Tag Archives: toys r us

What Happened To The “KB Toys” Relaunch? Lack of Financing!

Remember how terrible it was when Toys ‘R’ Us closed up their doors for good, leaving a huge gap in the brick and mortar toy store universe? Back when that was happening, a beacon of light shone through briefly, when KB Toys was announced as making a comeback. Well, it’s been quite some time and still no news on where the heck they are. Today, we have an update.

According to a report from the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, KB Toys is still in limbo due to lack of financing. The company is seeking an investment bank for help in raising funding, as CEO Ellia Kassoff was quoted. However, they have been forced to scale back after failing to open any of the 1,000 temporary stores it had proposed for last year, which would have launched during the holiday season.

“The toy companies had lots of conflicts of interest” that prevented them from investing in the KB given that they sell to other retailers and mall operators don’t typically invest in prospective tenants,” Kassoff said. “It is taking a while to get this done and build out a strategy. Once we get the money together we will be off and running.”

According to LIMA, the plan for now is to secure short-term leases for temporary KB stores so that locations and sales volumes can be tested during both holiday and non-holiday periods. It will open both smaller mall-based locations and larger freestanding stores similar in size to Toys R Us, whose stores averaged around 32,000-sq.-ft.

“The idea is to create temporary locations where we can try out the market and see how it goes, and if we are successful turn it into a permanent location,” says Kassoff.  “If it is not successful, we will close it and move to another location.”

KB Toys initially closed back in 2008, and announced their reboot in 2016.

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Toys ‘R’ Us Is Back As “Tru Kids” – What Does It All Mean?

The big news last year was the death of Toys ‘R’ Us, an international chain of toy stores that was a major part of many of our childhoods. During the 2018 holiday season, there was a brief flirtation with a comeback, in the form of endcaps in Kroeger markets with “Geoffrey’s Toy Box”, but it was nothing really worth noting. Today, we have news that the brand is back – but in what capacity?

The Toybook is reporting today that Toys ‘R’ Us is officially back, but now as the parent company Tru Kids Inc. dba Tru Kids Brands.

Tru Kids Brands is led by Richard Barry, the former global chief merchandising officer at Toys “R” Us, who will serve as President & CEO.  Joining Barry are Matthew Finigan as CFO, James Young as EVP of global license management & general counsel, and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as SVP of global sourcing & brands.

Tru Kids has appointed brand management veteran Yehuda Shmidman as Vice Chairman to advise on global strategy and execution. Shmidman is the CEO of Wave Hill Partners, and the former CEO of Sequential Brands Group. Toybook received this quote from Mr Shmidman:

“Despite unprecedented efforts to capture the U.S. market share this past holiday season, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand for the trusted experience that Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us delivers,” says Barry. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys“R”Us by launching a newly imagined omni channel retail experience for our beloved brands here in the U.S. In addition, our strong global footprint is led by experienced and passionate operating teams that are 100% focused on growth.”

They also recieved this quote from the new CEO, Richard Barry:

“We have an incredible team focused on bringing Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us back in a completely new and reimagined way, so the U.S. doesn’t have to go through another holiday without these beloved brands,.”

The new company will be based in New Jersey, with international partners in hope of spreading the businesses around the globe.

TRU Kids applied for their trademark back in November 29 of last year, a few months after their stores closed their doors for the last time.

So what does that mean for toy stores? That is truly to be determined, as the company has not released their business strategy just yet.

This is great news ahead of NY Toy Fair 2019, as toy makers suffered a great deal without them. The bigger picture, though, is how the parent company of TRU ultimately eliminated many lower level jobs during their bankruptcy, only to revive the brand without any of the previous debt, but retaining all the name power.

Brick and mortar stores may return, but will their scale be that of their previous sizes? Will they turn to more automated check-out machines instead of using people, thus eliminating more jobs?

There is a lot to unpack with this news, and it’s too early to pass too many judgments, but for now I quantify this as a mixed bag of news. I’m excited to see their return (at least in concept), but not happy with how things ended, and quite concerned with what their new business outlook will be and how it will affect not only the toy business landscape, as well as what part it will play in the current US economic scene.

Toys ‘R’ Us originally filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. The store had been in business since 1948.

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Our Farewell to Toys ‘R’ Us

For 70 years, Toys ‘R’ Us was not just a chain of stores – it was a way of life. In this video, Andrea and Matthew talk about the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us, its downfall and final days, talk about our final trip to the store, what we will miss most about this extinct franchise, and say goodbye to one of our favorite places. It was a tough video for us to make and we held back a lot of emotions that all came out after the cameras were turned off, but if you are anything like us, you probably have some very strong feelings about this store going out of business too. Post your favorite memories about TRU in the comments below, and help us remember the best times about this place – and most of all, remind ourselves that we don’t have to grow up to forever be Toys ‘R’ Us Kids.

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Kay-Bee Toys may return to operations, as Toys R’ Us vanishes

With the impending demise of Toys R’ Us, it seems someone has plans to keep toy stores alive, in the form of an older chain that kicked the bucket some time ago.

Ellia Kassoff is the founder of Strategic Marks, LLC, whose brand strategy is ” re-introducing old brands to the public, through trademark acquisition and product/strategy development”. Among the brands he owns is Kay Bee Toys, a company which Kassoff aims to revive and reinvigorate in our time of toy buying needs.

Here is the official word from Ellia Kassoff’s Linkedin Page:

Wow! is all we can say after our first announcement here on Linked In that we’re bringing back @kbtoysstore very soon. We’re received so many calls, emails, and private messages of support as we try to #savethetoyindustry. Due to the overwhelming response, we can’t commit to replying back immediately but we will get to all messages as fast as we can. Many of you asked what our plans will be and all we can say is we spent the last six months working on a sustainable model to bring back KB Toys the right way so it can compete with not only the big box stores but on-line as well.

Our umbrella, Strategic Marks, LLC has been very successful bringing back many of the most popular products and companies over the last ten years because we follow a very strict formula; [To bring back the experiences we loved as a child, just as you remembered them]. With #kbtoys, we had to also look at why they initially failed and to make sure those mistakes won’t be made again. Now, with the closing of @toysrus so quickly, it caught us by surprise so we’ve spent the last few days with our team and leaders in the toy industry to figure out how we can accelerate the project so our stores can open for the Christmas season. When we’re ready, you will be very happy with the results and we believe our model can withstand both on-line as well as other large competitors for not only the short-term but long-term as well.

We understand, we’re not just restarting the only other well-known and loved toy chain in the US but hope to find places for those 33,000 jobs which will be lost as Toys R Us closes. Please be patient with us over the next few weeks as we get this rolling. In the meantime, if you are a toy manufacturer, supplier, distributor, industry head or ex-KB Toys executive, we want to talk to you. Please email us at: info@kbtoysstore.com. If you are a current #toysrus employee, please feel free to send us your resume to resumes@kbtoysstore.com but also know that we won’t get back to you for a little while as we finalize our concept. #savethetoyindustry #kbtoysareback

What will actually become of Kay Bee Toys is still to be determined, and I approach this with cautious optimism. I certainly look forward to a new toy store on the block, and want this to happen. Until I see an opening date and a store in my neck of the woods, words are wind.

Kassoff is currently the CEO of Leaf Brands, whose portfolio includes Hydrox Cookies, Bonkers! Fruit Chews, and Wacky Wafers among others.

Kay Bee Toys was originally founded in 1922, and at its height operated 1,300 stores across all 50 states. They went out of business in 2009 after going bankrupt and being bought by Toys R Us.

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NECA shows off glow-in-the-dark Robocop figure

NECA has proudly unveiled their latest Toys R Us exclusive: Night Fighter Robocop!

Not only does the glow-in-the-dark Night Fighter Robocop directly reference the look and feel of the original toy line, but the packaging on this TRU exclusive couldn’t be more ’80s if it was wearing Madonna’s coned bra. It’s like they

imported Officer Murphy here directly from that most confusing decade of capitalist expansion and bizarro pop culture, and we wanted every aspect to fit the bill.

So while your friends are pulling up their legwarmers in the 100-degree heat and teasing their hair out to look like Olivia Newton John, all you gotta do is head over to Toys ‘R’ Us to get a load of Night Fighter Robocop and out-retro everyone. Whether or not you ever watched the animated series in your pajamas on a Saturday morning, you won’t want to miss out.

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