ToyNews’ 2015 Woman of the Year Robyn Cowling on Underground Toys’ successes, awards and Star Wars

The ToyNews Women of the Year Awards and networking event is now in its third year, celebrating the achievements of women within the toy industry.

While this year sees the team add a roster of new categories to the slate of coveted awards, there can only be one chosen as this year’s Woman of the Year.

And in anticipation of the big unveiling of this year’s selection, ToyNews has caught up with last year’s Woman of the Year winner, Underground Toys’ licensing director, Robyn Cowling about how the last 12 months have been for both her and the business.

How has 2016 been for you, what have the latest developments been for you and Underground Toys?

We have had some great new developments come through over the last 12 months and particularly in the first half of 2016.

We are now on the cusp of releasing our new Marvel Homewares range, which is looking great.

What have been some of the highlights for you over the last year?

The launch of our Star Wars Homewares range across Europe has been great for us. It’s been very exciting. With that, our plush and of course the Funko Pop! vinyls, we have been able to implement some great cross-category ‘pop culture’ retail space which is performing really well.

It has been a busy last year, but an enjoyable one.

What changes have you seen in the toy and licensing industry and how has Underground toys evolved over the last year?

A current trend affecting the industry at the moment is that retail appears to be less open to taking risks. More and more we see them supporting ever-green properties instead of looking outside of that comfort area.

Fortunately, this strategy works for our portfolio as we have a wealth of A-grade licenses, as well as the more niche ones.

What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year and what have you got planned for 2017?

We are of course continuing to support the ever-expanding Funko Pop! range, while gaming and manga/animé are growing rapidly. We are forecasting more of that growth for 2017.

2017 will also see the launch of our DC Homewares range, meaning we will be dominating the Pop Culture area covering cross category for Star Wars, Marvel and DC.

It was almost one year ago that we saw you pick up your ToyNews Woman of the Year 2015 award, what did the win mean to you?

I was absolutely thrilled. I love the toy and licensing industries and there were some fantastic candidates, so much so that I didn’t consider I might be in the top ten, let alone the winner. Thanks again ToyNews.

What words of encouragement or support would you offer to this year’s ToyNews Women of the Year finalists?

The amazing thing about the award is that the voters are your colleagues, peers and clients. All of whom clearly value you very highly. Enjoy the moment, you deserve it.

The finalists for this year’s ToyNews Women of the Year Awards, in association with Women In Toys have been announced.

This year, the event celebrates the achievements of women across PR, marketing, design, retail and the wider toy and game landscape.

Check out the shortlist of nominees by clicking here.

The ToyNews Women of the Year Awards 2016 will be taking place at London’s Soho Hotel on July 21st. Click here to book your tickets to the Awards.

For sponsorship enquiries, email Brenda Normile at

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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