Brian Stockton’s elevation to CEO of Mattel made our 2011 Top News Story list so it should be no surprise that we see his appointment to Chairman as a major news story for the toy industry. As I wrote at the time: “Bryan Stockton is known for being highly collaborative and inclusive as can be witnessed with his very visible presence with the Toy Industry Association (2011 Chairman of the Executive committee.” Brian’s elevation to Chairman is recognition of his excellent work in bringing Mattel back from the safety recalls and recession of the last decade.
- Management shakeup at Build a Bear
I was fortunate to be living in St. Louis, Missouri when Maxine Clark launched her first Build-A-Bear Workshop. It was an immediate success so I decided to spend some time at the store watching shoppers. I watched two grandparents, with tears in their eyes, writing a note on a paper heart before it was sewn into their bear’s chest. They both teared up and I overheard them say they were sending it to a grandchild who lived two thousand miles away. It was at that moment that it hit me that Build-A-Bear was selling more than bears, it was selling connectivity.
Maxine Clarke moved on from the Chief Executive Bear position in 2013; has sold off some of her holdings and has recently announced her involvement in a start-up that makes “Monster Coats.” In June she was replaced by Sharon Price John who came from Stride Rite. Build-A-Bear is upgrading stores and securing more licenses as it shores up its position as an island of toys in the retail malls.
- UK leads in gender neutral marketing with Harrods, Toys “R” Us and Hamleys taking the lead
Pink Stinks, the UK based enemy of girly stereotyping, must have started something in the U.K. as three major retailers took down the gender signs in 2013. Hamleys, the noted London toy store, Toys "R" Us and Harrods’s, the London based department store chain, have begun grouping toys by category rather than by gender.
It will be interesting to see if this move spreads to the US. After all, Wal-Mart granted benefits this year to same sex couples so anything is possible.
- Nerf Rebelle
In a year where GoldieBlox can create a video sensation and British stores are taking down gender signs, is it any surprise that Rebelle, the pink Crossbow from Nerf, is a huge success? The interesting question is whether it is popular because of its color or because girls simply want an outlet for physical, aggressive play. Whatever is going on, it does seem that 2013 was the Year of the Girl.
- Your Choice