A New Challenger - KB Toys Trademark Obtained

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 18, 2018

UPDATE 3/19/2018: It looks like the original trademark expired in 2016 and somebody swooped in to grab it rather than a sale of an asset from Toys R Us.  We don't have the full story at this time but will share more as we see it.

I've been speculating that in the wake of a possible Toys R Us decline, some of its assets may get carved up and sold off - after all, they've owned FAO, Etoys, and Kay-Bee Toys.  Over the weekend my pal Phil pointed me to a pair of curious Linkedin posts about the imminent revival of KB Toys:


KB Toys is Coming Back and Wow! What a Response from the Toy Industry!

While I've never ran a retail toy channel, this is a complete surprise.They're casting a line out to the web to do business, or to hear from people that worked at the go-to shopping mall toy store in the final years of the 20th century before their untimely end in 2009 - along with the malls that housed them.  If you're wondering what they've got planned, here are a couple of quotes:

"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."

And also

"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."

Obviously it is impossible to replciate the environment of 2009 - or earlier - given just how much has changed in the toy business.  The "Top 5" toy customers were Kay-Bee, Kmart, Toys R Us, Target, and Walmart.  Today th first three are gone or going, with Amazon and Walgreens starting to make a bigger dent in the big picture in addition to online toy stores with very smart and handsome buyers.  The shopping mall is crumbling, often figuratively and in some cases literally.   The three malls I hit the most for Kay-Bee shopping are not in the best shape, with one likely being razed sooner or later while another has all the life force and verve of a discarded apple core.   Even as a seasonal store, Kay-Bee has some potential - but the infrastructure that gave the original life, and that economy, and all those toy brands, are long gone.

Like many of you, I have a lot of fond memories of Kay-Bee toys dating back to the days of the original Kenner Star Wars line, regularly visiting while in college and even when the chain died.   It wasn't always in great shape.  Some days you would go and find a trove of clearance Zoids or old LEGO sets that didn't make the grade, and what a treat that was.  On other days, you'd see a bin of Free Willy bend-em's in such horrid shape that the thrift store would wonder why you're trying to unload your junk on them.  I can't tell you how many trips I made to those stores and turned a pocket full of change into a fun distraction, and it's my hope that they remember all of the amazing closeouts, oddball items, and general weirdness that made the toy store what it truly was rather than a nostalgia trip that neglects the video games, noisy beeping toys, dolls, and games that kept the place going for decades.