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Rob Hughes, Head of Licensing and Product Development, Zeon Ltd.

Why do you think educational learning toys has done so well as a sector?

I think this is cyclical and parents go through phases where they worry about their children’s education,

to the extent that they will select toys with an educational slant, rather than simple playthings.

How do you think the first quarter of next year is looking for the industry? There is still a lot of uncertainty. The FTSE 100 is down heavily today and when things are so volatile people tend to hold off buying. If retailers carry forward a lot of unsold stock there will be some interesting conversations in January!

With the return of a lot of retro properties such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, which do you see being big hits within the toy industry? It’s unlikely that any of these will be bigger than first time around, although we have very high hopes for TMNT. Nickelodeon have the thrown the kitchen sink at this one,

plus the draining board and waste disposal unit. It has to work.

What do you see as the big seller this Christmas? Crystal balls don’t really work, so it’s only a guess, but the re-vamped Furby from Hasbro looks good. From Zeon, Arcadie - the miniature arcade unit for iPhone and iPod - is proving very popular. We have a mini iPad version coming soon too.

What has been your no.1 product for this year? Probably Arcadie.

If you were a child today what would you be nagging your Mum for? My tea. It’s nearly 5 o’clock!

Giulia Toselli, Chicco Marketing Manager

Why do you think educational learning toys have done so well as a sector? At Chicco we strongly believe that through play, the child begins to understand how things work, they realise the existence of the laws of chance and probability and rules of conduct that must be respected. The experience of playing teaches the child to be persistent and to have confidence in their abilities. Depending on age, the child learns to be more creative, experiences his cognitive abilities, discovers themself, enters into a relationship with their peers and then develops the whole personality. Educational toys help the child to develop their natural intellectual development because during playtime they surprises themself and through surprise they acquire new ways to get in touch with the outside world. Nowadays, parents are very sensitive and attentive to this topic because when the child is very young, they can assimilate quickly, easily and naturally many different content. This is the reason why in 2011, Chicco was the first player to believe in the concept of bilingualism driven by our ABC Talking Toys Range.

How do you think the first quarter of next year is looking for the industry? Chicco’s toy business has had a very successful 2012, both in terms of infant and pre-school, our trade customers have been delighted as they doubled sales on our toys. Usually in the period immediately following Christmas, the sector sees a natural slowdown, before the market is revived with dedicated outdoor games for summertime. Chicco is instead going to react with a series of innovations and product launches just during the first quarter and spring time, in order to go on nourishing the market with ongoing novelties. At the Nuremberg Show, Chicco indeed will focus on three new themes: green, creativity and sport, and with more than 50 new toys on the market we will always be able to keep up with each kind of consumers needs.

What has been your no.1 product for this year? Consistent with our vocation of being a coach for parents, it is no surprise that the best performers have been our ABC Talking Line; from the Talking Carpenter, to the Talking Kitchen and even the Talking School Bus. This line encourages a baby’s linguistic and cognitive skills from the first months of life as well as introducing a second language just in the moment when baby has the most natural predisposition towards all kind of vocal sounds. Singled out by our Research Centre, Osservatorio, with the help of educationalists and baby psychologists, we’re very pleased that this line has been selected and performed very well both by our independent and national retailers, and has become a must-have in the educational toy segment.

If you were a child today what would you be nagging your Mum for? I’ve always been a very simple person and I love every toy that brings out the more instinctive and creative side of us all. By playing, each individual is able to free his own mind from external contamination, like judgment from others, and can release their own instinct. If I was a child today I would still play with simple toys made by fabric or wood, the sorts of things that I used to find in my grandmother’s attic which were able to open me up to a world of fantasy and unlimited creativity.

41 tradetalk

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