Lum Lums‘ Valerina, from Imperial Toy, holds hands with her friends at the recent American International Toy Fair. Valerina and her fellow dolls encourage positive social play for girls. Their goal is a world of inclusion in which kids can experience the treasure of friendship.
WIT Honors Outstanding Business Leaders with 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards
At a February 18 dinner attended by more than 400 executives, Women in Toys (WIT) celebrated 10 visionary women business leaders with the 2014 Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. The award recipients are: Kiyomi Haverly of Mattel, Global Brands; Naz Cuevas of Rovio Entertainment Inc. and Donna Tobin of Hasbro Inc.; Rita Raiffe, design director at Gund; Stefanie Barone of M.Z. Berger & Co.; Susie Lecker of Fisher Price; Michele Litzky of Litzky Public Relations; Joan Packard Luks of The Seranata Group; Christina Jansa of Target; and Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.
According to The NPD Group’s Exploring Digital Gaming report, an estimated 36 percent of the U.S. population ages 13 and up are digital gamers, defined as currently playing digitally downloaded games on either a computer, video game console, or portable device. Of that percentage, 16 percent report only playing games downloaded digitally.
The computer is the most popular device for digital gaming, owning 90 percent of digital gamers playing on the device, while 28 percent play digitally downloaded games on a video game console. Although digital play is increasing among console players, only about two-thirds of primary console players—or those who play on consoles most often—purchase digital games more than once per year. Only 14 percent purchase on a regular, monthly basis.
When asked about their purchase preference if both physical and digital formats of a game are being offered at the same price, 44 percent of primary console players are more likely to choose physical in this scenario. Primary computer players do not automatically choose digital, with the group being split between 25 percent for digital, 28 percent for physical, and the remaining gamers being indecisive.
PopStar Club, makers of the collectible pop star line, The Beatrix Girls, has introduced a specialty retailer program in support of independent retailers nationwide. The custom sales program offers both economic and marketing incentives designed to help specialty retailers drive revenue, increase cash flow, and provide customers with unique gifts.
Highlights of the program include promotional items such as in-store posters and custom three-song CDs, favorable economic terms including extended dating, and free freight and certain order sizes.
Last week’s American International Toy Fair in New York City drew nearly 26,500 toy professionals from 94 countries, and boasted a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibit space. According to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2014 also welcomed an 11 percent surge in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in overall attendees, bringing the total attendance to 26,493.
There was an estimated 1,153 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agents, and nearly 10,000 buyers from more than 5,000 retail outlets, including delegations from Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us. Members of top press outlets including Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and The New York Times scouted top toy trends.
Next year’s Toy Fair has been scheduled for February 14 to 17, and will once again take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Show information will be available in the coming months at www.ToyFairNY.com.
Funko has entered a new licensing agreement with Wizards of the Coast Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., to produce Magic: The Gathering Planeswalkers figures for Funko’s Pop! Vinyl and Legacy Collection action figures lines.
The first series of vinyl figures is set for release in April, and will feature 3.75-inch versions of Planeswalkers characters Jace Beleren, Garruk Wildspeaker, Chandra Nalaar, Liliana Vess, Ajani Goldmane, and Nissa Revane. The Planeswalkers will also be among the first Legacy Collection figures released; each one features more than 20 points of articulation as well as removable accessories.
Sculptors at Gentle Giant are collaborating with Funko on the new Legacy Collection, which is set for release in August and suitable for ages 14 and up.
Jazwares has created a new Gravity Falls toy line based on the popular Disney TV series. The line-up will include figures, plush, role-play, and play-set toys, and the first wave will see release this fall at retailers across the U.S.
The initial retail focus of the toy line will be in specialty stores nationwide. Currently, Gravity Falls is a top-rated show on Disney Channel among kids ages 2 to 11 and 6 to 11, and tweens ages 9 to 14. It follows the adventures of Dipper and Mabel Pines, twins spending the summer with their eccentric great-uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where things are never as they seem.
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is now available from PopCap Games for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 in North America. The new multi-player shooter, based on the popular Plants vs. Zombies series, lets players choose a side and wage all-out war on plant or zombie enemies in a variety of gameplay modes.
The game features favorite items from the series, such as the Peashooter and Sunflower, along with a new cast of characters including Ice Cactus, Hot Rod Chomper, and all kinds of zombies. Players can select from two 12 vs. 12 competitive multiplayer modes called Garden & Graveyards and Team Vanquish, or a four-player cooperative mode called Garden Ops. Customization options give players an opportunity to personalize plants and zombies with costumes, items, hats, and more, some of which provide new abilities to characters.
The Xbox One version includes two additional modes, the first of which allows for local cooperative split screen for multiple players. The second is Boss Mode, which allows for a third friend to join via a SmartGlass device, and is also available on Kinect for a full screen experience.
A digital version of Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare can also be downloaded for Xbox One or Xbox 360.
Activision Publishing Inc. and PepsiCo‘s Frito-Lay North America division are providing fans with the opportunity to choose and name a new hero that will appear in the next Skylanders game, which is slated for release this year. The winner will also receive a $100,000 scholarship.
Between now and March 21, fans 18 years and older can visit Frito-Lay’s official site to select one of three potential heroes they want to see come to life in the next Skylanders game. They can also find more details and official rules. Once their Skylanders selection is made, contestants submit a suggested name and a 200-character or less inspiration for the name they chose.
In May, one fan-created name for each of the three potential heroes will be selected by a panel of judges and announced as finalists, and fans 13 years and older will be invited to vote online for the hero they want. Later this year, the winning hero will be revealed. The official name for that Skylanders hero and will appear in a variety of places, such as on Skylanders packaging and the Skylanders game.
This marks the third consecutive year in which Activision has partnered with Frito-Lay for the Skylanders franchise.
Sega has released a first Sonic Boom behind-the-scenes video featuring commentary on both the upcoming video game and TV series. The English language voice talent for both the game and TV show includes: Roger Craig Smith as Sonic, Mike Pollock as Dr. Eggman, Colleen Villard as Tails, Travis Willingham as Knuckles, Cindy Robinson as Amy, Kirk Thornton as Orbot, and Wally Wingert as Cubot. Jack Fletcher serves as voice director.