Hexbug Launches #theycanclimb Coloring Contest

theycanclimbHexbug has launched the Hexbug Nano V2 #theycanclimb coloring contest, giving Hexbug fans a chance to flex their creative muscles.

Hexbug hired an eccentric, internationally-renowned artist (and Hexbug enthusiast) to create eight colorful drawings crawling with the gravity-defying Nano V2 bugs. The artist received a last-minute, once in a lifetime opportunity to climb Mount Everest’s Khumbu Icefall that left him unable to color in his original black and white outlines. Now Hexbug is asking for the fans help to color in these drawings.

To enter the contest, fans can choose an outline, color it, and send it in to the Hexbug review team. The contest will run through through 11:59:59 p.m. CST on September 22.

Every entrant will receive a $5 promo code for their next purchase on Hexbug.com, and every week, some of the best submissions will be featured at Nanov2.com. Entrants will be judged in two separate categories: ages 6 and under, and ages 7 to 12. At the end of the contest, first, second, and third place winners in each category will be announced and awarded prizes.

Toys “R” Us Releases Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids

toysToys “R” Us, Inc. has released the 2013 Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, a toy selection resource for children with special needs. This annual shopping guide is available in Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide and online, in English and Spanish, at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. This year’s edition features 2012 all-around gymnastics gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas on the cover, alongside Special Olympics Young Athletes Isabella Caesar and Samuel Lopez.

This year’s Guide introduces Toys “R” Us’ first Toys “R” Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. The app guide currently features a selection of 25 apps identified to help children with special needs further develop key skills. Apps featured within the 2013 app guide include Swapsies–Occupations, PicSay–Photo Editor, Learning Letters for Kids, Bubble Buster, and Cookie Dunk Jump. All apps featured within this resource can be found in the Google Play Store for Android or the App Store for iOS.

Gabby Douglas is also helping to cheer on aspiring Special Olympics athletes. The Special Olympics Young Athletes program introduces kids to the world of sports and offers children ages 2 to 7 with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to play, compete, and grow while developing early cognitive, social, and motor skills. The Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund provides ongoing grants to Special Olympics to support the national expansion of Special Olympics’ Young Athletes program. Most recently, it pledged $1 million to become a founding partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games and presenting sponsor of the first Young Athletes Festival, which will provide children and their families with the opportunity to take part in the Young Athletes program, free health screenings, family seminars, and more.

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will be in New Jersey from June 14 to 21. This year, Toys “R” Us has partnered with Wynsum Arts, a social enterprise that makes app discovery and mobile technology accessible to children of all abilities.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band Release Lishy Lou and Lucky Too

lishylouLucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will release a new album of songs that create a world of adventurous listening for all ages. Lishy Lou and Lucky Too  is the new album and  features musical and theatrical guests, and will be available on October 1 on www.luckydiazmusic.com.

Lishy Lou and Lucky Too is a color-splashed, enhanced-reality, family-friendly variety show à la Peewee’s Playhouse, with a dash of The Lucy Show and the Marx Brothers comedy. Lishy Lou (Alisha Gaddis) and Lucky (a real-life husband-wife team) live together in a magical treehouse, and each episode presents a problem that Lishy, Lucky, and their friends and guests solve together. They’re a bilingual household (English and Spanish) that is filled with music and dance, encouraging movement and learning through song.

The album begins with the peppy theme song and a doo-woppy tune called “Thingamajig,”. Other songs spotlight people in history like Amelia Earhart (“8,000 Feet”) and Jackie Robinson (“Jackie”). The Beatles’ classic “Till There Was You” takes on new meaning when Lucky and Lishy sing it, and the song “When I Grow Up” will inspire kids to live their dreams.

The idea for Lishy Lou and Lucky Too came during a road trip, when together with daughter Ella, Lucky and Alisha shared music and stories. Lishy Lou and Lucky Too follows two family music albums from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band: A Potluck (2012), and the 2013 Spanish language release ¡Fantastico!. The band is also planning several family concerts this fall to celebrate the release, including a concert on September 14 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Barbie Partners with Girl Scouts for First Barbie Patch

barbie-logogirlscoutsBarbie and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) partnered to create the first-ever Barbie “Be Anything, Do Everything” patch. The participation patch is designed to inspire the next generation of female leaders by encouraging girls to explore career possibilities through new program activities. The Barbie doll has been featured with more than 135 careers for more than five decades, and GSUSA has been dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence, and character for more than 100 years. In the spirit of Barbie doll’s career path and GSUSA’s heritage, the “Be Anything, Do Everything” participation patch allows Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies (girls in kindergarten through third grade) to explore career choices through the “I Can Be…” activity booklet.

The partnership is founded on the development of activities that encourage and inspire girls around the country to explore a variety of careers. With the core theme “Be Anything, Do Everything,” this partnership reaches girls online and offline, and includes an activity booklet, special patch, and a digital game and poll.

Activision’s Skylanders Products Are a Force to Beat

Activision Publishing has announced that the Skylanders figures outsold all action-figure properties in the U.S. and Europe year-to-date in 2013–and the Skylanders property outpaced all toy properties overall in the U.K. year-to-date as of June 30.

As of July 31, the Skylanders franchise has generated more than $1.5 billion in worldwide retail sales in both North America and Europe. Skylanders Giants was also the best-selling console and hand-held game overall in dollars.

skylanders

Skylanders Swap Force

Skylanders Swap Force is being developed by Vicarious Visions and is the newest game in the franchise. Skylanders Swap Force builds upon the franchise’s signature gameplay and collectible toy experience, adding a new dimension to the “toys to life” innovation. The game introduces a play pattern—dynamic swapability—that lets gamers transform 16 Swap Force inter-action figures into more than 250 characters by swapping the top and bottom halves of the toys. Now Portal Masters can mix and match characters’ powers and moves to experience a level of choice never before seen in a Skylanders game. Fans  can also play Skylanders Swap Force with their entire collection of more than 100 characters from Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants.

In Skylanders Swap Force, Portal Masters embark on a new adventure in the mysterious Cloudbreak Islands, home to a mystical volcano that erupts every hundred years to replenish the magic in Skylands. During an epic battle, a brave group of Skylanders were caught in the volcano’s eruption, which blasted them apart and sent them to earth. However, the magic of the volcano gave these heroes a new power—the ability to swap halves—turning them into a special team known as the Swap Force. Meanwhile, Kaos is back with a new evil plan, and now, Portal Masters everywhere must reassemble the Swap Force—in their original form or new combinations—and send them back to Cloudbreak to save Skylands.

Skylanders Swap Force also features new abilities, such as flying, climbing, digging, bouncing, or teleporting, which can be used in previously unexplored areas of Skylands centered on these play mechanics. Additionally, the game features 16 new core characters, eight new LightCore characters, and 16 new versions of fan favorite Skylanders from previous games. Now kids will have more than 100 characters from which to choose. The game’s high-resolution graphics brings detailed characters and richer environments to life, immersing players in the game. The game also has an assortment of gameplay modes for survival and battle, including Solo Survival Mode, Team Survival Mode, Rival Mode, Battle Arena Mode, and Ring Out Mode.

Adora Celebrates The 75th Anniversary of the Wizard of Oz

Dorothy 75thIn celebration of The Wizard of Oz‘s 75th anniversary this September, Adora Dolls will introduce 75th Anniversary Special Edition Wizard of Oz Toddlers.

Each toddler doll wears the iconic costumes of each character, including the Wicked Witch, Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Wizard, Tinman, Scarecrow, and Glinda the Good Witch. They come with their own silver commemorative medallion with the “75th Anniversary Wizard of Oz” logo inscribed on it.

Baze and His Silly Friends Release Free Song Download Off New Album

Baze and His Silly FriendsKindie music band, Baze and His Silly Friends, will release their third CD, The Best Day Ever!, in October. Baze and His Silly Friends are proud supporters of Autism Speaks, and a portion of the band’s CD sales go to helping raise autism awareness.

Baze and His Silly Friends are offering a free download of their new song, “School Days.” A mash up of The Ramones and The Bay City Rollers, “School Days” will get the whole family excited for school and remind kids that learning is fun. Check out the free “School Days” song download here.

Sony Plans Launch for PlayStation 4

SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA LLC LOGOSony Computer Entertainment Inc. reveals that the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system will launch on November 15 in Canada and the U.S., and November 29 in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. The PS4 will also launch in the following Latin America countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.

SCE will continue to offer breakthrough gaming and entertainment experiences to users by further enriching the services available on PS4 such as PSN and PlayStation Plus, a membership service offering members exclusive content and features, while enhancing the PS4 system itself through future system software updates.

There are currently more than 180 PS4 titles in development. This line-up reflects the strong support for PS4 among virtually every software developer and publisher and within the independent development community.  Since June of this year, the number of developers joining has increased from nearly 500 to 620.

COMMENTARY: Homemade Accessories Are Now Easier Than Ever to Make!

It has become somewhat of a tradition along the South Shore of Long Island to sell bracelets and other accessories down by the beach boardwalks during the summer. I can vividly remember watching in delight as my older cousins worked ferociously to complete the bracelets, ankle bracelets, hair ties, and even necklaces they would sell for less than a dollar each. It wasn’t about making money, although a busy day was certainly a plus, it was about creating the accessories. They would allow me to sit with them on the spread out beach towels, which doubled as a makeshift bracelet display area, until I was old enough to start making and selling the bracelets myself. A few years later my younger sister followed suit, and now my six-year-old cousin and her friends are keeping the tradition alive, proving that no matter how many store bought bracelets and accessories there may be, nothing can really replace a handmade ones.

MyRibbonBarrette_open_leftThis is not to say that the bracelet and accessory making is easy. At times, in fact, it’s far from it. Depending on the difficulty of the braid or stitch you’re attempting to create, you could end up spending hours trying to perfect a single bracelet. Complications that typically arise during the process include the tangling up of excess material, which can sometimes result in what looks like a messy bracelet with a mind of its own, and usually always ends up in a frustrating de-tangling session. That’s why once I saw the new My Ribbon Barrette Maker, from the Choose Friendship Co., the makers of the My Friendship Bracelet Maker, I knew immediately that I had to test it out, since barrettes were definitely merchandise that could be found on those beach towel years ago. [Read more...]

From Up On Poppy Hill to be Released on DVD

fromuponpoppyhillGkids in conjunction with Cinedigm is releasing From Up on Poppy Hillthe latest from Studio Ghibli, the creators of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and other animated pieces, on September 3Written by studio founder Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Goro Miyazaki, the film marks the first feature-length collaboration between father and son.

From Up on Poppy Hill is hand-drawn and is set in Yokohama in 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. The mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past.  Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin)– but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.

From a screenplay by Academy Award-winner Hayao Miyazaki, the English language version is directed by multiple Academy Award-winner Gary Rydstrom from a script adaptation by Karey Kirkpatrick (James and the Giant Peach, Chicken Run, Charlotte’s Web) and is executive produced by Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy.  The movie features a voice cast including Gillian Anderson, Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Fuhrman, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Saxton, Alex Wolff, and Anton Yelchin.

Cinedigm will release the movie in Blu-ray+ DVD 2-Pack, DVD 2-Pack, and Cable VOD. The Blu-ray+ DVD combo and DVD releases both contain more than three hours of bonus materials and include original Japanese language and English language versions with subtitles and dubtitles, feature-length storyboards, celebrity cast recording featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, an interview with Goro Miyazaki, original Japanese trailer and TV spots, the music video for the theme song by Aoi Teshima, and a featurette about Yokohama, exploring the history of the sea-side setting where the film takes place. Bonuses exclusive to the Blu-ray edition include a staff speech and press conference by Hayao Miyazaki, a 20-page booklet containing the original project proposal by Hayao Miyazaki, and a letter from Goro Miyazaki.