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Articles by Lutz Muller

Barnes and Noble – the bad News and the good News (8/1/2016)

Ubisoft – short term outlook good; long-term prognosis cloudy (5/1/2016)

Is Take-Two getting ready to break out into the big league? (4/1/2016)
Take-Two is today the smallest of the four leading video game publishers – Activision, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Take-Two. It is a company best known for its top title Grand Theft Auto (GTA). At one stage, GTA was pretty much all the company had to offer but they have since then very effectively diversified their portfolio to the point that the game represented a third of the company’s sales in 2015 and the projection for the first quarter this year is less than 20%.

Spin Master – an interesting performance (4/1/2016)

Is Electronic Arts wedded to the video game dinosaur – the consoles? (3/1/2016)
In a market place that has been very dynamic over the past five years, Electronic Arts, long the underdog to its arch rival Activision, began to catch up by 2014 and pretty much stayed the course throughout 2015.

Activision is undergoing fundamental change – and none too soon! (2/1/2016)
Activision’s core business – video games played on consoles – has been struggling for the past four years.

GameStop – can they build a bridge before they hit the abyss? (1/1/2016)
We all are familiar with the problems GameStop is facing.

Barnes & Noble – will they learn the Sears lesson? (12/1/2015)
Barnes & Noble is the only remaining brick-and-mortar mass retailer of books and the company has had a very tough time

Hello Kitty – a cat on life support? (11/1/2015)
Hello Kitty has been a doll icon for the past forty years but her reign may slowly come to an end unless some fearless knight comes riding to her rescue.

Is ToysRUs getting ready for an IPO? (10/1/2015)
Ever since TRU was taken private by Bain, KKR and Vornado in 2005, the investment community has been asking when, not if, TRU was going to go public again. Recent developments suggest that it could be as soon as early next year.

The changing toy landscape in the U.S. (9/1/2015)

Hispanic consumers – a neglected major factor in the toy space (8/1/2015)
When you walk down the toy aisles of any major retailers you will get the impression that North America's population is totally white.

Spin Master – Playing in the big league (7/1/2015)
Spin Master, the premier Canadian toy company, just made two major announcements.

Tencent follows Sun Tzu and his Art of War is their bible (6/1/2015)
There are two retailers that clearly dominate the video game space –Tencent and GameStop.

The Hobby Market – a Force in Toys (5/1/2015)
Mary Couzin, CEO of the Chicago Toy & Game Group, read a recent article of min

LeapFrog has lost its way (4/1/2015)
In the past six years I have written five articles in this space chronicling the ups and downs of LeapFrog

The Current State of the U.S. Toy Space (3/1/2015)
Some, particularly those not too familiar with the U.S. toy market, are confused by the fact that there are three very distinctly different ways of assessing it.

The Western Toy Market (2/1/2015)
This review of 2014 will look at the two largest toy markets – the United States and Europe; for the latter, the focus will be on the four keystone countries France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

Tencent and Alibaba are invading each other’s turf in China (1/1/2015)
Alibaba’s recent IPO generated a lot of hoopla for the company. However, there is another Chinese entity that is a bigger technical company, much more diversified and much more profitable - Tencent, Inc.

Gamestop – how long can they defy the odds? (12/1/2014)
Gamestop has turned in another disappointing quarter and it behooves us to ask whether this is a short-term glitch or whether it is a signpost for things to come.

Has Jakks Pacific turned around – finally?...Perhaps! (11/1/2014)
After unremitting sales declines every single year since 2008 it appears that Jakks has finally turned the corner

Alibaba – where is the company today and where is it going? (10/1/2014)
Now that the Alibaba IPO – arguably the largest in history – has been accomplished, two crucial questions remain unanswered: Why did Jack Ma do it in the first place and where is he going from here?

The Wii U is sinking – will it drag Nintendo down with it? (9/1/2014)
When the Wii was first released on November 19, 2006, people were a little sceptical

GameStop is Between a Rock and a Hard Place (8/1/2014)
Video game retail sales in the U.S. have been in the doldrums ever since they hit a high point back in 2009

American Girl Goes on Travels (7/1/2014)
Maplelea may be Canada's answer to Mattel's American Girl Dolls

Are Fashion Dolls Old Hat? (6/1/2014)
Fashion Dolls have dominated the U.S. doll market since Barbie came onto the scene back in 1959 and they have reigned pretty much without challenge since then

ToysRUs Has Major Problems (5/1/2014)
ToysRUs has basically three main businesses in the United States – toys, video games and baby products. Neither has done particularly well

Mattel buys Mega – what is the likely impact? (4/1/2014)
In a flat to declining U.S. toy market place, Building toys have been a very noticeable exception. Between 2003 and 2013, the total market went from $22.9 billion down to $21.7 billion whereas the Building category more than tripled from $600 million to now $2 billion

The Preschool Toy Category in the United States (3/1/2014)
According to NPD, Infant and Preschool toys were at $3.66 billion and with a 16.8% share of the total of the largest Toy category last year

The Latest Video Game Consoles Have Launched – Now What? (2/1/2014)
With recent console launches, the hardcore gaming fanatics lined up around the block to buy the new shiny gizmos and the majority continued to stay away. If this is the case then not only console sales but also game sales will be affected

Disney – is Infinity leading the way? (1/1/2014)
Disney is the largest media conglomerate in the world and its avowed goal is to be a major player in every sphere of endeavor in which it operates. The company is engaged in four distinct Segments and is dominant in three of them. The question is – what about the fourth?

Leapfrog – The Saga Continues (12/1/2013)
LeapFrog has indeed turned a corner, but challenges continue to persist

Action Figures in the Doldrums (11/1/2013)
Action Figures represent about 6% of the U.S. toy market and are completely dominated by Hasbro. This is how the picture has developed since 2007

Video Gamers are Deserting Retailers (10/1/2013)
Video games have been in the doldrums since 2008, at least as far as brick-and-mortar retail is concerned. However, if you drill down a little further, you will see that not all was bad

Toy Advertising – The Differing Perspectives (9/1/2013)
I have asked two friends of mine – a leading ad agency and a prominent toy manufacturer – to tell me how they each see the same issues. David Becker of Blue Plate Media Services, LLC was kind enough to give me the ad agency perspective, and the CEO of a medium sized toy company (who asked not to be identified) gave me his view held on the same subjects

Construction Toys - LEGO vs. Everyone Else (8/1/2013)
The construction toy category continues on its phenomenal growth path. This is extraordinary because all the other toys – with the exception of the Electronic Learning segment of Preschool – continue to flag

Tweens and Toys (7/1/2013)
There are basically three "toy" stages – Baby, Preschool and Tween. This article will focus on the Tween category – arguably the most important of the three

Toys – The Cultural Divide (6/1/2013)
The large toy manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe do not agree on too many things but they do agree on one point – while the business today is in the U.S. and Europe, the long-term potential is elsewhere

GameStop better watch out – Galaxy 4 is coming to upset the video game applecart (5/1/2013)
Samsung is launching its Galaxy 4 smart phone with an unprecedented effort designed to wrest market dominance from the IPhone. Normally, this would not be something to worry GameStop...but the Galaxy 4 will pair with a game pad that has the potential of revolutionizing the video game space

The Toy Industry – Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (5/1/2013)
Execunet, which is basically a job board for senior executives, saw a clear improvement in the number of high-level management jobs in the most recent years

Two single brand toy retailers – one success, one failure (4/1/2013)
Two companies entered the retail market with a single toy brand – American Girl and Build-A-Bear. And this is just about where the similarities end

ToysRUs - Where are They Going? (4/1/2013)
There have been three pieces of news about ToysRUs lately – sales slipped both in the U.S. and internationally; the IPO awaited since 2010 has been postponed indefinitely; and Jerry Storch is relinquishing his position as CEO

2013 Toy Fair – a Review by Lutz Muller (3/1/2013)
This year’s Toy Fair was again a resounding success. I received feedback from three national buyers at large U.S. retailers and from two sent by large European stores. According to them, there was both good news and bad news

How is the toy space shaping up for 2013? (3/1/2013)
few days ago, TDmonthly ran an article "2013 Toy Fair – a Review by Lutz Muller" in which I reported the impressions that five national buyers for very large retail chains, three from the U.S. and two from Europe, took away from Toy Fair. I just now went back and asked them how they saw things shaping up for the leading North American public companies for 2013

Activision Skylanders vs. Disney Infinity (2/1/2013)
Activision/Blizzard, the world’s largest provider of video games, has been in the news lately. Firstly, their Call of Duty: Black Ops II game was not only the #1 game for the month of December; it was the #1 game for the whole of 2012. Secondly, their 2011 entry Skylanders has just broken the $500 million barrier at U.S. retail

Movies and Toys 2013 (2/1/2013)
Movies are big business. Here are the box office estimates over the past few years

The Indian Toy Market – a Growing Giant (1/1/2013)
Even though entering the Indian toy market for a newcomer will continue to be challenging, there are a number of very positive signs that suggest that such an entry should not be delayed too long

The Changing Face of Gaming (1/1/2013)
Video game retail sales in the U.S. have been plunging since 2008, which would suggest that the industry is in the continuing throes of very significant and probably structural changes

Electronic Arts — a Very Subtle Transition (12/1/2012)
Like all other leading video game publishers, Electronic Arts is caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock is the fact that games are increasingly played on non-traditional devices such as smart phones and tablets; the hard place is that the platforms for traditional gaming — the Xbox and Playstation — are at the end of their life cycle

Rovio – Birds and Piggies Eat Competition (11/1/2012)
It does not happen too often that an unknown software company from a small European country becomes a major force in the toy space in one year. But this is exactly what happened in the case of Rovio

The Future of Gamestop (11/1/2012)
There is no question that GameStop has had a tough time of late. There are any number of reasons given – we are at the tail end of the last console cycle, there is a shift from consoles towards mobile phones and tablets, downloads are taking more and more share away from the brick—and—mortar retailers — but whatever the case may be, GameStop is struggling and the third quarter 2012 results just now published show no let-off in this pattern

Social Media Networks and Toys (10/1/2012)
Toy executives can be slotted into two groups – those who think that Social Media is a passing fad mainly indulged in by teenagers and of very little commercial value, and those who consider it an absolutely essential tool for building relationships with the total existing and prospective consumer universe

ToysRUs – 2 Strategic Imperatives + 1 Major Potential Problem (10/1/2012)
A few weeks ago I said in this space that “ToysRUs has gained market share in the overall U.S. toy space – online and total retail - on a continuous basis since 2009"...This prompted me to look more closely into the factors driving TRU’s product strategy

The Chinese Toy Market – Monumental Opportunities, Gigantic Challenges (10/1/2012)
We all know that China is making pretty much all the toys the rest of the world buys, but few realize that China is also a major toy market in its own right. Equally significant, China today is probably the fastest growing major toy market in the world

Little David is Threatening the Dollar Goliaths (9/1/2012)
In April this year, in this space, I talked about the inexorable advance of the Dollar stores. Well, they continue to do very well indeed, but they now have a new competitor – Five Below Inc.

The Latin American Toy Market (9/1/2012)
Marketing executives often look upon the Latin American toy market – comprising of all of South America, Central America and Mexico – as small potatoes when compared to North America and Europe, and it tends to be neglected as a result

The European Toy Market – a Challenge in Many Languages (8/1/2012)
In spite of the many problems that Europe faces at this point – Euro issues, recession, cutbacks, and unemployment – it continues to be a very important toy market

The Decline of the Video Game Market (7/1/2012)
As the recent bankruptcy of the Game Group, UK’s largest video game retailer, demonstrates, the massive shift in consumer behavior is not just a theoretical issue to be debated in the air-conditioned comfort of executive suites. It is an issue that goes to the core of the business of each of the players in this space

Wonder Forge – a Scrappy Little Upstart is Showing Them How It's Done (7/1/2012)
Early this month, I mentioned that the top five games at ToysRUs included a relative unknown

QUO VADIS HASBRO? (6/1/2012)
Hasbro, the world's second largest toy maker, is encountering very choppy waves. Firstly, the Battleship movie sank without a trace and with it, their latest hope to rescue the Board Games business. Secondly, G I Joe went AWOL into 2013, further weakening their 2012 movie offering. Meanwhile, their preschool business is facing a massively strengthened Fisher Price. What does this all mean for their business this year and in 2013?

Hasbro Strikes Back: Q&A with Wayne Charness, SVP of Corporate Communications at Hasbro (6/1/2012)
In light of the recent sharp downturn in Battleship movie audience numbers and the postponement of GI Joe into next year, analyst Lutz Muller decided to dive deeper into Hasbro's prospects for 2012 and beyond — and what he found wasn't pretty. Of course, there are two sides to every story, so Muller reached out to Wayne Charness, senior vice president of corporate communications at Hasbro, to hear his take.

Movie Related Toy Sales in 2012 (5/1/2012)
There is a stellar line-up of toy-related movies this year, probably the best in a long time

Amazon: E-book Pricing, Sales Tax, and Growth (5/1/2012)
An Amazon is defined as a tall, aggressive, strong-willed woman. This aptly describes the company of the same name. There is little doubt about its size. With an estimated $65 billion in sales this year, Amazon is expected to be in the top 40 of Fortune’s 500 largest American Companies this year.

Tablets and Smart Phones Invade the Video Game Space (4/1/2012)
It has become fairly clear of late that smart phones and tablets represent a real danger to the video game industry. With the release of the latest iPad these trends are beginning to accelerate.

The Dollar Stores –a factor in toys? (4/1/2012)
The three Dollar Store chains in the United States are becoming an increasingly important factor in the toy space, against a backdrop of stagnating toy sales and a dismal economy

THQ – Digital Gaming's First Victim? (3/1/2012)
January was another terrible month for video games in the United States, at least at retail, confirming that not only will all future growth in the video game software space going to be in the digital area, but that retail sales of software, hardware and accessories will in fact decline

Video Games – Who Will Win the Cyber War? (2/1/2012)
With the bad numbers being announced by the NPD group and retailers, it is not easy to fathom who could possibly emerge as a winner in what increasingly appears to be a hopeless situation

Sustainability and Toys (2/1/2012)
Environmental technology is one of the most important movers of the 21st century. But today too little is being done by us in the toy industry.

2012 Toy Movie Scene – Will it Differ from 2011? (1/1/2012)
Are the factors that caused a 5.3% drop in movie attendance going to repeat themselves in 2012? Given the incredible importance of films for the toy industry, it is important that we ask ourselves this question now

Toy Manufacturing Costs are Rising – what are the choices? (12/1/2011)
I predicted earlier this year that toys produced in China were going to be more expensive this year, and I said in the August issue of this magazine that overall, including the effect of the rising Renminbi, the increase would be in the neighborhood of 20%.

The Video Game Market – Winners and Losers (12/1/2011)
The U.S. video game market continues to disappoint– at least, if you rely on NPD numbers only and look at the brick-and-mortar channel in isolation

Sea Change in Toy Land - Mattel Acquires HIT (11/1/2011)
The announcement that Mattel had bought HIT Entertainment came as a major surprise to many, and was a very ominous piece of news to a number of Mattel’s competitors

Has LeapFrog really come back? (11/1/2011)
From its first days of operations, the company knew nothing but steep market share increases until September 2004 when they hit their zenith

The Shrinking Toy Space (10/1/2011)
There are increasing indications that U.S. retail, particularly the super store chains [Wal-Mart, Target, and ToysRUs], are engaged in an ongoing process designed to reduce the retail space devoted to toys

GameStop is Riding the Digital Tiger (9/1/2011)
At their most recent SEC filing, GameStop reported sharply declining sales, but this doesn't necessarily spell the demise of GameStop today or tomorrow

U.S. Toy Market Outlook 2011 (8/1/2011)
The two weeks leading up to Easter this year had been better for toys than the national buyers had expected and this led them to believe that this was a harbinger of things to come

E3 Wrap-up and Outlook for the Video Game Industry (7/1/2011)
Without a total game changer in the technological space, video game retailers and video game hardware manufacturers seem to be looking at a very tough decade

The Ups and Downs of LeapFrog (6/1/2011)
Leapfrog has had its ups and downs since the company was founded in 1995, and it appears they on their way up again- but are they really?

The Hub Channel And Its Competitors (5/1/2011)
The Hub Channel is a very interesting new venture from the side of Hasbro and very much inline with their strategy to reach the consumer directly- their fourth link after video games, movies, and their own website

The Nintendo 3DS – Will It Rescue the Video Game Space? (4/1/2011)
Hand-held game consoles have been in the doldrums for a good while, and the advent of the Nintendo 3DS is widely expected to change all this. But will it?

Where is the video game market headed? (3/1/2011)
2010 was the second year in a row of so-so video game sales. This is how the various components stacked up in 2009 compared to 2010

The Hub World (2/1/2011)
Early this year, Hasbro took another step towards taking control of all contact points between the company and its consumers

Disney and Warner – who is winning? (2/1/2011)
In September 2009, just after the acquisition of Marvel by Disney, I suggested that this acquisition was a defensive move from the side of Disney because they saw Time Warner encroaching upon their territory. Where are the two companies now, 16 months later?

Toy Market 4Q and 2011 (1/1/2011)
The toy space in the fourth quarter 2010 was an interesting place. One upside factor was online toy sales which, to judge what I hear from friends in the industry, were up by some 10%

The House Jakks Built - Sequel (12/1/2010)
Eighteen months ago I wrote an article in this space on "The House that Jakks built". I then postulated that Jakks had two major skills

Quo Vadis GameStop? (11/1/2010)
For many years, GameStop was the kingpin of the video game market.

Will Thomas the Train Rescue Mega Brands? (10/1/2010)
Mega Brands has for the first time in years had two consecutive growth quarters in their toy sector. This comes after a grim struggle to get out of the hole dug by their RoseArt acquisition back in 2005 and the subsequent recalls of Magnetix

Which Movie-Themed Toys Will Rock 4Q (9/1/2010)
You could not imagine the toy department in any major retailer without LEGO Star Wars, Iron Man action figures, Hannah Montana fashion dolls

The Return of Bratz (9/1/2010)
Beginning with their launch in June 2001, Bratz dolls stormed into a market dominated by Barbie. By 2003, Barbie’s market share had dropped

Lego Toys With Hasbro’s U.S. Games Monopoly (8/1/2010)
For years, Hasbro has dominated the Games and Puzzles category by following a very simple strategy

High-Tech Trio Rescues Video Game Publishers (7/1/2010)
For years, players in the video game space have been in an uneasy alliance that is now fraying at the edges

Craft Retailers Get Unexpected Reprieve (6/1/2010)
Craft retailers in the United States have been struggling pretty much all decade. Declining demand for craft products has meant that for some retailers to survive, others had to go to the wall

Barbie and Disney Princess Await Court’s Bratz Decision (5/1/2010)
Last August, TDmonthly looked at the two major new entrants in the doll market — Liv of Spin Master Toys and Moxie of MGA Entertainment — and speculated as to their survival chances.

Why Toy Sales Will Strengthen But Won’t Beat ‘03 (4/1/2010)
During this year’s Toy Fair and its aftermath, it became very clear that the buyers on my retail panel are taking a much more positive view of the U.S. toy market than they did a year ago.

Video Game Sales Will Stagnate Before Surging (3/1/2010)
After several years of steep sales increases, new video game software and hardware suffered a decline in 2009. This is generally blamed on economic factors that began to turn negative in late 2007 and that, still today, depress purchase motivation for both categories.

How “Transformers” Resonates in Movies and Toys (2/1/2010)
Movies have emerged as the major driver of toy sales. The toy categories most targeted are action figures, construction, preschool, and, to a lesser degree, vehicles.

Hello, Zhu Zhu Pets, Goodbye Webkinz (12/1/2009)
I was widely derided when I wrote in August 2008 that: “I must conclude that the growth of the virtual playground concept has, at least in the United States, slowed in terms of traffic and interest.”

Hasbro Faces Big Threats on the Gaming Field (12/1/2009)
Back in April, I said in this space: “Hasbro’s board game business declined last year despite strong demand for the category. I predict this will happen again in 2009 and 2010.”

Video Games: Year-End Projections (11/1/2009)
February 2009 was the last month in which the video game industry in the United States showed growth. That is why everybody was eagerly anticipating September as the first month in which this negative spell would be broken,

Wal-Mart Enters Holidays With Three-Tiered Toy Strategy (11/1/2009)
About a month ago I wrote in this space that Wal-Mart had embarked upon a dual-level product strategy as far as its toy department was concerned

Private Labels Are Coming to Toy Land (10/1/2009)
A Nielsen report from late November 2008 states that sales of private-label brands in the United States in all categories grew to $81 billion in 2008, a 10.2 percent year-on-year increase versus 2007.

Disney Makes Defensive Move With Marvel Acquisition (9/1/2009)
The news that Disney was acquiring Marvel hit the entertainment industry like a thunderbolt. Yes, there had been plenty of rumors about a large Disney acquisition, but the betting by insiders had been on Electronic Arts

New Kid on the Block: Trio Trips Up ____? (8/1/2009)
At Toy Fair 2009, Fisher-Price presented an exciting new entry into the construction toy category: Trio.

Liv and Moxie Girlz Gang Up on Barbie (8/1/2009)
For decades, Mattel’s Barbie reigned supreme in the fashion doll world, until the saucy upstart Bratz from MGA Entertainment made its appearance in 2001 and challenged the queen.

Virtual Playgrounds See Gradual Decline (7/1/2009)
About a year ago, I wrote an article in the UK Toy News Magazine that said that there were really only five virtual playgrounds worth talking about – Mattel’s Barbie Girls, Ganz’s Webkinz, Disney’s Club Penguin (toy license: Jakks Pacific), Neopets (toy license: Jakks Pacific) and Russ Berrie’s Shining Stars

The House That JAKKS Built (7/1/2009)
The year 2009 will probably be remembered as the year in which the U.S. toy market underwent a structural change. I hear more and more often that the big retailers are looking upon the toy department as a necessary evil and a loser

LeapFrog Stumbles and V.Smile Frowns (6/1/2009)
There are mounting signs that the Electronic Learning Products toy category is undergoing a structural change — and not for the better.

Old Games See New Competition (5/1/2009)
It is rare that a large retail chain totally controls a lucrative product segment, but this is definitely the case with GameStop and its used game business.

Is Another Toy Retailer Biting the Dust? (5/1/2009)
After the demise of KB Toys, the only second tier, year-round toy retailer left is Kmart. More and more insiders are whispering that Kmart, and its owner, Sears, could hit the dust this year.

Wal-Mart Cuts Toys and Crafts in Clean-Up Campaign (5/1/2009)
Wal-Mart is in the throes of a major change in its store layout. Earlier this year, management promulgated a policy called “fast, friendly, clean.”

OnLive Threatens Video Gaming As We Know It (4/1/2009)
After a stellar 2008, the video game market is entering choppy waters. January and February were still decent, according to the numbers, but the advent of OnLive and the expansion of used-game sellers are likely to shake up sales in the near future.

Is Hasbro's Cash Cow Being Led to Slaughter? (4/1/2009)
For many years, Hasbro’s board game business was boring. Nothing happened of any consequence, there were no new competitors, and the category was as flat as a … well, a board. This is now changing.

Hasbro Bares Its Teeth; Will Mattel Bite Back? (3/1/2009)
Recent numbers demonstrate that Hasbro has once again narrowed the gap between itself and the No. 1 toy company in the world, Mattel.

The Toy Market Stages a Turnaround (3/1/2009)
As a rule, the first quarter represents about 15 percent of the year in terms of U.S. toy sales. The first two months of 2009 were, to say the least, very challenging.

Economy Puts Toy Sales on Clearance (2/1/2009)
January typically accounts for about 5 percent of yearly toy sales. If these first 31 days are any guide for the future, we are looking at a really difficult year.

Harry Potter Movies Will Lead in Toys (1/1/2009)
Most of the very successful toys in 2008 were driven by movies — “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “The Dark Knight,” Wall-E” and “Iron Man” – and it hence behooves us to look at what films are awaiting us this year and next.

Predictions for ’09: The Big Get Bigger and the Small Go Away (1/1/2009)
Right now, we are looking back on the worst fourth quarter in toy history and are looking forward to an even worse first quarter.

Have Music Video Games Strummed Their Final Chord? (12/1/2008)
When Activision Publishing’s “Guitar Hero III” and Harmonix Music System’s “Rock Band” were released last year, the consensus of opinion was that a new genre had been born

Even Video Games Can’t Win Against Crushed Economy (11/1/2008)
The NPD numbers that came out for the video game space in October did not make for nice reading. After a disappointing August, September recorded negative growth rates for all three main categories: software, hardware and accessories.

LeapFrog Gains Leaps and Bounds With Turnaround (11/1/2008)
I predicted as far back as September 2007 on that LeapFrog was stabilizing, much to the mirth of my analyst friends.

Six Predictions For the Toy Industry for 2008 … Revisited (11/1/2008)
On Jan. 1, 2008, I made certain predictions for the toy market in the United States.

Retailers Predict Top Mass-Market Holiday Toys (10/1/2008)
I recently asked my retailer panel friends — seven mass-market and three specialty stores — to tell me which toys are likely to do the best this Christmas. Here are their rankings

Music Gives Video Games “Rock” Solid Standing (9/1/2008)
After an incredibly strong seven months, and with August looking equally good, video game producers and retailers are looking forward to the next four months with trepidation.

Women and Tweens Flock to Nintendo’s Wii (8/1/2008)
I thought it timely to take a closer look at the Nintendo Wii consumer and how he or she is different from the Microsoft Xbox 360 or PS3 consumer...

Have Virtual Playgrounds Played Out? (8/1/2008)
At the beginning of the year, I said in my article “Is All This Talk About Webkinz Good?” that the top six virtual playgrounds were beginning to face challenges...

Webkinz Chicken “Coming Home to Roost” (7/1/2008)
I have a lot of friends among small toy retailers. I sold to them when I ran a toy company in the late ‘90s, and always felt that many large manufacturers were taking advantage of them just because they were small.

Video Game Market Beats Economic Odds (7/1/2008)
June saw an increase for hardware at a 54.3-percent clip, software at 60.6 percent and accessories at 25.4 percent. The entire category grew by a dizzying 57.2 percent. Growth rates in both hardware and software continued to accelerate.

How Wal-Mart’s Beating Target at Toy Placement (6/1/2008)
It is now pretty clear that we are looking at the worst year this century for the U.S. toy market. Why? Three reasons: gasoline prices, housing implosion and run-away inflation. We all know about the first two, but the third deserves a closer look.

Indiana May Trump Iron Man at Toy Sales (6/1/2008)
When I first wrote about toy-related films roughly six weeks ago, I overlooked the fact that there is yet another entrant into the toy sweepstakes — “Wall-E” by Pixar...

Video Game Market Sees a Slowdown (6/1/2008)
June 19, 2008 – I have again analyzed the NPD data that has just come out on video games. The information tallies pretty well with my own retailer panel data and with what the buyers tell me....

Lurking Danger for Video Games (5/1/2008)
Video games and the companies associated with them — console makers, game publishers and retailers — are on a roll.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get an Endcap (5/1/2008)
There is little doubt that things are tough in toy land. By the end of April, my retailer panel reported declining sales by 5 percent over all categories compared to the same period last year.

'08 Films are a Match for Merch (5/1/2008)
This year brings an unprecedented lineup of films designed to affect toy sales — seven in the action figure arena and two in other toy categories:

Video Games are Nothing to Cry Over (5/1/2008)
Analysts have been crying “woe is me” all week, looking at the April numbers for video games from the NPD Group and lamenting that the end is nigh.

Wal-Mart Steps Up Safety (4/1/2008)
MEGA Brands’ most recent recall came on top of a slew of others — one from Hobby Lobby, two from Battat and one from Infantino.

Which Movies Will Win? (4/1/2008)
Consensus among my retailer panel and the buyers I speak with has it that the nine movies in the table below will be instrumental in providing growth in a variety of toy categories this year...

Is it Time for RFID? (3/1/2008)
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) first emerged as a concrete issue when Wal-Mart unveiled the new technology as its technological super weapon in 2003.

Toy Fair: Acquisitions in the Aftermath (3/1/2008)
In my January article, “Six Predictions for the Toy Industry in 2008,” I stated the following: “A number of small- to medium-sized toy manufacturers will be bought out or shut down in 2008 because of disappointing 2007 results

Where Will Wii Be? (3/1/2008)
In January I published several buyers’ best guesses as to the most promising video games for the year. In the last column of the chart below are updates of what has happened since.

The Babes Keep Battling (3/1/2008)
Last month I reported on a change hitting the fashion doll aisles. Jakks Pacific’s Hannah Montana was teaching the two reigning queens, Barbie by Mattel and Bratz by MGA Entertainment, that there was a new kid on the block.

The Battle of the Babes (2/1/2008)
Last year marked, for the first time in years, a real change in the fashion doll category — the ascent of Hannah Montana.

The Emergence of a German Toy Giant (2/1/2008)
With bankrupt Smoby’s future up for grabs, Simba-Dickie, the fifth-largest German toy manufacturer, is preparing to challenge the big boys on their home turf.

Six Predictions for the Toy Industry in 2008 (1/1/2008)
Here’s a glimpse of what the toy industry can expect in 2008 — a year of increasing costs and decreasing demand that may favor innovation within the specialty market, but squelch risk-taking in the industry overall.

Is All This Talk About Webkinz Good? (1/1/2008)
Virtual playgrounds are a fairly recent phenomenon. While there are now hordes of them out there, there are really only six that matter as far as the toy space is concerned.

Gamers to Buy Software First, Consoles Second (1/1/2008)
Buyers at the large video game retail chains recently predicted that although consoles drove software sales in 2007, the converse will occur in 2008 as soon as supply of the Nintendo Wii catches up with demand.

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