American Girl Opens Its Doors in Mexico with El Palacio De Hierro

AmericanGirl,MexicoboutiquesAmerican Girl is opening its first-ever American Girl shop-in-shop boutiques in Mexico with El Palacio de Hierro, the country’s largest and best-established high-end retailer. Located at El Palacio de Hierro Interlomas and Perisur locations, the new boutiques range in size from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. Opening on July 4, they mark the second international retail presence for American Girl.

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Little Charmers App Hits No. 1 on iTunes

Little Charmers SparkleUpRoughly a week after its launch, Little Charmers: Sparkle Up has taken the No. 1 spot for downloaded iPad apps in the App Store on iTunes across the U.S. and Canada. The first app for the Little Charmers brand, Little Charmers: Sparkle Up is a free download for tablets and smartphones that will be available on Amazon and Google Play this month. So far, it has garnered more than 100,000 downloads in the U.S. and Canada.

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littleBits Raises $44.2M in New Funding and Expands Its Executive Team

littleBits1littleBits Electronics Inc. has landed $44.2 million in new funding to further its growth. The additional funding round was led by DFJ Growth, with additional participation from new investors Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Grishin Robotics, and Wamda Capital, among others.

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TIA Members Can Register for RILA Retail Sustainability Conference at Discounted Rate

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Retail Sustainability Conference will take place in Austin, Texas, from September 15 to 18 at the JW Marriott. Registration for the conference is now open, and members of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) are eligible for the discounted RILA member registration rate.

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Asmodee Acquires the Rights to Spot It! Game

SpotIt logoAsmodee Group has acquired the worldwide publishing, commercial, and brand rights to Spot It! from the Divertis Properties Group, Play Factory, Blue Orange publishers, and individual successors.

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Lincoln Logs Production Returns to the U.S. with 11 New Sets

Lincoln Logs Horseshoe Hill Station

Lincoln Logs Horseshoe Hill Station

Pride Manufacturing, located in Burnham, Maine, is producing the latest products in the Lincoln Logs line. Part of the K’NEX family of brands, they have been included in K’NEX’s toy line for this year.

The Horseshoe Hill Station set is available now; all other items will be available at retailers this fall. All products are recommended for kids ages 3 and up. The full line is as follows:

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Target’s Kathee Tesija Moving into Advisory Role

Target LogoKathee Tesija, executive vice president, chief merchandising and supply chain officer at Target Corp., will move into an advisory role effective July 6. Tesija has spent nearly 30 years at Target, contributing to the retailer’s growth and recent efforts to regain momentum.

In her new role, she will spend the next several months contributing to key enterprise initiatives and ensuring a smooth transition of her responsibilities.

Film Version of Hasbro’s Monopoly Advances Directly to Go

LIONSGATE LOGOLionsgate and Hasbro are partnering to bring Monopoly to the big screen. The film version has been described as centering on a boy from Baltic Avenue who uses both Chance and Community in a quest to make his fortune, taking him on a fun, adventure-filled journey.

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Yo-Kai Watch to Begin Airing on Disney XD in the U.S. Later This Year

YoKai WatchDisney XD has entered into an agreement with Dentsu Entertainment USA Inc. to telecast 26 half-hour episodes of Yo-Kai Watch in the U.S. Based on an original concept by Level 5 Inc., Yo-Kai Watch is a joint production effort by Level 5 Inc., Dentsu Inc., and TV Tokyo Corporation. Level-5 will be leading rights management and marketing coordination for the franchise.

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China Toy Expo Is 95 Percent Sold Out

TJPAThe China Toy & Juvenile Products Association (TJPA) reports that as of June 18, China Toy Expo is already 95 percent sold out, with a larger number of toy suppliers and manufacturers of dolls, wooden toys, playground equipment, and more waiting to be allocated stands. The TJPA has enlarged the scale of this year’s fair from 10 exhibition halls to 12, in order to satisfy demand.

CARU Conference to Share Best Practices for COPPA Compliance and Marketing to Children

TIAAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the upcoming Children’s Advertising and Review Unit (CARU) annual conference in New York City will explore challenging issues facing companies that advertise to children, including mobile and online technologies and modifications to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Co-located with the National Advertising Division (NAD) conference scheduled for September 28 to 29, the CARU event will take place on September 30 at the Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park.

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New Disney Segment Will Combine Consumer Products and Interactive Divisions

TheWaltDisneyCompanyLogoThe Walt Disney Company is realigning two of its divisions, Disney Consumer Products and Disney Interactive. The new combined segment, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), will be run jointly by Leslie Ferraro, co-chair, DCPI and president, Disney Consumer Products; and Jimmy Pitaro, co-chair, DCPI and president, Disney Interactive.

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License 2 Play, GBI Enter Agreement for From Frank Plush

From Frank brand imageGenius Brands International Inc. (GBI) and its wholly owned subsidiary, A Squared Entertainment, have finalized a licensing agreement with License 2 Play for the development of plush toys for From Frank. The announcement was made today by Stone Newman, GBI’s President of Global Consumer Products.

License 2 Play will develop a broad range of plush consumer products based on From Frank images and witticisms. The products will be available for the holiday season through various national stores and online retailers.

Startup Toymail Receives Investment from Amazon, Will Integrate Alexa Voice Service into Toys

ToymailToymail Co., the creator of Mailmen toys and the Toymail app for iOS and Android, has received an investment by Amazon from the Alexa Fund and plans to integrate the Alexa Voice Service into its messaging platform for kids. Toymail will use the investment from the Alexa Fund for product research and to scale its SAS footprint.

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Build-A-Bear Opens Newest Store at Empire State Building

Build-a-bear-logoOn July 1, Build-A-Bear will be moving into a new location in the iconic Empire State Building. The opening comes just a few weeks after the company launched another store inside Toys “R” Us at Times Square.

The new stores represent an effort by Build-A-Bear to provide the most engaging experiences for customers in New York City. The stores feature themed New York merchandise, including NYC T-shirts and hoodies, and numerous sports team outfits, such as the New York Yankees and Mets, Giants and Jets, and more.

The Boys and Girls Club of Madison Square will be on-hand for the ribbon-cutting.

World’s Largest Lego Brick Model Ship Coming to the Queen Mary

Lego Queen MaryIn July, the Bright Bricks Lego model of the Queen Mary begins its exhibition. The huge model will come to Long Beach and be displayed on the actual Queen Mary, the world’s most famous ocean liner.

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New Delta Bedroom Collection Stars Disney’s Minnie Mouse

Minnie Wooden Twin Bed RoomThe brand new Disney Minnie Mouse Twin Bedroom Collection has arrived from Delta Children. The popular character’s presence can be seen throughout the headboard, the mirror, and the knobs on the dresser and nightstand.

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COMMENTARY: ASTRA Marketplace & Academy: It’s All Fun and Games

Mollie Thonneson, the creator of Tag the Art Game, at ASTRA Marketplace & Academy with Alan Walker, aka The Art Cowboy

Mollie Thonneson, the creator of Tag the Art Game, at ASTRA Marketplace & Academy with Alan Walker, aka The Art Cowboy

So I recently attended the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Marketplace & Academy, which took place in Charlotte earlier this month. While it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as its northeastern counterpart, February’s North American International Toy Fair, it was still a great place to spot new developments in toys and games, especially the latter.

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Retailers Estimate Shoplifting, Fraud Cost $44 Billion, According to NRSS

nrfA new study from NRF Protect finds that retailers lose billions of dollars to shoplifting, employee and vendor theft, and administrative error—collectively known as inventory shrink. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF)/University of Florida National Retail Security Survey (NRSS), retailers say inventory shrink averaged 1.38 percent of retail sales, or $44 billion, last year. The report was sponsored by The Retail Equation.

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Toys “R” Us Unveils Exclusive Comic-Con International: San Diego Toys, Launches Collector Vector

Photographer Dennis Stylist LinToys “R” Us today revealed its lineup of exclusive figures and playthings, which will be available at Comic-Con International: San Diego next month. The retailer will provide convention goers with the opportunity to be among the first to purchase exclusive figures, figure packs, and play sets including Batman Classic TV Series Batgirl, from Mattel; G.I. Joe Desert Duel and My Little Pony Daring Do Dazzle, from Hasbro; and more.

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Parrot Introduces New MiniDrones, Including LEGO-Compatible Model

Parrot Jumping Night (pic courtesy of Parrot)

Parrot Jumping Night (pic courtesy of Parrot)

As reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this week, Parrot has introduced five new smartphone-controlled MiniDrone toys, all based on the company’s Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo models. According to WSJ’s Personal Tech News blog, all five are set to go on sale in the U.S. and France this September, with other countries to follow in the weeks after.

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ThinkFun and MakerBot Launch Maker Studio Construction Sets Online at Thingiverse

ThinkFun,MakerStudioThanks to a partnership between MakerBot and ThinkFun, Maker Studio Construction Sets are available for free at MakerBot Thingiverse, a design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3-D printable things. Maker Studio Construction Sets allow ordinary household items to be transformed into engineering-inspired machines, sparking users’ imaginations and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects.

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COMMENTARY: Let the Games (Surrounding Video Game Console Exclusives) Begin

SSC_Hammer Slam Bowser_FIN_HiResThis past Tuesday started out innocently enough. We were monitoring the news out of Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) when the announcement broke: As part of an agreement between Disney Interactive, Lucasfilm, and Sony, this fall will see the arrival of a special version of the upcoming Disney Infinity 3.0. The limited-edition Star Wars Saga Starter Pack will offer fans the chance to play as Boba Fett, the popular bounty hunter from the Star Wars movies. It will also allow players access to a much-anticipated Disney Infinity Play Set one month before it arrives on shelves, and even more importantly—at least, for the purposes of this commentary—the deal is only available for Sony’s PlayStation system.

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K’NEX Introduces Mighty Makers Building Sets, Designed to Encourage and Empower Girls

KNEX Mighty Makers logoK’NEX Brands has introduced Mighty Makers, a line of construction toys designed to empower girls through creative and stimulating building ideas. Created by an all-female marketing and design team, the Mighty Makers building set line encourages girls ages 7 and up.

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News

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Dynacraft to Host Bike-Themed Family Event at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square

The last of Dynacraft’s Experiments in Fun events is scheduled to take place in Portland on Saturday. For one day only, kids are invited to wheel over to Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to find a biker-themed pop-up juice joint, set inside a fully transformed shipping container complete with a temporary tattoo parlor and a karaoke [...]

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TIA Encourages Families to Take Play Pledge at TheGeniusofPlay.org

This past Wednesday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) launched a new research-backed initiative, which encourages parents and caregivers across the U.S. to take time out of their hectic lives to allow their children to build critical skills through play. The initiative, entitled The Genius of Play, is designed to remind families that playtime is more than [...]

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TSCA Reform Bill Passes in House; TIA Urging Senate Action

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2576, a bill reforming the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), with a 398-to-1 vote. Among its provisions, H.R. 2576, called the TSCA Modernization Act, requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use a risk-based approach to regulating new and existing chemicals, as well as [...]

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Articles

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Barnes & Noble Throws the Book at Toy Retail

This article first appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of The Toy Book. The great American bookstore has made room for a great American toy store. Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookseller in the U.S., with nearly 650 stores nationwide, as well as a thriving web presence. But in recent years, the bookstore [...]

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Q&A with Diana Brobmann, CEO and Creative Director, Giggo Toys

The Toy Book (TTB): How are you engaging customers to drive sales? Diana Brobmann (DB): We have the most powerful tool in the marketplace–the mommy bloggers, and now, the daddy bloggers. We have partnered with a consortium of top bloggers to engage our target audience by providing timely information about Giggo Toys as well as [...]

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The Unvarnished History of Beanie Babies and the Man Who Created Them

by Zac Bissonnette, author, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute Between 1996 and 1999, Ty Warner earned more than a billion dollars with a single line of understuffed beanbag animals that retailed for $5 each. In my new book, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the [...]

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