Influencing Playtime

Influencers with large social media followings, especially on YouTube, have had a noticeable and growing presence at Toy Fair New York over the past few years. With some important exceptions, their role has been more about endorsements than products. Recently, however, there has been a spike in signature toy lines tied to influencers and their brands. Some of the newer deals being announced and/or exhibited at Toy Fair this week:

  • Jakks Pacific acquired the rights to create toys based on Cute Girls Hairstyles, a channel of hairstyling tutorials created by Mindy McKnight. She and her company M-Star Media are represented by Brand Central and Select Management Group. Toys include wigs, styling tools, hair accessories, and styling heads that allow kids to try the looks they see on the CGH videos. The site has 25 million followers across all social media platforms.
  • Jazwares introduced an educational toy line with Stevin John, better known as “Blippi,” with the first products rolling out at retail in the U.S. and U.K. in January. His four YouTube channels have attracted more than 12 billion views over their collective lives and have 20 million subscribers globally. Items will include collectibles, surprise boxes, costumes, vehicles, figures, and plush, all for ages two to seven. Jazwares also is offering a new line of playthings tied to CKN Toys, the Australian channel starring two young brothers. The brand, represented for licensing by Haven Global, has accrued 14.1 million subscribers since its 2015 launch, with a Nickelodeon series scheduled to start this spring. Vehicles and playsets, with the first coming to market in the fall, will anchor the line.
  • Moose Toys signed on as global master toy partner for Collins and Devan Key, of the YouTube channel Collins Key, for DIY toys and activities that allow viewers to recreate the challenges they see in the brothers’ videos. The channel boasts 20.5 million subscribers, 4.5 billion total views, and an average of more than 25 views per video. Toys will launch in fall 2020, starting with challenges that use various compounds and slimes to emulate the food challenges that are a big part of the content.
  • Spin Master’s games division launched a 100-piece Domino Creations set in the fall, which allows fans to recreate some of the set-ups and chain reactions designed and built by domino artist Lily Hevesh on her YouTube channel.
  • Bonkers Toys signed Trinity & Beyond, a channel for kids 3-8 with 160 million views per month, for toys including buildable figures, fashion dolls, and jewelry surprise boxes. It also added Braille Skateboarding, which has 4.5 million-plus subscribers and 1.4 billion lifetime views, for blind bags of miniature boards, skate ramps, and mystery surprise sets. Both properties are represented by Semaphore Licensing Solutions, which also was pitching its YouTube client SuperHero Kids at the show.

These join previously launched programs such as slime queen Karina Garcia’s Craft City brand of DIY kits and supplies, developed with Brandable; gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ collectibles and other toys with Wicked Cool (now owned by Jazwares), introduced at Toy Fair last year; Maddie Rae’s Slime Glue at SCS Direct; and Bonkers Toys’ and PhatMojo’s FGeeTV products; among others. And of course Ryan’s World was one of the earliest established and broadest programs. Represented by Pocket.watch, it recently added 40 licensees to its roster, including toy companies Just Play, Jada Toys, and Kids Preferred. Ryan is ubiquitous at this year’s Toy Fair, with Little Kids, Bonkers, and Far Out Toys among the property’s many other licensees in the toy industry.

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