China Toy Fair


Alex Brands Opens New Worldwide Headquarters and Distribution Center in N.J.

AlexBrandsAlex Brands is expanding its operational footprint with the opening of a new worldwide headquarters and customer showroom in Fairfield, N.J.; a state-of-the-art distribution center in Woodbridge, N.J.; and expanded warehouse capacity in its Canton, Mich., distribution center.

The company’s new worldwide headquarters in Fairfield, N.J., covers 30,000 square feet, and houses the majority of the senior leadership, sales, marketing, purchasing, and compliance teams. It also features more than 4,000 square feet of showroom space, an in-house design center, and a photography and film studio. Along with fostering a collaborative team atmosphere, the new space will serve as a hub for the company’s product development team.

Alex Brands has also made significant investments in expanding its distribution capabilities, with the new Woodbridge, N.J., distribution center adding 300,000 square feet of space. The facility also provides direct-to-consumer fulfillment capabilities to support the company’s rapidly growing e-commerce initiative.

The company also doubled the warehouse space at its Canton, Mich., distribution center. The new facilities are expected to create job opportunities for local communities in Fairfield, Woodbridge, and Canton.

LeapFrog Debuts the Latest Letter Factory Adventures Video, Counting on Lemonade

LeapFrog-logoLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. and Lionsgate have released LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade, the second full-length learning program in the Letter Factory Adventures animated series. It features state of the art CGI animation with a new generation of the popular frog characters made famous in the original Letter Factory programs.

In addition to the four learning programs, LeapFrog’s new frogs will star in future products, including the new LeapFrog Learning Library game, Letter Factory Rainforest Adventures, and games in the Learning Library of the LeapTV educational active video game system.

LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade is available for download from the LeapFrog App Center on DVD and Digital HD.

VTech’s InnoTab MAX, with Android Content, Is Available Now

InnoTabMAXVTech has introduced the InnoTab MAX children’s learning tablet, featuring a dual-core CPU and a high-resolution 7-inch multi-touch screen, and supported by VTech’s library of cartridges, software, and apps.

InnoTab MAX also features an enhanced second-generation version of Premium VTech Kid Connect, allowing children and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings, and stickers in real time between the tablet and a smartphone. In addition, Premium VTech Kid Connect includes parent-controlled family group chat, a multi-player game that lets kids play with approved contacts on their Kid Connect list, a Family Bulletin, and more.

The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps, and kids will be able to choose one free Toca Boca app—either Toca Lab or Toca Pet Doctor, after registering their InnoTab MAX on the Learning Lodge—as well as two more additional free downloadable apps.

InnoTab MAX is an electronic learning aid that grows with a child from ages 3 to 9 and beyond, bridging the gap for parents considering a children’s learning tablet, but also looking for in-depth Android content. As a child grows, the protective cover can be removed for a more grown-up feel, while the progressive learning content adapts to a child’s age.

As part of the InnoTab line, the InnoTab MAX is designed to withstand physical wear and tear from kids.

Toys “R” Us Celebrates Skylanders Trap Team’s Arrival with Special Events, Early Opening, and More

SkylandersTrapTeamLogoToys “R” Us is celebrating the debut of the latest Skylanders game, Skylanders Trap Team, with special events, an early opening, exclusive figures, and more.

On Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5, the Toys “R” Us flagship store in New York City will host unique in-store Skylanders-themed experiences. Customers who visit Toys “R” Us Times Square from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on either day can be among the first to play the new game at dedicated kiosks throughout the store.

ToysRUsLogo copyThey can also receive complimentary giveaways while supplies last, as well as have the opportunity to be digitally teleported into a Skylanders Trap Team “Most Wanted” photo alongside some of the game’s villains, including Kaos and Chompy Mage.

When Skylanders Trap Team releases on October 5, all Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will open one hour earlier at 8 a.m., and select stores will open at midnight. A full list of stores opening at midnight can be found at toysrus.com/midnightskylanders. Meanwhile, the Skylanders villain Kaos will be taking over the Toys “R” Us Twitter channel (@Toysrus) on Saturday, October 4, from 11 to 11:50 p.m. to interact with fans and build anticipation for the midnight release. [Read more...]

Antony Hicks Joins Leapfrog as Chief International Officer

LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES LOGOAntony Hicks has joined LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. as chief international officer. In this role, he will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and management to international operations as LeapFrog grows its current international businesses and extends its global reach through entering strategic new markets.

Hicks has extensive experience in developing businesses in Asia. Prior to joining LeapFrog, Mr. Hicks was chief executive officer, Indochina, at The Carlsberg Group where he was responsible for driving market share across the key countries in the region.

TIA to Host Young Professionals Cocktail Party in Dallas

TIA.YoungProfessionalsNetworkThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) Young Professionals Network (YPN), which supports the growth, development, and retention of young professionals in the toy industry, will host a networking cocktail party on October 8 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The event will take place following the close of the second day of Fall Toy Preview.

All young toy industry professionals ages 35 and under are invited to attend the party, to be held at the Hilton Anatole Gossip Bar. Admission is free for both TIA members and non-members; TIA member company representatives will receive one complimentary drink.

RSVP for the cocktail party is requested by October 2. Questions and suggestions for expanding or improving upon the YPN—formerly known as Toy Industry Next Generation (TING)—may be directed to TIA’s Bernadette Boyle, membership manager, at (646) 454-5585.

VTech Go! Go! Smart Friends Line Available Exclusively at Toys “R” Us

VTech.GoGoSmartFriendsBusySoundsVTech has launched Go! Go! Smart Friends, available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at toysrus.com.

The Go! Go! Smart Friends line features colorful play sets and characters that infuse traditional role-play with modern technology. MagicPoint locations bring the characters and play sets to life with lights, sounds, and music.

The Go! Go! Smart Friends Busy Sounds Discovery Home is an interactive house featuring nine MagicPoint locations that encourage imaginative play and emphasize cause and effect relationships. Additionally, it includes VTech’s new MagicChat feature, which allows two figures to chat and sing songs together.

The Go! Go! Smart Friends Spin-Around Sounds Carnival features five MagicPoint locations and five play pieces that can be used together to encourage creative play. [Read more...]

Greater China Business Forum to Take Place in New York City

TIAThe U.S. Commercial Service is hosting a two-day conference on export opportunities in Greater China, which will take place on October 7 to 8 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

The Global Markets: Greater China Business Forum program will cover export opportunities and challenges related to the major cities of Mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as offer participants the chance to meet one-on-one with visiting U.S. Commercial Service diplomats from Beijing, Chengdu, Macau, Ulan Bator (Mongolia), Shanghai, Shenyang, Taipei, Singapore, and more. Additionally, subject matter experts will be on-hand to consult individually with companies interested in learning about intellectual property rights (IPR), standards and certifications, e-commerce, trade finance, export controls, government procurement, and additional topics.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is a supporting organization for this event, and TIA members receive a discounted rate ($100 off the regular rate) when they register. More information is available online at the U.S. Commercial Service web site. Representatives of TIA member companies may contact Anne McConnell at amcconnell@toyassociation.org to obtain the online registration code for the discounted rate.

Funrise Rounding Out Global Program for Madballs

MadballsMadballs, the bouncing balls from the 1980s with grotesque faces, protruding eyeballs, and zany names, are back in a new line from Funrise Toys. AG Properties, the intellectual property and outbound licensing division of American Greetings Corporation, announced the news.

The Funrise Madballs line will include plush and feature plush sports balls and soft accessories, including baseball bats and basketball hoops based on the brand’s satirical and gutter humor. Products are scheduled to hit retail in the fall of next year.

“We are thrilled to partner with Funrise on this new line for Madballs,” said Lindsay Martinez, vice president of licensing and business development for AG Properties.  “The addition of this plush sports ball program gives the franchise a unique position in the toy aisle and allows for a new generation of kids to experience the Madballs brand.”

Funrise’s plush toys will extend the property’s consumer products program, which includes comics with Lion Forge. Madballs were first introduced by AmToy, a subsidiary of American Greetings, in 1986.

Women in Toys (WIT) Kicks Off New Initiatives in Dallas on October 6

WITWinningMovesWomen in Toys (WIT) has launched its new Empowerment Program with three exciting initiatives that provide members with opportunities for professional support, career development, and a roadmap to success.

The Winning Moves Empowerment Workshop gives entrepreneurs, inventors, and manufacturers the opportunity to pitch products to retail giant Wal-Mart as well as top toy and game companies including Hasbro, Spin Master, and Winning Moves Games. The event takes place on October 6 at Dallas Market Center at 1:00 pm, the day before the Toy Industry Association‘s Fall Toy Preview begins. It also features panel discussions, one-on-one speed mentoring, and networking opportunities such as a cocktail party open to women, men, members, and non-members.

One-on-One Mentoring pairs industry expert mentors with up-and-coming WIT members as well as those looking to change their career path. Volunteer mentors include manufacturers, retailers, marketing/PR agencies, and licensors. Members interested in becoming a mentor or mentee can sign up at www.womenintoys.com or contact Nancy Zwiers at nancy@funosophy.com

Learn-the-Ropes Webinars are hosted by industry experts and will provide information, insights, education, and support on a wide variety of topics. These are designed to help members with their career goals and professional development. Webinars will begin in December on Wednesdays from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Anyone looking for more information can visit www.womenintoys.com or contact Deb de Sherbinin at deb@kidsmartusa.com.