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INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE The demand for


trusted properties with modern updates is where we’ve found growth. Jerry Healy,


Character Options View from the top


Samantha Loveday asks some key execs from Mattel, Flair, Character, Vivid, Tomy and Famosa for their views on 2013 and the challenges they see affecting the industry


How have the past 12 months been for you in terms of the toy business in general? Simon Hedge: It has been a good year, which is reflected in NPD’s figures which show Flair +18% on last year. At the start of the year we hoped to become a top five company, and we achieved this goal early in the year. We have been really pleased with the progress made this year.


The later


consumers shop, the harder it is to forecast and plan accurately. Clive Wooster, Famosa


Clive Wooster: For Famosa, it’s been a case of setting up the infrastructure for the UK business, getting some good people together and then diving in, so the last three months have, in fact, been the ones that counted. We are pretty encouraged on that basis – our main TV line sold out by mid October and the other brands are also doing well.


Jerry Healy: It’s been a year of two halves that’s for sure, and it’s great to be ending on a high note with some really successful Christmas lines such as Teksta, and some amazing newly launched brands that we expect to be


phenomenal in 2014 such as Minecraft. Overall brands like Peppa Pig have stood out, and of course ChillFactor was a runaway success.


We have been


Simon Hedge, Flair


54 January/February


really pleased with the progress made this year.


Nicolai Lindhardt: In the last couple of months we’ve seen some positive signs in the market place, not just in the toy industry, but in the economy at large, however the market is still challenging. Tomy has experienced double digit growth this year, and this has been largely driven by the UK market.


Neil Bandtock: 2013


was a very good year for three of Vivid’s big brands – Crayola, One Direction and AniMagic. Moshi is still the number one brand in the industry (NPD YTD sales), but inevitably sales have leveled off after two massive years of growth.


What were your top selling products or categories in 2013?


Dominic Geddes: Our girls business has been very strong; with three of our own brands in the category, as well as Disney Princess, we have a wealth of riches that we are very proud of and they have all performed well. It’s much more about us managing the category and creating the point of difference for each of these brands to make sure we are offering girls that unique storyline and doll. Boys has also done well; our Disney portfolio with Planesand Carshave been very strong along with Hot Wheels.


Jerry Healy: Peppa’s Theme Park has been a great success and The Zelfs have made a great start in becoming one of the most popular girls collectables. Teksta was highly predicted to be a top toy right from its debut at Toy Fair and we are delighted with our return to youth electronics, more of which will be seen this year. It’s a late launch but one to watch will also be our Minecraftrange.


Simon Hedge: Our boys’ portfolio saw huge growth, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesbeing strong throughout the year, and the number one YTD in the action figures category since May. We’ve also experienced growth with new waves of The Trash Pack. Pre-school is an area that we targeted last year and the phenomenal success of Doc McStuffins


has kept all of us on our toes trying to keep up with demand.


Clive Wooster: Nenuco Dolls have to be our number one category. The Cradle Sleep with Me doll has surprised all of us, including our forecasting team, and we sold out pretty early in the season. What’s been encouraging though, is that the rest of the Nenuco range has been strong as well, with the other eight/nine skus all earning their keep. We are looking to grow


the range by adding more dolls, both mechanical and static, as well as the addition of some lower priced accessories.


Neil Bandtock: Hot Heels and Airbrush Marker from Crayola, everything from One Direction and Bonny and Babies from Animagic.


Nicolai Lindhardt: Chuggingtonis a brand that’s really close to my heart and the new stories, which launched in the UK in September is delivering on all fronts. Battroborg, the motion-controlled battling fighting robots, was awarded Toy of the Year in Belgium and France and we’re pleased to say the sales delivered to our expectations. We had a good year on


Pokémon and it is about to get even better with the momentum building around the new X & Y content; history tells us that sales will increase exponentially in the 12-18 months following a new content launch. Our Farms range, John Deere, Big Farm and Britains have also delivered double digit growth, with our new John Deere pre- school range now accounting for over 30 per cent of our total Farm toys sales.


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