China Toy Fair


New Video Game Rental Service for Kids Premieres

A new online video game rental service for kids, SmartyRents.com, has launched. The service allows families to rent children’s educational video games, such as LeapFrog and VTech, in the same way as popular rental service Netflix. Parents can search for video games by a specific educational skill, such as learning addition, and have them delivered to their mailbox.

Rental packages start at $9.99 for one game a time. If a child becomes attached to a particular game, SmartyRents’ love it option allows renters to keep the game by purchasing it at a reduced price.

The Bridge Direct Names New GM

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The Bridge Direct, Inc., a startup by former Play Along president Jay Foreman, has named George Vorkas as the company’s general manager of new business development. In this role, Vorkas will develop new business opportunities and act as the direct liaison with the company’s major clients.

Previously, Vorkas managed supply chain projects in his more than seven-year term at Li & Fung. He also served as head of Monogram International, a senior executive at Toy Biz, and as director of research & development of Toymax.

Toys “R” Us to Add FAO Schwarz Boutiques in Stores

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Beginning November 1, more than 500 Toys “R” Us stores will premiere FAO Schwarz in-store boutiques, filled with the company’s selection of toys. The boutiques will be located in the front of the 585 nationwide stores, guarded by the famous FAO Schwarz toy soldier, and featuring toys at price points ranging from $2.99 to $64.99.

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TIA Releases Webinar on Kids Leisure Time

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has released a 25-minute webinar highlighting trends from the TIA-commissioned Kids Leisure Time III study, which explains how American kids ages 2-12 spend their leisure time. The NPD Group’s Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for toys and video games, leads the pre-recorded webinar, explaining the construct of the study and identifying activities that keep kids engaged and for how long. The webinar also highlights the top properties, movie, and albums for four groups of kids segmented by age and gender.

To access the webinar, click here. To view the latest Kids Leisure Time study, click here.

Spin Master Wins Business Visionary Award at Dreams and Promise Gala

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The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) and the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) presented the first-ever Business Visionary Award to Spin Master, Ltd at the annual Dreams and Promise Gala in Los Angeles. The award was presented to the toy and entertainment company at the event last week  for their financial support toward a cure for pediatric cancer.

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IMG Picked as Sesame Workshop’s Korea Rep

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Sesame Workshop has named IMG as its licensing representative for Korea. IMG will oversee the Sesame Street brand in categories such as apparel, accessories, stationery, home décor, books, video, and audio.

Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures, a claymation series following the best friends, currently airs on Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System (EBS).

New Ratchet & Clank Video Game

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Insomniac Games is releasing a new Ratchet & Clank video game entitled Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. The new game will be available exclusively for the Playstation 3.

The game is set after Ratchet discovers Clank’s disappearance was engineered by Dr. Nefarious. After racing to rescue Clank, Ratchet finds out his best friend’s capture is only the first step in Dr. Nefarious’ evil plan. Players can control both Ratchet and Clank, who premiere new abilities in the game, such as Ratchet’s Hoverboots that allow him fast travel and the ability to soar to new heights. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time will be released October 27.

Reality Producer to Develop Lego Reality Shows

According to Variety, Lego reality shows are in the works. The magazine has reported that reality producer Scott Messick is partnering with the Lego Group to develop “nonscripted programming” based on the franchise. The reality shows will include a docuseries on the Lego Masters, a kids game show based on a new line of Lego board games, and a competition show that may be held in the Legoland theme park. Messick’s previous credits include ABC’s Shaq Vs. and Oxygen’s Fight Girls.

Mattel Launches New Online Shopping Website

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Mattel has premiered a new website that allows shoppers to buy its products directly. MattelShop.com features over 40 of the company’s brands including Matchbox, Polly Pocket, and High School Musical. Visitors to the website can shop by age, gender, brand, category, and play pattern to find a desirable product. The website also has links to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, allowing customers to invite friends and family to the website in order to shop together or to share their findings.  The website also allows visitors to “watch others shop” by displaying the most viewed products, which update every 15 seconds.  Check out the new website here.

Qantas Airlines to Show Sesame Street Episodes

In a partnership with Sesame Street Workshop, Australia’s largest airline, Qantas Airline, will broadcast six special Sesame Street videos for free to all of the airline’s transpacific passengers. The videos will begin on December 1 and conclude on November 30, 2010. Titles include Being Green, Bedtime with Elmo, Elmo & Friends: Tale of Adventure, Abby in Wonderland, Dinosaurs, and Elmo and the Bookaneers.