Toy news update: Bootleg battles (FINALLY), Mattel is dying, Hasbro powering up, and Funko is OVER 9000!

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Toy news update: Bootleg battles (FINALLY), Mattel is dying, Hasbro powering up, and Funko is OVER 9000!

Greetings, FigWizzers!

I’ve been busy with working a new job back in IT but this time a focus on building business!! As a veteran pioneer of the e-commerce landscape and a proven brick-and-mortar business battler with the bumps to prove it, I’m on the hunt to grow money this time with business partners!! More on that later. Now lets get down to the fun part Toy news!!

1) MGA’s head honcho Issac Larian has been busy working on busting the bootleggers of the popular LOL Surprise dolls. According to an article release by toyworldmag.co.uk, MGA hired investigators, lawyers, and even personal action against a retail shop producing counterfeit products. Although this is a new, aggressive move by a major toy producer here in the US, the hobby industry has been fighting counterfeits FOREVER.

I can remember bootleg Gashapon and Banpresto figures as far back as 2001 when I started my own business. Bootlegs are never as good as the original, but as time goes on and if no action is taken, they do become ‘acceptable’ but the general audience.

This is always dangerous on multiple angles including consumer safety brand integrity, and a legitimate business bottom line including authorized distributors, retailers, licensees, licensors, and producers. Its especially dangerous when the target market happens to be kids 12 years of age and younger.

I had to deal with bootlegs and because my niche was small enough, it wasn’t too hard for real collectors to be aware. Some companies took matters into there own hands by creating ‘authorized retailer’ lists on their websites and creating videos showcasing authentic vs bootleg. As a matter of fact, here’s one from my old site that I contracted out many years ago (thank you, Ryan!).

Ultimately, in order to stop this at least from China, the biggest proponent of counterfeit everything, is to tax them to high heaven. As bad as it sounds, the tariffs that are being applied should also include toys not just for the the protection of the businesses, but also for the safety of the consumer. This should go all the way down to any package, not just cargo ships, very similar to the way Brazil’s customs controls their packages. The proposed tariffs might already have this in the list, I’m not sure. Let’s hope so.

https://toyworldmag.co.uk/world-news/mga-cracks-down-on-chinese-counterfeit-l-o-l-surprise-products/

Mattel recently announced a significant layoff movement due to its forth straight quarter of losses. Not a good sign for the once powerhouse of toys and iconic figure of the Toys That Made Us documentary. I feel this will make the company very susceptible to an actual purchase before long, and Disney may very well be a dead ringer for this. After all, the princess dolls from Mattel were always known to be MUCH better than what Hasbro produced, and Disney from what I understand doesn’t really have a fleshed out toy division. It helps that Mattel is located in the the same town as Disney. If this happens, you can probably assume that Hasbro will probably lose A LOT of what’s making them hot right now.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mattel-layoffs-20180725-story.html

Speaking of Hasbro, they are currently killing it with its collection of licenses and especially its games, that have propelled it’s stock to grow instantly over 10%. With Hasbro’s claim that D&D is at an all time high, and with its positive sales of Marvel and Star Wars toys, even in a year where toys felt a fatal blow with the vanishing of TRU, Hasbro is confident that it’ll stabilize by 2019, which is an amazingly strong sign. Articles talk about Hasbro and Mattel possibly merging, which would be good for Hasbro so they could have a Los Angeles office, but as the new CEO of Mattel has a history of selling out to Disney, I still stand by my initial prediction. I definitely look to see more come from Hasbro. Maybe they can cause a collector’s craze as intense as Funko has just recently.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/23/investing/hasbro-earnings-mattel-toys-r-us/index.html

What was that about Funko? Oh, that the offer to sell the Funimation SDCC exclusive on Funimation’s site crashed the server. For a site that hosts high def streaming shows of fan favorites like Dragon Ball Super, you can only imagine the amount of traffic needed to bring an entire platform to its knees. That’s exactly what happened according to an article on Polygon. Apparently, the day it went up for sale for a mere $24.99, the system broke within hours forcing Funimation to pull the item from its store and apologizing to all those looking to snag the coveted metallic version of the character Whis from Dragon Ball Super. Its hard for me to believe that this figure is so much in demand as I have sold this particular character in other forms for over 2 years. I admit, Funko is doing it right! Its currently selling for about $200 on eBay and other retailer sites.

https://www.polygon.com/2018/7/24/17609492/dragon-ball-super-whis-funko-pop-sdcc-2018

I’m sure you’ve seen all the coverage you need for Anime Expo and SDCC, so I won’t go there. That’s all I got for now.

Thank you, and I’m glad to be of service.

– The Keep


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Toy News Review – 4/25/2018 – TRU buyout stumbles / Mattel Setup

Its been a few weeks, and in that time, so much has come forward with toys. Two of the biggest stories are coming from separate ends of the industry and could have major consequences.

First off, the continued drama of Toys R Us keeps us on edge as the $900M bid by Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA, is denied as reported on the ICV2 website. Doing a little basic math would suggest that although $900M sounds like a good chunk of cash, that amount wouldn’t even put a dent on the estimated accrued interest for the past 10 years, let alone the value of the assets including inventory and land. Mr. Larian has told his legion of followers that he’ll continue to pursue an opportunity for a buyout. Whether Mr. Larian does or does not get the deal, he’s already won the hearts and eyes of toy lovers everywhere with his efforts. I sense this was part of the plan from the get go. Should TRU disappear, Mr. Larian has personally positioned himself to be the biggest marketing asset his company has with so many serious toy enthusiasts and industry professionals following him. It sounded a bit fishy when Mr. Larian made the call to the 30k TRU employees to follow him on LinkedIn. Of any toy CEO, he’s made the most noise in a positive way that’ll burn in the minds of all who work in the field.

Outside of the US, TRU has found saviors in key markets including Asia, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and even Canada according to the source on ICV2 and cbc.ca websites. So, the brand will continue to live somewhere in the world.

Moving on to other news, major toy industry juggernauts are having a roller coaster of a time with announcements as Hasbro announces a $133M sales decline for the first quarter of 2018 vs 2017 with almost half as a result of the TRU closure, and Mattel announces its moving in a new CEO.

Hasbro confirms with a statement that the decline was anticipated, and precautions have been set in place to limit competition in Q1 and Q2 with the TRU liquidation and to expect some loss until 2019. The steady acquisition of clients over the last three years has opened over 20K new locations for Hasbro to help compensate for the TRU loss. I guess its no big shock there.

Mattel on the other hand, moved in a new CEO, Ynon Kreiz, former CEO and chairman of Maker Studios. Mr. Kreiz is bringing in a wealth of experience in media marketing and children’s entertainment which is something Mattel has lagged tremendously over the last few years to rival Hasbro. When seeing this post on linkedIn, commenters were quick to point out that Mr. Kreiz had extensive experience in dealing with Disney as many of his past companies were acquisitions to the mega-media company including Maker Studios and Fox Kids Group Europe. This setup could possibly position Mattel to be bought by Disney as its toy division that Disney, a division that has never really made a name for itself. It makes sense with the dying value of Mattel for Disney to swoop in and pick it up as many analysts feel its undervalued, and under the leadership of a proven business general, it should really be too long before it happens.

Lots of excitement in the air! Let me leave you with this bit of Japanese marketing genius. Should Japan do more of these commercials, they’d rule the internet.


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