Tuesday, October 02 2018 11:41

Is "Geoffrey's Toy Box" the New Toys 'R' Us?

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Updated 10:51pm with more details at the end of the article...

Less than 24 hours before the official start of The Toy Association's annual Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, court filings revealed that the long-awaited Intellectual Property Auction for Toys "R" Us had been cancelled. Reported on here (now updated with a statement from the company), the new chapter in the long saga of the TRU closure would see a new company rise from Geoffrey, LLC under control of the lenders. Having been rumored for months, one question raised is how long ago in the bankruptcy process were the lenders planning to relaunch the company themselves rather than sell the assets? Backing-up to the June 29th final closure of the remaining Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us locations in the United States, there were some cryptic messages posted on the TRU social accounts using the hashtag "#TRUBeContinued..." inviting followers to "stay tuned for news and information on the next chapter for Geoffrey and the iconic TRU brands." While the Facebook page has been deactivated and the Instagram account has gone dormant, someone recently did a clean-up on the TRU Twitter account, deleting all the liquidation posts and tacky video ads going back to March 9th - a message thanking customers for their support. So why is the June 29th date so important? Because on June 20th, just nine days prior to the doors being closed, Geoffrey, LLC filed for a trademark on a new name: Geoffrey's Toy Box. And just who is exhibiting in Booth #13-3229 at the Fall Toy Preview? Geoffrey's Toy Box.

According to their pitch sheet, Geoffrey's Toy Box is a "wholesale toy distributor and intellectual property company whose focus is on popular play patterns across trusted brands that kids and parents love. Geoffrey's Toy Box is a fully outfitted organization with design, development and global sourcing expertise. Portfolio includes popular brands like Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Imaginarium, Just like Home and more!"

On the surface, that sounds like a way to bring together all the Toys "R" Us private-label brands (that would've been auctioned) under one roof with the opportunity to start selling those products to other retailers. But the trademark filing wasn't just for a host of potential products, but also for retail locations both online and off.

With Fall Toy Preview underway, attendees are seeing a familiar Giraffe roaming the floor this morning - one wearing a cape that says "Back from Vacation." Keriann Wilmot aka the Toy Queen shared the following photos on Facebook:

The Toys "R" Us Geoffrey's Toy Box team in Dallas are some of the few folks from the skeleton crew that inhabits the now-ghostly offices of the TRU Global Resource Center in Wayne, New Jersey. Remaining staffers began switching their email signatures to the new name this summer, and even Richard Barry, TRU EVP of Global Merchandising is listed as "EVP - Geoffrey's Toy Box" on The Toy Association website.  Some may also note that variations on the "Geoffrey" name have been used on TRU concept stores for several years, including Geoffrey's and Geoffrey's Bargain Box of Toys. As for Geoffrey's Toy Box, seems that this guy might be owed a few bucks:

Updated 10:51pm - my colleagues at The Toy Book got in touch with Richard Barry this evening. He says that Geoffrey's Toy Box will launch this November as a "shop-within-a-shop" concept, debuting with "a prominent Midwest retailer." As it stands right now, this would consist of a train of Geoffrey's Toy Box branded displays, effectively keeping the familiar Giraffe in front of families and on their minds this holiday season. Barry himself is already a controversial figure, having been publicly called out by Basic Fun! CEO Jay Foreman, who specifically cited Barry in an interview with the New York Post earlier this year,  alleging "ethical fraud - disgusting and despicable."

This story is getting pretty interesting again...

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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