NPD Group: Parents Demanding Balance in Children’s Play Experiences

The Evolution of Play, the latest report from The NPD Group, examines a variety of factors in a changing environment for play, toy purchasing, and shopping habits. At the top of most people’s minds is the impact electronic devices have had on children’s playtime with traditional play items. NPD noted that almost 40 percent of parents felt their child is spending less time with traditional toys, while slightly more than half (51 percent) said the devices had no impact at all.

Not surprisingly, as kids get older, the impact of technology becomes more important in terms of time spent with more traditional playtime items. In fact, younger children who use technology are still more likely to request traditional toys, and their use of devices is perceived to have little effect on playtime with toys.

Among the parents who say they spent less money on any type of play item for their kids over the past year, 54 percent cited the economy and less disposable income, compared with only 24 percent who called out a shift to technology.

According to the report, heavy spenders on technology products—those spending $200 or more a year—are actually the most engaged traditional toy buyers, and are more likely to shop most toy categories and spend more when they do make a purchase. For example, heavy tech buyers are nearly 40 percent more likely to also buy action figures, and when they do, they spend 60 percent more per capita. This pattern held for most toy categories.

Disney Rides into Retail with The Lone Ranger Merchandise

The-Lone-Ranger-Movie-Poster-2013-WallpaperDisney Consumer Products has rounded up an assortment of products based on the Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ The Lone Ranger, releasing in theaters today. Designed for Western fans of all ages, the new product line includes apparel, construction sets, detailed action figures, role-play items, designer accessories, and hand-crafted leather goods that capture the action and adventure of the film and its iconic characters, including the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

Toy and role-play partners include Lego (construction sets), NECA (7-inch action figures and prop replica Lone Ranger mask), and Disney Store (the Lone Ranger Hat). The Lone Ranger collection of products is available now at Disney Store locations nationwide, as well as boutiques, national retailers, and at DisneyStore.com.

SMC Entertainment Group Appointed Licensing Agent for Poppy Cat

poppycat_4SMC Entertainment Group Inc. (SMC) has been appointed the exclusive licensing agent in North America for the TV series Poppy Cat. SMC will launch a licensing and merchandising program based on the colorful Poppy Cat characters, focusing on toys, plush, apparel, accessories, room décor, bedding, games, and more. The program will target girls and boys ages 2 to 5.

Poppy Cat is co-produced by Coolabi’s TV production arm, Coolabi Productions, and King Rollo Films, and was commissioned by Nick Jr. in the UK.

VTech InnoTab 3 Available for Pre-order

vtech_2VTech has introduced its latest, lower-priced Learning App Tablet for kids, the InnoTab 3. On the heels of the popular InnoTab 2S, one of the first children’s learning tablets with Wi-Fi, InnoTab 3 delivers a powerful punch, in a compact size and at an affordable price. InnoTab 3 introduces children to a world of age-appropriate educational content on VTech’s comprehensive app store, the Learning Lodge, where they can explore hundreds of games, e-books, videos, and music across the widest variety of curriculums. The new tablet is available for pre-order on www.vtechkids.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com, and Walmart.com.

InnoTab 3 key features include compact and lightweight design with a 4.3-inch touch screen, a new directional pad, and a tilt sensor; 2.0 megapixel, 180 degree rotating camera with more than 55 photo features and special effects; 2 GB onboard memory; 15 on-board apps, and one free download redeemable on the Learning Lodge; built-in microphone and headphone jack add versatility; and pop-up onscreen keyboard and stylus with storage slot.

K’nex Announces New Additions to Tinkertoy Building Set Line

knex_2K’nex Brands has unveiled four additions to its line of Tinkertoy building sets. Licensed by Hasbro and Playskool, the newly redesigned Tinkertoy pieces snap together and stay together for long-lasting play. The toy is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Additions include Tinkertoy: 65 Piece Essentials Building Set and the Tinkertoy 100 Piece Essential Building Set, featuring fan-favorite Tinkertoy parts, including spools, rods, flags, washers, end caps, and more. The Tinkertoy: Super Tink Building Set lets little builders create a skyscraper, fighter jet, getaway car, or imagine his or her own creation. The Tinkertoy: Big Top Set lets kids build a tent, animals, trapeze artists and more to recreate a day at the circus. The Tinkertoy: Pink Building Set lets kids create a castle, flower, cat, and more using the included guide of building ideas or their own ideas.

The new Tinkertoy building sets will be available on knex.com and at toy retailers nationwide.

Jakks Pacific Signs Motocross Star Ryan Dungey for Action Figures

jakksJakks Pacific Inc. has signed motocross star Ryan Dungey to its growing roster of top motocross athletes in its MXS toy line. Dungey is an accomplished rider who has represented the U.S. in the Motocross of Nations race and was the Transworld Motocross Rider of the Year last year. Under the licensing agreement, Jakks plans to create action figures and accessories based on Dungey, which are scheduled to be available at retailers nationwide in November.

Jakks’ MXS toy line is a brand of motocross toys, delivering the top riders, authentic motocross bikes, and the biggest names in motocross apparel and motorcycle manufacturers. Jakks’ MXS product line includes miniature performance bikes with real sound effects, fully articulated rider figures with removable helmets and accessories, stunt bikes that capture the best stunts in the sport, customizable collectible bikes, and R/C bikes. The deal between Jakks and Dungey was brokered by IMG.

COMMENTARY: Red Toolbox Gets Kids Building

red6pieceAs a kid, I was obsessed with the small hobby shop in the mall near my neighborhood. I always found something to beg for, whether it was a new addition to my electric train set or a new art kit (I used to think I was the world’s most talented 8-year-old oil pastel artist). Wood craft kits were among my other favorite items—I once made a lopsided birdhouse and a collection of truly heinous wood plaques with my family members’ names carved into them.

As a former aspiring wood crafter, I’m drawn to the Red Toolbox line from Reeves International. The line features real tools that have been designed to fit in children’s small hands.  The tools have the same functionality and quality of adult tools found at any hardware store, but they include easy-to-grip handles for children.

soccertableplantholderThe Red Toolbox line features construction kits that kids can use to build quality toys and keepsakes (unlike my ugly wood plaques of yesteryear). The kits are arranged by levels of increasing challenge—Red Toolbox Junior is for children ages 4 and up and Levels 1 through 3 are for children ages 8 and up. Each level project increases in difficulty, complexity, and the level of precision required, while the child’s hand-eye coordination and physical abilities grow and improve. Kits include the Red Toolbox Mini Basketball (Junior), the Red Toolbox Plant Pot Holder (Level 1), the Red Toolbox Billiard Table (Level 2), and the Red Toolbox Soccer Table (Level 3).

The line also includes a number of tool sets, paint sets, and other accessories to get kids started on their carpentry journey. If only I were 8 again.

For more commentary from Loren, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

The Beatrix Girls Partner with Peavey Electronics

beatrixgirlsThe Beatrix Girls, a new line of collectible pop star dolls driven by original music, has partnered with Peavey Electronics. As part of the agreement, the new doll line will hit center stage for the first time with their very own, customized Peavey-branded instruments.

With fully developed personalities, The Beatrix Girls band members Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal live and interact in the human world producing real music. Kids can collect their songs, join their fan club, and vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop star through play. The Beatrix Girls songs are written and produced by a platinum-winning songwriter/producer who writes for some of the top pop stars today.

DreamWorks Announces Licensees for Mr. Peabody & Sherman

dreamworksDreamWorks Animation has secured a collection of consumer products partners in North America for Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which will debut in theaters March 7, 2014. The licensing program will be anchored by Random House Children’s Books as master publisher and also includes IDW Publishing (comic books and graphic novels); Hallmark Cards Inc. (stationery); Ludia (iOS, Android, and Facebook games); Hybrid Jem (knit tops, tees, and apparel for kids); Concept One (accessories); Funko (vinyl figures and bobbleheads); Comic Images (plush); Rasta Imposta (costumes); PopFun (glassware and decorative refrigerator magnets); SmileMakers (stickers); Multipet International (pet toys).

DreamWorks Animation brings Jay Ward’s classic cartoon Mr. Peabody & Sherman to life in an all new 3-D comedy adventure. The film is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King) and produced by Alex Schwartz and Denise Nolan Cascino. Bullwinkle Studios’ Tiffany Ward, Eric Ellenbogen, and Jason Clark also serve as executive producers.

Hasbro and Rovio Expand Angry Birds Licensing Agreement

hasbro_2Hasbro Inc. and Rovio Entertainment have expanded a licensing agreement for toys and physical games based on the Angry Birds brand. The new agreement makes Hasbro the premier toy licensee for Angry Birds, including the upcoming game Angry Birds Go!, set to release this year. In addition, Hasbro will continue to develop and expand its line based on Angry Birds Star Wars from Rovio Entertainment and LucasFilm.

The original Angry Birds mobile game launched in 2009 and remains the No. 1 paid app of all time. Angry Birds has expanded rapidly into consumer products, publishing, and animation. In March, Rovio released Angry Birds Toons, a weekly animated cartoon series distributed through Angry Birds games, TV broadcasters, and on-demand networks. A full-length, animated Angry Birds movie opening is slated for July 1, 2016.

The terms of the agreement grant Hasbro worldwide licensing rights. More details will be released later in the year.