Plumbing the Toy Box: the week's toy industry news in review

Jack Ridsdale

By Jack Ridsdale

January 13th 2017 at 12:00PM
UPDATED January 13th 2017 at 12:53PM
Plumbing the Toy Box: the week's toy industry news in review

From plumbers to YouTube stars and back again, here's our weekly round-up of ToyNews' most read stories for the week ending Friday, January 13th.

While some of us were still shaking off the sluggishness of the Christmas period (and having war flashbacks of all those Trivial Pursuit games), the toy industry was back on form, kicking off the new year with news ranging from the exciting to the downright bizarre. Without further ado let’s take a look at ToyNews’ Top 10 stories from the past week.

Pewdiepie! Zoella! Smosh! If these just sound like nonsense words to you then you were probably born before the year 1990. You probably enjoyed the TV show Cheers. But for firms like Mattel these are most important names, given that these three YouTube channels have a combined following of over 78 million people, most of them under the age of 25. It’s no surprise then, that many of you were intrigued to read about how the toy giant is planning to focus its marketing efforts on web influencers.

New media continued to make a splash in ToyNews, with the announcement that Jazwares are to partner with free-to-play online game Roblox to launch a line of figurines based on characters created by players. A small chunk of Roblox’s one million concurrent users was enough to propel this story to the top of our list this week.

For those still fond of traditional media, news of pre-school stalwart Playmobil’s new line was a runner-up this week, with many readers eager to hear about the licensed product the firm would be debuting at Toy Fair. Budding supernatural adventurers can look forward to a line based on classic film franchise Ghostbusters, while unruly dragon tamers will be excited to hear the firm is prepping a line based on upcoming blockbuster How To Train Your Dragon 3.

Speaking of Blockbusters, Disney fans far and wide are still chomping at the bit for any morsel of Beauty and the Beast news. This week saw a new trailer and poster, giving us our first glimpse at the film’s all-star cast in human form, which came hot off the heels of Toys R Us’ apparent leak of Emma Watson singing ‘Something There’

Shifting to Disney’s other stable of billion-dollar franchises, Marvel’s Iron Man suit has received a fully-functioning, life-sized recreation by Chinese toy manufacturer, The Toys Asia. While many fans would kill to display the suit in their collection, with a price tag of £291,000, it’s only the top Disney execs that will be able to afford this beauty. And for those hoping to jump in and fight crime: the suit is not large enough to house an adult.

As many toy industry pundits return to work from their lengthy Christmas breaks (and presumably viciously long Trivial Pursuit sessions) we saw several stories from December return to our top ten. Ever the news-maker, LEGO was once again a big draw for our readers, with the announcement of 13 new sets based on the upcoming LEGO Batman movie.  Meanwhile many were still reading up on LEGO’s new LEGO Brand Group, the new entity to focus on licensing for the firm.

Stateside, toy industry members may want to tune into ABC on April 7th as a new TV show will be premiering to decide on the next toy line from the company. The Toy Box will see contestants pitch their creations to a panel of kid-judges in an odd mash-up of Dragons Den and Kids Say Darndest Things. Thankfully there will be no Bill Cosby this time around.

Ever hungry for a scandal, many of you were still eager to read the news of Stuart Andrews, the ex-Smyths Toys manager who stole a stash of toys worth a whopping £10k. Stuart barely had to time to build one of the many LEGO sets he stole before his six-month prison sentence began.

In more positive news, Mattel has announced its own spin on Amazon’s Alexa, in the form of Aristotle by Nabi – a baby monitor that billed as the child-friendly version of the Amazon Alexa. The device’s AI can engage with and even hold a conversation with children and babies. If you can get it to read them all the Harry Potter books you’ll be all set.

Finally, unmoved from the top spot is the news of MGA’s LOL Surprise Dolls. The line of the beloved collectables will launch in the UK in February, by which point this story may have moved from the top spot… possibly…. although unlikely.

Sadly absent from this week’s top 10 is the news that the Super Mario crew will be returning to Happy Meals, in a story that combines this writer’s two favourite things: video games and horrifically unhealthy fast food. Unusually, McDonalds courted controversy here as some customers observed that one of the toys appeared to depict Mario sitting on the toilet, which is in clear violation of the plumber’s code of ethics.