China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Making the Most of the Fourth of July

Time is flying, and it’s hard to believe that next weekend is already the Fourth of July. For many families, this means barbecues, friends and family, music, and to top it all off, a spectacular fireworks display. Many Fourth of Julys from my childhood were spent at the beach or someone’s pool, and the days always seemed to last forever—in a good way. While the grown-ups mingled, we kids would embark on a day of adventure—exploring, playing, competing, and forging relationships. Here are some toys to give kids everything they need for a fantastic Fourth of July:

butterflynet

Toysmith’s Fish-Butterfly Net is a classic way to keep kids entertained for hours in the great outdoors. This multi-purpose net lets kids catch insects on land, minnows in the water, or fireflies once the sun goes down. I remember spending hours with my friends and cousins outside at the docks, waiting to plunge the net in at just the right time to catch the tiny fish that flickered in the sun beams. Bonus points if there’s a pond nearby for catching frogs. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Learning Healthy Habits Has Never Been This Much Fun!

As adults, we’re always obsessing over chasing that elusive 10 pounds that we gained so easily after college, but still haven’t figured out how to lose. Going to the gym and eating organic foods are second nature to those who have adapted healthier lifestyles in an effort to be at their best. It’s difficult to make those changes—switching french fries for brussels sprouts and being active instead of sitting on the couch all day. Why, then, don’t we give our kids a head start in this crusade? We should be teaching these healthy habits as early as possible.

eggplantAt Toy Fair 2014, there was one booth that stuck out to me, mostly because there was a dancing carrot in superhero gear in front of the ss-logotable. Hey, whatever you have to do! But the premise of this company is just that—to put a fun, positive light on vegetables and to get the attention of kids. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Not a Barbie Girl!

Barbie just celebrated her 55th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, made a splash on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Wearing a skimpy, and quite-controversial, neutral-toned swimsuit, Barbie caused quite a stir. Many argue that it may be time for Barbie to finally step down as the queen of the children’s doll world. Nickolay Lamm, creator of the new Lammily doll, would certainly agree that there is a new girl in town: the “average is beautiful”-promoting Lammily doll.

Lamm claims that Lammily is the world’s first normal-sized doll. Last year, Lamm designed images of what he dubbed, “normal Barbie,” in an attempt to make the doll reflect the proportions of real female bodies. He used the measurements of the average 19-year-old woman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and molded them into a 3-D model of Barbie.

lammilyBarbie’s unrealistic proportions have long been criticized by feminist campaigns. Although her waist was expanded and her bust made smaller in 1998, her figure remains significantly out of proportion and unrealistic for the average teenager. Studies show that if transformed into a real woman, Barbie’s 16-inch waist would be four inches thinner than her head. She would be required to walk on her hands and feet, as her 6-inch ankles and vast, missing areas of body would not be able to hold her upright. Studies also show that body image issues in young girls may be related, in part, to Barbie and dolls of the like, and that more than 50 percent of girls ages 9 to 10 claim to be, “on a diet.” This is deeply unsettling, and it seems that while no one thing can be blamed for this warped sense of body image in young girls, Barbie’s unrealistic figure can’t be helping.

Lammily represents something new. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Back to Basics: Sketch, Doodle, Paint, and Play

TF14Logo-cityDatesAfter Toy Fair 2013, the words “and there’s an app!” were ringing in my ears for weeks. This year, however, appcessories seemed more like a taboo than anything else, with most companies shying away from toys with app-enhanced features or reliability. Honestly, it was less than disappointing. I think keeping screen time and toy time separate is perfectly acceptable, and apparently, what kids and toy buyers prefer.

This year will truly mark a return to traditional play patterns. Rainbow Loom, a simple bracelet-making kit for kids, was huge in 2013, eventually snagging four Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards, including the overall Toy of the Year. That said, Toy Fair 2014 brought tons of cool innovations in the activities category, with companies fighting to be the next big thing once the Rainbow Loom craze comes to an end. [Read more...]

Kids Preferred Expands Buildex Wooden Line with Rescue Vehicles

carKids Preferred, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plush toys and gifts, will showcase the expansion of its Buildex wooden construction toy offerings. The new emergency rescue vehicles, in particular, each offer to build vehicles in two different ways from the same high-quality parts. Each vehicle in the set has two different options for building, creating, and playing.

This new generation of toys was designed to encourage children to develop 3-D thinking and an appreciation for construction, movement, and design. The collection utilizes Grid-Lock, a unique construction system which allows strong and safe assembly without the need for glue and tools. [Read more...]

Universal Studios Brings Monster High: Frights Camera Action to Life

monsterhighWhen Monster High‘s Draculaura is led to believe she’s the rightful heir to the vampire throne, she and her best ghoulfriends are whisked away to Transylvania for a royal coronation to die for. But they soon discover the hunt for the queen is not over yet. The Ghouls must locate an ancient artifact known as the Vampire’s Heart in order to discover the identity of the true Vampire Queen. Mattel‘s new line of Monster High: Frights, Camera Action! dolls features Hauntlywood versions of favorite glam ghouls ready for their Black Carpet debut. The dolls feature “gore-geous” accessories.

The film is an adventure that will lead them from the Tower of Londoom, to a haunted river boat in New Goreleans and finally to the glamorous boo-vie lots of Hauntlywood. Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action! comes to Blu-ray Combo Pack including Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet on March 25, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Monopoly Meets The Wizard of Oz in New Collector’s Edition

the_wizard_of_oz_mn_3dbt_webA new version of the classic board game Monopoly salutes the beloved film, The Wizard of Oz. Produced by USAopoly, under license from Hasbro Inc. and in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Monopoly: The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition features a game board that unfolds to reveal a spectacular 3-D pop-up center showcasing movie plot points.

There are also new Monopoly rules created just for this game, the houses and hotels from the traditional game have been transformed into custom farmhouses and Emerald Cities, respectively, and classic movie icons such as the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat, the ruby slippers, and Toto replace the familiar Monopoly movers.

COMMENTARY: USAopoly Gives Classic Games a Licensed Twist

You may love Monopoly, but it’s okay to admit that sometimes you get a little tired of playing the same game over and over again. Games become classics because they span generations, and they’re well-designed and challenging. In a way, they can become timeless. But you can only force your grandma to mortgage all of her properties and hand over all her piles of pastel-colored money so many times before enough is enough. Her little thimble token—and your interest and passion for the game—has been defeated.

USAopoly has solved this problem by taking our favorite classic games and slapping a license or five on them, making each edition more appealing and unique to the players. Properties include The Smurfs, The Wizard of Oz, My Little Pony, and many, many more, to appeal to all generations, collectors, and fans. The great thing about these licensed games is that they give your traditional family favorites a big twist—and turn it into a whole new game! So if you’re tiring of the same old games in your closet, these would be some great additions to your next family game night.

drwho_mn_3dbt_webI’m not one who’s all about sci-fi shows and aliens and such, but I have to admit that I find BBC‘s Doctor Who series highly addicting—and The Doctor has quite the cult following that will back me up on that. Now fans can travel through time and space with their favorite Doctor with USAopoly’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of Monopoly.  Two to six plays ages 8 and up can buy, sell, and trade iconic episodes, spaceships, and landmarks, spanning billions of years across the Doctor Who universe. The Poison Sky, A Good Man Goes to War, The Daleks, and the Arc of Infinity are all able to be purchased by time travelers. [Read more...]

Spin Master’s Paw Patrol Helps Boost Nickelodeon’s Ratings

paw-patrol-post-2Spin Master‘s Paw Patrol helped to tip the scales in Nickelodeon‘s favor, making it the children’s TV network leader in the battle between Disney and Nickelodeon for kids share, according to a report on Bloomberg News. The battle between these two large players grew even more after last year’s debut of Disney Junior, a channel aimed a preschoolers watching Nick Jr.

Nickelodeon cited Nielsen data that reported it averaging 918,000 viewers a day among kids ages 2 to 11 in the fourth quarter through December 15 compared to The Disney Channel’s 874,000 viewers. According to the Bloomberg News article, the ratings shift, is accelerating ad sales for Viacom, which posted its best quarterly growth in at least two years last month. The battle between the largest players in children’s TV intensified last year after the debut of Disney Junior, a channel aimed at preschoolers who watch Nick Jr.

Google’s Zeitgeist Releases Top 10 Trending Toy Searches for 2013

Google has released its annual Zeitgeist—a “spirit of the times”—which gives us a chance to remember the people, places and topics that got us talking, and ultimately searching, before a new year begins. The list of top toy searches features new toys such as Minions and Palace Pets, but also old favorites, such as Play-Doh. Here are the top 10 trending toy searches this year:

  1. Pokémon
  2. Play-Doh
  3. Digimon Fusion
  4. Minecraft Toys
  5. Minions
  6. Palace Pets
  7. Paw Patrol
  8. Pacific Rim Toys
  9. My Little Pony
  10. Disney Planes

The 2013 Zeitgeist site provides more than 1000 top-10 lists of popular and trending searches from 72 countries, making it the most comprehensive and global list to date.