Albany County Agrees to Halt Enforcement of Toy Ban

As reported by the Toy Industry Association, a federal judge has granted a motion to stay an Albany County law banning the sale of toys and other children’s products containing certain chemicals. The law will not be enforced while the county seeks to address the serious legal concerns raised by a lawsuit filed by the Safe to Play Coalition last month.

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Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge Announces Grand Prize Winners

GeniusBrandsInternationalLogoGenius Brands International, the creators of Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaire’s Club, announced the winners of the 4th annual Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge, sponsored by the Fairholme Foundation. The Individual Winner is Miroslav Bergam, 14, of Short Hills, N.J., and the group winner is Team Keep Track Sticky Back, consisting of Emily Harkins, 12, and Bryn Hansen, 11, of Omaha, Neb.

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TIF, National CASA Team Up to Help Kids in Southern California

pyp2015-250x167Nearly 150 volunteers from the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (CASA) gave gift packages to 7,000 foster children in need throughout Southern California as part of the TIF’s annual Play Your Part event. Forty-one companies from the toy industry participated in the event, including Funrise Toy Corp., Jakks Pacific, Mattel, Patch Products, Tomy International, and VTech Electronics North America, as Big Heart and Specialty level event sponsors.

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Toy State Recognized for Licensing Excellence by Caterpillar

ToyStateLogoToy State has been awarded platinum status by the Caterpillar Trademark Licensing Licensee Excellence and Recognition Program for 2014. Toy State has been a Caterpiller licensee since 2002, and its products include the Lights & Sound, Preschool, and Diecast Cat-licensed lines of machines.

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COMMENTARY: Why Every Toy Company Needs to Follow MakieLab’s Lead

MakiesMakieLab has just made the first step in what I hope will be a great leap for the entire toy industry.

The London-based indie toy developer is the first company to respond directly to a viral social media campaign, #ToysLikeMe. The company has created a selection of Makie doll-size impairment aids and accessories, including hearing aids and walking sticks. It—hands down—has got to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard of, and all toy companies should follow suit.

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American Girl Unveils Truly Me Doll Line

AmericanGirlTrulyMeAmerican Girl has re-branded its line of contemporary 18-inch dolls and accessories, clothing, and exclusive play-based content as Truly Me. Formerly known as My American Girl, Truly Me lets kids create a one-of-a-kind doll through a variety of personalized options, including 40 different combinations of eye color, hair color and style, and skin color, as well as an array of outfits and accessories.

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TIA Launches My TIA, a New Members-Only Online Resource Center

TIAThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) recently unveiled My TIA, a new web portal that makes it easier for members to manage their TIA profiles and unlock member benefits.

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WTHRA Revises Its Dates for ToyFest West 2016

ToyFest WestDuring the annual Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) membership meeting this past March, the results of a post-show survey pointed to overwhelming consensus from both exhibitors and buyers that attendees could complete their business at ToyFest West in three full days. As such, a half-day on day four was eligible for elimination.

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Sesame Workshop Launches Sesame Street Go on Roku

SesameStreetSesame Workshop is bringing Sesame Street Go, its on-demand video service, to the Roku platform as a streaming channel. The channel can be found in the Roku Channel Store within the Kids & Family category.

Sesame Street Go is an ad-free subscription service that provides families with a child-friendly platform to watch full-length Sesame Street TV episodes and short-form minisodes, plus full-length episodes from prior seasons and Sesame Classics, volumes 1 and 2. In addition, users can filter content through eight core learning areas, including math, science, literacy, and the arts. On Roku, kids will have access to the Sesame Street educational programming with segments such as “Elmo’s World,” “Elmo the Musical,” “Super Grover 2.0,” “Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures,” “Cookie’s Crumbly Pictures,” and “Abby’s Flying Fairy School.”

American Girl’s 2015 Girl of the Year Stars in New Movie

AmericanGirlGraceDVDAn American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, will premiere on Blu-Ray combo pack on June 9, starring American Girl’s 2015 Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas. The discs come with exclusive content, such as a behind the scenes look and playing dress up.

In the movie, Grace has a passion for baking, but her skills are put to the test when she visits her uncle’s Parisian pastry shop and competes to save her grandparents’ troubled bakery. The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray disc, DVD, and Digital HD with Ultlraviolet.

LEGO Dimensions Adds Iconic Characters from DC Comics, Back to the Future, and LEGO Ninjago

Lego Dimensions SupermanWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has unveiled details about upcoming properties coming to LEGO Dimensions, which merges physical Lego brick building with interactive console gameplay.

In addition to LEGO Batman, LEGO Gandalf, and Wyldstyle, the three minifigure heroes used to start the experience, LEGO Dimensions will allow gamers to customize their experience post-launch and throughout the first half of next year with additional packs from brands including: DC Comics Team Pack, featuring LEGO Joker and LEGO Harley Quinn minifigures; three additional DC Comics Fun Packs, featuring LEGO Superman, LEGO Aquaman, and LEGO Bane minifigures; the Back to the Future Fun Pack with LEGO Doc Brown minifigure; and two additional LEGO Ninjago Fun Packs with Sensei Wu and Lloyd minifigures.

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VTech Reports Full Year Annual Results

VTech-LogoIn its financial results for the year ended March 31, VTech Holdings Ltd. reported a decline in revenue and profit. Group revenue for the year ended March 31 declined by 1 percent to $1,879.8 million. The decrease was mainly due to lower revenue in North America, which offset higher revenue in Europe, Asia Pacific, and other regions.

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Moose Toys Awarded Toys “R” Us Partner of the Year

MooseToysToys “R” Us has named Moose Toys as Partner of the Year, awarded to the toy partner whose outstanding commitment, dedication, and loyalty have helped make the company a destination for kids, families, and fun. In February, Toys “R” Us also awarded Moose Toys as Vendor of the Year.

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Coastal Student Scrabble Team Brings Home the W-I-N at North American School Scrabble Championship

School SCrabbleAfter two days of intense strategy and play, students Noah Kalus from New Paltz, N.Y., and Zach Ansell from Los Angeles defeated more than 55 teams to take home the coveted North American School Scrabble Championship trophy, the title, and the $10,000 grand prize at the 13th annual North American School Scrabble Championship. The tournament gathered the top Scrabble players from the U.S. and Canada in grades 4 through 8 at the Hasbro headquarters in Pawtucket, R.I.

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FAO Schwarz to Close Its Flagship New York City Store

faonewlogoAs reported by Reuters and other news outlets, FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the U.S., is closing its iconic Fifth Ave. flagship store in Manhattan, citing rising rent prices. The store will shut its doors on July 15, exiting early from its lease.

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The Wiggles’ Rock & Roll Preschool Tour Kicks Off in September

WigglesComing off an Australian tour that boasted 145 sell-out shows, the children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles, will return to the U.S. this fall for their Rock & Roll Preschool tour. The Wiggles will be touring in support of their brand new CD and DVD, Rock & Roll Preschool, as well as a new season of their TV series, which airs on Hulu in the U.S. and on Treehouse in Canada.

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Toy & Hobby China and Baby & Stroller China Receive Positive Feedback from Attendees

Toy&Hobby,ChinaToy & Hobby China and Baby & Stroller China wrapped up on April 10 at the Poly World Trade Center Expo. The three-day events ran from April 8 to 10, and according to a report from the organizer, attracted 40,012 visitors and 1,001 exhibitors. This number was up 5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, over the events’ previous editions.

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Legoland Hotel at Legoland Florida Resort Opens

Lego Pirate Themed RoomLegoland Hotel at Legoland Florida Resort opened on Friday, marking the expansion of the resort to become an immersive, multi-day experience for families. The grand opening was honored with thousands of colorful Lego minifigures blasting out of cannons atop the hotel, and a child discovering a key for opening the hotel built for kids.


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Toy State Enters into Sponsorship Agreement with Go Baby Go

ToyStateIn partnership with Go Baby Go, a research-based, national program that provides modified, ride-on toy cars to young children with disabilities, Toy State is sponsoring four workshops in four cities across the country. Each car will be outfitted to model the Toy State Nikko R/C No. 7 car currently driven by Alex Bowman on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit.

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LEGO Jurassic World Has New Trailer, Launch Date, and So Many Dinosaurs

The latest trailer for LEGO Jurassic World is overflowing with dinosaurs: big dinos, tiny dinos, friendly dinos, angry dinos, flying dinos, battling dinos, and even goofy dinos. Between the more than 20 different kinds of playable dinosaurs and more making an appearance, players will have plenty to do when the game arrives in North America on June 12 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Windows PC.

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COMMENTARY: Toys Meet Theme Parks and Resorts, or, How You’ll Be Spending Your Summer Vacations

Legoland Florida Resort

Last week, one of the big news stories around the toy industry was Nintendo entering a deal with Universal Studios to create rides and other attractions for the latter’s theme parks. As reported on The Toy Book Blog, Nintendo’s most famous video game characters and worlds would serve as the inspiration for these soon-to-be immersive experiences. Imagine the possibilities: Kids, and adults, may soon interact with environments straight out of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, or any of the video game maker’s other hit franchises.

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Delta Children Treats Kids like Royalty with Disney Princess Additions

Resized,Princess-Carriage-toddler-bed-ROOM[1]With the arrival of the new royal baby, Delta Children has new princess-themed additions including a crib and a toddler-to-twin bed:

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Kathleen McHugh to Resign as President of ASTRA

KathleenMcHughEffective October 6, Kathleen McHugh will resign her position as president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).

“It is bittersweet to be moving on at a time when ASTRA is stronger, more financially stable, and more of a force in the toy industry than it has ever been,” says McHugh. “It will be difficult to leave an organization with such an important mission and so full of many valued friends, colleagues, and mentors.

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Titan Series Kickstarter Campaign Enters Final Leg

TheTitanSeries2Calliope Games is in the final days of its Kickstarter campaign, focused on raising funds for its Titan Series game project. The Titan Series is a line of casual, family-friendly tabletop games intended to be playable in 60 minutes or less, and designed for ages 8 and up.

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Propel Equity Partners Acquires Buzz Bee Toys

AlexBrandsPropel Equity Partners, a private equity firm, has acquired Buzz Bee Toys, which specializes in active play toys. The acquisition marks the eighth by Propel Equity since August of 2012 on behalf of Alex Brands. Buzz Bee Toys will join the Alex Brands family of brands, which includes Alex Toys, Poof, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, and more.

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COMMENTARY: The Avengers’ Black Widow Is the Odd “Man” Out

Funko.BlackWidowPopfigureAvengers: Age of Ultron debuted in theaters on May 1, earning $187.7 million during its first weekend. Yet the only superhero anyone seems to be talking about is the Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, played by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson.

Between Mark Ruffalo, the actor who played The Hulk, taking to Twitter to ask why there aren’t more Black Widow toys available for his nieces, and Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner making tasteless comments about Black Widow being a “slut” and a “whore,” this female super hero, an Avenger herself (#recognize), cannot seem to catch a break.

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Peppa Pig to Make a Big Splash in First-Ever U.S. Live Theatrical Tour

Jan26.PeppaPigEntertainment One’s Peppa Pig is hitting the road for her first-ever U.S. theatrical tour, Peppa Pig’s Big Splash. The live stage show will visit 23 East Coast cities this November and December, including Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, and Boston. A second leg will take Peppa to additional U.S. cities next year.

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COMMENTARY: Toy Companies Are Going to the Crowdsource for Ideas

Quirky,MattellogoWhen it comes to creating great toys, games, or just about anything, it all boils down to the idea. Great things are often borne of flashes of inspiration, and more than ever, we’re seeing toy companies try to tap into the mental spark of their customers.

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News

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Amazon, Lego, and Hasbro Rank Among Reputation Institute’s 2015 U.S. RepTrak 100

Amazon ranked first for the second year in a row in Reputation Institute‘s 2015 U.S. RepTrak 100, an annual survey of corporate reputations. Lego ranked third among the top ten companies, and Hasbro ranked 23rd.

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Titan Series Kickstarter Campaign Enters Final Leg

Calliope Games is in the final days of its Kickstarter campaign, focused on raising funds for its Titan Series game project. The Titan Series is a line of casual, family-friendly tabletop games intended to be playable in 60 minutes or less, and designed for ages 8 and up.

TIAlogoresized

TIA Calls for Toy Industry to Fight Back Against Chemical Ban Threat

In the wake of states and counties passing legislation banning the sale of certain children’s products, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) is calling for a federal approach that would establish a consistent, nationwide approach to chemicals regulation that would preempt state laws.

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Articles

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Q&A with Andy Friess, President of Toy State

Having recently been promoted to the position of president of Toy State, it seemed like a good time to sit down with Andy Friess to talk about the state of his company, its high-profile sponsorship agreement with Tommy Baldwin Racing, its upcoming plans for the R/C brand, Nikko, and more. The Toy Book (TTB): How [...]

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How Your Toy Store Can Leverage Ambient Scenting

by Richard Weening, CEO, Prolitec Inc. A properly designed and merchandised toy store is a feast for the senses—a place where bright colors, lively graphics, and upbeat music enhance the delightful atmosphere already created by the imaginative products themselves. And yet in most stores, arguably the most important of the five senses—the sense of smell—is [...]

WithinMeNow

Within Me Now Inspires Kids with Positive Messages

Within Me Now is a line of board books and companion plush that represents a group of quirky and cuddly friends, who remind kids that qualities like love, strength, courage, joy, and peace are already inside of them. The stories are inspired by the daily challenges of kids’ lives and lessons learned when using what’s [...]

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