Q&A with John Gessert, President, American Plastic Toys

APT.John GessertThe Toy Book (TTB): Which toy categories do you expect to expand in 2015? Which do you expect to contract?

John Gessert (JG): We are starting to see more interest at the consumer level in toys that promote or support basic play patterns. We have received notes from consumers that complement our products not only for being made in the U.S., but also for providing a basis for good basic role playing that results in active play that promotes imagination. Another role-play area that seems to be increasing from initial line reviews for fall is in doll-related play. It appears that demand for doll accessories has increased for 2015.
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Q&A with Søren Torp Laursen, President, Lego Systems

Lego Direktion  15,012,2005 © Niels Aage Skovbo, FOKUSThe Toy Book (TTB): How has the success of The Lego Movie helped to transform the entertainment and merchandising arm of Lego?

Søren Torp Laursen (STL): We are thrilled that The Lego Movie captured the attention of so many people around the world last year, serving as an anthem for creative building that drove families to pull out their existing Lego collections or try one of the Lego sets that we had on shelf. While we do not have ambitions to become an entertainment company, we know that storytelling and content—be it film, TV, YouTube tutorials, or fan-generated animations—is an important way that we create relevance while inspiring new ideas for play time. The movie was a perfect validation of our belief in the power of stories, and we look forward to deeper relationships with our content partners to continue to enhance what we do best in delivering fun and creative building sets that inspire children to become their own storytellers.
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CTA and TIA Share the Benefits of Using a Canadian Distributor

PrintThe Canadian Toy Association (CTA), an affiliate partner of the Toy Industry Association (TIA), recently asked its members to share the unique perks of partnering with a Canadian distributor. A survey of U.S. TIA members found that Canada is their No. 1 target market for toy, game, and youth entertainment product distribution.

The top four advantages, compiled by CTA, are as follows:

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Q&A with Geoffrey Greenberg, Co-President, Just Play

JustPlay.GeoffreyGreenbergThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you use 3-D printing in your research and development? Will you incorporate 3-D printing into your consumer offerings in the future?

Geoffrey Greenberg (GG): We use 3-D printing extensively in our development process. The quick turnarounds enable for faster approvals and the ability to make changes as needed without a long wait. A designer can be much more precise when working with a printed sample, and it helps move the development process along more quickly. [Read more...]

Q&A with Paul Solomon, Co-CEO, Moose Toys

Moose.PaulSolomonThe Toy Book (TTB): In what new way are you using social media to correspond directly with consumers?

Paul Solomon (PS): The popularity of toy unboxing videos on YouTube has given Moose Toys the opportunity to reach more consumers on platforms other than TV. Moose has seen first-hand how social media allows consumers to engage more directly with our products. For example, Moose garnered more than 11 million views from our animated Shopkins webisodes. [Read more...]

Q&A with Simha Kumar, President, Sports and Fitness, Children’s Entertainment, Sears Holdings

Sears.Kumar,SimhaThe Toy Book (TTB): How are you engaging consumers in-store to drive sales?

Simha Kumar (SK): Kmart is focused on offering the most-desired toys, affordably and conveniently. We feature top licensed toys and hundreds of Kmart exclusives—whether purchasing in-store, buying online and picking up in-store, or having them shipped directly home. [Read more...]

Oldies but Goodies: Some of the Biggest Toy Brands of Yesteryear Are Making a Comeback

DebbieDunnHeadshotby Debbie Dunn, Licensing, Marketing, Promotions, & Mom Expert, GennComm LLC

What’s old is new again, and vintage brands are expected to be the biggest hits in the toy aisle for this year. Many of these brands have reinvented themselves in modern ways with digital entertainment content to reach today’s savvy kid consumer, yet they still offer the same trusted attributes that parents–and even grandparents–knew and loved. [Read more...]

Q&A with Ben Gadbois, Global President and COO, Spin Master Ltd.

SpinMaster.BenGadboisThe Toy Book (TTB): Which toy categories do you expect to expand in 2015? Which do you expect to contract?

Ben Gadbois (BG): While it isn’t a category itself, robotic technology is advancing the toy industry in revolutionary new ways. Toy robots are nothing new to the market, but over the past few years we are seeing more innovative integration of robotics, allowing kids to do incredible things. From our trainable, voice-recognizing dog, Zoomer, to the autonomous, fiercely independent Zoomer Dino, toys are coming to life and great new play patterns are emerging. This year, we are fusing the latest technology and robotics with the iconic Meccano brand (known as Erector in the U.S.) with our latest robot, Meccanoid G15 KS. Meccanoid embodies the core values of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and empowers children by acting as a fun and engaging way to learn about coding, robotics, and engineering. As society advances, so do our toys, and there is a new thirst in the market as consumer behavior shifts toward products that can be both fun and educational. [Read more...]

Q&A with Sharon DiMinico, Founder and CEO, Learning Express

Learning Express.sharonThe Toy Book (TTB): How are Learning Express retailers engaging consumers in-store to drive sales?

Sharon DiMinico (SD): Every month, our stores publish a full calendar of events to draw people into the store. We engage, we entertain, and we have product demonstrations. We also offer classes, costumed character appearances, and featured guests (silhouette artists, musicians, authors, etc.). We learned early on that customer-centric services and the “wow” factor would be the only way to compete with buying toys online from the comfort of your home. [Read more...]

Q&A with Willie Wilkov, Chief Marketing Officer, Tomy International

Willie Wilkov CMO TOMYThe Toy Book (TTB): Which licenses do you anticipate will be key drivers in 2015?

Willie Wilkov (WW): 2015 is a big year on the license front for Tomy. We are proud to have the opportunity to work with Disney on two new Disney•Pixar movie properties–Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur– as well as the new Disney Junior TV show Miles from Tomorrowland. While we expect these new licenses to be key drivers for us in 2015, we have a portfolio of licensed properties that perform for us year after year, and we are anticipating growth in those brands as well. John Deere is an evergreen brand with a loyal following that is perennially one of our strongest selling lines company-wide. Our partners at Sega and The Pokémon Company International continue to bring new fans into their incredibly popular franchises, Sonic Boom and Pokémon, with fresh, engaging content, giving us so much to work with in our toy development. In the classic play arena, we see both Chuggington Wooden Railway and Chuggington StackTrack continuing to provide that first train experience for kids and growing with them through their love of train and construction play, while Lamaze maintains its stronghold as a leader in the infant developmental toy aisle. [Read more...]