Hasbro Reveals New Transformers Line at New York Comic Con

You know the Autobots. You know the Decepticons. But now, there’s a new breed of alien robot in town: the Predacons.

Thursday afternoon, hundred of fans sat in a crowded conference room in the Jacob K. Javits Center at New York Comic Con 2012 as Hasbro rolled out the latest line of Transformers toys: The Beast Hunters.

The Beast Hunters will be the touchstone for the Transformers brand next year, driven by Transformers Prime, the animated series produced by Hasbro Studios. The show airs on The Hub television network in the U.S. and is viewed by fans in more than 170 countries around the world. [Read more...]

As National Baby Safety Month Begins, VTech Survey Finds Accidents, Choking Are Top Parent Concerns

Courtesy of VTech

Results Show the Majority of Today’s Parents are Extremely Safety Conscious, Labeling Themselves as either “Protective” or a “Close Supervisor”

In honor of National Baby Safety month in September, VTech Communications, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of VTech Holdings Ltd., commissioned a survey1 conducted by independent market research firm Toluna to uncover parents’ worries, habits, and priorities for a safe home. Top safety concerns include children getting hurt by falling or getting into harmful material (29 percent), choking (24 percent), and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (20 percent).

With these worries top of mind, today’s parents are extremely safety conscious with the majority (71 percent) of survey respondents labeling themselves as either close supervisors (40 percent) or protective (31 percent).

“As every parent discovers, keeping kids safe remains a 24/7 proposition,” says Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central. “National Baby Safety Month offers parents key advice and tips around home safety practices that can both help protect children and provide parents with peace of mind.”

[Read more...]

Licensed Toys: A Growing Phenomenon with Year-Round Appeal

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Character licenses based on blockbuster movies have the ability to propel products to stratospheric success, creating memories that last a lifetime for millions of fans. Recent sales for licensed toys reflect this growing phenomenon: last year, licensed toys and games were up 2 percent from 2010. For the first half of this year, those numbers have climbed further to 27 percent of total toy sales.

“Kids love bringing movies to life through play, whether they are re-enacting storylines, imagining new plot developments, or emulating their favorite superheroes and villains,” said Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Playthings related to the biggest blockbusters are sure to be on the wish lists of kids throughout the year and well into the holiday season.”

TIA has been tracking many of the family friendly movies that have toy and game tie-ins on its ToyInfo.org website. The following are a few examples from this year so far… and a sneak peak at what’s coming this fall:

The Avengers (May)
Toys and games related to The Avengers encourage kids to get into the spirit of the fast-paced movie. Considered by many to be the break-out movie and toy property of the year, strong toy sales are anticipated to continue during the holiday season following the Sept. 25 release of the DVD and Blu-Ray.

  • Bubble Blaster: The Avengers (Imperial Toy)
  • Game Strike Hulk (Hasbro)
  • 21-inch Avengers Skateboard (Bravo Sports)
  • Marvel Mini Basketball Hoop Set (Franklin Sports)
  • The Avengers Mini Muggs Action Figure two-pack (Hasbro)

[Read more...]

TIA Shares Best Practices in Anti-Counterfeiting in the Toy and Game Industry

By Justin E. Pierce, Toy Industry Association

$27 million. That was the MSRP value of the counterfeit toys and electronic games seized by customs and border patrol last year alone.  And that is only what was seized.  Unfortunately, this is the reality of having a commercially successful toy or game.  While you have invested sweat and equity into development, bringing it to market, and building your brand, you are now faced, as a result of your success, with counterfeiters that eat into your profits, infringe on your rights, and expose you to liability.

This is an all too common problem, particularly in light of the ease of the online marketplace. In fact, any company with a well-known brand or popular toy or game should assume that it is already being counterfeited. Likewise, any company with a global footprint that has distribution channels in different countries, with different regulatory schemes and pricing, should assume that various entities are working to take their profit margin by diverting products.  Diversion of products into unauthorized sales channels and distribution of “gray market” goods (or parallel imports) causes significant losses for many companies.

[Read more...]

All the New Specialty Games and Puzzles Fit to Print, and Then Some

The Toy Book‘s July/August issue showcases new puzzles and games for mass and specialty retail. We received dozens of submissions fit to print, beyond what fit on our printed pages. Here’s a look at 10 more specialty games and puzzles after the jump.

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Toys Transform Toddlers into Little Learners

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Back-to-school season is just around the corner for millions of kids across the country … but there’s no need for younger siblings who are not yet in school to feel out of the learning loop. Thanks to toy innovation in the infant and pre-school categories, there are tons of great new playthings on the market that build cognitive and developmental skills at a young age.

“With increases in total U.S. births predicted for both 2012 and 2013, toymakers are rolling out a broad array of brand new toys and games to challenge and excite little ones, presenting them with more play options than ever before,” says Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Toys can help transform tots and toddlers into lifelong learners by helping them explore their interests and talents very early on.”

[Read more...]

Lego Introduces Team Great Britain Minifigures

By Carlo Pandian

Normally Olympic heroes wait a lifetime to be immortalized in bronze or stone. Not in this Olympic-mad year. Lego has immortalized Team Great Britain in plastic with its new full range of minifigure competitors—from boxing champions to swimming superstars.

Although not modeled after specific athletes, the full set of nine figures includes a boxer, swimmer, judo fighter, relay runner, tennis player, gymnast, weightlifter, equestrian, and an archer. All of the figures proudly display their medals (gold, of course), and each comes with a handy accessory to identify them.

Previous Olympics have spawned a host of DIY Lego models by enthusiasts, including a model of the Olympic park from the Beijing games four years ago. For enthusiasts ready to recreate the London Olympic Village, the minifigures of Team GB will be a welcome addition.

This year’s Olympics are unique because this is the first time in modern history that they are being hosted by a city for a third time. London hosted the Olympics previously in 1908 and 1947. Lego has developed the line exclusively for the UK market.

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs about Lego, art and design covering everything from Legoland Discovery Centre kids activities in Manchester to cool Duplo gadgets. When he’s not online, he likes building models and volunteering at his local community center.

This post was originally written by Carlo Pandian and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Teachers and Parents Store Offers Summer Learning Tips

Courtesy of The Teachers and Parents Store

With the arrival of summer, Teachers & Parents Store has announced a number of tips for parents to help children to reduce the learning loss and bridge the gap of summer vacation.

“Studies show that children can lose up to 2.6 months of grade level equivalency skills during the summertime,” said Megan Wright of TAPS. “This is an important time for parents to encourage their children to continue learning. Making it fun helps them to retain more information.”

Wright suggested that parents choose a summer learning workbook appropriate to their child’s age and grade level and do activities regularly. Workbooks focus on a variety of school subjects, including reading, language arts, science social studies, math, writing and physical education.

One way to keep a child’s learning skills fresh is to schedule summer workbook activities for about 20 minutes every day so that it becomes a part of the child’s routine. This helps to close the summertime learning gap.

Wright also recommends reviewing the previous year’s subjects, as well as those topics planned for the upcoming year. Additional summer fun learning activities can take place in the car or on the plane while traveling.

This post was originally written by The Teachers and Parents Store and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

10 Great Toys for Sight Challenged Kids

By Carol Watson, Guest Blogger from National Nannies

Kids love toys of every shape and size, there’s no doubt about it. But not all children are alike, and not all kids like the same things. When buying a gift for any child, it’s important to consider if the child will enjoy the gift. The same holds true when buying a gift for a blind or visually impaired child. Fortunately, there is an amazing array of toys that have been specially designed or modified for sight-challenged kids so that they are able to enjoy many of the same toys as those who were blessed with good vision. There are also many popular toys that both blind and sighted children enjoy.

Check out these 10 great toys for sight challenged kids.

  1. Let’s Rock Elmo: Let’s Rock Elmo is an interactive toy that sings and plays music. The toy comes with various instruments that Elmo and the children can play together.  Let’s Rock Elmo does not have to be purchased through a specialty store and can be purchased at most large retailers. Make sure to install the batteries before you give the toy to the child so that they can start playing with it immediately.
  2. Braille Learning Doll: The Braille Learning Doll is a specialty doll that is available through several different vendors, including Enable Mart. There are 6 buttons on the stomach of the doll which allows the child to make all braille letters. This is an educational gift that will help the child learn Braille.
  3. Board games: A company called Maxi Aids offers a large line of standard board games that have been modified to work for sight challenged kids.  Some of the games include Checkers games that have high contrast color pieces, Scrabble games that have large print tiles and boards, and Monopoly that comes in a large print edition. Since both sight and blind people can play these games, it can help foster inclusion.
  4. Bop It!/Bop It! XT: Bop It! is a fantastic game that a child can play alone or with friends. The Bop It! gives verbal commands that tell you to bop it, twist it, pull it and shake it. Once the child knows where the different parts of the game are they should be able to play by listening to the verbal cues. There are many different games within the Bop It! toy and there are different levels of play as well. This is a great game for the whole family.
  5. Dolls: If you buy a doll, make sure that it plays to more than one sense. There are dolls that talk and play music that a blind child may enjoy. Dolls with texture can be great for visually impaired children too. Look for clothes that have patches or embroidery on them so that the child can tell the difference between her dolls and doll accessories.
  6. Stuffed animals: Everyone loves a nice soft stuffed animal to hug, but to make this toy even better for a sight challenged child you may want it to engage more senses.  Choosing different types of stuffed toys, like ones stuffed with beans, crinkly paper and batting can help engage additional senses. The texture of the animal is important too. Maybe it’s a lion and it has a long haired fuzzy mane, soft fur on the back, and a long tail. All of those things will make the toy more fun for a sight challenged child.
  7. Braille games: Maxi-Aids also makes card games like Uno, Phase 10 and Dominos that all come equipped with Braille cards. While the child can often feel how many dots are on a domino they can’t tell what color it is without some help from the Braille dots.
  8. Audio Dart Master: This dart game has a texturized board that the sight challenged person can feel prior to play. The rest of the game is played by audio commands. The board calls out the player’s name and score, and will even give off a signal to help a sight challenged player aim for the bulls-eye. It’s available at audiodartmaster.com.
  9. Wikkistix: This is a very useful gift because it’s a toy, a craft, and is useful for marking things for sight challenged kids.  Wikkistix are sticky string-like sticks that come in various colors and can be bent and wound around anything. Kids can make creatures to play with or create greeting cards. The Wikkistix can even be used to teach shapes and to label things like a keyboard.
  10. Rib-it-Ball: Someone was really thinking when they created the Rib-it-Ball. The ball has sections of bright colors so it’s easier to see for sight challenged kids. The ribs stick out so that it’s easy to catch and the ribs crinkle like paper so it’s easy to hear when it’s being thrown to you. This ball will help with muscle control and hand/eye coordination.

One of the most important things you can do when picking a gift is to find out what the child enjoys. Keep these toys in mind the next time you are on the hunt for the best gift for a sight challenged child in your life.

This post was originally written by Carol Watson of National Nannies and posted on www.nationalnannies.com. For more information on National Nannies, visit the site. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Five Tips for Safe Summer Play from Toy Industry Association

To help assure that summer play is both safe and fun, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) offers parents five toy-related tips for a safe, active, and fun summer.

1. Pay close attention to the age appropriate guidelines on toy product packaging.

Age labeling is a safety precaution and is based on children’s developmental skills and ability at a given age, as well as the appropriateness of the toy for that age. Age labeling does not pertain to the intelligence of a child, so selecting toys marked with an age older than the child’s age is a mistake.

2. Make adult supervision a crucial element of outdoor play.

Children are quick and inquisitive. They should never be left alone near water sources (pools, inflatable “kiddie” pools, beaches, etc.) … not even for a moment. Water toys should be kept out of sight or out of reach when not being used so children aren’t tempted to play in or near the water alone.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a complete set of tips and information to help keep kids safe in and near the pool.

3. Buckle children up with helmets, knee pads, and other protective gear when playing with ride-on toys.

Most parents are aware that protective gear (helmets, knee pads, and arm pads) is crucial when riding a bicycle, but buckling up and wearing protective gear is equally important for other ride-on toys, including tricycles, scooters, skateboards, and skates.

4. Keep young bodies protected from the sun and heat.

Outdoor play areas should be covered to protect childrens’ sensitive skin from the sun’s intense rays. Children should wear hats, 100-percent UVA sunglasses, and a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) when playing outdoors.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children—regardless of their skin tone—wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and re-apply every two hours or after prolonged contact with water.  Studies show that children do not always experience thirst before dehydration, so it is important that they drink plenty of fluids during and after play, even when they do not feel thirsty.

5. Organize and store toys to prevent slips, trips, and falls.

Large, plastic bins with lids are perfect for organizing and storing smaller toys. Bins should be marked by name so that toys for children of differing ages can be easily separated.  An outdoor shed should be set up with designated “parking” spaces near the door for bicycles and other ride-on toys; smaller items like skateboards and skates should be hung off ground-level or stored on shelves to prevent slips, trips, and falls.

For additional information on safe play and tips on toy selection, visit www.ToyInfo.org.

This post was originally published by PR Newswire.