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Several of our clients have asked us to put together a training day program covering the fundamentals of the Toy & Game business.

We are currently working on rolling this training day out to a broader audience.

If you want to sign up to the waiting list, to receive more information and to get advanced ticket sale information for you or your team, please click here to sign up: 

If you want to complete a simple survey to feedback on your needs so we can structure the course accordingly: 

The curriculum is being designed to offer an overview of how the toy & Game business works overall, and by working through key fundamental areas of the Toy business including:

  • Product concept and ideation

  • Manufacturing & shipping

  • Inventory management and forecasting

  • Distribution markets, models, methods and channels

  • Selling internationally, managing export sales

  • How to sell Toys & Games to retail buyers

  • Toy & Game industry Trade shows

  • Toy & Game marketing

  • How brand licensing works

  • Consumer insights in the Toy & Game business

  • A non-legal look at Legal - IP/brand protection

  • And more...


This is a fundamentals training course, so by definition it is pitched at giving a basic understanding of key elements of the Toy & Games business. This course will be of help for people with less than c. 3 years experience in the business, for people who have primarily worked in one discipline and now need an idea of how the rest of the Toy business works, and for those who are in start up or pre-start up mode.

The course will include ample opportunity to ask specific questions to aid your understanding and learning. This is not designed to be passive learning, the more questions you ask the more you will get from the training.


Steve Reece will present all elements of this full one day course. Steve has 25 years experience working across the Toy & Games business and has a long term commitment to helping the learning and development of people in the Toy & Game business. He has worked for and with major Toy & Game companies as well as hundreds of smaller companies and start ups. He first ran training courses for our industry back in 2011.


We are just gauging demand by meeting format/locations. We are considering online live training, face to face in conference suites and also potentially delivering the training in client's offices where the numbers of participants merit. We will confirm available options after we analyse feedback to the survey (link below).


If you want to sign up to the waiting list, to receive more information and to get advanced ticket sale information for you or your team, please click here to sign up:

Toy Market Growth Opportunities In Turkey & The Istanbul Toy Fair

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I have written extensively in this newsletter about the dropping birth rates in most major ‘western’ Toy markets. This is a threat to sales growth, because if we have fewer children we have fewer customers. However, one avenue to sales growth over the medium term is to look at economies which are up and coming and to invest your efforts into those markets to capture market share. Then as that market grows, so does your business there.

For me one of the obvious opportunities, especially for European companies, is Turkey. It’s hard to find a better argument for growth than Turkey in and around Europe.

Before I get further into the case for Turkey, I was invited to visit Istanbul for the upcoming Turkey Toy fair (March 6th to 9th 2024), more details on that here if you are interested in attending:




I spoke to one of my friends at a recent trade show who told me they had sold 60,000 units of one of their Games products in Turkey. That really opened my eyes, because that is a large sales volume for a game in any international market outside North America. This led to me conducting further research on the economy and Toy market of Turkey.

According to accountancy firm PWC, Turkey is set to move from being the world’s 17th biggest economy to being the 11th biggest economy by 2050, ahead of France and Italy, and very close in size to the UK. Turkey’s current population of c. 85 million people is set to hit 100 million by 2040.

Admittedly Turkey has had an inflation problem historically and is currently experiencing very high inflation c. 65%. This creates both challenges and opportunities for working with Turkey.

In terms of birth data, Turkey introduced 1.04m new potential Toy consumers in 2022, which is more than any European country. Turkey had more births than each of the ‘Big 3’ of Europe in France, Germany and the UK who all saw births of 710k to 730k new children each. That’s a lot of new children being born every year in Turkey, and so those who have yet to establish distribution into Turkey are missing a lot of youngsters to sell Toys to. As birth rates decline in many major Toy markets, there are a lot of newborns in Turkey every year that we can’t afford to ignore.




In 2023, Turkey imported Toys worth c. $200m USD. That might not sound huge, but bearing in mind how under exploited the market is, and how the country’s economy is set to grow in the coming years there are clearly incremental opportunities on offer in Turkey. Just to prove this, the year-on-year growth trend in Toy imports in Turkey was + 28%. There are not many countries growing Toy imports by those kinds of numbers currently!

The biggest Toy categories in Turkey are (listed amounts are at import value, retail value would be higher):

1.       Building blocks (plastic) - $40.8m USD

2.       Toy sets - $38.7m USD

3.       Other plastic Toys - $27.7m USD

4.       Figures (non-stuffed) - $21.6m USD

5.       Other models with electric (plastic) – 15.8m USD

6.       Dolls & human figurines - $15.8m USD

7.       Stuffed Toys - $13.5m USD

8.       Toys made from other materials - $8.4m USD



In terms of retail structure, Turkey’s domestic market has some of its own differences, line in other countries.

For online channels, Hepsiburada, Trendyol and Amazon are the top tier in Turkey. These online channels are important in a country which is as geographically diverse as Turkey.

Toyzzshops have c. 250 stores in Turkey and is the biggest Toy specialist chain. After that, there is also Armağan Toys with nearly 80 stores across Turkey. Following that is another specialist Toy chain: Adore Toys.

Another small but growing area for Specialist stores are niche stores including TırtılKids, KeyifBebesi or Penguen. These stores tend to be in established shopping malls in urban areas of Turkey.

The Grocery channel is also a player in Turkey with Migros (c. 2000 stores) & Carrefour (c. 850 stores) having a strong presence.

Additionally there are various independent stores, stationery chains and also discount retailers.

In terms of retail dates & key events, Turkey has several: National Sovereignty & Children’s Day is celebrated in Turkey on 23rd of April. Also, Turkey has a LONG summer vacation (those poor parents!), running normally from mid-June to start September, this tends to prompt some Toy purchasing as parents try to occupy their children. Being a Muslim country, Christmas is not celebrated in Turkey, however New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest holiday dates in Turkey. There is a tradition of giving gifts on New Year’s, which instead of being brought by Santa Claus are brought by ‘Noel Baba’.




I have been investigating Turkey as a potential Sourcing hub for supply to Europe for a few years now. As some production of Toys has begin to ebb away from China, and as various crises from the Covid induced shipping container price inflation through to the Houthi rebels attacking ships heading to the Suez Canal, AND as the world of Toys begins to rethink our reliance on shipping products from the far side of the globe, so Turkey can be part of the solution.

Turkey has a comparatively very low wage level versus most European countries. Minimum wage is currently the equivalent of c. $550 USD per month in Turkey, which is around the same ballpark, or perhaps a little less than China. The benefit with Turkey vs China of course is proximity to the major European markets, total driving time from Istanbul to major European capitals like Paris or Frankfurt is under 24 hours, versus container ships from China taking c. a month.

As with elsewhere in the world though, Turkey cannot begin to rival China’s breadth of component supply chain, efficiency or depth of capabilities, BUT Turkey is a real option for basic plastic Toys today. Going forward I anticipate significant growth in exports of Toys from Turkey – for 2023 exports were c. $83m USD, I would expect significant growth of 3 times, 5 times or even ten times that level in the coming years.

For any companies seeking manufacturing alternatives closer to Europe, Turkey really does now merit further investigation.



Another trend to highlight is a small but strong growth in Turkey as a product origination and development hub. By way of example, one of my client’s – TOYI – embodies this with an innovative, open ended and sustainable approach to the Construction Toy category.

Turkey’s burgeoning start-up culture is leading to the creation of a strong hub for Toy ideation, and as such is worth investigating for future products for Toy companies from elsewhere to distribute into their own markets.


Now we come to the best way to access the opportunities on offer in Turkey. The Istanbul Toy Fair is held on the European side of Istanbul at the Tuyap Fair Convention and Congress Center. The 2024 show runs from March 6th to March 9th and will see people arrive at the show from more than 60 countries around the world. 

The exhibitor satisfaction for the show is 97.3% and the show features exhibitors both from Turkey and from other countries as overseas companies seek to exploit the Turkish market opportunity.

If you are a Trade visitor you can access Free tickets to The Istanbul Toy Fair here: 


The Istanbul Toy Fair show organisers are offering a Hosted Buyer Program, whereby you can qualify for two free nights accommodation in a 5-star Hotel next to the show ground (at the Tuyup Palas Hotel). if you would like to take advantage of this program, you can just contact the show organisers direct via the website, or I can put you in touch with the right people if you need :)

Sign up for my free e-newsletter and receive all the latest reports, analysis and insights on the Toy & Games business: sign up for free here:

Sign up for my free e-newsletter and receive all the latest reports, analysis and insights on the Toy & Games business: sign up for free here:


FY 2023 results have now been reported by Hasbro, Mattel & Spin Master (although the latter only reported preliminary results with some financial work still to be done on the details). For those trying to follow what is happening across the world of Toys & Games, these results are normally revealing because a). They offer up hard data as to the performance of the market leaders b). It becomes clearer which categories and types of products are winning in the market and c). The senior management of these companies get grilled on their earnings calls by investment analysts who often (but not always!) ask awkward questions to get to the reality & truth behind the headline data.

Overall, this round of results confirmed what we already knew – the market for Toys & Games has been under pressure post the initial pandemic sales boom. But we need to go into further detail to truly understand what these results reveal to us about market dynamics and the outlook for these companies and the broader market.



Hasbro have been going through one of those difficult periods which seem to come cyclically in this business. At the time of writing, their share price is just under $51 USD, which looks rough versus the c. $100 price a couple of years back and even further away from the peak of $124 in 2019. Just to put this in context though, I remember the share price being close to single figures back in the early noughties when I worked for Hasbro myself, so the current difficult stretch needs to be put in the context of Hasbro’s massive success across the last decade, and their massively strong stable of iconic brands which are still all in place.

Hasbro reported full year 2023 revenues down a substantial 15% year on year, which bearing in mind 2022 was also down 9% on 2021 might give the impression of a really desperate situation. Hasbro also confirmed they lost more than $1.5 billion in 2023, which again looks terrible if taken at face value. However, there is a more nuanced story behind the financial headlines with Hasbro. The company is in the unfortunately painful process of refocusing on the core ‘Play’ business having spent the previous period with strong push on the entertainment/content industries. Most of Hasbro’s loss in 2023 is attributable to the sale of eOne’s now non-core Entertainment capabilities.

The significant reduction in revenues can be explained by strategy as much as just being due to a tough market though. Typically when a stock market listed company hits a turn in the road whereby a previous strategy has largely played out, and there is less prospect of significant sales growth, there are two options: 1. Try to acquire in adjacent sectors in order to continue growing revenues or b). Go back to basics, cut hard and deep and go through the trauma of ‘resizing’ the company to a lower level of revenues, but to higher levels of bottom-line profitability.

Hasbro’s latest strategy of ‘Fewer, Bigger, Better’ then is in effect a self-fulfilling prophecy of lower revenues, but eventually higher profitability & net cash generation. By aggressively out licensing a significant number of Tier 2 brands and focusing resources and investment on developing and launching fewer products, the company is looking to play a prudent financial game. I remember back in my time at Hasbro the Finance guys tended to love licensing out deals, as it generated pure bottom-line profit back with much less overhead required to drive the profit. With this strategy, eventually the sales decline will level out, leaving the company leaner and more profitable.

The difficult late announcement in 2023 of additional painful job losses on a large scale should be taken less as a sign of a downward spiral, but more as the logical next step in executing the strategy. With this type of strategy the first job losses come from core functions as the company needs fewer people to develop and launch fewer products. What comes next normally is a second phase, where the company sees less need for expensive office space and supporting functions with a smaller overall headcount to service. It could well be the case that Hasbro decided to ‘kitchen sink’ 2023 i.e. seeing it was going to be a difficult year, the company may have chosen to take as many financial hits as they could in what was already a bad year financially speaking, in order to set up a more successful 2024 & onwards from a lower cost base.

Hasbro has so many strengths – the ongoing power of the Magic: The Gathering and broader Wizards of the Coast business, the strong position in Gaming and in Nerf they have a proven power brand, which could see upside in H1 2024, as 2023’s Nerf performance surely was impacted by excessive inventory in retail leading to reduced stock intake in Nerf’s most critical period of the year.

One other point I would make though is that the idea of doing more with less often looks good to the management consultants and the bean counters, but the reality is that retail buyer relationships are still critical, even taking into account all the technological advances we have seen and the rise and rise of Amazon. The reality is this – you may be more focused on fewer brands and fewer skus, but in effect that gives you less time with your Buyers, who are now spending more time with your smaller competitors who licensed your lesser brands from you. There is always a risk with this strategy of delivering less with less instead of more with less.

So, in conclusion on Hasbro, I would say that some of the seemingly negative financial news regarding the company is in effect self-induced as the company pivots corporate strategy. Even in a tough market I would expect Hasbro to deliver massive bottom-line profit in 2024, but there is also a risk of the out-licensing of Hasbro’s brands helping smaller competitors to level up.




“When the battle is over, tighten your chin strap” Japanese samurai saying.

One of the peculiarities of our industry is that it can be a huge success which causes us the most problems! Any company or management person who has been the beneficiary of a massive product or content output success will know that following the success can be difficult, and above all risky. Many businesses and businesspeople start to think after massive success that they are the reason for the success and that they can in effect walk on water. I remember having a massive success in a previous role, which nearly killed the company as success came easily, overheads became bloated, and eventually the impact nearly killed the company.

Why is all this relevant to Mattel? Put simply, 2023’s Barbie movie was a monstrous success, surely way beyond the expectations of even any of Mattel’s Barbie team. The movie was the number one highest grossing at the global box office in 2023 and the 14th highest grossing movie of all time. The Barbie movie is also the highest grossing ever for a franchise that began with Toys vs being a movie franchise that later spawned Toys. That is just a stunning success, and congratulations to all at Mattel for this massive achievement.

The challenge now though (of course!) is what comes next? If you tried to value the Barbie brand at this point in time, it has arguably never been such a massive part of the zeitgeist. But the operational challenge is in ‘anniversarying’ shipments and sell through.

Mattel reported global revenues as flat year on year for 2023 versus 2022. In the market circumstances, that’s a very positive result, especially when compared with Hasbro’s revenue trend. However, the challenge here is that if the year in which Mattel achieved No. 1 at the global box office with the Barbie movie delivers flat sales, what happens in 2024 when the company has to anniversary the movie year in a market which is not quite as tough as it was in 2022 and 2023, but which is nevertheless still not easy?

The positive market trend for Mattel though heading into 2024, is that ironically they are normally less reliant on a successful movie slate than their long term rivals Hasbro, depending instead to a large degree on their own core IP, especially their big 3: Barbie, Fisher Price & Hot Wheels. As I have written in previous instalments of this newsletter, when the movie slate is weak, consumers and retailers tend to fall back on evergreen iconic Toy brands, and so while the market remains tough, and Mattel in particular have a tough gig ahead to anniversary the Barbie movie year, they may see a better 2024 than some analysts have predicted due to the timeless strength of their iconic core Big 3 brands.




Spin Master have been in a golden age of expansion for around a decade or more at this stage. Whereas Hasbro & Mattel are now too big to entertain the average acquisition in the Toy & Game business any more, Spin Master have been scooping up I.P. on an ongoing basis to fill out their brand roster and diversify their business.

Spin’s preliminary results for 2023 reveal that corporate revenues reduced by 5.7% caused by an 11% decline in Toy revenues but balanced out by revenues from entertainment & digital revenue. Spin Master also have a tough year ahead in 2024 in terms of anniversaries of movies, with Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie performing well at the global box office in 2023.

The good news for Spin Master’s revenues in 2024 should be the addition of Melissa & Doug to the companies stable of brands and products. While the headline purchase price has raised some eyebrows, M&D’s portfolio of highly profitable open ended play products appear to fit well alongside Spin Master’s existing entertainment driven offerings. In addition, this appears to be a major risk reduction exercise for Spin in terms of reducing the corporation’s reliance on fossil fuel derived plastics as the primary material for their physical products. Over time we can expect consumers to want to move away from oil-based plastics, and if they should suddenly do that in a dramatic fashion, Spin Master have now reduced that risk to their business with the acquisition of a leading player in the wooden Toys segment.



It’s a cliché I know, but as the saying goes: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. So the bottom line is this – it’s a difficult market right now for Toys & Games, for many of us it’s as tough as we’ve seen it. But whining and whingeing aren’t going to magic revenues up, only innovation, inspiration, smarts & hard grind will deliver results. And like with any rain clouds, they always clear and eventually the sunshine returns. Those who take the appropriate steps will come through stronger and better set for when the good times return!


N.B. All trademarks featured herein are the property of their respective owners.


This new section to the newsletter is going to share details of qualified Toy & Game people seeking work. The following people have approached me seeking new roles, if you are an employer looking for staff & want to be introduced to any of these people or see their CVs/Resumes, please message me:

· Experienced Head of Product Development (UK based) – has worked for several well-known Toy companies & lead development of hundreds of product ranges. I know this candidate well & can personally highly recommend him.

· Head of China/Hong Kong (China based) – an experienced Sourcing expert & China distribution executive.

Please message me for more details on these candidates.



Here’s some of the live projects I’m working on:

·       Finding international distribution for a major Outdoor Toy vendor in India.

·       Finding international distribution for PRISMIC – an innovative new creative play product experience with a stunning end result. We showed this new brand at New York & Spielwarenmesse Toy fairs & have had a great response. Distribution for some markets is still available though, please dm for further details:

·       Recently delivered candidates for a USA General Manager role.

·       Just gone live with 3 Account Manager roles for UK, France & Germany.

·       Working with leading board games factories in India & China to find new clients.

·       India’s leading Toy factory – helping my clients to find geographic diversification in their supply chain.


For more information on our services, click here: 





It’s 25 years since I first visited the Spielwarenmesse show in Nuremberg. This article is a personal reflection of the importance of this show in my life and career.



Here’s to Adults growing older later! The Kidult market is a major thing right now, offering significant growth opportunities for Toy & Games companies despite the fact that birth rates are dropping in most major markets. Read more in this latest article I wrote published by the Spirit Of Play Blog, which is published by Spielwarenmesse, the world’s biggest Toy trade show. Click the link below to read the full article:


Also here’s a short video excerpt from my presentation at Spielwarenmesse’s Toy Business Forum in 2023 looking at the potential impact of the ‘Kidult’ phenomenon on the future of the Toy business:




So often in the world of Toys we look for the big changes, we go trend spotting to find new things to jump on. The reality though is that far more doesn’t change than does. That’s what this latest article I wrote, published by looks at. Just click the link below to read:






EP 104 – 2024 Global Toy Market Outlook, Another Year Beckons

2020 and 2021 were unexpectedly boom years for the Toy business overall as locked down families invested out of season in play activities for their homebound children. 2022 and 2023 were significantly worse years for the Toy trade. The question now is what happens in 2024? Host Steve Reece talks through the factors affecting Toy market performance in 2024 in this latest episode. 


EP 103 – Why Product Selection Is Critical For Toy Companies aka Why I Turned Down Settlers Of Catan

In this episode we take a look at how choosing the right products to launch is the fundamental success factor for Toy & Games companies. Host Steve Reece uses an example of when he turned down a now famous & massively successful product as an example of how sometimes turning away good products is necessary in order to focus on what will work best for your company and the business model and market positioning of your company.

EP 102 - Selling A Toy Business: How Mergers And Acquisitions Work In The Toy Biz

Many companies in the Toy business grow via acquisition. Company owners often want to sell up and retire or move onto other pastures. In this episode we take a look at some of the biggest Toy acquisitions of all time, we look at why and how Toy Cos are bought and sold and we discuss the details of the process of buying or selling.

Maybe you have a Toy business you want to buy or sell, or maybe you just want to understand how company sales work in the world of Toys, either way this episode will have something for you.





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