Mezco Reveals Summer Lineup

Mezco Toyz has introduced the Dark Knight, Wonder Woman, and Catwoman Key Ring Mez-Itz as part of their 2012 Summer Exclusive lineup. The 6-inch Dark Knight Mez-Itz Mega Scale Batman is based on Batman’s look from Christopher Nolan’s film trio and features a  cloth black cape. The 6-inch Metallic Wonder Woman Mez-Itz, the first female character in the DC Universe lineup, features sculpted hair, a metallic finish, and a rope Lasso of Truth. The Catwoman Key Ring 2-inch Mez-Itz features the feline fatale villain and a sturdy metal clasp. All Mez-Itz feature five points of articulation.

Other new products include the the Glow-in-the-Dark Mumm-Ra and Decayed-form Mumm-Ra two-Pack, the Metallic Earthworm Jim Action Figure, and the Living Dead Dolls Resurrection Set: Series 6.

Based on the original animated series, Mezco’s 14-inch Mumm-Ra features eight points of articulation and a cloth cape and bandages. The summer exclusive features a glow-in-the-dark blue skin and comes with a Decayed Form Mumm-Ra, showing him in his natural, decrepit state.

The Metallic Earthworm Jim Action Figure comes with a game-accurate plasma blaster and a special metallic-finish ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit. The 6-inch scale Earthworm Jim features eight points of articulation. This edition comes with an alternate “bendy” unsuited worm body and a special “groovy” head sculpt.

The Living Dead Dolls Resurrection Set: Series 6 features Demonique, Blue, Schitzo, and Ms. Eerie. All four feature glass-like eyes. Each member of this limited edition quartet of the damned comes with its own death certificate and is entombed in its own coffin. All of Mezco’s Summer Exlusives will be available on their new website and at San Diego Comic Con at booth 3445.

This post was originally written by Ali Mierzejewski 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.

Leapfrog Announces LeapPad2 and Leapster GS

LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., the leader in educational entertainment, announces two new platforms: LeapPad2, the next generation of the No. 1 kid’s learning tablet LeapPad, and LeapsterGS, the learning video game system.

LeapPad2 arrives after the success of its predecessor. Within a year of launch, LeapPad has received more than 20 accolades, including three awards from the Toy Industry Association (Educational Toy of the Year, Preschool Toy of the Year, and Toy of the Year).

LeapPad2 features higher resolution front-and-back cameras and video recorders, twice the memory (4 GB), and improved battery life. The tablet also includes free content: a music player with five LeapFrog Learning Songs, a Cartoon Director creativity app, an Art Studio creativity app, the Pet Pad writing app, and choice of an additional app. LeapPad2’s Cartoon Director app lets kids develop their inner director by creating and starring in their own cartoons, as well as sharing their masterpieces with family and friends.

Continuing with its education and entertainment products, LeapFrog will release the LeapsterGS, an updated version of Leapster Explorer. With a faster processor and more memory, the LeapsterGS delivers fast-action gameplay while building core skills for success in school and life.

LeapsterGS comes with free content, including the new “Escape of the Sillies” game app, the Pet Pad writing app, and choice of an additional app. Exclusive to LeapsterGS, the “Escape of the Sillies” app immerses kids into the game with the built-in camera and face-morphing technology, where they will customize faces of silly monsters while building their math skills.

LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS will be available for pre-sale at leapfrog.com in the U.S. and Canada, and at major online retailers in the UK and Ireland beginning July 18. They will be available at major retail locations in early August and in select other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Korea, Thailand, and other Asian countries later this fall. The LeapFrog App Center can be accessed through the LeapFrog Connect Application for LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS platforms. For more information on LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS, visit leapfrog.com/nextgen.

TIA’s Bossard Talks Licensing at Toy Fair

by Marian Bossard, vice president of meetings and events, Toy Industry Association (TIA)

If I had a dollar for every key industry contact that told us the concept of a licensing showcase during American International Toy Fair was nothing short of brilliant, I would have at least $10. Maybe even $12.

After all, what isn’t right about endeavoring to create a “Licensing Upfront” for brand and property owners when all the right people with all the right innovation, influence, and interest are already in New York City for Toy Fair? And, what could be off the mark about bringing together an audience of Madison Avenue marketers, manufacturers from around the world, mass market and independent retailers, and critically important global media available only in New York City? The short answer is nothing. But the short answer just kind of falls short of telling the story.

A venture like this requires that you start with a clear objective, but just as important is the need to remain flexible and open to modification along the way. As it turned out, even with high levels of interest, the formats that prevailed were the small meetings with key partners, invitation-only breakfasts and cocktail receptions, and brand and property exposure through traditional advertising and promotional opportunities. So, while Toy Fair won’t be seeing “big screen showcases” this year, we are pleased that we have provided just the right solutions for these stakeholders’ needs.

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Dark Horse Deluxe Offers a Unique Take on the Good Luck Trolls

The Good Luck Troll was originally created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. At various times since the early 1960s, Trolls have been a top-selling toy, building a seldom-achieved brand equity. Dam Things, which holds all rights to the works of Thomas Dam, is in the process of launching a complete slate of merchandise activities and products for the Good Luck Trolls. Dark Horse Comics has been granted the license for a collectibles program. The line will consist of 15 different trolls, some of which are rare, sold in mystery box assortments.

Dark Horse felt the Good Luck Troll would be a natural fit in the designer vinyl and specialty retail arena, and has created Trolls with unique variations of color and surface treatments. The product development was closely supervised by Dam Things and its brand manager Dannie Festa of Festa Entertainment, including a trip from Denmark to the West Coast prototyping facility to assess and approve the works in progress.

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Tips for Optimizing Exposure For Your Toy in Real Time at Toy Fair

Fifth in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event.

by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications

That crazy mix of anticipation, excitement, and adrenaline occurs each year for me, as I walk into the Javits Center on opening day of Toy Fair. There is so much to do in advance of the show, not to mention managing the intensity of the four-day event and post-show follow up.

If you have already reached out to the media and bloggers to schedule appointments to meet and give them a heads up on your new products, that’s a good thing. There is a chance that some reporters may spend times “walking the floor,” but with staff cutbacks at many media companies, their time is often limited. It is more likely for reporters to come to Toy Fair with predetermined ideas of what they want to see; they may also narrow their search for specific products that exemplify a particular toy trend (or trends) they are covering, such as tech or connected toys.

As a Toy Fair exhibitor, what is the best way to handle the media on site at the show? This is often the biggest challenge for exhibitors who are preoccupied with retailer meetings and managing a handful of product samples. This post includes tips and advice on how to work with the media that attend the event.

Scheduled Appointments

If you have preset appointments, tell your exhibit booth administrator and designate another colleague as a backup, in case you are unavailable. If your backup is someone unaccustomed to dealing with the press, provide an overview of the media outlet and leave any press materials for them, as well as your business card and mobile number. Given the hectic nature of Toy Fair, it is not unusual for appointments to show up early or late, which may throw a curve ball into your day. However you handle it, make sure the reporter is taken care of properly and professionally.

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How to Pitch the Media Covering Toy Fair

Third in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event

by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

With Toy Fair less than a month away, how will you engage the media to ensure coverage for your toys or youth entertainment products? Here at Child’s Play, we’ve been working overtime to fine-tune our media lists and pitches on behalf of clients. This week’s post will include some of our tried and true strategies and tactics for pitching the press.

Think Like a Journalist

With less space for toy coverage and so many exhibitors to see—more than 1,000 at the Javits Center alone, as well as those in private showrooms across New York City—reporters are pressed for time. So, when choosing media channels to pitch, focus on the “why”/reason an outlet would be interested, to determine the “where”/ specific outlets to concentrate on.

Prior to Toy Fair, many journalists will do an online search, hunting for toys that are a match for the following themes, so post your press release on all company social media platforms incorporating the following key themes and key words.

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Countdown to Toy Fair: Identifying Your Communications Objectives

First in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event


By Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

Toy Fair is a month away, and for many toy and youth entertainment companies, the annual event is an important media platform that can help drive brand awareness and buzz for hot items throughout the year. With approximately one thousand media representatives from around the world in attendance, how will your company or brand garner the attention it deserves? Following are tips and information collected during the six years I served overseeing public relations for the Toy Industry Association and Toy Fair, as well as serving toy and youth entertainment industry clients as a PR professional.

1.     Prioritize your communications goals and objectives. For example, is it a new product line review you want the media to see? Or, do you have a hot item you want to hype to help drive holiday orders?  Do you have an announcement about a licensing agreement or strategic partnership? Identifying your primary goals and objectives will provide a framework for all related activities, including any responsibilities that you want other communications personnel or a public relations agency to handle.

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Electronic Arts’ Holiday Sneak Peek

Electronic Arts held its “Naughty or Nice” holiday video game preview in mid-October at a lounge in New York City. At the event, I had a chance to browse all the games and sample a few as well.

The first game I tried my hand at, literally, was Family Game Night 4 The Game Show on the Kinect for Xbox 360. Family Game Night 4 brings the excitement of The Hub network’s TV show right into your living room.

There are a variety of games to choose from, such as Connect 4 Basketball, Yahtzee! Bowling, Scrabble Flash, Sorry! Sliders, Bop-It Boptagon, and Monopoly Crazy Cash. I played Yahtzee! Bowling and Sorry! Sliders, and, in my opinion, both games were awesome and the graphics were great, too.

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TIA Partners with Adventure Publishing for Licensing Showcase Co-Located at Toy Fair

New York City is slated to become the next stop on the global licensing circuit as the Toy Industry Association (TIA) launches its new Brand & Entertainment Showcase in February. Co-located with the 109th American International Toy Fair, to be held February 12-15 in New York, the showcase offers an impactful and convenient content connection for entertainment licensors and brand owners alike. The event provides opportunities for exclusive access to top-tier media, marketing agencies, and an audience of 30,000+ tradeshow guests from more than 90 countries. Adventure Publishing Group is the exclusive media partner of the Brand & Entertainment Showcase.

The new Brand & Entertainment Showcase satisfies increased demands from the licensing community to collaborate in a formalized setting at the show. Content providers will be able to simply show up and show off in small, private meeting spaces or large, public theaters. Turnkey presentation solutions and an audience of marketers ensure that all participants’ needs will be met.

As the largest and most important gathering for youth entertainment in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair last year welcomed an unprecedented surge in entertainment executives (+31 percent) and licensors (+8 percent). In 2010, licensed toys represented 25 percent of total industry sales. In addition, the co-located Brand & Entertainment Showcase gives participants access to the important ancillary advertising, marketing, and promotion-oriented industries that are concentrated in and around the media epicenter of the world.

Adventure Publishing’s signature publications—The Licensing Book and The Toy

Book—and its online communities will be a primary conduit of information and updates about the showcase to the global community, and the key vehicles for brand advertisers during the event itself.

For more information about participating in TIA’s Brand and Entertainment Showcase, contact Jennifer Coleman, sales executive and producer (973.760.8181, jennifer@jcinc.biz); for information about advertising opportunities, please contact Jonathan Samet at Adventure Publishing (212.575.4510, jsamet@adventurepub.com).

From Factory to Shelf: An Inside Look at Target’s Holiday Toy Merchandising Strategies

Walking into the toy section of a store like Target during the holiday season can be overwhelming for shoppers, who are faced with toy aisle upon toy aisle of great products to choose from. Thousands of additional products can be found online. Those that make it onto store shelves during the season are often thought of as the crème de la crème, and being chosen for Target’s shelves can bring tremendous success to a toy manufacturer.

Stephanie Lucy, Target’s vice president of merchandising, chats with Elizabeth A. Reid of The Toy Book to talk about holiday merchandising strategies, how it makes its toy selections, and what Target is doing to become a top destination for holiday shopping.

The Toy Book: Let’s paint a picture of how great toys get to Target. How far in advance do you plan for each holiday season?

Stephanie Lucy: We actually start looking for content for the holiday season in September or October the year before. For example, we are going to market right now to look for products for next holiday season.

TB: So, how do you pick the toys? When you are at market, what do you look for?

SL: First of all, it starts with us evaluating what is currently working at Target—what’s selling and what’s not—and ensuring that we understand what the guest is interested in. Beyond that, it really is strong partnerships with our vendors. We do business with the largest toy manufacturers around the world. So, it’s sitting down with them and understanding what they believe the hottest toys are going to be, and what they believe content should look like for the year to come.

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