China Toy Fair


What’s Your Toy Fair Product Story?

By Julie Livingston, Director of Business Development & Accounts,Child’s Play Communications; former Senior Director of Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

Reporters scouting Toy Fair for hot products and overarching trends are pressed for time and attention. On a good day, they may have an hour or so to peruse the aisles overflowing with eye candy. Keep in mind that, in addition to covering the spectacle of the show, they are also looking for alternative story angles of greater depth. Such angles may include:

  • Lifestyle trends and new ways that kids are engaging in play;
  • “Hometown heroes”- stories about unlikely toy inventors or inventions;
  • Emerging entertainment properties and licenses;
  • Made in the USA products; and
  • Brand legacy stories (including special anniversaries of best-loved brands and characters). [Read more...]

Get a Head Start on Toy Fair

By Julie Livingston, Director of Business Development & Accounts, Child’s Play Communications; former Senior Director of Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

We all know that the fourth quarter of the current year and first quarter of the new year are a marathon of events and deadlines for the toy industry. First, it is the chaos of closing out holiday orders and enjoying a brief holiday break. Then, for many, it’s on to the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, followed by Nuremberg and then the annual New York Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Center from February 10 to 13. With such a compressed timetable, every minute in pre-Toy Fair planning counts.

The annual event draws approximately 1,000 global media representatives from top tier outlets including The Today Show, The View, CNN, the Associated Press, The New York Times, NY Daily News, Wall Street Journal, and many more. Media publicity affords toy companies with valuable promotion and exposure, which can help to hype “driver products”–those in-demand items expected to be hot sellers for the 2013 holiday season.   [Read more...]

GoldieBlox Builds a Foundation for More Female Engineers

Debbie Sterling creates a construction toy designed with girls in mind

What do Bob the Builder, Jimmy Neutron, and Bill Nye the Science Guy have in common? They all love engineering—and they are all male. Similarly, the construction aisles of toy stores are geared primarily toward boys, with blue and black boxes lining the shelves. Fear not, those of you with lady parts, GoldieBlox is here to inspire girls to tinker their way into the male-dominated world of engineering.

Debbie Sterling, who earned her degree in engineering from Stanford University, decided to create Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine, a construction toy specifically designed for young girls, two years ago. At one of Sterling’s “idea brunches,” where she and friends would get together to share their ideas over breakfast, the wheels started turning for the CEO when a fellow female engineer explained how playing with her brothers’ hand-me-down Legos influenced her. Having grown up with only a sister, Sterling was never exposed to construction toys as her parents never thought to venture into the boys’ toy aisles. “That morning, it hit me like a lightening bolt. I was sitting in that room and realized this is my life calling, as corny as it sounds,” she says. [Read more...]

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Offers Toy Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Courtesy of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital

The holiday season is upon us, which makes it prime time for toy buying. In fact, more than half of the three billion toys and games sold in the U.S. each year are purchased at Christmas time. While the majority of toys are safe, thanks in part to stronger federal rules and higher standards from toy makers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that last year alone more than 193,200 U.S. children were treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

“Toys have changed over the years and the assortment can be astounding, particularly to those who haven’t shopped for kids in a while,” says Bevin Maynard, a child advocate at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. “Child safety, however, never goes out of style. It is something parents and family members should always keep in mind when selecting gifts for youngsters.” [Read more...]

Learning Care Group Weighs In With Toy Suggestions

Courtesy of Learning Care Group

The Learning Care Group, provider of early education and care services to children, has shared their toy suggestions. [Read more...]

Ranger Rick Celebrates 50 Years with New App, Magazine

National Wildlife Federation (NWF), publisher of Ranger Rick children’s magazine, is releasing a new magazine and related app for a younger age group.

Ranger Rick Jr. will feature specially designed content for children ages 4 to 7. The magazine is designed for beginning readers and is packed with intriguing animal facts and photography. A new character, Ricky Raccoon, will guide children through the 36-page magazine, with the first issue set to release in December.

Every issue will feature Green Time, a page of activities aimed to get kids outside so they can experience wildlife in their own neighborhoods, and Ever Wonder, which will answer kids’ elusive questions about nature.

Though the magazine focuses primarily on photos and activities rather than text-heavy articles, Ricky and Pals gives adults the chance to read fictional stories about Ricky Raccoon to children.

A subscription to Ranger Rick Jr. will include 10 issues of the magazine. Ranger Rick Jr. will also be available for purchase on newsstands, and digital editions of the publication are available for the Nook at bn.com and Kindle at amazon.com.

The app, Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures, is a storybook app designed for iPads. Kids can make their way through animal adventures using the explore, create, and play options. The first app in the series will focus on lions, as Ricky Raccoon appears with his pal Lars the Lion to take children on an animated trip through the grasslands.

With the Interactive Photo Story kids can discover interesting facts about lions while watching videos, looking at animated infographics, and listening to animal sound effects. In Photo Safari, kids can count the lions in Lars’ pride while snapping photos along the way. With Trail tales, kids can write fill-in-the-blank ad-lib type stories, and with the Animal Builder they can create their own hybrid animals.

Every page is designed to have hidden elements kids can touch and discover in addition to the games, facts, and images. “We wanted to be informatie but we wanted to build play and creativity into it,” said Lori Collins, editor-in-chief of Early Childhood Publications.

The interactive app will be available for purchase in the iTunes App Store this week.

Creatures of Delight Fuse Fangs and Fun

There is a softer side to all kinds of fictitious creatures: from Yetis, aliens, and trolls, to dragons, human-devouring plants, and purple dinosaurs.

Tom Kopian, artist and creator behind Creatures of Delight, a line of specialty, handcrafted monster toys, works with a small team and his 11-year partner, Stewart Buffaloe, to make one-of-a-kind creatures using a variety of molds and his patented latex-fiber blend material.

Large Feed Me Creature

The creatures are a combination of creepy and cute and appeal to a broad demographic. Though the line is composed mostly of traditionally scary, fictional monsters, their vibrant color palettes and bright-white smiles make them appeal to girls as much as boys. “I think essentially the toys are gender neutral. They are rough and tough monsters, so it can be a boy thing, but girls like some of the cuter pieces like Snarl, Floyd, and the Grudges. It is not definitively a boy or girl thing,” Kopian explains. [Read more...]

Amazon vs. Brick-and-Mortar

by Lutz Muller

In a pretty flat overall market place, Amazon continues to make headway as it is propelled by the ongoing move to cyber space, lower prices, and convenience.

Amazon has three major assets. First, the absence of brick-and-mortar stores allows Amazon to offer an unlimited inventory. Second, Amazon pays no sales tax in most states, which allows the company to undersell its competitors. Third, Amazon’s infrastructure allows it to grow almost limitlessly without the need for expensive retail stores.

This is how Amazon’s sales developed over the past few years against two major competitors:

[Read more...]

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...]