Plushland to Release Domo Plush Line

Big Tent Entertainment has signed a new licensing agreement with Plushland to bring viral sensation Domo to the world of sports. The long-term deal will see the launch of a line of branded plush featuring Domo decked out in college, MLB, and NHL team logos, as well as a number of destination slogans and sayings, including “I Love New York.” Beginning next spring, campus bookstores, specialty stores, and other sports merchandisers will feature the new Domo plush line, which includes fuzzy dice, cubes, balls, and pillows.

As National Baby Safety Month Begins, VTech Survey Finds Accidents, Choking Are Top Parent Concerns

Courtesy of VTech

Results Show the Majority of Today’s Parents are Extremely Safety Conscious, Labeling Themselves as either “Protective” or a “Close Supervisor”

In honor of National Baby Safety month in September, VTech Communications, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of VTech Holdings Ltd., commissioned a survey1 conducted by independent market research firm Toluna to uncover parents’ worries, habits, and priorities for a safe home. Top safety concerns include children getting hurt by falling or getting into harmful material (29 percent), choking (24 percent), and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (20 percent).

With these worries top of mind, today’s parents are extremely safety conscious with the majority (71 percent) of survey respondents labeling themselves as either close supervisors (40 percent) or protective (31 percent).

“As every parent discovers, keeping kids safe remains a 24/7 proposition,” says Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central. “National Baby Safety Month offers parents key advice and tips around home safety practices that can both help protect children and provide parents with peace of mind.”

[Read more...]

Go Ahead, Tweet It: Seven Ways to Take Advantage of the 
Social Power of Your Satisfied (and Not-So-Satisfied) Customers 


By Ron Kaufman

Today, we tweet about the latest books we’ve read. We let our friends know where we’re eating lunch via Facebook. We post pictures of our latest purchases to Instagram. We post reviews of the businesses we frequent on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List. As consumers, many of us have gone social. We love telling people about our latest experiences, and we love hearing about what others have experienced so we know what to do this weekend and what to avoid. Unfortunately, this social reality is something that few companies have fully embraced. Until they do, they’ll be missing out on the social power of their satisfied customers.

Just think about the last book you bought on Amazon. Did you read the publisher’s comments first or did you read the customer reviews? Most likely, it was the customer reviews. That’s because people trust people like them. Companies that aren’t embracing social media today are missing out on huge opportunities to capitalize on the voices of their customers.

The voices of your customers can contribute immediately and powerfully to a better service experience. Companies should be saying to their customers, “If you did not enjoy our service, please tell us. If you did enjoy our service, please tell someone else.” Engage them. Tell happy customers to go ahead and be social about their great experiences and encourage unhappy customers to come to you via social media so that you can make it right and improve your overall service.

A lot of customer service is already being done online, customer-to-customer. Companies that embrace this behavior can improve their service and save on costs. It is not unusual for a customer with a problem to use Google to find an answer before approaching the actual company responsible for the product or service. A quick search brings you tons of answers via user forums or message boards. The truth is customers like helping other customers. They’ll go out of their way to help a fellow customer find a solution, but for companies to do that backend customer service there would be a cost. By engaging your customers to help each other, you can defray your costs, improve your customer satisfaction, and stimulate a loyal community by encouraging people in your online social space.

The trick, of course, is encouraging your customers to use social media in the most beneficial way for your company. In other words, how do you keep them spreading great things about your company while bringing their complaints only to you? [Read more...]

Licensed Toys: A Growing Phenomenon with Year-Round Appeal

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Character licenses based on blockbuster movies have the ability to propel products to stratospheric success, creating memories that last a lifetime for millions of fans. Recent sales for licensed toys reflect this growing phenomenon: last year, licensed toys and games were up 2 percent from 2010. For the first half of this year, those numbers have climbed further to 27 percent of total toy sales.

“Kids love bringing movies to life through play, whether they are re-enacting storylines, imagining new plot developments, or emulating their favorite superheroes and villains,” said Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Playthings related to the biggest blockbusters are sure to be on the wish lists of kids throughout the year and well into the holiday season.”

TIA has been tracking many of the family friendly movies that have toy and game tie-ins on its ToyInfo.org website. The following are a few examples from this year so far… and a sneak peak at what’s coming this fall:

The Avengers (May)
Toys and games related to The Avengers encourage kids to get into the spirit of the fast-paced movie. Considered by many to be the break-out movie and toy property of the year, strong toy sales are anticipated to continue during the holiday season following the Sept. 25 release of the DVD and Blu-Ray.

  • Bubble Blaster: The Avengers (Imperial Toy)
  • Game Strike Hulk (Hasbro)
  • 21-inch Avengers Skateboard (Bravo Sports)
  • Marvel Mini Basketball Hoop Set (Franklin Sports)
  • The Avengers Mini Muggs Action Figure two-pack (Hasbro)

[Read more...]

TIA Shares Best Practices in Anti-Counterfeiting in the Toy and Game Industry

By Justin E. Pierce, Toy Industry Association

$27 million. That was the MSRP value of the counterfeit toys and electronic games seized by customs and border patrol last year alone.  And that is only what was seized.  Unfortunately, this is the reality of having a commercially successful toy or game.  While you have invested sweat and equity into development, bringing it to market, and building your brand, you are now faced, as a result of your success, with counterfeiters that eat into your profits, infringe on your rights, and expose you to liability.

This is an all too common problem, particularly in light of the ease of the online marketplace. In fact, any company with a well-known brand or popular toy or game should assume that it is already being counterfeited. Likewise, any company with a global footprint that has distribution channels in different countries, with different regulatory schemes and pricing, should assume that various entities are working to take their profit margin by diverting products.  Diversion of products into unauthorized sales channels and distribution of “gray market” goods (or parallel imports) causes significant losses for many companies.

[Read more...]

All the New Specialty Games and Puzzles Fit to Print, and Then Some

The Toy Book‘s July/August issue showcases new puzzles and games for mass and specialty retail. We received dozens of submissions fit to print, beyond what fit on our printed pages. Here’s a look at 10 more specialty games and puzzles after the jump.

[Read more...]

Toys Transform Toddlers into Little Learners

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Back-to-school season is just around the corner for millions of kids across the country … but there’s no need for younger siblings who are not yet in school to feel out of the learning loop. Thanks to toy innovation in the infant and pre-school categories, there are tons of great new playthings on the market that build cognitive and developmental skills at a young age.

“With increases in total U.S. births predicted for both 2012 and 2013, toymakers are rolling out a broad array of brand new toys and games to challenge and excite little ones, presenting them with more play options than ever before,” says Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Toys can help transform tots and toddlers into lifelong learners by helping them explore their interests and talents very early on.”

[Read more...]

Maxfield and Oberton Launch “Save Our Balls” Campaign

Maxfield and Oberton, creator of BuckyBalls and BuckyCubes, has announced a video campaign to educate their consumers about its ongoing and increasing safety efforts in protest to the Consumer Products Safety Commision’s recent actions.

The CPSC filed an administrative complaint against the company to compel it to stop sales. In May 2010, CPSC and Maxfield and  Oberton announced a cooperative recall of approximately 175,000  high-powered magnets labeled “Ages 13+” because they did not meet a mandatory federal toy standard stating that such products should not be sold to anyone under age 14.

The CPSC has said that BuckyBalls and BuckyCubes contain a defect in the design, packaging, warnings, and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public. The Commission voted 3-1 to order that the firm cease sales of BuckyBalls and BuckyCubes, notify the public of the defect, and offer consumers refunds.

This post was originally written by Gigi Rubin and published by ToyBook.com For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Tenth Annual International Festival of Street Games to Occur in September

Tocati, the 10th International Festival of Street Games, organized by the Associzione Giochi Antichi in collaboration with the Cultural Department of Verona Muncipality, is set to take place this September in Verona’s Historical Center.

The traditional games include activities such as the Salto del Pastor (Spain), Kispetia (Greece), Kegeln (Switzerland) Ba ‘game (Scotland-UK), Skakanje na Mješinu (Croatia), and Pandolo (Slovenia). Traditional Italian games include Alli Pitrudde (Puglia), Barandello (Emilia Romagna), Corsa con le botti (Campania), Corsa con la Cannata (Lazio), Fionde (Friuli), Punta e cul (Marche), Tir de Cidulis(Friuli), Totara (Toscana), Trucco da Terra  (Liguria), Tsan (Valle d’Aosta), and Saoutoula (Piemonte). The games will be practiced every day for eight hours; those who want to participate are welcome to join.

This year, each country will be assigned an area of the city center in which they can host cultural events and showcase the traditions of their regions, with the collaboration of embassies, tourist offices, and cultural institutes. A large area will be devoted to the associations and institutions that deal with gaming (playrooms, Playbus, leaders, experts in museum education, etc.), and in this area children will find a special welcome and workshops tailored to them.

In the Auditorium of the Forum of Culture Ludica (Cortile Mercato Vecchio), game enthusiasts will find speakers who are not only players from all over Europe, but who are also academic experts in the history of traditional sports.

This post was originally written by Gigi Rubin and published by ToyBook.com For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

White Paper, Checklist for Children’s Online Privacy & Mobile Apps Now Available

The Toy Industry Association’s Responsible Marketing to Children (M2C) Committee has developed a White Paper, The Changing Privacy and Data Security Landscape: From Mobile Apps to OBA, and a corresponding Checklist for Mobile Apps and Promotions, to assist members of the industry in understanding an array of laws and regulations, policy initiatives, self-regulatory standards, and reports addressing various aspects of privacy and data security.

Members of the TIA M2C Committee have been working with outside counsel to monitor developing “hot button” issues in Europe, Washington, District of Columbia, and California related to privacy protections and non-privacy-related consumer deception and fairness issues linked to mobile app use. The committee also created a subcommittee on privacy, which seeks to develop a better understanding of current practices in these areas by reviewing existing regulations and self-regulatory guidelines to identify gaps.

The TIA members-only white paper, The Changing Privacy and Data Security Landscape: From Mobile Apps to OBA, provides background on the issues and a status report on significant U.S. and international laws and policy developments.  A Checklist for Mobile Apps and Promotions, which provides a framework that all toy companies can use to examine and evaluate the risks and opportunities related to their app initiatives, will also be available to TIA members only.

This post was originally written by Gigi Rubin and published by ToyBook.com For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.