GUEST COMMENTARY: Feds to Ban Kids’ Soft Plastic Toys for No Good Reason

by Jeff Stier, senior fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research

jeffstierThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to hear from you.

The agency has extended its comments period until April 15 as it considers a rule that would regulate a range of chemicals within a group called phthalates. These chemicals, among other purposes, keep plastics from shattering when bent, and play a useful role in a range of consumer products.

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New York Lawmakers Try Again to Pass Toxic Toy Bill

On Monday, Republican Senator Phil Boyle and Democratic Assemblyman Steve Englebright of New York said they would reintroduce legislation intended to ban the use of toxic chemicals in children’s toys. The measure, which failed to pass the state Senate last year, would require manufacturers to phase out the use of benzene, mercury, cadmium, and cobalt. [Read more...]

U.S.-Canadian Steering Committee to Consider Unified Toy Standards

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), U.S. and Canadian regulators, standards development organizations, and toy industry representatives held discussions in Ottawa, Canada, on January 7 to discuss the possibility of unified U.S.-Canadian toy safety standards that would be acceptable for both countries to use in regulating toys. [Read more...]

Bandai and The Smiling Bear Launch Koala Plush in Australia

SmilingBearThe Smiling Bear product range is now available exclusively from Discover Australia stores at all major Australian airports, and coming soon online at smilingbear.com. The plush toy and accessory product range has been developed under license by Bandai. [Read more...]

Lionel Opens New Brick-and-Mortar Store and Headquarters in North Carolina

Lionel.NewStoreThis past Monday, Lionel opened its first retail store in Concord, N.C. The new location will serve as a central station for popular train sets, replicas, and collectibles, as well as store-exclusive gifts and keepsakes.

To celebrate the new store, which will also serve as the company’s new headquarters, Lionel President Howard Hitchcock drove festivities with J. Scott Padgett, the mayor of Concord, and Donna Carpenter, the CEO of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lionel.NewStore2The store will become a terminal for field trips, new product testing, and company announcements. The 1,100-square-foot space will house one of Lionel’s fully decorated layouts, which will feature different trains throughout the year. Kids can control the layout with handheld remotes and test the newest trains.

Lionel has made numerous expansion efforts of late, including partnering with the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to debut its first life-sized trackless train ride, The Lionel Train Adventure, earlier this month. The company has also continued to add licenses for new train models through partnerships with DC Comics, Coca-Cola, Crayola, and other brands.

Demdaco Launches New Baby Products Collection with kathy ireland Worldwide

kathyirelandDemdaco has entered into a licensing agreement with kathy ireland Worldwide, one of the country’s most powerful brands founded by CEO and Chief Designer, Kathy Ireland. The new line of products, kathy ireland Baby by Demdaco, features luxurious baby blankets and plush toys designed as a result of a collaboration between Demdaco’s Nat & Jules development team and kathy ireland Worldwide.

The kathy ireland Baby collection is a natural extension to the Nat & Jules brand of children’s toys and keepsakes. The collection will be available to preview in Demdaco showrooms this winter in Atlanta, Dallas, and Las Vegas. Kathy Ireland will make a special guest appearance in the Atlanta Demdaco showroom on January 9 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Safari Ltd.’s Wild Safari Gyropsaurus Wins Prehistoric Times’ Dinosaur of the Year

dinosaurSafari Ltd. has received Prehistoric Times magazine‘s 2013 Dinosaur of the Year award for its Wild Safari Gyrposaurus. Prehistoric Times magazine caters to both retail stores and individual dinosaur enthusiasts. The magazine is celebrating its 20th year in distribution. The staff and the retailers that were canvassed gave strong support for the Gyrposaurus.

Safari Ltd.’s Wild Life dinosaur collection features high-quality figures with a great amount of detail and accuracy. The company is a third-generation, educational toy company whose mission is to teach children the importance of nature and its conservation through the joy of play.

American Girl Welcomes the Brand-New World of Bitty Baby

BittyBabyAmerican Girl debuted its Bitty Baby line of 15-inch dolls, outfits, and accessories. The new line includes 11 different dolls with various skin tones and hair- and eye-color combinations, as well as illustrated picture books, premium play sets, plush animals, and online activities.

Kids ages 3 and up can select their doll from the expanded choices, at which point they receive the Bitty Baby doll dressed in a signature sleeper, along with a special “wishing star” keepsake toy and Bitty Baby and Me, the first in a series of five hardcover picture books featuring ways to play. New outfits in various designs are also available to allow kids to further personalize their Bitty Baby.

The new Bitty Baby picture-book collection, by Newbery Honor Award-winner author Kirby Larson and award-winning illustrator Sue Cornelison, follows a little girl and her beloved Bitty Baby doll as they discover the world around them. Each book also comes with a special section for parents that focuses on the social and emotional experience of preschoolers and offers tips to parents. [Read more...]

British Doll Line Available Online for U.S. Customers

AGFAT_Group_Shot_HRMatilda, Amelia, and Clementine, the first in a new line of historically inspired British dolls known as A Girl for All Time, are now available online for customers in the U.S. These 16-inch dolls are based on 500 years of the fictional Marchmont family. The dolls are dressed in authentic dress such as a velvet cloak or masked ball gown of Tudor England.

Matilda, Your Tudor Girl, comes dressed in a historically inspired costume of grey velvet with a plum kirtle, period underwear, petticoats, court shoes, a key necklace, and a headdress. The Matilda’s Secret novel tells the adventure of 13-year-old Matilda as she is drawn into a world of intrigue, friendship, and even mortal danger in the court of Henry VIII. Also available are Matilda’s night shift, masked ball gown, velvet cloak, and the Keepsakes and Secrets activity book.

Amelia, Your Victorian Girl, is made from durable vinyl with articulated elbows and knees. Dressed in a blue cotton Victorian school dress with striped collar and cuffs, Amelia also comes with ruffled pantalets, an undershirt, sturdy school boots, and a straw boater hat. The Amelia’s Inheritance novel tells the story of how Amelia’s life was changed in an instant in 1880 London. Also available are Amelia’s party dress, opera cloak, and stage/ballet costume. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Red Toolbox Gets Kids Building

red6pieceAs a kid, I was obsessed with the small hobby shop in the mall near my neighborhood. I always found something to beg for, whether it was a new addition to my electric train set or a new art kit (I used to think I was the world’s most talented 8-year-old oil pastel artist). Wood craft kits were among my other favorite items—I once made a lopsided birdhouse and a collection of truly heinous wood plaques with my family members’ names carved into them.

As a former aspiring wood crafter, I’m drawn to the Red Toolbox line from Reeves International. The line features real tools that have been designed to fit in children’s small hands.  The tools have the same functionality and quality of adult tools found at any hardware store, but they include easy-to-grip handles for children.

soccertableplantholderThe Red Toolbox line features construction kits that kids can use to build quality toys and keepsakes (unlike my ugly wood plaques of yesteryear). The kits are arranged by levels of increasing challenge—Red Toolbox Junior is for children ages 4 and up and Levels 1 through 3 are for children ages 8 and up. Each level project increases in difficulty, complexity, and the level of precision required, while the child’s hand-eye coordination and physical abilities grow and improve. Kits include the Red Toolbox Mini Basketball (Junior), the Red Toolbox Plant Pot Holder (Level 1), the Red Toolbox Billiard Table (Level 2), and the Red Toolbox Soccer Table (Level 3).

The line also includes a number of tool sets, paint sets, and other accessories to get kids started on their carpentry journey. If only I were 8 again.

For more commentary from Loren, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!