2011: The year in review

Since you've probably already forgotten what happened this year, ToyNews is here to fill in the blanks. From the sale of Hit to the demise of some industry stalwarts, from Justin Bieber?s haircut to Christmas price wars on the High Street, we provide a snapshot of what 2011 threw up?
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LEGO opens its first stores in five years, in Westfield, London and Cardiff. They are part of LEGO’s plans to open 14 stores across Europe by the end of the year, with 60-70 new stores planned by 2015.

A retrial begins between Mattel and MGA in ongoing case over who owns the Bratz brand.


Kids@Play believes it has a hit on its hands in the form of the range of ride-in Dalek toys.

Mattel reveals plans to launch a board game based on the hugely popular Angry Birds.

Gibsons marks 90 years of trading.

Argos revitalises the Chad Valley range.


Tomy reveals it is to buy RC2 in a deal which is valued at around $640 million. The deal means the Japanese-based toy company will significantly boost its global profile, adding business in North America and Europe. But analysts believe the deal, worth $640m, is too cheap.

Toy firms gear up for the Royal Wedding as Cartamundi, Winning Moves, Richard Edward and Gibsons unveil new lines.

GP Flair CEO Peter Brown and his team receive a special award for their contribution to the Giochi Preziosi group. After acquiring the UK toy manufacturer in 2008 the group has enjoyed a boost in performance and growth, culminating in a 20 per cent sales increase over 2010.


Irish mini chain Murphys falls into voluntary liquidation, blaming the country’s economic troubles.

Alworths also falls into administration...

As does Corinthian. The firm says the snow in December 2010 lead to a large number of cancelled orders, which caused it cashflow problems.

Flair quickly snaps up distribution of the In My Pocket brand.

Mothercare and its pre-school arm, the Early Leaning Centre, are set to shift emphasis from the High Street to larger out-of-town shopping centres.

Mattel suffers a surprise defeat in the retrial over the ownership of the Bratz dolls when the jury finds that Mattel misappropriated trade secrets from MGA. MGA is awarded $88.5 million in damages.


Vivid announces plans to launch One Direction dolls in time for Christmas.

Alworths administrator, Leonard Curtis sells the business to Poundstretcher.

MGA claims $177 million in punitive damages following the verdict in Bratz battle.


Littlewoods launches a new collection of children's outdoor toys for summer 2011.

Hasbro plans to reorganise its games business, relocating 70 employees and cutting 75 jobs.

Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters reaches 50 million registered users worldwide. Over half of all UK children aged six to 12 now own a Moshi Monster.

Activision announces details of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. The multi-platform video game incorporates a collectable toy line that can be bought to life on-screen.

The total of money raised from the Toy Trust FUNdraiser is announced at £98,647, which is a combination of team fees and individual sponsorship.

NPD reveals that worldwide revenues in 2010 reached $83.3 billion.

Popular industry veteran, Clive Jones, is named as the new president of the British Toy and Hobby Association at the organisation’s AGM and Industry day, taking over from Vivid’s Nick Austin. In his
first role as president, Jones presented the lifetime achievement award to Flair boss, Peter Brown.

LeapFrog unveils its long-awaited learning tablet device for children. The £79.99 LeapPad is a personalised learning tablet designed for children aged four and over.


The first step of the integration of Tomy Europe and RC2 Europe begins, with Gary Hunter having been appointed as president of Tomy Europe.

Monopoly gets a revamp for Christmas, with Pall Mall and Mayfair replaced by Knightsbridge and Kensington Palace Gardens. The changes come in Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition.

Mattel brings the Octonauts toy launch forward following unprecedented demand. Parents have been trying to track down toys and many have taken to making their own toys at home with cardboard and sticky tape, sharing tips on YouTube and Facebook.

LeapPad sells out in US in two weeks.

Mattel co-founder Elliot Handler passes away, aged 95. Handler founded Mattel with his wife Ruth, who went on to invent the Barbie doll.

Hamleys announces full year results, with the figures showing operating profit is up by over 40 per cent to £2.3 million.


Vtech reveals the Innotab touch screen tablet-style learning system.

Mattel is ordered to pay MGA over £309 million. US District Court Judge David Carter reduces a previous jury award from more than $88 million to $85 million. He then awards MGA a further $85 million in punitive damages for trade secrets misappropriation. The remainder is made up with a payment of $137 million to MGA, the company’s Hong Kong affiliate and CEO Isaac Larian for legal fees related to copyright and trade secrets.

Rumours emerge that Mattel is to buy Hit Entertainment.

Vivid further grows its pop star collectables business, by signing The Wanted.

Playmobil launches the Fi?gures collectable figures.


Wow Stuff is set to launch its products into international markets, beginning with the US. Managing director Richard North explains that he wants the US division to be at $750,000 within three years.

Amazon reveals plans to launch a dedicated toy site. Under the tagline: ‘A happy place to shop for toys’, Yoyo.com will offer over 20,000 toys, books, video games and collectables.

Kiddimoto’s Simon Booth secures a pair of Dragons and £75,000 for 30 per cent of his kids’ balance bike

The Entertainer opens its 60th store in the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford City.

The Giochi Preziosi Group announces a number of changes within the UK subsidiary. Peter Brown becomes chairman of Flair, while Simon Hedge is promoted to senior vice president, sales and marketing.

Thundercats toys sell out – before launch.

John Adams’ Doggie Doo sees unprecedented demand following its TV debut was on Jonathan Ross’ ITV1 chat show.


Argos’ TV-advertised Big WooHoo campaign cuts the price of 30 toys until October 12th.

Asda’s new TV campaign, meanwhile, compares its prices on Hasbro, Mattel and Lego toys with TRU and Argos. The retailer claims it is targeting cash-strapped families with savings of up to 50 per cent on toys.

Ben Gordon announces that he will step down from his role as chief executive of Mothercare. It follows a profit warning from the retailer.

MGA seeks a further $2 billion from Mattel. The Court grants Mattel’s request to dismiss the claims, but allows MGA to file an amended complaint.

Wow Stuff warns retailers over fake Air Swimmers and seeks legal advice as it clamps down on illegal copies of the R/C inflatable.

The Bridge Direct’s autumn line of Justin Bieber dolls are left looking outdated when the pop star changes his hair.

Lady Gaga takes out a court injunction to prevent the release of the ‘Lady Goo Goo’ single – The Moshi Dance.

Mattel confirms Hit acquisition. The $680 million deal sees Thomas & Friends join portfolio, along with other key pre-school brands.

Asobi’s Thierry Bourret responds to the Dream Dozen with the ‘slow toy movement’, an alternative list for simple, non-plastic and ethical toys. Bourret said: “Our launch is very much in response to the 2011 Dream Toys announcement where a plastic toy that poos made the top of the selection.”

Sainsburys joins the Christmas toy price war. The half price promotion applies to all toys in over 400 stores.


Iconic US brand Wham-o is heading to Europe, with a new UK office in Brentford. The firm’s range of classic lines such as Frisbee, Slip n Slide, Hula Hoop, Hacky Sack and Boogie Board will be available to UK retail in February.

Betting website Paddy Powertips LeapFrog’s LeapPad Explorer as this year’s Christmas number one.

Wow Stuff, Lego, Jakks Pacific and Wowwee are among the toy companies with products listed in
The Sunday Times Tech List of top 100 gadgets.

Rumours of a Doctor Who movie surface, with Harry Potter director David Yates in the hotseat.

Mattel reveals CEO Bob Eckert is to step down at the end of the year. Bryan Stockton will take over the role from January 1st 2012.



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