BREAKING NEWS: Diane Nelson to Head WBCP, Brad Globe to Step Down

Diane_Nelson_195x230Diane Nelson will add the oversight of Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) to her current responsibilities as president, DC Entertainment (DCE), and president and chief content officer, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE). The announcement was made today by Kevin Tsujihara, the chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.

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Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Available for Pre-Order at Canadian Retailers

PlaymationThis past week, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), along with Hasbro Inc., announced the pre-sale of Playmation Marvel’s Avengers at select Canadian retailers. A new system of toys and wearables, Playmation Marvel’s Avengers utilizes smart technology to inspire kids to run around and use their imaginations, as they become the heroes or heroines of stories from Marvel’s Avengers.

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Hasbro Teams Up with Indiegogo for Crowdfunding Gaming Challenge

Hasbro_logo_new 3.20.28 PMHasbro has teamed up with the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to find the next hit face-to-face party game, which the toymaker can help cultivate and bring to market. The toymaker is calling on game designers nationwide to share ideas for a new party game at www.nextgreatgamechallenge.com.

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Walmart Releases Chosen by Kids List of Top Toys for the Holiday Season

walmartWalmart has released its Chosen by Kids list, which features the top toys of the year as chosen by 1,000 kids. The retailer asked them to choose their favorite toys from among the newest items by Hasbro, Mattel, Spin Master, and Zing. For consumers’ convenience during this upcoming shopping season, the list is organized by gender and age, as well as by the categories Future Foodies, Veterinarians in Training, Dreaming Design Stars, and Adventure-Seekers in the Making.

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Nifty ’50s American Girl Maryellen Larkin Debuts

AmericanGirl, Maryellen LarkinToday, American Girl is debuting its latest BeForever character, Maryellen Larkin.  An 18-inch doll with strawberry-blonde hair and hazel eyes, Maryellen comes with historically accurate 1950s doll outfits, including a poodle skirt and saddle shoes. American Girl is releasing numerous accessories to go with the doll, including a 30-piece diner set, a TV console that works with an iPad, and a jukebox that plays ’50s-style songs and connects to electronic music players.

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COMMENTARY: In the Doll Category, Diversity Is Finding Common Ground

Journey Girls2Dolls are getting more diverse all the time, and that diversity extends beyond ethnicity. Peek online or at your local toy store, and you’ll see that the doll aisle offers a wider variety than ever before, including boy dolls, ones featuring characters with interests in science and computers, and models depicting disabilities. Truly, we are living in a Golden Age of doll play, given how many niches are represented. And that’s leading to something pretty interesting: that the different niches themselves are starting to blur together.

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Wal-Mart Revamps Layaway Program in Anticipation of Toy Demand

logo-walmartWal-Mart Stores Inc. will bring forward its holiday layaway program by two weeks, in what has been viewed as a move to get ahead of year-end demand for toys, and to generate sales of upcoming Star Wars toys. As reported by Reuters, Anne Marie Kehoe, the vice president of toys for Wal-Mart, said in a briefing that shoppers can utilize the program starting August 28, two weeks earlier than last year.

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Toys “R” Us Partners with Save the Children to Promote Disaster Preparedness

Toys-R-Us-Logo copyWith this month marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Toys “R” Us is once again partnering with Save the Children to promote disaster preparedness and offer customers an opportunity to help families across the country in times of crisis. Toys “R” Us stores nationwide are offering an exclusive reusable tote bag featuring a young child’s artwork, from which $1 from the purchase of each bag benefits Save the Children’s Domestic Emergency Fund, which provides a safe environment for children and families when disasters strike.

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Imperial Toy to Donate 350,000 Water Balloons for University-Wide Battle

Imperial,KaosImperial Toy will sponsor a campus-wide water balloon battle at the University of Kentucky, hosted by the school’s Christian Student Fellowship (CSF). The toymaker will provide 350,000 of its Kaos water balloons, and the university is anticipating 15,000 people to attend.

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Holy Nostalgia, Batman! The 1960s Dynamic Duo Return as Vinyl Idolz

BatmanComing to Funko’s Vinyl Idolz line, it’s Batman and Robin based on their appearances in the campy Batman TV series from the 1960s. The Dynamic Duo is joined by Batgirl and the Joker figures.

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Care Bears’ Launch at Build-A-Bear Set for February

Care BearsBeginning next February, the Care Bears will launch a line in all Build-A-Bear global locations. Guests will be invited to create their own stuffable plush toys and choose from a range of accessories to personalize their bears.

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The Lowdown on Doll Hunting: Doll Collecting in the Age of Social Media

This article first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of The Toy Book.

MelissaHunterHeadShotDoll collecting may be as old as the industry itself, but the newest generation of collectors is armed with video cameras, vlogs, and thousands of YouTube subscribers. They call themselves doll hunters.

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Little Charmers’ Licensing Program Continues to Grow Across Toy Categories

LittleCharmersLittle Charmers‘ portfolio of toy licensees has grown by a few more partners, reports Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Enterprises, which co-produces the Little Charmers animated series.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toy Unboxing Goes Live Globally Ahead of Force Friday

Star Wars LogoNew Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys will be unveiled through a live unboxing event broadcast on YouTube. The event will see highlights from a range of merchandise, and is scheduled to unfold over a span of 18 hours in 15 cities across 12 countries worldwide.

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The Queen’s Treasures Brings Little House on the Prairie to Life

TQT, Little HouseThe Queen’s Treasures has released details on its upcoming line based on the literary and entertainment property, Little House on the Prairie. Available next month, the Little House on the Prairie 18” Doll Collection will include accessories, play sets, and more for 18-inch dolls.

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TIA’s Fall Toy Preview to Remain at Dallas Market Center through 2018

TIA LogoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) Executive Committee and Board have announced that Fall Toy Preview will stay in Dallas through 2018. The event is scheduled to take place on the following dates: September 27 to 29, 2016; September 26 to 28, 2017; and September 25 to 27, 2018.

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eOne Launches Peppa Pig Imagine with Peppa UK Marketing Initiative

Jan26.PeppaPigEntertainment One Licensing (eOne) will be hosting Peppa Pig storytelling sessions at the Children’s Bath Literary Festival in the UK on October 3, in partnership with eOne’s master publishing partner, Ladybird Books. There will be costume character meet and greets, as well as narration of the Ladybird book, The Big Tale of Little Peppa, to coincide with the licensor’s digital marketing activity for the brand’s Imagine with Peppa theme.

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Moose Secures Seizure Order and Injunction to Prevent Sale of Counterfeit Shopkins in the U.S.

ShopkinsLogoMoose Enterprises successfully executed seizure orders on U.S. organizations operating retail stores found to be selling counterfeit Shopkins brand toys.

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Inaugural U.S. Bananagrams School Tournament Launches in Three States

Bgrms ChallengeThe Bananagrams Challenge, the first official U.S. Bananagrams school tournament, is open for registration to elementary schools throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The free-to-enter challenge is intended to help boost vocabulary and spelling skills in classrooms and after-school programs.

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Nintendo Has a Huge Yarn to Share in Mega Yarn Yoshi

Nintendo Yoshi amiiboRecently, Nintendo released an update on its upcoming amiibo, which will include a giant yarn version of its popular video game character, Yoshi.

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VTech’s Flipsies Is Now Available Everywhere

VTech Sandy's House  Ocean Cruiser

Flipsies Sandy’s House & Ocean Cruiser, from VTech

Flipsies, a new line from VTech combining traditional role play with collectible dolls, accessories, and VTech’s proprietary MagicPoint interactive technology, is now available everywhere. Flipsies offers a variety of ways to play and has eight introductory themes that encourage girls to be anything they want to be, whether it’s a doctor, a marine biologist, a teacher, a baker, a rock star, a veterinarian, a fashion designer, or a princess.

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Alex Brands Celebrates 70 Years of Slinky with Video Contest

SlinkySlinky is celebrating its 70th birthday this year, and Alex Brands is looking for fans to post a video of themselves or their kids singing the Slinky Jingle (See video below). For every video posted on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #SlinkyDay70 hashtag, Alex Brands will donate one Slinky toy to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, with a maximum donation of 1,000 Slinky toys.

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LeapFrog Unleashes Epic New Tablet, LeapFrog Epic

LeapFrog Epic in boxFor the first time, LeapFrog is offering its learning content on a tablet made specifically for sale in the consumer electronics section of stores. The LeapFrog Epic, from LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., tablet adapts as a child grows, delivering access to personalized learning experiences that auto-level with a child’s progress.

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Stikbot, from Zing, Uses App to Create, Animate, and Share Stop-Motion Videos

Zing Toy StikbotZing has launched Stikbot, which features a poseable figure with suction cup hands and feet that adhere to almost any flat surface. A free mobile app available on iOS and Android, StikBot Studio, allows users to snap individual photos and stitch them together into a stop-motion film.

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COMMENTARY: Everybody’s Game at ASTRA Game Night

A version of this commentary first appeared in the July/August issue of The Toy Book.

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ASTRA Game Night took place in Ballroom CD of the Charlotte Convention Center.

Game nights are a terrific way to unwind, and the one hosted by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) during its Marketplace & Academy in Charlotte, N.C., this past June was no exception.

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K’NEX Launches Brave & Beautiful Mighty Makers Campaign

KNEXMightyMakersK’NEX Brands launched Brave & Beautiful, a video marketing campaign that coincides with their new Mighty Makers line that encourages and inspires girls to build big ideas and dream even bigger. The Mighty Makers line, which was introduced earlier this year, features STEM-themed engineering toys designed to empower girls through creative, story-based building sets.

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COMMENTARY: Shoppers Offer Their Takes on Target’s Decision to Drop Gender-Specific Marketing

Resized large Target-LogoIn recent days, the toy industry has been abuzz with the news that Target will remove gender labels from its in-store marketing. That means for the retailer’s toy department, there will no longer be signage referring to certain toys as being girls’ and others as boys’, nor shelves swathed in pink or blue paper, which traditionally have had gender-specific connotations (pink for girls, blue for boys).

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The Force Will Be Strong at Toys “R” Us Times Square on September 4

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Spaceship from Kenner (1979)

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Spaceship from Kenner (1979), on display as part of Destination: Star Wars—The Experience

When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on September 4, all Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. will open their doors, giving customers the opportunity to purchase hundreds of new Star Wars playthings, including a wide variety of merchandise not available anywhere else.

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COMMENTARY: Oversized Toys Are the New Big Thing

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Leonardo, from Jakks Pacific

There’s the old saying, “Go big or stay home.” Well, at the recent Sweet Suite event that was part of this year’s Blogger Bash, a lot of toy companies gathered in New York City to show off their wares, and many of them brought big toys. And by big, I mean that if placed side-by-side the average action figure, doll, ride-on, etc., these toys easily dwarfed the competition.

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News

Spin Master Exercises Over-Allotment Option for Total IPO Proceeds of C$253 Million

Today, Spin Master Corp. announced that in connection with its recently completed initial public offering (IPO) of 12,225,000 subordinate voting shares at a price of C$18.00 per share, the over-allotment option granted to the underwriters to purchase up to an additional 1,833,750 subordinate voting shares was exercised in full, generating additional gross proceeds to Spin [...]

TIA Webinar on Ad Spending Scheduled for August 26

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) will be hosting a webinar on advertising spending trends in the toys and games category entitled, “Ad Spending: What Companies Should Know about Competition in the Toy Marketplace.” It will be held tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET.

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TIA President Visits CPSC Headquarters to Discuss Issues Affecting Toy Industry

Earlier this month, the president and CEO of the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Steve Pasierb, visited U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) headquarters in Bethesda, Md., to discuss issues affecting the toy industry. According to the TIA, Pasierb and TIA staff met individually with Chairman Elliot Kaye and each of the agency’s four commissioners—Robert Adler, [...]

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Articles

A Preview in Paris: Hape Hosts Sneak Peek of The Little Prince Movie and Tie-In Toys

by Scarlett Wisotzki, editor-in-chief, das spielzeug On June 1, Peter Handstein, the CEO of Hape, rolled out the red carpet for his retailers in France, and gave them a sneak peek of The Little Prince movie and tie-in products prior to their official global release. Scarlett Wisotzki, the editor-in-chief of das spielzeug for the past [...]

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Q&A with Barbara Peacock, Creative Director, and Adam Mellema, Producer, Charlie & Company

School Zone Publishing Company is getting ready to unleash season two of its fun, educational children’s series, Charlie & Company. The Toy Book recently spoke with Barbara Peacock, the creative director of Charlie & Company, as well as its producer, Adam Mellema, about the show and upcoming plans for the brand, including toys.

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How Toymakers Can Succeed with Millennial Parents

by Catherine Mevs, strategy director, Red Peak Branding With more and more Millennials stepping into parenthood, big name toymakers are trying to guess at the expectations of a new generation of parents. However, from Mattel’s introduction of its Siri-inspired Hello Barbie to Hasbro’s more compact preschool toys, thus far their efforts are either misguided or [...]

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