Should retailers and manufacturers be concerned about 3D printing changing the toy industry?

It is fair to say that across the past few years ‘3D Printing’ has been a hot topic amongst many in the toy industry. With the introduction of consumer 3D printers it is now easier than ever, albeit expensive, for consumers to produce their own products.

There is wide debate within the trade press on whether 3D printing will revolutionise the toy industry for the better or whether it will prove a hindrance to companies and consumers alike.

It was only last year that some toy retailers and manufactures embraced the medium.  Following Hasbro’s Super Hero month in September 2014, the toy company teamed with 3D printing company 3DPlusMe to launch its ‘Super Awesome Me’ campaign that allowed fans to use the in store 3D printers and place their own faces on Iron Man or Captain America action figures.

Toys R Us also teamed up with PieceMaker Technologies to run in-store 3D printing services in two of its US stores. The PieceMaker Factory programme allows shoppers the opportunity to create their own custom charms and key chains amongst other things, with the process taking less than 30 minutes.

Whilst this creates a novel experience for consumers and potentially reduces the cost to consumers it is proving the need for customisation and on demand toys. One UK Company MakieLab has already taken advantage with their 3D printed Makie Dolls that has already won awards including a BAFTA nomination. The brand allows ‘young fans to create their own avatar using an online ‘factory’, the user can then pay to have the creation printed and sent to them as a bespoke doll’.

Whilst this certainly benefits manufactures who are embracing the change and consumers who are striving for customisation and toys on demand, will retailers be by-passed with an increase in manufactures selling the electronic files straight to the end user?


Does Film get any better than this?

This won’t be the first time you’ve heard this but 2015 is going to be a great year for Cinema. Already this year we have seen ‘Fast and Furious 7’ reach $1 billion in worldwide box office takings, in a record breaking 17 days. The fastest to hit $1 billion before this was ‘Avatar’ and the final ‘Harry Potter’ film, both achieving this in 19 days. ‘Avengers: The Age of Ultron’ is the second blockbuster to be released this year and is looking likely to be the second film to reach $1 billion in 2015, already taking $680 million and is yet to be released in two of the largest territories.

On top of these huge releases we have 4 more blockbusters this year, including the new ‘Bond’ film and a Sequel to the ‘Star Wars’ saga which will undoubtable be two of the best films of 2015. We are also set to see a historical event in 2015 with Pixar releasing two films in a single year, ‘Inside out’ and ‘The Good Dinosaur’. 2015’s film slate is bursting at the seams, but the real cheery on top is a film set to release at the end of June, staring a lovable trio. Stuart, Kevin and Bob will be setting off in their very first starring roles as they go on the hunt for the most Despicable Master to serve. If you haven’t already guessed the film, it’s the ‘Minions’ movie, and as an agency specialising in the Toys and Games sector its one we’re following very closely.

Cinema has changed………..the move to digital has decreased production costs and the inclusion of kids clubs, with solely family and Kids audiences, in various cinema chains has helped to minimise wastage within the Toys and Games sector. As mentioned there is a huge list of family films set to release this year, including, ‘Minions’, both Pixar films, ‘Pixels’, ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ and many more. If ever there was a year to get involved with cinema, 2015 is that year.

Source:  DCM/Pearl & Dean/ May 2015/

Does mobile app advertising prove that TV is as strong as ever despite growth in digital ad spend?

We were recently once again reminded of the imposing shadow digital ad spend is casting over the media landscape. Over 50% of all UK ad spend is projected to be deployed on digital media in 2015, making the UK the first territory on the planet where this benchmark has been breached.

Surely this means that other forms of media, and in particular TV, are on the demise and therefore not as relevant in today’s media market? Not necessarily – with c.£16.2bn predicted to be spent on all forms of advertising in 2015, there remains significant scale for TV to once again prove its worth.

Somewhat ironically, it is the advertising spend of mobile based apps such as Supercell’s Clash of Clans and’s Candy Crush that are demonstrating the power of TV advertising. These two, amongst others, have been an almost constant presence on our TV screens in 2015. In fact, during the period 1st Jan-22nd Mar 2015 over 70% of the UK population (aged 4+) – that’s over 41m of us – have seen a Clash of Clans advert at least once.

This heavy-weight use of TV by companies firmly entrenched in the digital world is a clear indication that TV still has a very important part to play when planning and buying effective media campaigns. There is also an argument to be made that TV will continue to grow alongside digital media. Take Facebook for example – in order to sustain online user numbers that justify such large digital ad spend figures, Facebook has embarked on a heavy consumer marketing campaign. At the forefront of this activity – what else but TV…


Talking Toys Saturate The Toy Market

Today’s toy market exhibits an era of smart technological toys as artificial intelligence and connected tech is being used to create more interactive and stimulating plays for children. Hello Barbie has recently been announced as a talking toy developed to join My Friend Cayla in a product makeover for traditional toys. Hello Barbie and My Friend Cayla are learning dolls that allow children to speak to the toy and receive answers. Interactive smart toys are a trend taking over the industry as companies move away from pre-formed recordings to informal two-way conversations allowing children to gain unique relationships with their toys.

Vivid’s Cayla doll uses speech recognition and Google translation tools as a smart upgrade to a classic doll. Mattel’s Hello Barbie will allow children to speak to the doll in real time, ask questions and hear jokes. The doll is expected to retail at £49 and will have features allowing the doll to listen to a child’s conversation and refer to it at a later stage. For example, if a child mentions that they enjoy dancing, the doll will refer to this fact at a later stage, just as humans have conversations.

In order to interact, the Hello Barbie doll will need to be connected to Wi-Fi and the doll will listen to children through a chest mounted micand speaker. These interactive upgrades are allowing a new age take on traditional toys. Although Barbie is 56 years old to date, Hello Barbie will allow the brand a well needed update, moving from a traditional toy to a tech toy.

Traditional play is increasingly enhanced to match today’s digital advancements. The age of children being connected to technology is lowering and these talking toys can be seen as the industry’s answer to connecting traditional toys with technology, keeping the toy market fresh, innovative, evolving and adaptable. However, will these internet connected toys lead to greater risk to children accessing harmful content online? Are these technological toys taking away from imaginative traditional play?

On the whole, I believe that the growing number of talking toys are a great addition to the traditional toy market and that they allow children to play with a doll in a technologically advanced way as well as in a traditional way; allowing children to learn through technology and play in traditionally imaginative ways. I think this is a bold move in the right direction from Mattel particularly with Barbie being so iconic and having such a vast history.