Publisher World Book eyes toys, games, puzzles and more with JRL Group

The Chicago-based international book publisher, World Book, is looking is making its move into the toys, games, puzzles, and science kits space with the appointment of the brand licensing agency, JRL Group.

Under the partnership, JRL Group will develop a strategic licensing programme that leverages the global recognition of World Book brand’s core values of delivering education in engaging, informative, and inspirational ways.

Recognised as a leader in reference and education publishing for over 100 years, World Book offers up to date and authoritative information on topics from STEM subjects to historical and current events. The publisher delivers its content to customers worldwide through various media, including online, audio, mobile, eBooks, and print.

“The World Book licensing program will use our trusted and recognized brand to introduce exciting new products that are kid-tested and parent-approved. We look forward to working with JRL Group to establish World Book as a premier licensed brand,” said Geoff Broderick, World Book President.

Initial product categories include Toys, Games, Puzzles, Science Kits, Telescopes, Globes, School Supplies, Publishing, Interactive Learning Aids, Educational Audio and Video products, and more.

“World Book is a name that is synonymous with learning and education. We are honored to have been selected to represent such an iconic brand,” stated Andrew Lieb, president of JRL Group.

“World Book’s world-renowned name, coupled with its extensive library of articles, illustrations, and content, make this licensing program a truly unique opportunity. World Book is positioned to provide supplemental learning products that reach beyond the classroom in fun yet challenging ways.”

Zavvi teams with DUST! to launch ultra-exclusive pop culture puzzles range

The UK online retailer Zavvi has partnered with DUST! to launch a new limited-edition range of fully-licensed movie themed jigsaw puzzles, bringing the artwork of some of cinema’s best-loved cult classics to the jigsaw space.

The partnership witnesses the launch of 12 limited edition 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles, each featuring images and movie posters from a selection of popular film franchises, including Jaws, Back to the Future, Transformers, and Jurassic Park.

The limited edition puzzles are all 50cm by 70cm with only 1000 of each design in production worldwide, making the range ultra-exclusive. Each puzzle retails at £14.99.

The range is available to pre-order via Zavvi now. The retailer has urged fans to place their orders quickly before the limited product roll-out sells out.

Other designs in the collection include the 1982 sci-fi classic The Thing, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classic Comic Book design, a Back to the Future DeLorean Schematic, and a Twister Impossible puzzle, featuring the design of the classic party game of the same name.

Rachel Lowe launches Beano board game to celebrate 70 years of Dennis the Menace

The iconic British comic brand, Beano is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Dennis the Menace’s first appearance with the launch of a new board game developed by the award-winning designer, Rachel Lowe.

In a partnership secured by Rocket Licensing on behalf of Beano Studios, the new Beano game will bring Dennis and Beanotown friends together for a plethora of playable pranks and school playground humour.

Players will take turns to journey around Beanotown and try to complete pranks while avoiding being caught by the teacher. Perhaps a whoopie cushion will be dropped at Mount Beano or a custard pie will splat the walls of Bunkerton Castle? The player to prank six different locations first will win the game.

The game takes inspiration from the case and heritage of The Beano, the longest-running British children’s comic magazine which in August 2019 celebrated its 4,000th issue. 70 years ago, Dennis first appeared in the comic and has been loved by children and adults from around the world ever since.

As well as the game, a 200-piece and 1000-piece puzzle featuring more of the comic’s characters, including The Bash Street Kids will be released later in the year.

Rachel Lowe said: “Beano is an absolute classic with a dedicated fan base around the world. Dennis has one of the most iconic and recognizable faces – the messy black hair and that mischievous grin are what people love the most. I am thrilled to be working with the Beano team to create these new products to celebrate such a wonderful anniversary for a wonderful character.”

Vanessa Andreis, franchise planning and partnerships director, Beano Studios, said: “For 70 years, kids have read and laughed along with Dennis and now thanks to this incredible Rachel Lowe partnership, fans big and small can come together to test their own prank skills.

“We look forward to creating a range of games that generations of family and friends can come together to enjoy.”

The Beano board game is £29.99 and available from and now.

The new game is available alongside Rachel’s current range including Elf on the Shelf, Call the Midwife and WWE: Road to WrestleMania.

Released before Christmas 2020 and designed for all the family, The Elf on the Shelf game plays out the story of Scout Elves, who fly back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa who has been Naughty and who has been Nice.

The WWE: Road to WrestleMania game, released at Christmas 2019, is available with a 500-piece puzzle and playing cardsallowing WWE fans across the UK to become part of the electrifying global pop-cultural event. The products featured WWE Superstars including John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch and have been popular with WWE’s passionate fanbase.

Finally, the Call the Midwife products (board game, puzzle and playing cards) have continued to be popular in their third year of release.

Lowe said: “Call the Midwife is a show with a dedicated following and the new series later this year will be very popular. I will be looking to update the game and puzzle to keep it in line with the new characters and story lines coming in future series.”

NPD: UK toy market grows five per cent, fulled by games, puzzles, and kidult toy fans

The lockdown success of the games and puzzles market, a surge in the kidult market, and early Christmas trading all fuelled by the restrictions and implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, has helped the UK toy market hit a five per cent sales increase for its overall value.

According to the latest results from The NPD Group, total sales for the year hit £3.3 billion, helping the UK maintain its position as the largest toy market in Europe and the fourth largest in the world.

The biggest spike in toy sales of the past year came during the first nationwide lockdown, throughout which toy sales increased by 22 per cent. The NPD has cited the nation’s rediscovery of the value of play to stimulate children and adults, as well as alleviate pressures imposed by the stay at home messaging alongside the closure of tourism, hospitality, and leisure.

Games and Puzzles saw the highest category growth with a 19 per cent increase, as families spent more time playing together. Puzzles, which can be enjoyed both in groups and individually, increased by 38 per cent.

Building Sets and Outdoor Toys also experienced significant growth in 2020, growing by 18 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. Good weather in the spring and early summer lockdown provided opportunities for families to bring fun and add in some exercise to combat the increase in indoor screen time. They also had the benefit of helping to compensate for missed holidays at Easter and in the summer.

The periodic closure of schools also meant that many parents turned to educational toys for assistance to help bolster their children’s cognitive development. This drove a nine per cent increase in sales of Learning and Exploration toys such as Scientific Sets and Musical Instruments.

‘Kidults’ now responsible for more than one quarter of toy sales

In addition to these trends, the industry witnessed yet further evidence of the kidult market’s appetite for toys.

This adult and teen category now represents 27 per cent of total toy sales, up by 16 per cent since 2016. In 2020, with more time on their hands, kidults completed complex building set kits, played more games and entertained themselves with puzzles.

As this group tends to purchase higher priced toys, their buying power helped increase the average sales price of toys overall.

Meanwhile, with concerns over shortages of supply and of delivery capacity, people were urged to shop early for toys in Christmas 2020. The result was a very strong November for the toy market, that saw sales increase 11 per cent year on year. This was, however, followed by lower than usual sales in December – down nine per cent year on year – exacerbated by lockdowns in November and December.

Classified as essential retail and therefore able to remain open during lockdowns, grocery chains fared well for toy sales in the last two months, up ten per cent year on year.

Joining the click and collect debate, The NPD Group has said that online services ‘proved to be essential’ for retailers operating within the confines of lockdown and social restrictions. Britons moved online to buy their toys throughout 2020 as retailers adapted and maximised their omnichannel offering to reach them.

As a result, in the 12 months ending September 2020, online toy sales grew to almost half of all sales.

Frédérique Tutt, global industry analyst at The NPD Group, said: “The top 15 sellers of the year tell much of the story for toys in 2020. We turned to toys and games to help fill the long weeks of lockdown.

“Toys provided the hub for fun, entertainment, education, exercise and stress relief. They helped make the decidedly abnormal feel normal – especially at Christmas. Manufacturers and retailers worked hard to meet the need for toys of all kinds for all ages, shifting sales to online and Click & Collect, and to grocery chains to fulfil demand. 2020 accelerated changes already underway in the toy sector and underlined the importance of innovation, strong supply chain and channel management.”

Roland Earl, director general at the British Toy & Hobby Association, added: “2020 was an extremely challenging year for retail as a whole, and toy retailers of all sizes had to adapt and innovate in this difficult environment in order to ensure consumers could still obtain the products they require.

“The end of year statistics reflect the role that toys and games played in bringing enjoyment and assisting families and individuals to navigate the difficulties of repeated closures and lockdowns. Despite varying functions, objectives and age suitability, all toys are ultimately designed with one overarching goal – to bring fun, enjoyment and play value to the recipient and never has this been more important.

“Looking ahead to 2021, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic will remain for some time, though toy designers will continue to innovate during tough conditions to ensure families have access to the items they want and need.

“Brexit will continue to have an impact on all industries in 2021, and the toy sector specificially will continue with its thorough preparation following the deal announced at Christmas.”

NPD’s Tutt, concluded: “One thing is certain, the importance of playing together with toys, games and puzzles as a family, group or alone has been re-established during the lockdowns.

“Many people have also rediscovered the value of nature and the environment in the pandemic, and one encouraging sector trend is that green issues have come to the fore, and many manufacturers are reducing packaging and incorporating eco-friendly materials in their products.

“Finally, when cinemas hopefully reopen later on in the year, blockbusters will boost toy sales once again.”

The Point. 1888 secures raft of licensees for Moonbug’s CoComelon across books, arts & crafts, puzzles and more

The hit children’s brand, CoComelon has strengthened its licensing portfolio with the addition of no fewer than 11 new licensing partners, thanks to a slate of signings secured by The Point. 1888 on behalf of the pre-school IP owner, Moonbug Entertainment.

The brand extension specialist was brought on board in August 2020 as the master licensing agency across EMEA for CoComelon and other brands under the Moonbug umbrella, including Blippi, My Magic Pet Morphle and ARPO. Since joining, The Point.1888 has sought to build on the fast-growing popularity and awareness of CoComelon, signing licensees that will give the brand products to widen consumer engagement.

New licensees secured by The Point.1888 for CoComelon, include the clothing specialist, Poetic Brands, the underwear specialist Misirli who will produce CoComelon socks, Egmont Books as the master publisher for story, board, novelty, activity, and sound books, and children’s bedding specialist Character World.

Meanwhile, Crayola will create colouring and activity books, Alligator Products will expand on the Crayola offering with complimentary colouring and activity books, RMS International will produce CoComelon wooden puzzles, arts & crafts, bubble kits, and sensory toys, YWOW will create CoComelon branded collectable mini cube puzzles, Danilo will produce greeting cards, and Sinco Creations will produce accessories and playmates.

Finally, Zak will develop a line of lunchware.

These new licensees join CoComelon’s existing partners Jazwares and Bandai, whose products have already proven hugely popular since their launch in A/W as well as Wow! Stuff, Ravensburger, TDP Textiles, Aykroyds & Sons and Egmont Magazine all launching SS2021.

Becky Langer, senior commercial manager of soft goods at The Point.1888, said: “The broad range of deals we’ve secured ensures that CoComelon’s fast-growing audience can build a greater affinity with the brand and still get enjoyment from it even while away from the TV or iPad.

“The growth of the brand is phenomenal and we only expect this to accelerate once product hits the markets and consumers can fully immerse themselves in the world of JJ and the rest of the CoComelon gang.”

Simon Philips, senior in-house advisor, Moonbug, added: “It is great to watch the affinity for CoComelon grow globally and we’re thrilled to bring a broad range of experiences – from puzzles to clothing – to kids and families everywhere.”

Further developments in CoComelon’s EMEA brand licensing programme are to be announced in the coming weeks and the first products are expected to be in stores by January 2021.

Gibsons extends its partnership with Transport for London in new deal via the TSBA Group

Following record sales of its London Underground-inspired card game, Mind the Gap, the family owned jigsaw and board game outfit, Gibsons has expanded its partnership with Transport for London.

In a deal brokered by TSBA Group – the licensing agent for Transport for London – Gibsons will produce a raft of new branded products to complement the 2017 best-seller that has to date found particular success across retailers such as WH Smith, Amazon, John Lewis, and Waterstones.

Gibsons will now be growing its TfL licensed collection with the release of four jigsaw puzzles this spring, followed by two brand new games and additional puzzles later in the year.

In keeping with both Gibsons’ and TfL’s mission to become more sustainable, the new products will be produced using minimal single-use plastic. Made in the UK, the jigsaws will be manufactured using the thickest, 100 per cent recycled board and FSC approved paper.

The jigsaw puzzles will be available in 250, 500 and 1000 pieces and feature the iconic Underground maps and roundels, as well as a selection of the most popular graphics from Transport for London’s expansive poster archive.

The two new games have been developed in collaboration with talented game designers. They give fans the opportunity to competitively build Zone 1 of the tube map or race across London visiting famous stations while completing tasks along the way.

Julie Dixon, head of customer information, design and partnerships at Transport for London, said: “London’s transport network is recognised the world over and has been a symbol of the city for more than 150 years. We are excited to be continuing our relationship with Gibsons and develop new products with them to delight people young and old, while also generating vital funds for wider transport improvements across London.”

Emily Charles, product development manager at Gibsons, added: “We are so pleased to be working with TfL once again. Mind the Gap continues to be hugely successful and we have high hopes for these new products joining the card game at the top of our best sellers list.

“The London Underground is recognised all over the world, so it’s great to work with such a famous brand and increase our TfL collection.”

Simon’s Cat lands new board game, card games, and puzzles deals

Simon’s Cat is slinking into the card games, board games, and puzzles sector thanks to a trio of new partnerships to have been signed by the global content creator, producer, and distributor, Endemol Shine.

Inspired by the hit animated series, Simon’s Cat, the popular moggy will be making its debut among leading names in the tabletop gaming space, including with the like of Alley Cat Games – who will develop a new board game for the IP.

Simon’s Cat will also receive its own series of family card games courtesy of MDR Games, available through Amazon in the UK, Germany, and in stores in Poland, and a puzzle deal with the publisher Athesia Kalenderverlag.

Simon’s Cat follows the antics of a mischievous white cat and his long-suffering owner Simon. It was created by the award-winning illustrator, animator and director Simon Tofield and was first seen on YouTube in 2008.

The series is now a worldwide phenomenon, entertaining audiences in over 100 countries.

These latest deals build on the hugely successful extensions of the Simon’s Cat brand in the mobile games space, with titles such as Simon’s Cat Pop Time, Simon’s Cat Crunch Time and Simon’s Cat Dash, which have generated in excess of 16 million mobile gaming downloads.

Jane Smith, group director, brand licensing and gaming, Endemol Shine Group, commented: “These new deals build on an already successful licensing programme for Simon’s Cat across Europe. The humour and warmth of the brand appeals to a broad fan base of cat lovers around the world who can relate to these charming and cheeky characters, and expanding our digital business into physical products is testament to this.”

The Simon’s Cat brand enjoys success across multiple categories including gaming, publishing and apparel. Last year alone saw sell-out success with Teespring plushies; a brand new book Simon’s Cat It’s a Dog’s Life which brings everyone’s favourite feline back to the page, with a canine twist; the rollout of the hit mobile game Simon’s Cat Dashin China; and continued international growth with further agent appointments in the Nordics and CEE, and Southeast Asia.

Nearly two million Simon’s Cat books have been sold, and there are more than 80 million digital sticker downloads.

The brand has over 6.5 million fans on Facebook, two million followers on Instagram, and more than one billion views on YouTube.