Observations of a toy veteran (November)

Looking forward to Star Wars 3D? Ready for a new chairman at the Toy Retail Association? Eager to take receipt of 11 million recalled toys?
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After a relatively calm Summer, the toy world has once again burst alight as we sprint towards the finish line of the for the all-important fourth quarter.

There are many undercurrents behind all of these stories that either explain their genesis or muddy the waters to further confuse us all. For example, Mattel shares fell by a heart-stopping 22 per cent in just five seconds before the news of the latest huge product recall for reasons that were never explained. Insider knowledge? Surely not, but certainly timely.

As for the earlier than planned resignation of the TRA chairman, there is nothing more emotive than a spat, for whatever reason, between a bunch of fiercely proud independent businesses, so I’m not going to go there. I’ll leave that to someone braver than me.

The most significant anniversary of the year in the UK retail toy scene has to be the fact that 2010 sees Toys R Us marking 25 years since its first stores opened in the UK. My, how time has flown. Charles Lazarus may be long gone and the chain has had its fair share of trials and tribulations in recent times as it adjusted to life in a bricks n’ click world, but the founder’s original toy supermarket concept still holds firm.

TRU and The Entertainer have both just reported strong sales in the UK after a year sans Woolies. “There was a monumental change in toy retailing with the demise of Woolworths and this was the first full year trading after Woolworths exited the market,” Entertainer boss Gary Grant said.

TRU, The Entertainer, Tesco and online sales have been the winners this year. Multi-channel has come of age and all sellers neglect each delivery method at their peril.

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Observations of a toy veteran

Politics and toys. Never the twain, eh? Well, that all might be about to change if former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld makes a run for US Senate in his home state of Rhode Island in 2012.

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