CPSC Amends Operating Plan to Reflect Concerns about Testing Burdens

CPSCAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), on December 13, the U.S. Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill to fund government operations through next September. The bill included $123 million in funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is the amount the agency asked for in its budget request for next year.

The committee report accompanying the bill includes a requirement that the CPSC allocate $1 million to reduce unnecessary and duplicative testing burdens. The language instructs the CPSC to provide a report within 90 days on the status of the agency’s testing burden reduction efforts, as well as a public timeline detailing what steps, if any, the agency will take to reduce testing costs while still assuring compliance. The accompanying report also includes a requirement that $4 million be allocated to import surveillance activities.

On Friday, December 12, the CPSC voted to amend the agency’s fiscal year operating plan for next year, after being strongly urged to use $1 million to find ways to reduce testing burdens. The agency voted 5 to 0 to amend their operating plan to include these funds.

Any questions related to this matter may be directed to the TIA’s Rebecca Mond, director of federal government affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org.

REMINDER: Nominations Now Open for WIT’s 2015 Wonder Women Awards

WIT.logoWomen in Toys (WIT) is now accepting nominations for the 11th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. Industry stakeholders are invited to nominate a co-worker, client, associate, family member, or acquaintance for consideration in one or more of the following categories: Rising Star, PR or Social Media, Manufacturer, Designer or Inventor, Licensing or Entertainment, Social Responsibility, and Marketing or Advertising. All nominations are due by January 15. Nominations may be submitted online.

Winners in the eight categories will be announced at an awards dinner, scheduled to take place on February 15 during North American International Toy Fair week in New York City. For the first time, the annual awards dinner will be held at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers. A ticket and table may be purchased at the WIT website.

The Award Selection Committee and WIT Board of Directors will review all nominees and select the winners for each category. All nominees must be WIT members in order to be eligible to win; however, WIT members and non-members are invited to submit nominations.

Alex Brands Acquires Shrinky Dinks

AlexBrandsShrinky Dinks will be part of the Alex Brands family of toys, which includes Alex Toys, Poof, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, and more. Invented in 1973, Shrinky Dinks consist of large, flexible sheets, which when heated in an oven, shrink to small hard plates without changing their color or shape.

Alex Brands historically licensed the Shrinky Dinks brand for use in the Alex Toys product line. It also joins Alex Brands’ growing collection of Made in the U.S. products, including Poof foam balls and Slinky products.

Lincoln Logs Production Returns to the U.S. with 10 New Sets

LincolnLogsNext year’s entire line of Lincoln Logs, part of the K’NEX family of brands, will be manufactured in the U.S. by Pride Manufacturing in Burnham, Maine. Following industry trends, Lincoln Logs production was moved overseas during the mid-20th century. K’NEX, which licenses the brand from Hasbro, has been manufacturing Lincoln Logs since 1999.

Pride Manufacturing, the world’s leading supplier of wooden golf tees and related golf accessories, met K’NEX’s requirements for a wood manufacturing facility that could match the precision and detail required for Lincoln Logs. All sets come with a storage container for clean-up, are intended for kids ages 3 and up, and will be available next fall.

[Read more...]

Skylanders Unleashes Two New Elements for the First Time in Franchise History

SkylandersNewElementsAs reported by Activision Publishing Inc., for the first time since the Skylanders franchise’s launch, two entirely new elements will be unleashed in the world of Skylands: Light and Dark. Two new Trap Masters, Knight Mare and Knight Light, will arrive at shelves nationwide this holiday season via special Light and Dark Element Expansion Packs.

Each new Element Expansion Pack contains a Trap Master, a special Trap capable of capturing Light or Dark villains, as well as a location piece that unlocks a special level in the game. The Light and Dark Element Expansion Packs will be available first at Toys ”R” Us stores nationwide starting December 21.

Toys “R” Us Lights Up Times Square for 183 Continuous Hours

ToysRUS_TimesSquareToys “R” Us Times Square is opening its doors at 7 a.m. this morning, and will remain open through 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, to provide New Yorkers and visitors with 183 uninterrupted hours for holiday shopping. Specialty services such as personal shopping and corporate sales; gift-wrapping; and shipping to local, national, and international locations are also available.

COMMENTARY: I Don’t Know Art, But I Know What I Like (and That Includes Books about Lego)

Everybody loves Lego. But naturally, not everyone loves it in the same way. For some, what they find most appealing is the look of the bricks, which can capture the shape of an object—whether we’re talking about the Empire State Building or the Batmobile—while retaining an element of whimsy. For others, what makes Lego so awesome is the infinite number of possibilities it presents; that is, the fact that with enough pieces (and the right ones), a person can construct whatever they want. The only limiting factor is one’s imagination. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Extends Hours, Offers Last-Minute Deals for the Holidays

toysrus.croppedIn the days leading up to Christmas, Toys “R” Us will offer extended shopping hours at stores nationwide. From December 20 through December 22, stores will remain open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m., while beginning at 6 a.m. on December 23, and continuing through 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Toys “R” Us stores will be open around the clock.

At Toys “R” Us stores between now and December 20, deals are available on all Barbie dolls, Charmazing kits, Transformers Stomp & Chomp Grimlock, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combos or Blu-ray combo packs with ear buds and masks, Skylanders Trap Team Starter Packs, LeapTV systems, The Lego Movie DVD with Lego construction set, Imaginext toys, and select board games (while supplies last). [Read more...]

Target Offering Last-Minute Sales During Final Week of Holiday Season

Target LogoWith one week until Christmas, Target Corp. will offer last-minute deals and free shipping on target.com, where orders placed through December 20 can still be delivered by Christmas. Meanwhile, on Christmas Eve, guests can place online orders for store pickup as late as 5 p.m. and have their items ready that day.

Over the next week, Target will offer deals on gifts including the Sony PlayStation 4; select video games and starter packs, including Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, Disney Infinity Marvel, and Skylanders Trap Team; select Disney Junior toys; and the New Bright Mud Slinger R/C Jeep.

Cartwheel, Target’s mobile savings app, is offering 50 percent off a different toy every day until December 24. From now until Christmas, Cartwheel is also featuring more than 150 offers, including discounts off Sony PlayStation 4 bundles.

Target stores are also offering extended hours through the holiday season, with the following days and times: December 16 to 20, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. or 12 a.m.; December 21 to 22, 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.; December 23, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.; December 24, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.; December 26, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 11 p.m., or 12 a.m.; and December 31, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Merriam-Webster and Publications International to Launch Large-Print Puzzle Books

Merriam-Webster and Publications International have signed a licensing partnership to develop and market a line of large-print puzzle books under the Merriam-Webster brand. JRL Group, Merriam-Webster’s licensing agency, brokered the deal.

The Merriam-Webster 10-book Puzzle Set is a large-print, soft cover, easy-to-read set containing the titles Circle Worlds, Crosswords, Fill-Ins, Scramblers, Word Games, and Word Search.