Category Archives: Miscellaneous Toy News

Back From the Dead? Investors Aim to Resurrect Decomposing Corpse of Once-Mighty Toy Retailer—Toys ‘R Us to be Given a “New Life” in 2019-2020

partyatlewis.jpg

Crawling out of a “Grave” of Bankruptcy— Apparently, “dead” doesn’t always mean DEAD, especially when it comes to the weird world of business. Indeed, the unexpected announcement of an upcoming “resurrection” of failed toy retailer, Toys ‘R Us, struck many toy industry fans, observers, and financial analysts as a big surprise—even a SHOCK! Anybody seen Daryl and his crossbow? (Art: Party at Lewis)

sadgeoffrey

Toys ‘R’ Us mascot, “Geoffrey”

Do YOU still care about the fate of Geoffrey the Giraffe—or Toys ‘R Us?

An article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal announced that the (supposed) end of Toys ‘R Us (TRU) may not be so final after all. Apparently, selling off all of the assets of the moribund toy retailer makes less financial sense to some investors (really?) than keeping it going. Despite the burgeoning growth of Amazon, Walmart and other online worldwide retailers, this group of financial “wizards” now believes that (somehow) reinventing TRU’s brick-n-mortar stores will (somehow) make them more money in the long run. We’ve reported on this same “keep it going” concept regarding FAO Schwarz (see HERE), but applying it to TRU makes little sense (to us). Regardless, here are some of the more telling quotes from the WSJ:

malecomment

“A group of hedge funds in line to take control of Toys “R” Us—the same group that pulled the plug on the retailer’s reorganization this year—intends to revive the business behind the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us brand names.”

Really?

malecomment

“The retailer said in court papers filed Monday that while it received qualified bids for assets—it has opted to forgo a much-anticipated bankruptcy auction for its brand name and other intellectual-property assets.”

Really?

malecomment

“The hedge fund group has determined the qualified bids wouldn’t likely yield a superior alternative to the plan, because of factors including the recovery to creditors, as well as the benefits to other stakeholders in maintaining the brands under a newly-established, independent U.S. business.”

REALLY?

malecomment

“The absence of Toys ‘R Us has also left an $11 billion hole in the toy industry, and hundreds of toy vendors without a major bricks-and-mortar platform to sell their goods. The decision to shut 800 U.S. Toys “R” Us stores also left 33,000 people without jobs. In recent months, those workers have been fighting for severance pay. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Toys “R” Us private-equity backers Bain Capital and KKR & Co. will be creating a $20 million fund to be distributed to the workers.”

Bottom Line: It’s good to hear that all of the laid-off TRU employees will be receiving SOMETHING out of all of this financial hoo-hah. And while we can see (perhaps) trying to keep NYC’s historic FAO Schwarz going, Toys ‘R Us has always just seemed like some sort of big toy warehouse to us. We have to wonder— are their investors throwing good money after bad by trying to keep it all going? Especially in this “one click” internet age? We’ll see. Stay tuned!

THIS JUST IN! Reliable Rudy Panucci has just posted a wonderful article going into greater detail regarding this topic on his “PopCult” blog found HERE. Thanks for all the updates, Rudy!

Advertisements
Tagged

SHOCKER! FAO Schwarz Toy Stores to Return Soon

faovideoscreenshot

(Screenshot: NowThisNews)

faologo

Is it time to jump up and down on a piano keyboard and celebrate? Maybe.

Bottom Line: We didn’t see this one coming— It appears that the (mostly) dormant FAO Schwarz brand has actually found a serious financial backer and plans are now underway for its imminent reintroduction in the form of 2 to 3 all-new brick-n-mortor stores. In this day and age of burgeoning online sales, the idea of actually building new toy stores is a much riskier financial undertaking. Therefore, we wish FAO and its new backers all the very best of luck. Watch the NTN video HERE for the most up-to-date information on this unexpected—yet encouraging—development.

Tagged

Toymakers Beware—If You Make Miniature Custom Figures That Look TOO Good—and Then Sell Them TOO Publicly—You’d Better be Prepared to Face an All-Too-Costly Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

sanchezfigures3

The likeness is unmistakable— That pose. That expression. That haircut. That weaponry. THAT is Conan the Barbarian—and we all know it. Ricardo Jove Sanchez’s mini-sculpt figurine was clearly modeled after Robert E. Howard’s iconic character and Frank Frazetta’s iconic paintings. Submitted as prima facie evidence in court, this screenshot of a Facebook post made under Sanchez’s pseudonym “Rykar Jové” provided the judge with a definitive and unmistakable side-by-side comparison. Click to enlarge.

Are YOU a custom figure “fraudster?”

Let’s hope not. It might net you some tempting income in the short term, but it could also cost you a pretty penny in the future. For example, a Brooklyn, NY judge recently penalized “professional freelance sculptor” Ricardo Jove Sanchez (of Spain) with $21,000 worth of fines and liabilities. Sanchez’s transgressions? He had sculpted multiple miniature (3″ tall) figurines based upon Robert E. Howard Properties’ Conan the Barbarian characters—and the paintings of Frank Frazetta—and his actions were found to be “liable under trademark infringement laws.” According to the article recently published in the New York Post (HERE) and as penned by reporter Emily Saul:

emilysaul

Emily Saul, New York Post (Photo: New York Post)

womancomment

“A Spanish man has been ordered to cough up $21,000 for hawking unauthorized reproductions of action figures like Conan the Barbarian, Kull and El Borak over the internet. Brooklyn federal Judge Frederic Block found Ricardo Jove Sanchez liable under trademark infringement laws, saying he sold the collectibles despite knowing their likenesses were owned by Conan Properties International LLC, and Robert E. Howard Properties Inc. Sanchez peddled the figures of Conan, Kull, El Borak, Soloman Kane, Ironhand, Bran Mak Morn, and Dark Agnes over Facebook and Kickstarter for a three-year period, the companies alleged. Yet, when he was told to stop, the fraudster simply changed the names of his replicas and continued business as usual, according to Block.

‘For example, he changed ‘Conan the Barbarian’ to ‘The Barbarian’ and ‘Dark Agnes’ to ‘Swordswoman’ ” in his ads, the papers say. Block ordered Sanchez to cough up $3,000 per character he ripped off, plus additional damages. He is also permanently barred from making or selling any figures based on Howard’s works in the future. Howard, who died in 1936, wrote a series of popular pulp fiction works during the 1930s. Sanchez couldn’t be reached for comment.”


hom·age

(h)ämij/

noun

definition: a special honor or respect shown publicly.


How “honoring” your favorite characters can get you in trouble with the law

As most 1:6 scalers well know, a sort of character-infringement “light” has been going on at GIjOE shows around the world for a quite a long time now. This is not the work of major toy companies ripping each other off. No, this activity resides within the realm—and purview—of well-intentioned individuals. And it’s not a greed-driven pursuit, either. Quite the contrary, most of the time, any infringement being perpetrated is because of an individuals’ LOVE for a certain brand or character. His (or her) goal is RARELY to take money away from a brand’s rightful copyright holder(s). Rather, it is (they feel) their way of remembering, honoring, and/or THANKING the creators for something that has provided them with a lifetime of wonderful memories. But—however noble or sentimental their reasoning may be—those people are still—breaking the law. And that’s wrong.

sanchezfigures1

Too Close for Legal Comfort— With minor tweaks, these figures could’ve easily been declared completely original concepts, but then their sales would likely have dropped dramatically. Sanchez had received a warning about the trademarked names and replaced them with more generic ones (see above). Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to satisfy the attorneys of Robert E. Howard, Inc. and a lawsuit was soon filed. Copyright laws exist to protect creators. (Photo: Ricardo Jove Sanchez) Click to enlarge.

You’ll see such honorific—and yet illegal—products being sold ALL THE TIME at toy shows—as vendors blatantly ply goods bearing likenesses, logos, illustrations, photos and other copyrighted material that is clearly not theirs to reproduce. Most of the individuals doing so have ZERO official approval to make whatever it is they’re making—or to sell whatever it is they’re selling. And yet—

Toy Shows Remain “Islands of Opportunity” for Many

For those involved in the creation and sale of any copyright-infringing product, staying underneath the legal “radar” means that they must produce them in only VERY limited quantities, preferably as one-of-a-kinds, or sell (or trade) them purely on a “collector to collector” bartering basis. Toys shows are ideal for this. Much like open-air flea markets, they provide sellers (and buyers) with an easy opportunity to get together and transact. Heck, with major manufacturers currently “dropping the ball” toy-production-wise, some of the coolest products you can find are the handmade creations being sold at toy shows. We’re not attorneys, but it appears to us that Sanchez’s internet-based sales on both Facebook and Kickstarter were just TOO public, TOO well-received and TOO successful for the Robert E. Howard folks to overlook. Hopefully, the recent (expensive) outcome of Sanchez’s case will serve as an instructive wake-up call to others pursuing similar “business.”

sanchezfigures2

High Quality Honorifics— Sanchez’s work is superb. This pic shows six more of his sculpted (and unofficial) miniature creations. Remember, whenever you create an original work—it (and you) are BOTH protected by copyright law. (Photo: Ricardo Jove Sanchez) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Do YOU make your own “kitbashed” or custom action figures? Equipment? Packaging? Clothing? Are you aware of all of the legal pitfalls and potential financial penalties resulting from copyright infringement? Don’t get us wrong. You’re perfectly free to show off (and sell) all of your homemade creations with well-deserved pride. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. copyright law protects you and ALL of your own unique artistic creations. BUT—if any of your work contains near (or exact) likenesses of any other copyrighted characters, logos, or well-known individuals (living or dead), then that MAY be a problem—especially if you ever decide to sell them publicly, online or in very large quantities. Any questions? We suggest you pay for an hour or so of time with your own, trusted attorney. That minor cost up front may save you a great deal MORE later on. View court documents from Sanchez’s case HERE.

Tagged , , ,

Up—or Down?—InvestorPlace Believes That Tough “Structural Challenges” Facing Hasbro Explain Why Investors Should “Fade” (i.e. SELL) Despite the Company’s Recent Stock Market Rally

BN-QF721_panics_J_20161012160358

What the heck is going on?— A wary stock market continues to keep a cautious eye on economic and societal events currently plaguing both Hasbro and Mattel. (Photo: phillipcfd)

It’s a Secret No Longer—There’s a Terrible Truth Facing Today’s Toymakers

Here at The Joe Report, we like to keep an eye on the the economic health of the major players in the toy industry. While reading an article about stock market investment re Hasbro, the term “fade” was used. That left us a tad confused. Fade? Beyond the obvious definitions, what did they mean? We looked up “fade” over on the investopedia website and discovered the following:

malecomment

“Fade refers to a contrarian investment strategy used to trade against the prevailing trend. A trader who ‘fades’ would sell when a price is rising and buy when it’s falling.” 

Ah. Okay. So the article is encouraging investors to be somewhat “contrarian” when considering investment in the “big H.” That’s understandable in today’s “contrarian” world. In fact, the July 24, 2018 article written by Luke Lango and published recently on the InvestorPlace website proved to be rife with additional quotes of interest for both GIjOE fans and Hasbro followers in general. Here are just a few that stood out to us (edited for length):

malecomment

lukelango

Luke Lango, L&F Capital Management, LLC and InvestorPlace contributor (Photo: Luke Lango)

“Surprise, surprise! Toy maker Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), one of the companies that was supposed to be crippled by the recent Toys R’ Us liquidation, reported much better than expected second quarter numbers. Revenues weren’t down all that much. Margin compression wasn’t that bad. And profit erosion wasn’t as awful as everyone feared for Hasbro stock. In response to those better than expected numbers, Hasbro stock is up more than 10% to above $105. But I think this is a rally investors would be wise to fade. At $105, the valuation simply doesn’t make sense for Hasbro. Revenues are in retreat. Margins are falling back. There are secular headwinds facing the toy industry outside of Toys R Us. As such, I think Hasbro is way overvalued here, and will inevitably fall as investor enthusiasm fades.”

So… it appears Hasbro is doing just fine–for now. That’s great news. But after the “investor enthusiasm fades,” Lango states he believes the big H’s stock value will FALL. Why should that be the case? Well, apparently, it’s due to something we’ve long discussed here on The Joe Report—the dwindling interest today’s children have in toys—DUE to the growing infiltration of electronic devices such as cell phones, home computers and video gaming systems. Lango clearly concurs:

sadgeoffrey

“The Toys R Us bankruptcy and liquidation was supposed to kill this company. Indeed, it did kill Hasbro in the first quarter of 2018. Revenues dropped 16% year-over-year, led by a 19% decline in the U.S. and Canada business and a 17% decline in the international business. But, the numbers got a lot better in the second quarter. Overall, that is a positive development in the Hasbro growth narrative. The problem is that Hasbro stock is already priced for this positive development, and a whole bunch more. 

At the core, Hasbro’s issue isn’t the Toys R Us liquidation. It is a boom in internet and smart device usage among children. The average age for a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years, so that means that all those 10-year-olds that were playing with Hasbro action figures are now playing on their smartphones.”

toddlercellphone

Too young? This toddler is clearly engrossed in this—or is it HIS(?)—new cellphone. Will toys ever again appeal to future generations? Or has that appeal already been LOST—forever? (Photo: mercury news)

The very real dangers posed by cell phone addiction, unrestricted access to the internet and excessive video gaming are all well known. For children, those influences can also mean an abrupt end to what HAD been considered a traditional (or “normal”) childhood development. Surrounded by electronic distractions, their lost or waning interest in traditional, imagination-based play—and toys—is practically a given. Lango confirms this bad news with some more startling statistics:

“Plus, tablet usage among children has soared from 26% to 55% over the past several years, while internet usage has soared from 42% to 64%. In other words, children aren’t playing with Hasbro toys as much as they used to. Instead, they are playing on smart tablets and smartphones.

<Sigh.> The troubles facing the toy industry appear to be just as we feared. So how does Lango see these sad developments affecting Hasbro in the future? He closes with:

This trend won’t slow any time soon. Indeed, things may only get WORSE for Hasbro as technology continues to grow in popularity. Hasbro’s second quarter numbers were much better than expected…But, that doesn’t mean it is time to buy Hasbro stock. The company has structural challenges due to waning toy demand as a result of growing smart device adoption. So long as these structural challenges remain, Hasbro will have trouble holding onto gains.” —Luke Lango, InvestorPlace Contributor

Kidsipads

Q: Who needs toys? A: Fewer and fewer children, apparently. Whenever an iPad or other such high-tech device is placed into the hands of a young child, oftentimes that moment marks the END of what was previously regarded to as a “normal,” or pre-digital childhood development. The resulting “ripple effects” are still being studied and understood, but stock markets are clearly paying attention. (Photo: herald.ie)

Bottom Line: It’s a tough toy-world out there nowadays. Human society—and our children—are changing. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or just par for the course of life? Strongly affected by such unpredictable developments, toymakers are clearly heading into some serious economic—as Lango calls them—”headwinds.” Keep your fingers crossed that they’re able to adapt and thrive in such an uncertain business climate. Let’s hope too, that innocence and childhood isn’t eroded or shortened any further. When I was growing up in the 1960s-’70s, I remained blissfully ignorant of the “trials and tribulations of adulthood” until about age 16. Now it’s 10? Where are we headed?

Tagged , ,

It’s Getting REAL—Mattel Lays Off Nearly One-Fourth of Its Total Workforce (2,200 Employees) As Toy Sales Continue Plummeting Worldwide—Mattel Factories Too, Will Soon Be Up for Sale

mattellogoold

Will Matty Mattel ask for a government handout? Maybe. It looks like the giant toy company’s mascot is extending his hand, pleading for financial assistance in a “time of need.” If sales of its products continue to drop, will Mattel’s leadership seek bankruptcy protection in court—ala Toys R Us? Toy fans around the world are wringing their hands!

We’ve been talking about the “slump” toymakers Mattel (and Hasbro) have been going through for a couple of years, but the downward economic effects of that trend are now about to be be felt on a truly PERSONAL level—by over TWO THOUSAND of Mattel’s employees. Mass layoffs loom. Factories too, are slated for imminent sales and closure. According to VOA News

malecomment

“Mattel, home of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, is cutting 2,200 jobs in order to save money after the closing of U.S. toy retail giant Toys R Us. The toymaker said the cuts amount to 22 percent of its nonmanufacturing employees worldwide. Mattel has about 28,000 employees. It also plans to sell factories in Mexico as part of a $650 million cost-saving plan.

Mattel reported a loss of $240.9 million in the second quarter, bigger than the $56.1 million loss in the same period a year ago. Revenues fell nearly 14 percent to $840.7 million, below the $863.1 million analysts had predicted. The toymaker has lagged behind its competitors in digital media, analysts say, and is trying to catch up with other brands that have spawned apps, movies and TV shows. 

Mattel CEO, Ynon Kreiz, said the company is working closely with other retailers and looking for more ways to sell its toys online.

Bottom Line: Mattel better get its act together. Sales are down. Factories are closing. People are losing their jobs. What else can go wrong over at the “Big M?” Stay tuned to The Joe Report!

Tagged

Billionaire Brainstorm—or Boondoggle? MGA’s Issac Larian Enters Formal Offer to Purchase U.S. and Canadian Toys ‘R’ Us Stores and Remake Them Into a “Mini Disneyland in Every Neighborhood”

Billionaire Hopes to Preserve “Toys ‘R’ Us Experience” for His Grandson’s Generation

isaaclarian

Isaac Larian— MGA Entertainment mogel and owner of the “Bratz” line of dolls (Photo: Mediatly)

In a bizarre twist to the ongoing Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy saga, billionaire Isaac Larian of MGA Entertainment has offered to purchase over 280 of the 735 Toys ‘R’ Us locations currently facing imminent and permanent closure for a whopping $887 million. Why, you might ask, would ANYONE want to spend all that money on what appears to be a dying “brick-n-mortar” business model showing NO hope of surviving in today’s digital “get it now” Amazonian shopping age? For the latest on this unexpected and constantly evolving story, we refer you to a story posted yesterday over on the CNN website (HERE) which reveals the following surprising intel:

malecomment

“Isaac Larian said Friday that he’s entered a formal offer of $675 million to buy many of the Toys “R” Us stores in the United States, along with an additional $215 million for Toys “R” Us stores in Canada. Larian is looking to buy more than 200 of the remaining 735 locations in the US, and almost all of more than 80 locations in Canada, a spokesperson said. Larian, who runs MGA Entertainment, will use his own money for the bid, along with financing from banks and additional investors, according to a press release. ‘The liquidation of Toys ‘R’ Us is going to have a long-term effect on the toy business. The industry will truly suffer,’ he said in a statement. ‘The prospect of bringing the Toys ‘R’ Us experience to a new generation, my new grandson’s generation, is enough to motivate me to Save Toys ‘R’ Us.’ Toys “R” Us declined to comment.”

Can you imagine being ready, willing and ABLE to spend $887 million dollars—of your own money—to prevent some 280 Toys ‘R Us stores from closing? Is Larian truly serious? It appears so. The CNN article goes on to reveal that the billionaire’s long-term strategy for saving 280 failing stores goes far beyond providing a heartfelt or nostalgic shopping “experience” for his grandson’s generation. Here’s what his plans REALLY are:

Larian’s vision for Toys ‘R Us includes turning its stores into entertainment hotspots. ‘We will make Toys ‘R Us an experience in and of itself; a fun and engaging place where families can spend an entire day,” he said in his statement on Friday. ‘Imagine a mini-Disneyland in each neighborhood.”

tripadvisor

Been There, Done That— Larian’s concept of converting old Toys ‘R’ Us stores into “Mini-Disneylands” has already been tried—and failed. This one, the chain’s flagship store in New York City’s bustling Times Square district, was big enough to fit a ferris wheel inside! Guess what? Yup. It’s closed now. If this mega-store concept didn’t work in Times Square, with all of its never-ending foot traffic, how could it succeed elsewhere? How much do you think they’d have to mark-up TRU toys to pay for all of this? Perhaps Larian should give his ambitious plan a teeny bit more thought. (Photo: tripadvisor) Click to enlarge.

TimeSquareNight2-1920x570

Can You See Them NOW?— Before closing, the TRU flagship store in NYC also had the added benefit of a giant, wraparound video marquee. Can you imagine something like this surrounding Larian’s proposed 280 “mini-Disneylands” in the U.S. and Canada? Would such a monumental investment in time, material, and CASH really be worth it? Or is the lure and ease of “one-click” and “add to cart” online shopping simply too powerful for “brick-n-mortar” retailers to overcome? (Photo: tripadvisor) Click to enlarge.

toys-r-us-times-square

Welcome to Barbie Town— You’ve heard of the famous (also now gone) “Barbie Aisle,” right? Well, how about an entire Barbie TOWN? This amazing retail display was also in the NYC TRU store before it closed. Imagine a similar structure built by Hasbro called the “GIjOE PX” or something like that, full of Joes, Jeeps, equipment sets and more. Hey, we can dream, can’t we? (Photo: tripadvisor) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: This is all so FASCINATING. And hopeful. And exciting! But will ANY of it actually come to pass? Will Larian’s offer be accepted? Will he really spend even MORE of his own money to convert a bunch of aging Toys ‘R’ Us stores into 280 “mini-Disneylands?” It’s been tried in major cities already, and sadly, it’s failed. To be honest then, its doubtful much will come of this new development. But don’t lose hope, dear readers. We’ll keep you updated as this ever-changing, high-stakes, and “quixotic” tale of money, family, and TOYS continues to unfold. Stay tuned!

Tagged , , ,

Hobbico Pre-Auction Stunner—Cross-Town Competitor Horizon Hobby Declares It Will Purchase Major Assets of Struggling RC Co.

horizonhobby

Meet the New BMOC in RC—Horizon Hobby. (Photo: Cameron Suhadolnik)

If Successful, “Purchase Would Close on April 6”

In a quick follow-up to our previous post about the fall of Hobbico, one of its main RC industry competitors, cross-town rival, Horizon Hobby, has made a substantial offer that may pave the road to Hobbico’s final financial destination. According to Ben Zigterman of the News-Gazette:

benzigterman

Ben Zigterman, reporter for the News-Gazette (Photo: Ben Zigterman)

malecomment

“CHAMPAIGN — Hobby-product distributor Hobbico has found a buyer for its remote-control business: cross-town competitor Horizon Hobby. Horizon Hobby has agreed to buy several units of Hobbico for a combined $18.8 million…‘We believe this transaction, if completed, will further strengthen Horizon’s position as the market-leader in the RC industry,’ Horizon Hobby President and CEO Joe Ambrose said in a statement. ‘Horizon and Hobbico have served many of the same retailers and customers for years. Upon completion of this transaction, Horizon will work to provide a smooth transition within the industry.’ If completed, Horizon will be buying Hobbico’s Great Planes and Tower Hobbies divisions, as well as brands including Axial and Arrma. Hobbico had been asking for at least $22 million for these companies. The purchase won’t include Estes, United Model, Revell US or Revell Germany.

Additionally, ‘Horizon will not be assuming any of Hobbico’s debts or other liabilities in this transaction,’ Ambrose said. Following the auction, where Horizon would be the stalking-horse bidder, the purchase would close April 6. With a stalking-horse bid, the potential purchasers essentially set the floor bid of the auction in exchange for certain protections. If Horizon isn’t the successful bidder, it will receive a break-up fee of 3% of its base bid, or $540,000.”

Bottom Line: Once all of the auctioneering and legal “smoke” has finally cleared, it appears certain that Horizon Hobby will emerge the only so-called “winner” in this calamitous scenario. Hobbico was asking for $22 million, but $18.8 million comes pretty close. After the sale closes on April 6th, Horizon assumes the mantle of BMOC (Big Man on Campus) among all remaining companies in the RC hobby’s industrial complex. A big shout-out of THANKS to Ben Zigterman for his excellent reportage on this story. And we’d also like to wish everyone at Hobbico and Horizon all the best and sincerely hope that Hobbico is the LAST major (toy-related) company “domino” to fall.

Tagged ,

The Future of Toymaking?—Hasbro’s New “HasLab” Crowdsourcing Initiative Attempts to Raise Funds For Production of Star Wars’ “Jabba’s Sail Barge”

jabbabarge

Will They Succeed?— This computer-rendering of HasLab’s (first-ever) crowdsourced toy project, “Jabba’s Sail Barge,” reveals the incredible potential for similar collector-driven toy projects in the future. But questions remain: Will HasLab succeed? Is crowdsourcing the future of toy production? Will fans be able to sustain “toys” that costs them $500 a pop? (Photo: HasLab) Click to enlarge.

In what may be the clearest view yet of toy-making’s future, Hasbro has just launched its new “HasLab” crowdsourcing initiative. The goal of this particular collector-funded toy project will be to locate and sign up at least 5,000 fans who are willing to pony up $500 each for an exclusive, 4-foot long (compatible w/3.75″ figures) “Jabba’s Sail Barge” from Star Wars. A prototype shown at Toy Fair and all of the computer renderings online look absolutely GORGEOUS. If Star Wars toys are your thing, you should watch HasLab’s customer recruitment video shown below.

crashcrewtrucks

Aiming High— HasLab’s new business model may reflect the future of “high-end” collectible toy production. The potential for such crowdsourced toys would seem to be sky-high. (Photo: JpM)

haslablogoBottom Line: If this approach to “high-end” toy production is successful for Hasbro, you can expect to see similar efforts forthcoming from other toy manufacturers in the future. Perhaps Hasbro would even consider creating something new, big and amazing for 12″ GIjOEs? How about an updated, more realistic version of a 1:6 scale USAF Crash Crew Truck? Joe fans can dream, too!

Tagged , , ,

Shutting Down—Toys ‘R Us Confirms Imminent Closure of 180+ Stores—Official List Released

sadgeoffrey

Toys ‘R’ Us mascot, “Geoffrey” (already “retired”), is looking a little less upbeat these days, after hearing the news that 180 more of his company’s stores will close in 2018. (Graphic: Toys ‘R’ Us)

Bottom Line: Well, now we have some real numbers to reflect upon. In yet another (depressing) follow-up to our previous articles discussing Toys ‘R Us and its filing for bankruptcy, the former powerhouse toy retailer has just released a (startlingly) long list of imminent store closures—180 in total. The first of their stores to close will do so as early as next month (February), with the remainder having done so by the end of April, 2018. We wonder—Is this the first 2018 list of TRU closures—or the last? Will this dramatic action save the company from oblivion—or merely prolong the inevitable? Only time will tell. How will YOUR particular area be affected? Hold your breath and scan the company’s official closure list provided below (arranged alphabetically by states):

malecomment

Alabama

2600 McFarland Blvd. East, Tuscaloosa AL

335 Summit Blvd., Birmingham AL

Arizona

801 W. 32nd Street, Yuma AZ

12801 North Tatum Blvd., Paradise Valley AZ

9139 Indian Bend Rd., Scottsdale AZ

4619 N. Oracle Rd., Tucson AZ

7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Scottsdale AZ

US 60 and Signal Butte Rd., Mesa AZ

Arkansas

2616 S. Shackleford Rd., Little Rock AR

California

42500 Jackson St., Indio CA

1189 Simi Town Ctr. Way, Simi Valley CA

26573 Carl Boyer Dr., Santa Clarita CA

960 Lakes Dr., Covina CA

1600 S. Azusa Ave., Puente Hills CA

2575 E. Imperial Highway, Brea CA

530 Westminster Mall, Westminster CA

20120 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance CA

2550 Canyon Springs Pkwy S., Riverside CA

700 “A” Onstott Rd., Yuba City CA

2785 E. Bidwell St., Folsom CA

1330 Fitzgerald, Pinole CA

4505 Century Blvd., Pittsburg CA

600 Francisco Blvd., San Rafael CA

5461 Lone Tree Way, Brentwood CA

1400 Gateway Blvd., Fairfield CA

3938 Horton, Emeryville CA

2179 Monterey Hwy., E. San Jose CA

865 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose / Almade CA

3520 W. Shaw Ave., Fresno CA

31250 Court House Dr., Union City CA

10640 Trinity Pkwy., Stockton CA

3900 Bristol Street, Santa Ana CA

3665 Grand Oaks, Corona CA

1240 W. Morena Blvd., Mission Bay CA

8181 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa CA

1990 University Drive, Vista CA

Colorado

1150 S. Ironton, Aurora CO

Connecticut

376 North Universal Drive, North Haven CT

275 Union St., Waterbury CT

3491 Berlin Turnpike, Newington CT

169 Hale Road, Manchester CT

Delaware

1061 N. Dupont Highway, Dover DE

Florida

1625 Apalachee Pkwy., Tallahassee FL

1900 Tyrone Blvd., St. Petersburg FL

3908 West Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa FL

6001 Argyle Forest Blvd., Orange Park FL

Spring 708 West State Rd. 436, Altamonte FL

21697 State Road #7, Boca Raton FL

10732 SW Village Pkwy., Port St. Lucie FL

450 South SR 7, Royal Palm Beach FL

2601 W.Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee FL

6001 West Sample Road, Coral Springs FL

3214 N John Young Pkwy., Kissimmee FL

Georgia

2601 Dawson Rd., Albany GA

2955 Cobb Parkway, Smyrna GA

6380 No. Point Parkway, Alpharetta GA

1155 Mt. Vernon Hwy., Dunwoody GA

6875 Douglas Boulevard, Douglasville GA

8160 Mall Parkway, Conyers GA

221 Newnan Crossing Bypass, Newnan GA

132 Pavilion Parkway, Fayetteville GA

Indiana

3928 E 82nd Street, Indianapolis IN

8800 US 31 South, Greenwood IN

Iowa

1211 E. Army Post Rd., S. Des Moines IA

8801 University Ave., Des Moines IA

Illinois

1610 Deerfield Rd., Highland Park IL

16 East Golf Rd., Schaumburg IL

295 Center Drive, Vernon Hills IL

5001 Lincoln Highway, Matteson IL

6420 W. Fullerton, Bricktown IL

7750 South Cicero Avenue, Burbank IL

5660 Touhy Avenue, Niles IL

Kansas

4646 W. Kellogg, Wichita KS

8500 W 135th Street, Overland Park KS

Kentucky

4900 Shelbyville Rd., St. Mathews KY

1155 Buck Creek Rd., Simpsonville KY

1965 Star Shoot Parkway, Lexington KY

Louisiana

137 Northshore Blvd., Slidell LA

Maine

6 Bangor Mall Blvd., Bangor ME

200 Running Hill Road, Portland ME

Maryland

8401 Mike Shapiro Drive, Clinton MD

Massachusetts

302 Providence, Dedham MA

70 Worcester Providence Tpk/Rt. 146, Millbury MA

50 Holyoke Street, Holyoke MA

217 Hartford Ave., Bellingham MA

6110 Shops Way, Northborough MA

Shoppers World Plaza, 1 Worcester Road, Framingham MA

Michigan

5363 Harvey Street, Muskegon MI

2620 Crossing Circle, Traverse City MI

5900 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing MI

4923 28th Street South East, Grand Rapids MI

3725 Carpenter Road, Ann Arbor MI

3725 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor MI

Minnesota

14100 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka MN

170 89th Ave., Blaine MN

8236 Tamarack Village, Woodbury MN

900 West 78th Street South, Richfield MN

Mississippi

1003 Bonita Lakes Circle, Meridian MS

200 Bass Pro Dr., Pearl MS

Missouri

1901 Bernadette, Columbia MO

201 Silver Springs Rd., Cape Girardeau MO

5590 St. Louis Mills Blvd., Bridgeton MO

220 THF Blvd., Chesterfield MO

Nebraska

3505 S. 140th Plaza, Omaha NE

Nevada

2150 North Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas NV

7020 Arroyo Crossing Parkway, Spring Valley NV

New Mexico

45 Hotel Circle, Albuquerque NM

North Carolina

801 Fairview Road, Asheville NC

7001 Fayetteville Road, Durham NC

3300 Westgate Drive, Durham NC

New Hampshire

29 Gusabel Avenue, Nashua NH

New Jersey

1280 Rt. 22 & St. James Ave., Phillipsburg NJ

137 Route 35, Eatontown NJ

100 Promenade Blvd., Bridgewater NJ

2700 Route 22 East., Union NJ

909 US Hwy 1 South., North Brunswick NJ

Rt. 541 & Cadillac Road, Burlington NJ

2135 Route 38, Cherry Hill NJ

7 Wayne Hills Mall, Wayne NJ

545 Route 17 South, Paramus NJ

98 Route 10 West., East Hanover NJ

Kids World 900 Center Drive, Elizabeth NJ

50 International Drive South, Mt. Olive NJ

New York

139-19 20th Ave., College Point NY

24-30 Union Square E, Union Square NY

5181 Sunrise Hwy., Sayville NY

5214 Sunrise Hwy., Massapequa NY

2335 Marketplace Drive, Henrietta NY

1569 Niagara Falls Blvd., Buffalo NY

401 Frank Sottile Boulevard, Kingston NY

708 Upper Glen St., Glens Falls NY

221 Wade Road Extension, Latham NY

2700 Central Park Ave., Yonkers NY

66 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village NY

1350 Corporate Drive, Westbury NY

108 Veterans Memorial Highway, Commack NY

461 Lycoming Mall Cir, Williamsport NY

1530 Ridge Rd. West, Greece NY

Ohio

6251 Glenway Ave., Western Hills OH

2661 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd., Dayton OH

7841 Mentor Ave., Mentor OH

3610 West Dublin-Granville Rd., Dublin OH

Oklahoma

1119 SE 66th St., Oklahoma City OK

5609-E Rogers Ave., Fort Smith OK

560 Ed Noble Pkwy., Norman OK

Pennsylvania

100 Welsh Road, Horsham PA

6680 Peach St., Erie PA

3700 William Penn Highway, Monroeville PA

104 Bartlett Ave., Exton PA

2003 Cheryl Dr., Ross Park Mall PA

301 Oakspring Road, Washington PA

18/Valley View Dr., Beaver Valley Route PA

Rhode Island

300 Quaker Lane, Warwick RI

South Carolina

254 Harbison Boulevard, Columbia SC

South Dakota

450 E. Disk Drive, Rapid City SD

Tennessee

7676 Polo Ground Blvd., Memphis TN

5731 Nolensville Rd., Nashville TN

Texas

801 Mesa Hills Dr., West El Paso TX

9730 Katy Freeway, Houston TX

170 E. Stacy Road, Allen TX

7730 N. MacArthur Blvd, Irving TX

420 E. Round Grove Rd., Lewisville TX

13710 Dallas Parkway, Dallas Galleria TX

1309 W. Pipeline Rd., Hurst TX

5800 Overton Ridge Blvd., Hulen TX

Utah

4042 Riverdale Rd., Ogden UT

1122 Fort Union Boulevard, Midvale UT

Virginia

14173 Crossing Place, Potomac Mills VA

12153 Jefferson Ave., Newport News VA

Washington

3567 N.W. Randall Way, Silverdale WA

1325A S.E. Everett Mall Parkway, Everett WA

6104 N. Division Street, Spokane WA

Wisconsin

18550 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield WI

2161 Zeier Road, Madison WI

 

Tagged

After 80 Years, UK Community Designates Palitoy’s “Old Toy Factory” (The Birthplace of Action Man) As a Revered “Green Plaque” Commemorative Site

Palitoy workers celebrate

Three Cheers for Palitoy! Former employees of the beloved UK toy company raise a rousing “Hip, hip, hooray!” at the site of their former business, whilst receiving the Leicestershire County Council’s honorific of “green plaque” commemorative status. (Photo: Leicestershire County Council) Click to enlarge.

Our good buddy, Bob Brechin, wrote in to us again today to share another tidbit of good news from that “old country across the pond.” Bob was clearly (and rightly so) bursting with pride, as he told us all about the recent Leicestershire County Council’s (LCC) decision to commemorate the site of the original Palitoy toy factory building, known to millions of fans around the world, as the “birthplace” and former home of —you guessed it—Action Man! According to the LCC website:

malecomment

“A former factory in Leicestershire which created popular children’s toys such as Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars figures was honoured with a green plaque. On Thursday, 2 November, the plaque was installed at the Coalville Business Park, in Jackson Street, Coalville, where the toy factory once stood. The company manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain from 1937 to 1985 – before it ceased trading. Palitoy not only helped to stoke children’s imaginations with its classic toys and figures it also helped to put Coalville on the map.”

image1

“Two Bobs” for Action Man! These two talented gentlemen have every reason in the world to be proud of Palitoy’s newly acquired “green plaque” status, and of their own individual accomplishments as well! From left we have Bob Brechin, former chief toy designer, and on the right, Bob Simpson, the company’s former managing director. (Photo: LCC) Click to enlarge.

It’s obvious to fans living here in the U.S. (and elsewhere around the globe), that local UK community support (and thanks) for the men and women who helped bring Action Man and other great toys “to life” remains very strong. And while those lucky few in attendance at Palitoy’s recent green plaque ceremony may now largely be members of the “silver-haired set,” it’s good to know that their children and grandchildren will be able to look up at that plaque and remember all the wonderful toys created there (by their loved ones) for many generations to come.

pamposnett

Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council (Photo: LCC)

womancomment“It is fantastic to see that 80 years on, there is still HUGE support from the people of Leicestershire.” —

It should be no surprise then too, that Bob Brechin, ever the promotor of all things Palitoy and Action Man, was the man originally behind all of the efforts required for gaining the beloved Palitoy company its esteemed honor of “green plaque” status. According to Brechin:

malecomment

“It is 80 years since Palitoy toys were first made in Coalville and I thought the famous toy company should be celebrated with a green plaque at this special time.” —Bob Brechin

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to Bob Brechin for his heads-up intel on this story, and to the wonderfully generous Leicestershire County Council for their excellent photos, and to all of the other past employees of Palitoy. You’ve all done so much—to bring so much joy—to so many people. Go, Action Man! And… Hip, hip, HOORAY for Palitoy!

Tagged , , , ,
Advertisements