New Product: Save the World(s) with Mechatars

iloveRobots invites gamers to choose one of three types of Mechatars, remote-controlled robots with unique personalities, and become immersed in the combined online and offline battle experience to restore peace in the fictional Mechaverse world.

Start out with the free online missions then level up the purchased Mechatar robot to fight here on Earth, competing in either solo or multiplayer battles. The more time played in the virtual and physical realms, the more skills, weapons, and abilities gamers can acquire for their Mechatar.

New Product: Ready, Set, Action!

Kids of all ages can now record their extreme sport stunts on and off the track with the Hot Wheels Video Racer. The 1:64-scale vehicle comes ­­encased with a video camera, equipped with real-time playback and delete functionality on a built-in LCD screen, as well as memory capacity to record up to 12 minutes of footage. The package also includes attachment accessories to affix the Video Racer to a bike handlebar, skateboard, or snowboard helmet. Free video-editing software is available at www.hotwheels.com/videoracer.

New Product: Eco-Friendly Elegance

In the imaginative world of SillyCreatures.com, children are transformed into royalty with Organic Party’s line of Organic Cotton Birthday Crowns. Kids can represent the Kingdom of Kabida or the Kingdom of Crayebsiea with two styles of sequined, organic cotton-lined crowns. The festive crowns are machine-washable to withstand years of royal conduct. The package includes a set of attachable felt numbers, ranging from zero to nine to celebrate birthdays up to age 99.

New Product: The Wave of the Future

NeuroSky has crossed into the future with the creation of the MindWave, a headset that harnesses “the power of brainwaves.” The headset’s various sensors monitor the wearer’s brainwaves, reading the user’s actions and emotions. With the 12 games that the headset includes, plus downloadable games online, users can explode objects with their mind, change the plot sequence of movies, learn what meditation or attentiveness feels like, and more.

New Wind-Up Pens Convert to Racers

California Creations is introducing wind-up toy pens, Z Writers, this fall. The new toys will be available in four different styles: Robots, Rockets, Race Cars, and Jets. Z Writers will join California Creations’ line-up of more than 200 wind-ups. The pens will be available nationwide for $9.99.

Ubisoft Releases “The Smurfs Dance Party” Video Game

Ubisoft recently released The Smurfs Dance Party for Wii, based on this summer’s 3-D family movie. In the video game, characters from the film, including Smurfette, Papa Smurf, Clumsy, Brainy, Gutsy, and Gargamel, as well as up to four players, dance along to a wide selection of popular songs.

Featured tracks include “Just The Way You Are,” Katy Perry’s “One of the Boys,” and original songs from The Smurfs, including “Smurfberry-licious” and “Gargamel.” Toys “R” Us is carrying an exclusive edition that includes a bonus track, “Walking on Sunshine.”

Other new Smurfs-themed games include The Smurfs for Nintendo DS and The Smurfs & Co. for Facebook.

GUEST BLOG: Five Ways To Drive Customer Conversion Rates In Your Stores by Mark Ryski

The following is a guest blog written by Mark Ryski. Ryski is the founder and CEO of HeadCount, an analytics firm specializing in store traffic and conversion, serving retailers across North America. He is also the author of Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric. For more information, visit www.headcount.com.

Same-store sales are looking a little flat and retailers need to find ways to deliver better results. There’s still a scent of the financial melt-down lingering, but you have survived that crisis and it’s time to start getting the sales needle to move in a positive direction.

There are three main ways to drive sales in stores: (1) encourage more prospective buyers to visit your store; (2) increase your average ticket; and (3) increase your conversion rate — that is, sell to more of the prospects already visiting your stores, but don’t buy.

To a great extent, retail sales have been a two-trick pony: drive more prospective traffic and increase the average ticket. Driving more prospects into your stores usually requires an advertising or promotional investment of some kind, and many retailers focus on increasing the average ticket. But what about conversion rate? It is a third trick every retailer needs to learn, and another sales opportunity that most retailers today completely overlook.

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McDonald’s Teams Up With The Smurfs to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

McDonald’s is encouraging children worldwide to “Smurf the Earth” this summer with a 28-day Happy Meal campaign featuring 16 iconic Smurf designs. Smurf-themed packaging on healthy Happy Meal offerings, such as Apple Dippers and milk, will promote healthy eating decisions for children.

Within the U.S., McDonald’s has partnered with The Smurfs and Keep America Beautiful (K.A.B.) to put digital codes on the back of Apple Dippers packages that can be entered online at happymeal.com. For every code that is entered on the website, McDonald’s and K.A.B. will plant a tree (up to 100,000) in national forests across the country. Similar environmentally friendly promotions will take place at McDonald’s global locations.

Jakks Named Master Toy Partner For Men In Black 3

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has announced a master toy licensing agreement with Sony Pictures Consumer Products to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of toys and products based on the upcoming Men In Black 3. The licensing program, due to launch next spring, will include action figures, accessories, play sets, role play, youth electronics, novelties, games and puzzles, Halloween costumes, and more. The agreement covers the entire Men in Black franchise.

The 3-D action comedy, slated to open on May 25, is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin. The screenplay was written by Etan Cohen, based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham, and the movie is produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and executive produced by Steven Spielberg and G. Mac Brown.

Image Credit: Collider.com

Third Annual Kids II And SCAD Design Contest

The 2011 Kids II and SCAD program’s gear design class

The 2011 Kids II and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) program and contest for toy and gear design was a success for both the students and the infant toy company; the program resulted in innovative designs and exciting opportunities for several of the outstanding participants.

Under the guidance of Jesus Rojas, SCAD professor and associate chair of industrial design, and the Kids II design team, SCAD industrial design students collaborated with Kids II during one of two 10-week interactive courses to develop new concepts for the company’s toy and gear product lines.

Twelve of the participants, six from the toy class and six from the gear class, earned top honors with their product concepts and were selected to travel to the Kids II offices in Hong Kong and China. Additionally, two students were offered continuing positions with the Kids II company. Qing Xu, a student in the gear design program, was awarded a summer internship with Kids II in Guangdong, China, where he will work directly with the Kids II product development team. Aaron Floss, a student in the toy design program, will join the toy design team at the U.S. corporate headquarters as the newest full-time member.