Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Hasbro in Talks to Buy DreamWorks Animation

Hasbro logoAs initially reported by Deadline, Hasbro Inc. is in early talks to buy DreamWorks Animation SKG. The deal would give the toy maker, which has clout with major retailers, an animation studio that just recently began diversifying beyond the movies.

For each company, a deal could help accelerate movement beyond their core businesses. DreamWorks Animation has expanded into consumer products in recent years, but still lags behind Walt Disney Co., while Hasbro recently sold off some of its stake in the Hub cable network.

dreamworks_animation_logoThrough its relatively new film label, Allspark Pictures, Hasbro has movies in the works based on its toy brands, My Little Pony and Jem and the Holograms. It is also launching a new Transformers cartoon series on the Cartoon Network, having had trouble edging in on children’s networks Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.

Should a deal be reached, it would likely come during the next two to four weeks, and would result in a family entertainment powerhouse to be called DreamWorks-Hasbro, according to a source in the article. Hasbro could also have management of the new entity already in place: On Wednesday, the company appointed Stephen Davis, who has led Hasbro Studios since its launch in 2009, to the role of executive vice president, chief content officer.

In this new role, Davis will be responsible for developing content for Hasbro’s brands across multiple platforms. He will also work closely with Hasbro’s president and chief executive officer, Brian Goldner, to oversee Allspark Pictures (This aspect of Davis’ role was announced prior to news about the possible Hasbro-DreamWorks deal), as well as franchise films such as Transformers that are produced in partnership with major studios.

The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine Launch New Video Series

WomansDayVideoThe first entry in The Toy Insider‘s newest Fun with Kids video series launched this week at Woman’s Day. The latest video can be found on the Woman’s Day site’s front page, and the series will run for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, reaching the site’s 3.9 million unique monthly visitors (Note: The Toy Insider is published by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book).

In “Toys in Motion,” Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and Woman’s Day‘s Senior Editor Taryn Mohrman show off this season’s hottest toys that race, fly, and ride. Products shown in the video include: The Rockin’ Rider Patriot Rocking Horse, from Tek Nek Toys; the Air Storm Firetek Bow, from Zing; the Planes Fire and Rescue U-Command Dusty, from Thinkway Toys; the Hot Wheels Street Hawk, from Mattel; the Heli Beast, from Silverlit; the Sky Viper Camera Drone, from Skyrocket Toys; the Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy, from Toy State; the Extreme Beast, from Maisto; the Y Flicker Lift, from Yvolution; and the PowerRider 360, from Razor.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Neighborhood Toy Store Day Lets Independent Retailers Shine!

by Phil Guie and Deanna Atkins

ExteriorofKaleidoscope(Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 11, 2014)

This past weekend, playtime was definitely on at mom-and-pop toy stores located throughout the U.S.

Saturday marked the fifth annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day (NTSD), an event started by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association to support locally owned toy retailers. Community members were encouraged to visit the independent toy store in their midst, and in return, participating retailers hosted in-store arts and crafts, games, and other activities that appealed to families.

In honor of NTSD, The Toy Book’s editorial staff interviewed owners of several neighborhood toy stores in their home communities. In their responses below, the store owners touched on their NTSD plans, the support they give and receive from their neighborhoods, the reasons why shopping at a locally owned toy store is a great experience, and more.
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Nintendo Shows Strength on New Games in Financial Results

NintendoAs reported by Bloomberg News on Wednesday, Nintendo posted second-quarter profits that beat analyst estimates, helped by a weaker yen that boosted the value of overseas sales and demand for new games, including the company’s Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. Net income was 24.2 billion yen, or $224 million, for the three months ended September 30, compared to an 8 billion yen loss a year earlier.

The company booked a 15.5 billion yen gain in the fiscal first half from the weaker Japanese currency. Second-quarter sales fell to 96.7 billion yen from 115 billion yen a year ago, but Nintendo left unchanged its forecast for full-year profit of 20 billion yen and sales of 590 billion yen. The company maintained its projection to sell 3.6 million Wii U consoles across the full year.

In a statement, Nintendo also maintained its full-year sales targets for the 3DS handheld player and software titles for both. The newest version of the 3DS, which features additional buttons and a faster processor, went on sale in Japan on October 11; and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, which was released in Japan on September 13, and in North America and Europe on October 3, sold 3.2 million units as of the end of the month. The company is also entering the multi-billion-dollar, collectible toy market with its amiibo figurines, which let players enter a Nintendo character into a game through the Wii U’s GamePad tablet.

Cartwheel Kids Acquires Smart Toy

CartwheelKidsSmart Toy, formerly known as Ubooly, has been acquired by Cartwheel Kids. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Created in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Isaac Squires and Carly Gloge, Smart Toy is an interactive, huggable plush toy that uses apps and speech recognition software to interact with children. It encourages creative, active play by telling stories, embarking on adventures, and guiding activities. It also speaks five different languages.

According to Sunny Lauridsen, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cartwheel Kids, the Smart Toy acquisition is in line with Cartwheel Kids’ strategy to expand its product portfolio into new categories that deliver meaningful play experiences to children. The next-generation Smart Toy will debut at International Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Gloge and Squires will join the Cartwheel Kids team as directors of technology and will continue to oversee development of the Smart Toy product line.

Angry Birds Transformers Rolls Out Worldwide

ABTransformersThe Angry Birds Transformers mobile game is now available on the Apple App Store, to be followed by the Android version on Google Play on October 30 and on Amazon on November 4. Also available is the Angry Birds Transformers Telepods product line from Hasbro, which allows players to teleport figures straight into the game and gain unique powers.

This new mash-up combines the Angry Birds world with the iconic Transformers franchise. With an edgy ’80s vibe, Angry Birds Transformers brings a humorous twist to the beloved Transformers characters. Angry Birds are disguised as robots in disguise when Eggspark plunges to Piggy Island changing the pigs and the eggs in its wake. The Autobirds and the Deceptihogs will have to join forces to prevent the rioting EggBots from wreaking havoc.

Developed in collaboration with Hasbro, the Angry Birds Transformers Telepods gaming platform will allow fans to teleport their favorite characters directly into the game, bridging the digital and the physical play experience. The toys change form, like the original Transformers.

The Toy Book Does Not Cancel the Toypocalypse!

This past week, The Toy Insider (the consumer site owned by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book) released the third in its short video series, Toypocalypse. To make the occasion, we’ve posted all three videos below in reverse-chronological order. Enjoy!

Toypocalypse 3: Toy-byrinth

More Tales from the Toypocalypse!

Toypocalypse!

Toy Insider Experts Name Top Holiday Toys in Their Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 Lists

The Toy Insider logoThe Toy Insider has announced its Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 holiday toy lists, giving gift-givers a sneak peek at the must-have traditional and high-tech toys this holiday season. From Doc McStuffins to Elmo, Lego Fusion to LeapTV, each list includes top picks for kids of all ages. Covering a variety of play patterns, including classic toys and high-tech options, the Toy Insider gives parents and gift-givers a head start on finding toys for the holidays.

The Hot 20 and the Top Tech 12 are the kick-off sections of the Toy Insider holiday gift guide, which will appear in the November issue of Woman’s Day magazine, as well as www.toyinsider.com. The guide is broken down by age group (0-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9+) with in-depth descriptions and a unique skill key of developmental needs and interests for each toy.

COMMENTARY: Happy National Teddy Bear Day!

by Christine Duhaime and Phil Guie

toothpickLife—or childhood, at least—would have been simply un-bear-able without teddy bears, am I right? What other toy so effectively soothes us when we’re unhappy, or makes for a truer companion on picnics, tea parties, and other adventures? And since this is an industry blog, we should also point out that teddy bears are a perennial seller among audiences of all ages: Toddlers may receive them for their first toys, but so do young adults as college graduation presents; and grown-ups as birthday gifts, Valentine’s Day tokens, and souvenirs. [Read more...]