China Toy Fair


Magicforest Distributes New Moulin Roty Nighttime Shadow Puppets

magicforestFrench toy company Moulin Roty has cast a light on its Les Petit Merveilles line of Nighttime Shadow Puppets. Instead of reading from a storybook, parents and kids can use these puppet sets with themes of Castles, Paris, Circus, and Dinosaurs to create magical tales for sweet dreams. Magicforest, the exclusive U.S. distributor of Moulin Roty toys, will showcase the entire collection, plus the Nighttime Shadow Theatre, at its booth at the American International Toy Fair.

Different than hand puppets made by a flashlight and a camping tent wall, these artistic puppets entice storytelling and hand coordination, and serve as an outlet to express feelings. The puppets are made from black cardstock that is laser cut into various shapes. The Paris Shadows set features the Eiffel Tower, an airplane, the moon, and a sleepwalker. The nine-piece Castle Shadows includes a dragon, a fairy, royalty, and a witch. The Dinosaur Shadows is a pack of 10 puppets featuring a stegosaurus, a brachiosaurus, and more prehistoric shapes. The Nighttime Circus Shadow puppets include 11 different figures, including a lion, an elephant, and a strongman. The puppets are designed for kids ages 3 and up.

COMMENTARY: Nightmarish Christmas Gifts Delight Burton Fans This Season

While my folks are tuning into the Hallmark channel for the sappy Christmas movies that make them cry year after year, and my niece and nephew obsess over Buddy from Elf, I’m still stuck on a classic Christmas favorite that is often misappropriated by Halloween: The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie isn’t called A Dream Before Halloween. For me, that’s enough reasoning to say it is, in fact—no matter how creepy—a Christmas movie.

Nightmare Before Christmas MonopolyUSAopoly will bring this cult classic into homes this holiday season in a whole new way with Monopoly: The Nightmare Before Christmas Collector’s Edition. Players can buy, sell, and trade iconic movie locations, such as Jack’s Tower, Oogie Boogie’s Casino, Sally’s Alley, Dr. Finkelstein’s Laboratory, Town Square Fountain, and (my favorite) Spiral Hill. This completely customized game features imagery of all the greatest characters from the film, with Jack and Sally front and center, as well as six collectible pewter tokens, including Jack’s Skull, Sally, the Mayor’s Hearse, Oogie Boogi, Zombie Duck, and Evil Teddy. Just like the classic, this game is designed for two to six players ages 8 and up and is sure to please all Nightmare fans. [Read more...]

Hot for Spring and Holiday Travel—Customizable Flip Flops

Maui_Flip_Flops_W_Pink_Bloom_2__10997.1375240005.451.416Every now and then a non-toy item permeates space in toy stores due to its trendiness, appeal to kids, and, typically, its toyetic nature. Something about it makes it fun and kids have to have it.

Enter Lollz Flip Flops, from Wavewearco. Available in child and adult sizes, these flip flops allow users to customize their footwear with super easy snap-on/snap-off Lollz accessories, which include bows, flowers, buttons, etc. The company even encourages its customers to design their own Lollz for a unique look, with suggestions such as gluing on rhinestones, or painting them. The Lollz snap on and off easily, but stay on very securely.

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The idea for the line came from the owner’s personal experience. He couldn’t understand why his daughters insisted on bringing so many pairs of sandals on vacation, taking up precious space in their luggage. They insisted that their footwear had to complement their outfit. And so Lollz were born. With Lollz, kids can bring one pair of flip flops, and several accessories to change their style as they wish, even on the go.

 

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Tamagotchi Celebrates 17 Years with New Tamagotchi Friends

TamagotchiFriendslogoBandai is set to relaunch Tamagotchi under the brand Tamagotchi Friends, supported by new devices, technology, and an immersive portfolio of interactive lifestyle products. Tamagotchi Friends will launch with animated webisodes debuting globally on November 23 to coincide with Tamagotchi’s 17th birthday, and supported by a phased rollout of a new website.

Since its debut, Tamagotchi has sold more than 79 million units in 44 versions worldwide, and remains the No. 1 character brand for girls ages 7 to 9 in Japan, as well as a top nostalgic brand in the U.S. The Tamagotchi Friends brand will include physical products, including Digital Friends, apparel, and apps; as well as a virtual world on social media at tamagotchifriends.com, where global visitors can connect to the characters and get to know them.

Bandai will introduce the Tamagotchi Friends portfolio of Digital Friends and other toys globally, with product reaching European retailers beginning in late December, followed by the U.S. market next fall.

Modarri Kickstarts a New Breed of Toy Car

ModarriThoughtFull Toys has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Modarri, a line that seeks to reinvent the toy car space. The company’s intent is to create toy cars that are sleek and durable, yet also drivable, buildable, and interchangeable.

Modarri cars can be disassembled and redesigned by changing their parts, leading to hands-on experimentation with real physical objects. In addition, kids can learn about the physics and mechanics of suspension and steering by driving the cars around, and feel the differences in performance by swapping out parts.

Suitable for kids ages 6 and up, Modarri cars are built using a combination of metal and high strength plastic, with no screws. The planned color prototypes of Modarri include the Street Car S1, Dirt Car X1, and Track Car T1; and each car includes chassis, hood/windshield, seat pan, seat, fenders and frame, hex tool, wheels, and front and rear suspension. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Sonic the Hedgehog: 22 Years and Still Going Fast!

Faster than greased lightning, Sonic the Hedgehog is one tough Erinaceinae to keep up with, and admittedly, I haven’t been trying. I had the first Sonic the Hedgehog game when it came out way back in 1991, but not long after, I went through a dry spell in which I kept away from video games. During the interim, Sonic evolved as both a pop culture icon and corporate mascot for video game publisher Sega, while I—well, I got slightly taller.

Now here we are in 2013, and with the Sonic franchise still going strong, I thought I’d rekindle my relationship with him by checking out some recent Sonic games and toys.

Phil.November20.3Sonic Lost World, by Sega: The original Sonic the Hedgehog was a side-scroller with pretty simple game play. By comparison, the latest installment is a radically different experience at times, with some levels consisting of “classic,” 2-D, side-scrolling play, while the others are immersive 3-D from an angled, top-down perspective. Players now have the option of moving in nearly all directions, and interact with terrain in ways that would have been impossible during the 2-D days.

Phil.November20.1In Sonic Lost World, players can use the trigger button on the Wii U controller to rev Sonic up, and send him zipping along extra fast (Be warned: He can get a little out of hand if you aren’t used to it yet). When approaching tight spaces, he can subsequently ricochet off walls and perform other special maneuvers. During my demo, I actually kept my finger mostly off that button, and the game still managed to be a kinetic, occasionally vertiginous experience, with lots of rocketing off springboards into the air and pinballing faster than the eye could keep up. [Read more...]

Seamless Toy Co. Launches ATOMS

ATOMSATOMS, smart building blocks from Seamless Toy Co. that began life as a Kickstarter project, are now available. With ATOMS, kids can create things as fast as they can imagine them: For example, a bashful talking pet monster that loves hiding under tables, or a stuffed cat that “meows” by waving a magic wand.

Suitable for kids ages 6 and up, ATOMS have no exposed elements or magnets, and come in starter sets that contain everything kids need to build monsters, magic wands, and robots. They are also designed to integrate with Lego, Barbie, and action figures, giving old toys new possibilities.

Seamless is also introducing an ATOMS iOS app later this month, which enables kids to add virtual ATOMS on their Bluetooth-enabled Apple iPad, iPod, or iPhone. Screen-based ATOMS can be used to control real ATOMS from across the room, and alternatively, real ATOMS can be used via the same Bluetooth link to remotely control features on iOS devices, such as the camera and music player. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Keeping It Fresh for Kids Sends Them Running to the Store

So many toys and video games are introduced each year. Many of them succeed at selling in and selling through, others flop, but manufacturers who have the wherewithal to get involved with their customers have the opportunity to draw in more customers, and to get their currently satisfied customers talking about their purchase and even send them running back to buy more.

disney-infinity-figurines-300x229One company that I’ve recently noticed to be doing an excellent job at this is Disney Interactive, with its Disney Infinity lineup. Disney Infinity, in case you’re somehow unaware, is a video game with a physical toy component. The toys are figures of favorite Disney characters. When a gamer owns a character’s figure, they can transport that character into their game, unlocking new worlds and ways to play.

Kids love collecting, so they are going to want to collect all the figures, and at $13.99 for one figure or $30.99 for a three pack, it’s not unreasonable for gift givers to purchase them as a birthday or holiday gift. What’s brilliant, however, is letting kids have some ownership. The tagline “Play in Their Worlds or Create Your Own” might sound a bit intimidating to the average adult. “Create my own world? I don’t know anything about video game coding!” To a kid, it sounds like magic, and it kind of is. Kids can easily create their own world—called a Toy Box—and then show their friends, who can bring over their own figures and they can play together in this newly created Toy Box. Even more amazing, they can share their new Toy Box with players all over the world. A bit heady for a kid, no?

Fantastic, but here’s the really brilliant part. Disney Interactive issues challenges to players to create their own Toy Boxes with a certain theme, for example, the recent Contraption Challenge, where players were tasked to create “crazy, unique and exciting contraptions that perform simple tasks.” The top five submissions were showcased on a Disney Infinity Toy Box Top Five Countdown webisode and will no doubt be downloaded by thousands of kids around the world. Now that’s exciting.

Each Thursday a new challenge is issued, so gamers are continuously being engaged and made to feel like part of a community. Parents are happy because their child is not only making their purchase worthwhile by continuing to play with it, but they are being creative while doing so. That in turn, yields more sales. Because when kids then ask for more figures to enhance their game play experience, parents are more likely to buy.

Check back regularly for more toy industry commentary from Jackie. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

 

The Toy Book Chats with Sherry Gunther-Shugarman, CEO, Popstar Club

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Sherry Gunther-Shugarman, CEO of Popstar Club, which is the manufacturer of the fresh, new doll line, The Beatrix Girls. Sherry gave me an overview of what makes her doll line so unique, and why girls are going to be clamoring for them this holiday season.

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Where did you get the idea for Beatrix Girls?

The Beatrix Girls came out of the idea of tying music and dolls together. Ultimately the approach to this was to create a multiplatform brand that really reaches kids everywhere that they are, recognizing that kids are not just watching TV and they’re not just playing with dolls or toys, they’re not just online playing games or being social, they’re doing all of the above. A forward-thinking property really needed to have presence in all of those mediums and to have an integration between all of those formats ingrained in its DNA.

The webisodes are done in a very unique way. How did you come about using that style?

It’s interesting because the natural for me was to go with animation as I spent over 20 years in animation, but there were a lot of things that attracted me to doing it this way, creating webisodes that have the dolls featured interacting in real life. It comes out of the fact that the concept itself has the girls as real. So they’re real and they interact in our world. They’re a real pop star band, we9’re creating real music, not composed music like we would for a toy property or an animated show, but real, credible, pop music written by a platinum-winning writer/producer, mixed by a Grammy-winning engineer, so this is really relevant, today, great music and so we really want to sell them as true pop stars.

Animation oftentimes, especially when doing them based on a product or especially dolls, skews a little bit younger, and we really wanted to have the cool factor and have these be edgier. The medium that we used felt so much more current and fresh and innovative and YouTube generation-like and it felt much more fitting to the brand itself. It gives the dolls the credibility of being real in our world. They have a real human manager, they perform in real venues, so it allows us to play up that real factor for them. And then the scale gives us a lot of humor opportunities for 12-inch dolls interacting in a life-size world.

The really nice side effect that we found is that girls are really responding to the fact that they can relate to the way it was done because it was shot on purpose with hands showing and manipulating the dolls. The idea was that kids could really relate to it and feel like I can do that, I can get four dolls and with my friends create a scene and a scenario.

 

For some reason it reminds me of Mr. Bill, the old SNL skit.

That’s kind of what we were going for. We were going for rather than just sort of just straight, weak, almost too young-skewing animation. We wanted it to be edgier and quirky and fun and hilarious and this medium allowed us to do that, to have that feel to it.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Play Me a Song, Sweet Music Kit

rockstarlittleBits,the creator of an open-source library of electronic “Bits,” that snap together with magnets for learning and play, partnered with Korg, a leading global manufacturer of electronic musical equipment, to create a kid-friendly, music-making machine, and I was lucky enough to get in on the action. On November 7, the new littleBits Synth Kit was unveiled at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The collaboration of Korg with littleBits may not seem obvious, but it is actually genius. This new synthesizing kit is perfectly designed for the use of everyone—from professional musicians to hobbyists with an interest in making new sounds and pushing the boundaries in technology and music. Using the kit, music lovers can build infinite customizable sounds from practically anywhere.

littleBitsAt the event, attendees were given the opportunity to play with the brightly colored and multi-functioning Synth Kits, listening to the created sounds through Korg headphones. It was such a neat experience, as I felt like a music master using equipment like that used to produce the innovative sound of revolutionary bands such as The Beatles and The Doors, and modern artists such as The Cure and MGMT. It’s such an awesome way for kids to get involved in music at an early age. Yes, most children are able to utilize musical instruments and their voices, but this is such a unique opportunity for kids to get involved in the music production industry. Little musicians can explore the world behind the music with the sound of the synthesizer instrument. Even better, the “Bits” are interchangeable and can be constructed in different ways for different sounds, so kids can build their own sound machines and choose their favorite outcomes. The Bits modules included with the kits snap together instantly using magnets that create circuits. These circuits are similar to those used in Korg’s analog synthesizers, so the quality of these kits is amazing, truly. [Read more...]