Musical Toys: An Inspiration to Pursue the Art

by Rachel Matthews, guest blogger

Not too long ago, the Kidz Bop kids found their way performing at venues in New York and New Jersey. Their collection of poppy, top 40 covers has allowed them to produce dozens of compilation albums, launch a U.S. star search, release books, video games, and toys.

The line-up of the group is in constant rotation as each member ages. Because of this rotation, many a child beg their parents for a singing lesson—especially in New York—after seeing a Kidz Bop performance. The chances of becoming a member is hard pressed as detailed by this young musician, but the combination of their U.S. talent search and brand gives hope to many children within the States.

Of course, aiming to sing for a band such as Kidz Bop is only part of what’s driving up sales in music -parents must by music-related toys to help further their children’s ambitions.

[Read more...]

10 Board Games You Shouldn’t Miss Before Stepping to Adulthood

by Pam Johnson

The great journey of adulthood will happen to us all. However, before you get there, it’s time to enjoy these fun and amusing board games.

Candy Land

Don’t even try to get to adulthood without playing Candy Land! This amusing game has been entertaining children of all ages for decades and decades, and you simply cannot miss it.

Monopoly Jr.

While one of the games can still take hours to complete, Monopoly Jr. is more suitable for a younger crowd than the standard version. Youngsters can certainly learn some basic counting skills while having a lot of fun.

Real Monopoly

Before making that final leap into the world of adults, it’s time to get out the board and play some real Monopoly. You’ll get a chance to see what it’s like to own some real estate and handle some seriously large amounts of money in your own hands! [Read more...]

Reshoring Toys

By Howard N. Aronson, Managing Partner, Lackenbach Siegel LLP

Like the proverbial child who runs away from home only to return before nightfall, an American toymaker is bringing most of its manufacturing back to the U.S.—after more than a decade of outsourcing in Asia. The decision of K’NEX Brands, a family-owned maker of plastic building toys, to boost manufacturing at The Rodon Group, its Hatfield, Pa. plant, is only one example of a major trend. Persuasive factors leading to the ultimate decision included quality control, overall costs, timeliness of deliveries, and intellectual property issues. Many are following the lead of K’NEX and rediscovering that home sweet home is the best place to make and distribute products after all.

Manufacturing in the U.S. created many advantages for K’NEX:
• Greater ability to react to shifts in consumer demands for toys because it’s much quicker and easier to retool–thus creating additional sales;
• Delivery times are quicker–as are changes in delivery schedules, for example, to take advantage of unexpected increases in sales at some stores;
• There’s more control over quality–including avoiding toy safety product recalls;
• There’s more control over materials–again, especially important where safety is an issue, as it is with many toys;
• Overseas labor costs are increasing, whereas using robotics in its U.S. plant is boosting productivity–thus lowering per unit labor costs;
• Transportation costs are rising;
• Time zone differences make communication between manufacturers and suppliers difficult. [Read more...]

U.S. Companies Look to Overseas Markets for Growth

Since the domestic market is flat, American toy companies are increasingly becoming interested in exporting, says Carter Keithley, TIA President, who also informs about the New York Toy Fair, the importance of licensing for the toy business, the trends in the U.S. marketplace, and the Association’s activities.

by Daniele Caroli, editor, Giochi & Giocattoli

In order to be updated on the U.S. toy market and on the Toy Industry Association’s activities and events, I met Carter Keithley, president, at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, just a few days before the opening of the New York American International Toy Fair, which is managed by the TIA. [Read more...]

United States Urged to “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”

By Carol Kwok, Corporate Communication Officer, Hong Kong Trade Development Council

The largest Hong Kong promotion ever to take place in the U.S. will be held this summer to showcase Hong Kong’s advantages for American companies looking to tap new business opportunities in Asia, particularly on the Chinese mainland.

Think Asia, Think Hong Kong will feature symposiums in New York and Los Angeles, June 11 and 14, respectively. Speakers will include CY Leung, chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government, and more than 60 prominent senior executives from global companies. The event was organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), with support from 14 Hong Kong partners and a number of U.S. organizations. [Read more...]

Children’s Play Preferences and Academic Success Subject of Study in the “American Journal of Play”

Courtesy of The Strong

There is an apparent link between children’s thinking styles, the types of play activities they prefer, and their academic achievements, according to a recent study by Robin M. Holmes of Monmouth University and colleagues Sharon Liden and Lisa Shines in the American Journal of Play, a scholarly journal of The Strong in Rochester, N.Y.

Holmes and colleagues studied 74 middle school students (45 boys and 29 girls, ages 10 to 15) of mostly Filipino and part Hawaiian heritages to assess the relationship between the children’s thinking styles, play preferences, and school performance as measured by state mandated test scores and grade point average. Two standard assessment tests were administered to determine the students’ personality traits, and students were asked to provide written responses to three questions about themselves and their favorite playful activities to help categorize them as field dependent (gravitating towards social situations and interactions) or field independent (preferring to avoid social contact and set their own standards for thinking and behaving). [Read more...]

Amazon Continues to Grow Its Influence in the Toys Category

By Jason Caine, Director for Compete, a Kantar Media company

The toy industry was a big online winner during the last two weeks of November, which included Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Nearly 24 million consumers shopped online for toys during the time period, an 18 percent increase over the same time period last year, according to market share data released by Kantar Compete.

Amazon’s holiday performance suggests that manufacturers need to shift their focus from thinking of the online retailer as an emerging channel to one that could be an important revenue driver in the next few years. One in four consumers considered a toy product on Amazon.com during the start of the holiday season.

Amazon chart1ToysRUs.com appears to be the retailer most impacted by Amazon’s early toys category successes thus far. One in three Amazon toy shoppers also visit ToysRUs.com to shop for the same products. Both Walmart.com and Target.com are experiencing cross shopping rates about half the size.  [Read more...]

Crafts Aren’t Just for Rainy Days

By Stephanie Carver, The Orb Factory

Craft kits are often the go-to activity on those blustery rainy days, but that doesn’t mean that when the sun is shining you can’t get crafty.

Get Messy

orb factory1Children love getting messy. Take advantage of sunny days and let them get a little messy outdoors. Set up a table in the backyard and choose anything from exploding science to glitter-filled kits.

Try My First Finger Paint & Frames and let them get their hands dirty–literally.

While it’s messy, finger painting is therapeutic, teaches children how to mix colors, strengthens hand and finger muscles, and contributes to fine motor skill development.  Throw a tarp over the picnic table, get them in an old T-shirt, and let the fun begin. [Read more...]

Creative Kidstuff, St. David’s Center Partner for Autism-Specific Toy Site

At Creative Kidstuff , a specialty toy store based out of Minnesota, play is learning and learning is play. With the expertise of St. David’s Center’s specialists, Creative Kidstuff has launched CK Autism, a resource for families with children on the autism spectrum or who have other special needs.

The partnership allows Creative Kidstuff to provide the families of children on the autism spectrum with a new level of service as they strive to help their children grow and thrive. With the guidance of a loving parent or caregiver, almost any toy can provide an enriched play experience for a child on the autism spectrum. However, certain toys may be especially beneficial when considering the needs of these young individuals. [Read more...]

Carrera Celebrates 50 Years of Racing in Style with Commemorative Products

Carrera, the worldwide market leader in the scale model racetrack sector, is celebrating 50 years of the Carrera brand. The cult pop group Yello has joined Carrera to hit the grid, put the pedal to the metal, and fire up the worlds of music and slotcar racing with a special Carrera remix of “The Race.”

There’s also a prototype Carrera App for iPhones and iPads to let slotcar pros know they’re using state of the art technology. Carrera’s 2.4 GHz wireless+ technology now enhances the slotcar market. In fact, wireless+ is now also available with the analogue Evolution system. Budding Carrera drivers also have plenty to enjoy this year as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles celebrate their debut. Disney/Pixar Cars and The Amazing Spider-Man are also available to keep young fans busy. Kart legends Mario and Luigi are also in the thick of the action with Nintendo’s Mario Kart 7. [Read more...]