receive an alert when registration opens to secure an Early Bird All Access Pass and enjoy a discounted pass; plus, be the first to know when the content schedule is announced and discover new networking opportunities.