China Toy Fair


Nickelodeon’s TV and Digital Channels to Go Dark for 11th Annual Worldwide Day of Play

Nickelodeon will empower kids to get active when its TV channels, websites, and app go off air and offline for its 11th Annual Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP) on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr., TeenNick, nick.com, nickjr.com, nicktoons.com, teennick.com, and the Nick App will all participate.

The network’s national pro-social partners—United States Tennis Association, NFL Play 60, the Boys and Girls Club of America, among others—will host several thousand local events across the country to help celebrate kids’ love of play. These events will be hosted by Nickelodeon’s national partners, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and more.

On September 20, Nickelodeon will air health and wellness-themed messaging beginning at 9 a.m. At 12 p.m., Nickelodeon will sign-off on air and online, signaling kids and families to get up and get moving. While the network is dark, a message encouraging viewers to go play will appear on a loop. [Read more...]

Free Super Smash Bros. 3DS Demo Available to Download

SuperSmashBrosNintendo 3DS owners can download a free demo of the upcoming fighting game, Super Smash Bros., in the Nintendo eShop at 9 a.m. PT today. The demo includes playable characters Mario, Link, Pikachu, Villager, and Mega Man. It also features the battlefield stage and the ability to compete in local multiplayer matches with fellow Nintendo 3DS owners who have downloaded the demo to their systems.

A Nintendo Network ID is required to download the demo. More details on Super Smash Bros. can be found at http://www.smashbros.com/us/.

GameStop to Exit Spanish Market, Sell Locations to GAME

GamestopGameStop intends to exit the Spanish market via the sale of retail locations to specialist video game retailer Game Digital Plc (GAME), in combination with closures of its remaining locations. Under the terms of this proposed agreement, GameStop will transfer ownership of a portfolio of GameStop stores located in Spain, with the remaining retail sites winding down this year.

GAME already has a consumer presence in the country, in addition to its retail operations in the UK. GameStop’s strategic decision to exit the Spanish market was made after a careful review of the market’s financial performance and future opportunities, which indicated that the company would be better served by curtailing its operations in Spain, and focusing its resources in other countries where GameStop has significant market share. GameStop expects to maintain and expand its presence in the other European countries in which it currently operates.

During the coming months, GameStop will work closely with GAME to ensure continued support for GameStop’s customers in Spain. The proposed deal will require Spanish Competition Authority approval, which is expected in October. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

New Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet Available for Pre-Order

FireHDKidsOn Wednesday, Amazon introduced the Fire HD Kids Edition in both 6-inch and 7-inch tablet sizes. This children’s tablet comes with a two-year guarantee, as well as a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which provides access to books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games featuring characters such as Harry Potter, Lightning McQueen, Dora the Explorer, and more.

The Fire HD Kids Edition features a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, front- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Digital audio, and access to Amazon’s content ecosystem of more than 33 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, Android apps, and games. The Fire HD Kids Edition also comes with Amazon FreeTime, which offers parental controls that encourage learning before play and that help manage screen time.

The Fire HD Kids Edition is now available for pre-order and will start shipping in October.

Hasbro to Step Back from The Hub Children’s Network

Hasbro logoAs reported by The Wall Street Journal, Discovery Communications Inc. and Hasbro Inc. are ending their equal partnership in The Hub, a cable network that hoped to become a force in children’s television against Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

Under the terms being completed, Discovery would take a controlling interest in The Hub and reposition the channel as a family network aimed at parents as well as children. Hasbro will retain a large stake in the service and control six hours of daytime programming on the network, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Launched in 2010 with a $300 million investment from Hasbro for half of the network, The Hub was designed to be an outlet for some of Hasbro’s best-known toy brands, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony.

The makeover could take place as early as the fourth quarter, with The Hub renamed Discovery Family.

COMMENTARY: Dolls for Boys Are a Sign of the Times

Fritzi, from Haba

For the most recent issue of The Toy Book, I had a chance to research trends in the doll industry, and one that stuck out is an increase in dolls with potential appeal for boys. Arklu, the creator of Lottie Dolls, is planning to introduce its first boy doll, Kite Flyer, this fall. Meanwhile, Haba will be introducing Fritzi, a doll that has no assigned gender—Fritzi can be a boy doll for boys, or a girl doll for girls. There’s also Grandmas2Share, which is marketing grandmother-themed dolls as playthings for children of both genders. [Read more...]

Special Version of Skylanders Trap Team Launching on Nintendo 3DS

SkylanderTrapTeam3DSThis fall, Skylanders Trap Team, from Activision Publishing Inc., will arrive on Nintendo 3DS with an adventure exclusive to the platform. Developed by Beenox and launching on October 5 alongside the console and tablet versions, Skylanders Trap Team for 3DS will utilize the special features of the system: For instance, after villains are defeated in combat, players can use the bottom touch screen to pull them out of the game and trap them in the Traptanium Vault. Then, once captured, players can use the touch screen and microphone to poke, tickle, and spin villains to make them dizzy.

Using the portal included in the Skylanders Trap Team Nintendo 3DS Starter Pack, players can load Skylanders characters directly into their system. Additionally, two Skylanders characters, Gusto and Barkley, will be available at launch only via the Nintendo 3DS Starter Pack.

Skylanders Trap Team for Nintendo 3DS will also introduce a multi-player version of the card game Skylanders Skystones, which uses wi-fi connectivity.

Hasbro, Disney, and 3DPlusMe Team Up for Super Awesome Me

SuperAwesomeMeHasbro Inc. and 3DPlusMe are introducing Super Awesome Me, a personalized 3-D printing experience that allows kids (and those who are kids at heart) to become Captain America or Iron Man. The initiative provides fans with a customized, 12-inch action figure through an in-store experience. In conjunction with Disney Consumer Products’ Marvel Super Hero September celebration, the Super Awesome Me experience will launch at ten Wal-Mart and two Sam’s Club locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston between September 19 and 28.

Fans visit an in-store scanning station, where a 3-D face scanner captures their likeness to create a 3-D model. Each Super Awesome Me figure, recommended for fans ages 4 years and up, features a traditional articulated plastic action figure body and full-color 3-D printed head. Figures are available for pick-up at Wal-Mart locations or shipped to Sam’s Club customers in four weeks.

More information on the Super Awesome Me experience, as well as a full list of participating Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations, is available at superawesomeme.com.

August Video Game Sales Up Year-over-Year, but New Software Launches Show Weakness

NPDGrouplogoAccording to analysis from The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan, overall new physical retail sales of video game hardware, software, and accessories increased by 8 percent this August over the same month last year. These overall sales also followed a similar pattern as prior months, with explosive hardware growth driven by eighth generation consoles offsetting declines in software.

For August, overall hardware sales doubled from the same month last year, caused by a more than 200 percent increase in console hardware sales with continued strong sales of eighth generation hardware, including Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One. Eighth generation hardware represented close to 70 percent of August’s hardware sales—the highest percentage share since the release of the Xbox One and PS4 last November.

As far as software, new launches in August declined 41 percent compared to last August, due to poor comparisons between titles. Eight of the top 10 games last August were new launches, compared to only three during this past August. Madden NFL 15 was the number one game in August, with growth over last August’s Madden NFL 25.

Toys “R” Us and Claire’s Enter into Global Partnership

Feature Shops, FAO and Times Square, Hot ToysToys “R” Us and Claire’s have entered into a strategic global partnership to bring trendy, fashion-forward products to Toys “R” Us customers in select stores around the world. Following a successful pilot program in Europe, Claire’s-branded shops within Toys “R” Us stores will expand to nearly 100 locations across the continent, including stores in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, and Spain. They will also be set in 12 Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. by the end of this year.

Shoppers will be able to choose from Claire’s jewelry, headbands, hair and fashion accessories, jewelry holders, legwear, seasonal items, and more. The shops will vary in size by location.

Two Claire’s locations in the U.S. will officially debut this week in the company’s flagship Toys “R” Us Times Square and FAO Schwarz stores in New York City. The additional 10 locations in the U.S. are expected to be open by the end of October and will be located in Murrieta, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jensen Beach, Fla.; Florence, Ky.; Waldorf, Md.; Henderson, Nev.; Toledo, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Houston, Texas.