RadioShack to Carry LittleBits’ New Smart Home Kit

LittleBits,RadioShackThis holiday season, littleBits Electronics has entered a partnering with RadioShack for a product roll out in 2,000 stores nationwide. RadioShack is the first nationwide brick and mortar retailer to carry littleBits, which was previously available online and through boutique stores.

Beginning this month, RadioShack locations will carry littleBits’ new Smart Home Kit, which features a series of modules that lets users turn everyday objects into smart devices, or recreate popular smart devices. The Smart Home Kit comes with 14 Bits, including the new MP3 Player, Threshold, Number, Temperature Sensor, and IR Transmitter Bits. It also includes an infographic poster with project ideas and 11 accessories, including an AC switch that connects the littleBits 5V system to AC power (110V).

The Smart Home Kit is compatible with all other littleBits kits.

Surprise Ride Launches e-Shop, Makes Past Gift Boxes Available

ImageSurpriseRideIn time for the holidays, Surprise Ride is launching its first e-shop featuring past gift boxes, which include such themes as Ancient Egypt, Superheroes, and Volcanoes. Every month, Surprise Ride fosters creativity by providing a curated box of activities for kids ages 6 to 11 that promotes hands-on learning.

Each box teaches kids something new about the world, and past activities have included painting in the style of van Gogh, exploring the science behind how things glow in the dark, and making organic chocolate from scratch. Surprise Ride is also debuting its first limited edition holiday box, allowing kids to make their own DIY gifts.

Toy Fair 2015 Sells Out of Exhibit Space

ToyFair15LogoAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), exhibit space for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, scheduled for February 14 to 17, has officially sold out. The show has already surpassed a record-breaking 419,000 net square feet of exhibit space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and going forward, prospective Toy Fair exhibitors will be placed on a wait list (under no financial obligation).

The expanded show floor, equivalent in size to more than seven football fields, will feature hundreds of thousands of innovative new toys, games, and youth entertainment products. The North American International Toy Fair draws buyers, licensors, entertainment executives, and other play professionals from 100 countries, who will be on-hand scouting toy trends, spotting unique product lines and brands, and writing orders for next year.

Major global retail outlets already registered to attend include Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, Apple, and Hobby Lobby.

MakerBot Launches MakerBot-Ready Apps Portal with Developers Across Web, Tablet, and Mobile Platforms

MakerAppPortalMakerBot is launching its MakerBot-Ready Apps Portal, showcasing a new platform for 3-D designs, characters, educational content, games, and more designed to work with MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers.

Eight apps are debuting in the MakerBot-Ready Apps Portal. The apps are accessible via makerbot.com/readyapps, and are part of the MakerBot Developer Program launched earlier this summer, which aims to provide developers with the resources needed to integrate with the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem, plus access to the growing 3-D printing market. MakerBot-Ready Apps are available for desktop, mobile, tablet, and web-based app platforms; and developers gain unprecedented access to the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printing Platform for iOS, Android, web, and more.

MakerBot-Ready Apps in the MakerBot-Ready Apps Portal include: [Read more...]

ASTRA’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day Supports Increased Sales for Retailers

ASTRAlogoAccording to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), nearly two-thirds of ASTRA stores participating in Neighborhood Toy Store Day on Saturday, November 8, reported an increase in their year-over-year same store sales. An estimated 25 percent posted growth of 20 percent or more.

ASTRA retailers reached out to several hundred media outlets around the country and across multiple platforms, including print, radio, broadcast, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Of the ASTRA retailers who reached out to the media in their markets, 82 percent reported that they were successful in using the event to secure local media and blogger coverage.

ASTRA supports participation of its retailer members in Neighborhood Toy Store Day by offering free planning guides, templates for media outreach, Best Toys for Kids award program flyers, and more.

Nintendo Shares Details on Mario Maker, New Legend of Zelda Games

On Friday, Nintendo game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma appeared via video at The Game Awards in Las Vegas to share new details on Mario Maker and The Legend of Zelda for Wii U.

Mario Maker lets users create their own Mario levels. This includes the ability to tap the Wii U GamePad screen to change the look of a level design to those of previous Super Mario games, such as Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and the New Super Mario Bros. U. Each style includes game mechanics unique to their respective games, and players can integrate these mechanics into designs for the various titles featured in the game. Mario Maker will launch next year, which marks the 30th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game.

In the latest installment of The Legend of Zelda franchise, players can pinpoint locations on the map on the Wii U GamePad, which then appear as beacons in the game as navigation aids. Miyamoto and Aonuma shared information on Epona, Link’s horse, which in the new game avoids trees and obstacles, just as a real horse would do, leaving players free to use Link’s sword or shoot arrows.

Nintendo won four Game Awards on the night, including Developer of the Year, Best Fighting Game for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Best Sports/Racing Game for Mario Kart 8 and Best Family Game for Mario Kart 8. In other news, the company set a March 13 launch date for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., which will have multiplayer mode that lets players compete against one another in local and online matches on their Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo and Best Buy Team Up for Game Showcase Events

NintendoOn December 7, Nintendo and Best Buy will team up to provide hands-on game play featuring Captain Toad, Pikachu, and other iconic Nintendo characters. At select stores, shoppers can play four of Nintendo’s recent releases: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, for Wii U; Pokémon Art Academy, for Nintendo 3DS; and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. The four games are currently available in stores and in the Nintendo eShop.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time, and a full list of participating stores can be found at Best Buy’s web site. Visitors who play the demos become eligible to receive giveaways ranging from fun Pokémon items to in-store coupons, while supplies last. At the Best Buy store in Culver City, Calif., the Mario costumed character himself will pay a visit to take pictures with fans.

Cloud b and MaxLove Project to Launch Super Max the Turtle to Help Fight Childhood Cancers

CLOUD B LOGOCloud b and MaxLove Project are teaming up to introduce the new Super Max the Turtle, which features the same glowing starlight projections as the original Twilight Turtle, but in a new compact version. Similar to the original, Super Max the Turtle has a 45-minute, auto shut-off timer that ensures complete darkness during children’s deep sleep as recommended by pediatricians.

The partnership between MaxLove Project and Cloud b dates back in 2011, when both teamed up to donate and distribute more than $100,000 worth of Twilight Turtles to kids fighting cancer and related rare diseases around the world.

An included booklet features the story of Super Max the Turtle, a regular turtle who becomes SuperMax, a rainbow-caped super hero with a shining light that heals those in need. Super Max the Turtle will be available early next year, initially at Learning Express and www.cloudb.com. Cloud b is donating a portion of its proceeds to the MaxLove Project, a non-profit that empowers families fighting childhood cancers and life-threatening conditions. One of MaxLove Project’s focuses is to empower kids to fight their illnesses by donating Cloud b’s Twilight Turtles.

On December 2, Cloud b Advisory Board member Audra DiPadova Wilford was recognized as one of ten L’Oreal Paris 2014 Women of Worth honorees at the annual event in New York City.

TIA Analysis Challenges PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland Reports

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) recently conducted an in-depth review of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Trouble in Toyland reports issued between 2008 and 2013. The TIA’s analysis found that PIRG’s reports were based on improper testing methods that are not approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and fail to support PIRG’s allegations that the identified toys present any danger to children at play.

Under federal legislation passed in 2008, toys sold at retail must be tested by a CPSC-accredited third-party testing lab, in order to prove compliance with more than 100 safety standard requirements. TIA’s examination, however, found that U.S. PIRG’s toy hazard claims and testing procedures over the past six years were not approved by the CPSC, and did not follow the same procedures that toy companies are required to follow by law.

Chiefly, none of the alleged safety issues named in PIRG’s reports were based on testing conducted by a CPSC-accredited lab; and out of the 88 products identified in PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland reports over the last six years, the CPSC has not recalled any toys as a result of PIRG’s allegations. In addition, 20 percent of the products named in PIRG’s reports between 2008 and 2013 are not classified as toys, and therefore are not governed by the same safety standards as children’s toys.

A copy of the complete TIA analysis of the 2008 to 2013 reports is available at the TIA website.