As Toys R Us Closes, KB Toys Eyes a Comeback

Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

After filing for bankruptcy in September, Toys R Us announced on March 15 that it would liquidate, closing 735 stores and leaving 31,000 employees out of work. With such a staple of the toy industry gone, manufacturers like Mattel and Hasbro are going to find themselves without a home for a large chunk of their products, leading some analysts to estimate that 10 to 15 percent of all toy sales could be lost for good once the final Toys R Us closes shop.

But as one toy giant falls, another could be looking to take its place, as Business Insider reports.

In a post on LinkedIn, Ellia Kassoff, founder of Strategic Marks, LLC, announced that his company was "GOING TO SAVE THE TOY INDUSTRY!" Strategic Marks is the current owner of the defunct KB Toys brand—and with Toys R Us gone, there's a market void that Kassoff thinks KB can fill.

KB Toys stores—formerly known as Kay-Bee Toys until a 1997 brand makeover streamlined the chain’s image—were an omnipresent sight at malls across the United States in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But by 2009, the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed its last 460 stores. In 2016, though, the brand was bought by Strategic Marks, a company that “acquires and develops trademarks in order to rebuild old brands.” Some of these defunct brands the company has resurrected include Leaf Brands, Astro Pops, Wacky Wafers, Bonkers!, and Fruit Chews.

The plan as of now, according to Business Insider, is for the KB Toys renaissance to take the form of pop-up stores in time for the holidays, with an additional focus on online shopping. In his LinkedIn post, Kassoff said, “Well, with the demise of Toys R Us, this week, we have now accelerated our business plan and hope to have our stores up and running before Christmas. We're in discussions with many of the toy manufactures, as we try to find out the best way to support them and the 20% loss of the US toy market due to the Toys R Us liquidation.”

Due in part to its strategy of locating stores inside shopping malls and selling discontinued and discounted toys for a bargain, KB was one of the nation’s leading toy chains at one point, with 1300 stores spread throughout the country in 2001. If Kassoff pulls off his reclamation project, you might start seeing KB Toys stores popping up at your local mall before Black Friday.

[h/t Business Insider]

Take a Virtual Tour of Space Mountain and Other Famous Disney World and Disneyland Rides

cholprapha/iStock via Getty Images
cholprapha/iStock via Getty Images

Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 crisis, and it's unclear when the parks will reopen. Spending time in a crowded place with thousands of strangers from around the world is the last thing you should want to do right now, but if you're craving some Disney magic at home, there's a way to experience the rides while social distancing.

As Travel + Leisure reports, most major rides at Disneyland and other Disney parks are available online as virtual tours. That includes classics like Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and It's a Small World, as well as newer rides like Frozen Ever After and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Even though the virtual ride-throughs aren't official Disney productions, many of them document the ride experience in impressively high quality. This recording of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios in Orlando was filmed with a 360-degree camera.

You can also use YouTube to explore exclusive attractions at Disney parks outside the U.S. The video below shows a ride-through of Mystic Manor, Hong Kong Disneyland's version of The Haunted Mansion, in 4K resolution.

Transporting yourself to Disney for 10 minutes at a time is a great way to escape while you're quarantined at home. For more ways to combat boredom, check out these online classes and activities, as well as other virtual tours you can take from the comfort of your couch.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

7 Historic European Castles Virtually Rebuilt Before Your Very Eyes

A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
Budget Direct

While some centuries-old castles are still standing tall, others haven’t withstood the ravages of time, war, or natural disaster quite as well. To give you an idea of what once was, Australia-based insurance company Budget Direct has digitally reconstructed seven of them for its blog, Simply Savvy.

Watch below as ruins across Europe transform back into the formidable forts and turreted castles they used to be, courtesy of a little modern-day magic we call GIF technology.

1. Samobor Castle // Samobor, Croatia

samobor castle
Samobor Castle in Samobor, Croatia
Budget Direct

The only remaining piece of the 13th-century castle built by Bohemia’s King Ottokar II is the base of the guard tower—the rest of the ruins are from an expansion that happened about 300 years later. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Croatian city of Samobor, which bought the property in 1902.

2. Château Gaillard // Les Andelys, France

Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Budget Direct

King Richard I of England built Château Gaillard in just two years during the late 12th century as a fortress to protect the Duchy of Normandy, which belonged to England at the time, from French invasion. It didn’t last very long—France’s King Philip II captured it six years later.

3. Dunnottar Castle // Stonehaven, Scotland

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Budget Direct

Dunnottar Castle overlooks the North Sea and is perhaps best known as the fortress that William Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson in 1995’s Braveheart) and Scottish forces won back from English occupation in 1297. Later, it became the place where the Scottish monarchy stored their crown jewels, which were smuggled to safety when Oliver Cromwell invaded during the 17th century.

4. Menlo Castle // Galway City, Ireland

Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Budget Direct

This ivy-covered Irish castle was built during the 16th century and all but destroyed in a fire in 1910. For those few centuries, it was home to the Blake family, English nobles who owned property all over the region.

5. Olsztyn Castle // Olsztyn, Poland

Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Budget Direct

The earliest known mention of Olsztyn Castle was in 1306, so we know it was constructed some time before then and expanded later that century by King Casimir III of Poland. It was severely damaged during wars with Sweden in the 17th and 18th centuries, but its highest tower—once a prison—still stands.

6. Spiš Castle // Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia

Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Budget Direct

Slovakia’s massive Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century to mark the boundary of the Hungarian kingdom and fell to ruin after a fire in 1780. However, 20th-century restoration efforts helped fortify the remaining rooms, and it was even used as a filming location for parts of 1996’s DragonHeart.

7. Poenari Castle // Valachia, Romania

Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Budget Direct

This 13th-century Romanian castle boasts one previous resident of some celebrity: Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracula, who may have been an early influence for Bram Stoker’s vampire, Dracula. It also boasts a staggering 1480 stone steps, which you can still climb today.

[h/t Simply Savvy]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER