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In the toy world, one of the biggest happenings of fall is the arrival of Toy City. Launching now alongside Halloween City pop-ups in around 50 cities (I revealed the store list exclusively last week), this is Party City's big foray into filling the seasonal gap left behind following the collapse of Toys "R" Us this year. There've been many questions from both consumers and industry players alike, and as I mentioned in my recent feature at The Toy Book, the launch of Toy City was a hot topic during the Future of Toy Retail panel that I took part in at San Diego Comic-Con. So what will these stores look like? The Toy Insider's Jackie Breyer gives us a tour in this new video showcasing a Toy City location in the former Toys "R" Us in Rockaway, New Jersey. Check it out...

2018 continues to be a unique and challenging year for those in the business of play. While sales are up and there's no shortage of places to buy and sell toys, the rapid collapse of Toys "R" Us in the United States and other countries continues to cause collateral damage. While major players like Mattel have taken a beating, it was always expected that some smaller toymakers would suffer catastrophic damage. Today's casualty is Toy State, a Hong Kong-based company with a long history of making some fantastic toy vehicles, including their Road Rippers brand and the iconic Nikko RC line, but also toys with a ton of top licenses and strategic partners like CAT, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie & Hot Wheels, DC Comics, MARVEL, WWE, Thomas and Friends and more. In fact, they just announced a partnership with 20th Century Fox to become the master toy licensee for the animated film Spies in Disguise, which hits theaters next April. 

Back in June, Party City  officially announced that they'd be going after some of the business left behind in the wake of the Toys "R" Us collapse by opening 50 Toy City pop-up stores this holiday season. By pairing them with existing Halloween City pop-ups, they'll be able to test the waters for future seasonal expansion by utilizing locations where they already have great deals on short-term leases on the space. While it's been quiet over the summer, customers and those in the toy industry have been eagerly awaiting news on where these locations might be - something I keep getting asked about. Though the official announcement hasn't come down just yet, I can exclusively reveal the locations of 46 Toy City pop-up stores, with the list being published for the first time anywhere right here on The Rock Father™ Magazine. Is there a Toy City opening in your town? Find out below...

Back in 2016, ThreeSixty Group announced the acquisition of the FAO Schwarz brand from the pre-bankruptcy Toys "R" Us, quickly making plans to resurrect it into retail. 2017 presented an unfortunate almost-misstep, with FAO launching pop-ups in Bon-Ton Stores (including Carson Pirie Scott and Younkers, among others) just ahead of that company's collapse. A minor hiccup in the grand scheme, FAO Schwarz put on an impressive show at the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City back in February, having announced plans for a new flagship location in NYC, along with a partnership with Hudson Group to bring stores into airports across the country. Now we know where the first location will be, and appropriately - it's in New York's LaGuardia airport in the redesigned Terminal B.

The birth rates might be down, but contrary to what some might have you think - yes, people are still having babies... even Millennials. With the loss of Babies "R" Us during the Toys "R" Us collapse this past year, new parents looking for a spot to check out the latest in baby gear are finding that there may soon be more places to buy than ever before, and the latest is a bit of an unexpected one: JCPenney. The iconic retailer has had their own share of struggles with evolution over the past few years, but they're still working on it, this week announcing the opening of JCPenney Baby Shops in 500 stores.

As we enter August, I've now been writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us (TRU) for 11 months - hard to imagine that last year at this time, the dominoes were just on the verge of tipping, as positive announcements like the launch of Spin Master's Rusty Rivets toys and the pending Force Friday II ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were still taking place. Of course, by September things were looking bleak, and my "Toy Killer" feature about Bain Capital setting-up TRU to fail and fall - just as they did with KB Toys - was published just 12 days ahead of their filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The eventual motion for complete liquidation just six months later would be a surprise to many, but the fact that the process of shutting down the company and selling off its assets keeps getting drawn-out is one that continues to surprise and pour salt in the wounds of many. I still hold firm in my belief that certain parties at the top never had any real intention of allowing Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us to continue here in the United States, and now it appears as though by the time it's all said and done, even the names my hold little value. Once again, the Intellectual Property Auction that would allow buyers to purchase the IP assets of the company has been postponed - this time until October. For those playing along at home, the initial plans for the auction were outlined back in May with the original plan set for a June 18 action... postponed until August 6, and now delayed once again. With each passing day, the TRU brand loses more and more of its value, but life without Toys "R" Us isn't necessarily as bleak as some may have thought. In fact, the NPD Group reports that toy industry sales are up more than 7% so far in 2018 with double-digit increases in the sales of youth electronics and dolls. Still, the saga of Toys "R" Us continues, and as I said during my panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, it's like an L.O.L. Surprise Doll in that there's just more and more to discover as each layer is peeled back...

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