VeggieTales Celebrates Twenty Years with New Release

VeggieTales is celebrating 20 years of songs by releasing a “best of the best” DVD early next year, If I Sang a Silly Song. The DVD, by Big Idea Entertainment, will be available through digital download on January 24 and in Christian and general market stores on February 7.

VeggieTales: If I Sang a Silly Song will include fan-voted favorite songs from the past couple of decades, including “The Hairbrush Song,” “Pants,” and “Monkey,” among others. The DVD also features a new silly song, voted on by fans and chosen by Larry the Cucumber. The release contains more than 60 minutes of music and family-friendly content. Viewers can sing along karaoke-style and be the star with video background and tracks.

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Report: Target Has the Best Social Media Presence Among Retailers

According to a new survey by L.E.K. Consulting, as reported by Internet Retailer, Target Corp. has the best social media presence among retailers. Target took the top spot with 8.5 percent, followed by Amazon.com (8 percent), Walmart (5.4 percent), Best Buy (4 percent), and Macy’s (4 percent). L.E.K surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers, but did not say when the survey took place or define what constituted a strong social media presence.

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Nick Toy Machines Featured in 100 Simon Malls

Nickelodeon debuted its first virtual Nick Toy Machines last weekend at 100 Simon malls across the country. Inspired by the classic vending machine, each virtual Nick Toy Machine is a colorful, double-sided standee (seven-foot tall and 3.5-feet wide) that shoppers can walk up to, scan, and buy Nickelodeon toys from via smartphones.

The Nick Toy Machine features images of Dora the Explorer and Victorious toys, along with a corresponding QR code that allows shoppers to quickly “scan and buy” gifts using their smartphones. The Nick Toy Machines are placed in high-traffic areas.

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Learning Resources is Giving Students Tools to Succeed

The Kids In Need Foundation and Learning Resources have teamed up to provide free school supplies to students whose parents cannot afford to buy them, and also for teachers at low-income schools. Established in 1995, Kids In Need has distributed $350 million in supplies, serving more than 1.6 million children and 100,000 teachers annually. Learning Resources will donate products to the Kids In Need National Network of Resource Centers.

The first set of supplies will be distributed to the Teacher Resource Center in Chicago, and will include more than $7,000 worth of supplies, such as thermometers, magnifiers, pocket charts, rulers, and puzzle cards. Since 1997, the Teacher Resource Center in Chicago has donated supplies to more than 2,200 teachers from low-income schools.

Click here to learn more about the Kids In Need initiative.

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The Juno Company Releases New Book

The Juno Company recently released its latest book, The Day the Music Stopped. The 40-page, illustrated hardcover book builds on the company’s mission to inspire an appreciation for music in children. The Day the Music Stopped is based on the popular Emmy Award-winning Juno Jr. DVD of the same name.

In the book, readers go on a journey through the magical world of Harmonia Springs where everything is made out of music. Readers will learn lessons of friendships through musical concepts, and find out how to bring music back to the world.

For a limited time, The Juno Company is offering a special promotion for fans that “like” the company on Facebook. For every book purchased, the company will donate a music education DVD to a child in need. The Juno Company has also partnered with the National Head Start Association with a goal to bring the gift of music to one million children in need.

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Winning Moves Donates Games for ‘Likes’ and Followers

Earlier this fall, Winning Moves Games committed to donate two new games to Kids Wish Network for every 10 Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers through Thanksgiving. The initiative was so successful that the program has been extended until Christmas. So far, 587 games have been shipped out to Kids Wish Network, and Winning Moves has more than 4,000 likes on Facebook and an estimated 1,500 Twitter followers.

If you would like to help with this initiative, visit Winning Moves’ Facebook page and Twitter account.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Come to Hollywood

Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts are bringing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Universal Studios Hollywood. The popular themed land debuted in Orlando in June 2010, and includes Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade, and multiple themed attractions. The two companies also announced their plans to significantly expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Specific details of the expansion will be announced over time.

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Cody Simpson Debuts New Dolls at Toys “R” Us

Teen pop singer Cody Simpson and The Wish Factory, Inc. unveiled two Cody Simpson dolls at Toys “R” Us Times Square today. I attended to learn more about the dolls and meet Cody Simpson.

The collection consists of two dolls, both 11.5 inches, featuring the Australian singer’s side-swept surfer-styled hair and clothes Simpson wears. One doll is dressed in a Gold Coast T-shirt and khakis, and the other doll wears a denim jacket and black pants. Both dolls include a pair of shoes, sunglasses, a microphone, a guitar pick, and lanyard. The guitar pick included varies from box to box, some with angel wings and the word “Angel,” and others with an emoticon smiley face and the numbers “143” to mean “I love you.”

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The 2011 TAGIE Awards Winners

The 2011 TAGIE Awards were held on November 18, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The ceremony, held in conjunction with the Toy & Game Inventors Conference and The Chicago Toy & Game Fair, recognizes toy and game inventors from across the county. Their ideas and creativity result in some of the most notable play products on the market today.

Nominees for the awards are voted on by their peers, for excellence in the categories of Toy Design, Game Design, Young Inventor, and Rising Star.

The 4th Annual TAGIE Winners are as follows:

Toy Design – Marty Abrams & Joel Rosenzweig, FyrFlyz

Game Design – Susan McKinley Ross, Qwirkle

Young Inventor – Greyson MacLean, BrickStix

Rising Star – Blake English, The Air Swimmers

Excellence in Character Creation – Theodor Seuss Geisel

Excellence in Electronic Adaptation of an Existing Toy or Game – Tom Liddell, Top Trumps

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Second Annual STEM Competition

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is now accepting entries for its annual competition, hosted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media. Submissions of original video game concepts and designs from students and educators are currently being accepted through March 12.

The challenge aims to motivate students who have an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by tapping into their natural passion for playing and making video games. The STEM competition is divided into four categories for individuals and teams: middle school, high school, collegiate, and educator.

Entries can be created by using any game-making platform, including, but not limited to, written concepts, Gamestar Mechanic, Microsoft’s Kodu Game Lab, GameMaker, and Scratch.

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