Only One Month Left to Nominate a Local Charity for Play Connects Grant

Member companies of the Toy Industry Association have been asked to nominate a community-based charity for one of three Play Connects grants-up to $10,000 each-to be awarded by the Toy Industry Foundation later this year. Submissions for the grant application must be completed by the nominated charity by August 15.

Play Connects, launched by TIF last year, aims to help fund childrens charities that the toy industry cares about, connect TIA members with the world of philanthropy, and make a difference in the lives of children in need.

Last year’s winners were the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, Conn.; Friends of the Children in Portland, Ore.; The Magic House at the St. Louis Children’s Museum; and 826 Valencia in San Francisco.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of members from the TIF Board of Trustees.  Up to three grant recipients will be chosen, and the selected charities will be announced in December.

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.

Meijer to Hold First Next Great Toy Maker Contest

Meijer will host the first Next Great Toymaker contest, an opportunity for two small U.S. toymakers to have their creations selected and sold on Meijer.com this holiday season.

Finalists will be selected by a panel of Meijer judges and chosen based on criteria including uniqueness, educational relevance, creativity, and quality. All toys eligible must be designed for children ages 1 through 3 or 4 through eight.

The contest is open to all small U.S. toy companies and entrepreneurs, with an employee base of 50 or fewer people.

More information about the contest, including how to enter, is available at www.meijer.com/toycontest.

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.

 

Plasmart Serves as Official Sponsor of ChiTAG Young Inventor Challenge

Plasmart will be the official sponsor of this year’s Young Inventor Challenge, which will be held at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair in November. Submissions are voted on by representatives from around the toy industry and various press members.

For more information about the challenge, visit http://www.younginvetorchallenge.com.

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.

Bigpoint and Fox Consumer Products Launch Ice Age Online

Fox Consumer Products and Bigpoint have announced the international open beta launch of Ice Age Online. Based on the motion picture franchise, Ice Age Online brings together the  film characters and environments in a free-to-play, browser-based adventure game with a host of social features. The title offers fans a new way to enjoy the franchise alongside the global release of Ice Age: Continental Drift, in theaters in 3D this month.

In Ice Age Online, players take on the role of a sloth who discovers the perfect home for its herd, but suddenly becomes separated by a volcanic eruption. To survive, players must rescue the lost members and build camps for their prehistoric animal friends through a combination of mission and jump-n-run gameplay. Throughout multiple game modes and the World Map, a variety of locations can be explored – the Ice Floes, Grassy Plains, Jungle, and Glacier – based on familiar settings within the blockbuster movie franchise.

The platform game, built atop the Unity 3D platform, will also feature a friends list, activity graph, leaderboards, and the opportunity for friends and families to visit each other’s camps and leave gifts behind.  As players learn to utilize special skills and master the collection of precious acorns and materials needed to construct camps, they will unlock new achievements and bonuses – including one level where players are able to take control of Diego, the lightning-fast saber tooth tiger, and race along a challenging obstacle course.

Ice Age Online is available in 10 languages worldwide. Players can access the game for free and play directly in their web browser. For more game news and updates on Ice Age Online, visit the official website at www.iceageonline.com.

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.

“Transformers: Fall of Cybertron” Release Date is Nudged Forward

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has earned an early release date thanks to popular demand. The game, which will launch for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, will hit stores on August 21.

Players fight through both sides of the Transformers’ most epic battles, culminating in the exodus from their home planet. Players can also engage in head-to-head matches between Autobot and Decepticon, after creating their own characters with some of the most in-depth customization ever seen in a Transformers video game.

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.

10 Great Toys for Sight Challenged Kids

By Carol Watson, Guest Blogger from National Nannies

Kids love toys of every shape and size, there’s no doubt about it. But not all children are alike, and not all kids like the same things. When buying a gift for any child, it’s important to consider if the child will enjoy the gift. The same holds true when buying a gift for a blind or visually impaired child. Fortunately, there is an amazing array of toys that have been specially designed or modified for sight-challenged kids so that they are able to enjoy many of the same toys as those who were blessed with good vision. There are also many popular toys that both blind and sighted children enjoy.

Check out these 10 great toys for sight challenged kids.

  1. Let’s Rock Elmo: Let’s Rock Elmo is an interactive toy that sings and plays music. The toy comes with various instruments that Elmo and the children can play together.  Let’s Rock Elmo does not have to be purchased through a specialty store and can be purchased at most large retailers. Make sure to install the batteries before you give the toy to the child so that they can start playing with it immediately.
  2. Braille Learning Doll: The Braille Learning Doll is a specialty doll that is available through several different vendors, including Enable Mart. There are 6 buttons on the stomach of the doll which allows the child to make all braille letters. This is an educational gift that will help the child learn Braille.
  3. Board games: A company called Maxi Aids offers a large line of standard board games that have been modified to work for sight challenged kids.  Some of the games include Checkers games that have high contrast color pieces, Scrabble games that have large print tiles and boards, and Monopoly that comes in a large print edition. Since both sight and blind people can play these games, it can help foster inclusion.
  4. Bop It!/Bop It! XT: Bop It! is a fantastic game that a child can play alone or with friends. The Bop It! gives verbal commands that tell you to bop it, twist it, pull it and shake it. Once the child knows where the different parts of the game are they should be able to play by listening to the verbal cues. There are many different games within the Bop It! toy and there are different levels of play as well. This is a great game for the whole family.
  5. Dolls: If you buy a doll, make sure that it plays to more than one sense. There are dolls that talk and play music that a blind child may enjoy. Dolls with texture can be great for visually impaired children too. Look for clothes that have patches or embroidery on them so that the child can tell the difference between her dolls and doll accessories.
  6. Stuffed animals: Everyone loves a nice soft stuffed animal to hug, but to make this toy even better for a sight challenged child you may want it to engage more senses.  Choosing different types of stuffed toys, like ones stuffed with beans, crinkly paper and batting can help engage additional senses. The texture of the animal is important too. Maybe it’s a lion and it has a long haired fuzzy mane, soft fur on the back, and a long tail. All of those things will make the toy more fun for a sight challenged child.
  7. Braille games: Maxi-Aids also makes card games like Uno, Phase 10 and Dominos that all come equipped with Braille cards. While the child can often feel how many dots are on a domino they can’t tell what color it is without some help from the Braille dots.
  8. Audio Dart Master: This dart game has a texturized board that the sight challenged person can feel prior to play. The rest of the game is played by audio commands. The board calls out the player’s name and score, and will even give off a signal to help a sight challenged player aim for the bulls-eye. It’s available at audiodartmaster.com.
  9. Wikkistix: This is a very useful gift because it’s a toy, a craft, and is useful for marking things for sight challenged kids.  Wikkistix are sticky string-like sticks that come in various colors and can be bent and wound around anything. Kids can make creatures to play with or create greeting cards. The Wikkistix can even be used to teach shapes and to label things like a keyboard.
  10. Rib-it-Ball: Someone was really thinking when they created the Rib-it-Ball. The ball has sections of bright colors so it’s easier to see for sight challenged kids. The ribs stick out so that it’s easy to catch and the ribs crinkle like paper so it’s easy to hear when it’s being thrown to you. This ball will help with muscle control and hand/eye coordination.

One of the most important things you can do when picking a gift is to find out what the child enjoys. Keep these toys in mind the next time you are on the hunt for the best gift for a sight challenged child in your life.

This post was originally written by Carol Watson of National Nannies and posted on www.nationalnannies.com. For more information on National Nannies, visit the site. 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.

Electronic Arts Previews Fall, Winter Games

Electronic Arts previewed its fall and winter game releases at this year’s Hot for the Holidays press event. EA Games Label, EA Sports, Maxis, and EA Mobile and Social demoed the upcoming games, which represent a wide range of ages and interests, from action and sports to city-building simulation and kid-friendly animal games.


Under the Maxis Label, EA is releasing The Sims 3 Supernatural Expansion Pack in September. Players can give their Sims supernatural lives as werewolves, witches, vampires, and fairies. While playing as supernatural Sims, players will discover new abilities, traits, skills, and interactions that enhance their gameplay, including delayed aging for fairies and vampires, innate magic channeling for witches, and lycanthropy for werewolves, which enables them to control their animal instincts and transform at will. [Read more...]

Recalled: Discovery Kids Animated Marine and Safari Lamps

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a voluntary recall notice that users of  the Discovery Kids Animated Marine and Safari Lamps should stop using the product due to fire hazards. The product, from Innovage LLC, has received 11 reports of short circuiting. This includes three reports of lamps catching fire, which led to property damage. No injuries have been reported to date.

The product is hazardous due to the placement of internal wires near the circuit board can cause electrical short-circuiting and sparking.

The recalled products have an 11-digit batch number that begins with either 584894 or 10128 and a model number of 1628626, 1642433, 1641522, 1641523, 1645729, or 1645853. Batch numbers can be found imprinted in the plastic underneath the lamps and on the bottom of the packaging.

Animated Marine and Safari Lamps are sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Bonton, JCPenney, Kohls, Office Max, and Toys “R” Us stores nationwide, in addition to online retailers such as, Amazon, Ideeli, JCPenney, Kohls, Macy’s, and Overstock.

Consumers should contact Innovage in order to obtain information on returning the product and receiving a full refund. Call (888) 232-1535 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST Monday through Friday, visit the firm’s website at www.innovage.net or www.lamprecall.org, or e-mail info@lamprecall.org

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

Anchor Bay Announces New Chuggington DVD, Traintastic Adventure Sweepstakes

This fall, preschoolers can enjoy the newest DVD series in the Chugginton collection: Traintastic Adventures. The collection will include six episodes and a bonus Badge Quest short filled with  positive messages aimed at keeping preschoolers on the right track as they learn and grow. The collection will also include four collectible trading cards as an added treat.

As part of the promotion for the DVD launch, fans nationwide will have a chance to enter the Traintastic Adventure Sweepstakes. The grand prize winner will receive a Delta Vacations trip to Colorado, including roundtrip airfare for four, a car rental, and hotel accommodations at a participating Delta Vacations hotel. The grand prize winner will also be able to visit the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, which features more than 360 acres of trains, history, and fun. Beginning in August, Chuggington fans can enter to win the grand prize and weekly sweepstakes at www.chuggington.com/adventures.

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

Anchor Bay Releases Wow! Wow! Wubbzy Compilation DVD

Anchor Bay Entertainment has announced the release of Best of Wubbzy: Fan’s Choice. For the first time, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy fans will be able to watch their favorite episodes on DVD. Episodes were compiled based on votes from the series’ Facebook fans.

The DVD features six episodes, including Follow The Leader, The Wubbzy Shuffle, Wubbzy the Star, Tooth or Dare, Wubbzy’s Makeover, and Wubbzy Bounces Back, and a bonus seventh episode, Wubbzy the Hero.

Viewers can sing, dance, and learn with the help of Wubbzy. Since its television debut on Nickelodeon in 2006, the show has taught children skills such as sharing, listening, compromising, helping and appreciating others, self-awareness, and the use of humor as a coping skill. Throughout the course of the series, Wubbzy and friends learn how to fit into a group, understand their own feelings and those of others, and get along with one another, as well as important lessons about the value of friendship and community.

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