New Disney Infinity Figures, Power Discs Arrive for the Holidays

DisneyInfinity.VanellopeDisney Interactive has released a holiday line-up of Disney Infinity figures and Power Discs. Among the new character additions to the game’s Toy Box mode are Rapunzel from Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph, and Anna and Elsa from the upcoming Frozen.

The product highlights and U.S. release dates and details are listed below:

Rapunzel: With beautiful long locks, fierce determination, and signature frying pan, Tangled’s Rapunzel is powerful and has a unique style of combat. Available at Walmart between November 22 and December 31.

Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph uses his wrecking abilities and 8-bit cherry bombs to defeat enemies. Available at Best Buy between November 22 and December 31.

Vanellope: The Sugar Rush racer brings her Glitch ability, which allows her to teleport short distances and glitch out other characters. Available at Target between November 24 and December 31.

Frozen Toy Box Pack: Featuring Anna, Elsa, and two hexagonal power discs. Anna uses her grappling hook to get to hard-to-reach places and her shovel to defeat enemies, while Elsa utilizes magical ice abilities. National release set for November 26.<!-more–>

In addition, 20 new Power Discs will enter circulation, including “rare” versions. Circular Power Discs give characters special power-ups, while Hexagonal Power Discs unlock special gadgets, vehicles, and themes.

The Circular Discs include Ralph’s Power of Destruction, Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Damage-inator!, Electro-Charge, Star Command Shield, and User Control. The Hexagonal Discs include Flamingo Croquet Mallet, Frankenweenie: Victor’s Experiments, Frozen: Frozen Flourish, Frozen: Chill in the Air, Nightmare Before Christmas: Halloweentown Sky, Pizza Planet Delivery Truck, and more. Rare Hexagonal Discs include: Electric Mayhem Bus, Condor Wing Glider, and Hook’s Ship from Peter Pan Ride.

COMMENTARY: Will Black Friday Need to Be Rebranded?

by David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC

The Christmas holidays and toys are synonymous. Indeed, toys and the Christmas season are a tradition. Another holiday tradition is Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Yet over the past several years, Black Friday has started to lose its meaning with retailers pushing opening hours ever earlier. Now many retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day, and pushing the envelope to see how early they can open on that holiday. This is an attempt in some aspects to rebrand the holiday shopping season and establish Thanksgiving Day as the start of the traditional shopping season. Retailers are stating that they are responding to consumer demand; yet surveys show that 87 percent of Americans are opposed to retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day (even though they frequent the stores).

So what would be a smart strategy for the toy industry as this happens? Should toy stores open on Thanksgiving? Should toymakers make a strong push for Thanksgiving Day sales? Is Black Friday over and should everyone jump on the Thanksgiving Day bandwagon? The answer to these questions is a resounding no. [Read more...]

Mega Bloks Brings the Holiday Spirit to Quebec

LudovicaMinilandMega Brands, which is based in Montreal, Quebec, is celebrating the start of the holiday season with a number of local events.

The company is kicking off the holidays on November 23 at this year’s Destination Centre-ville Santa Claus Parade with a giant, 48-foot float with a full Winter Wonderland theme. The Mega Bloks team will be on-hand greeting spectators and handing out gifts to kids throughout the event, which will feature Mega Bloks Halo, Mega Bloks Hot Wheels, and Mega Bloks Barbie. In addition, Mega Bloks’ all-new mascot, MEGA Man, will be making his first appearance.

Mega Bloks will also sponsor Ludovica Miniland, a compilation of more than 600 reproductions of buildings and iconic monumental structures from around the globe, completely built out of Mega Bloks. Ludovica Miniland is on display from November 22 to next January, at the Grand Marché de Wickham in Quebec.

Finally, as part of its yearly mid-December tradition, Mega Bloks has extended invitations to groups of children from the Sun Youth Organization, as well as the Generations Foundation, to come meet Santa Claus, visit the Mega Bloks factory, and personally receive a special Mega Bloks gift from Santa himself.

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: 1996: The Best Christmas Ever

1996. It was the year of the New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the year of Jerry Maguire and the Macarena. It was the year of Bill Clinton’s reelection. But most importantly, 1996 marked the best Christmas ever, with toy companies cranking out some of kids’ favorite toys of all time.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime KidWho could forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls, from Mattel? Those pudgy-faced, yarn-haired little cuties each had a motorized mouth, and kids could feed their doll a french fry, a pretzel stick, a banana, and other yummy snacks. This was one of the toys my mom admits to pushing other moms out of the way for at Toys “R” Us on Black Friday morning. The food, which the dolls realistically chewed when kids inserted it into their mouths, fell into a backpack on the doll’s back, so kids could feed them over and over again. Of course, this beacon of glory was shortly recalled after the holiday season, as kids were getting their hair, skin, and fingers stuck in the doll’s mouth (as you can imagine, this resulted in many unhappy parents and kids with bald spots). While I made sure my hair was secured tightly in a ponytail while playing, my Snacktime Kid remained one of my favorite toys through ’97.

[Read more...]

Disney Store Starts Its Magical Week Online Deals Before Thanksgiving

disney storeDisney Store is giving shoppers the chance to start shopping online earlier with special discount pricing launching the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 22 to 24. Starting A selection of Disney Store’s Magical Week deals will launch on November 22 at 12:30 a.m. PST online at DisneyStore.com/magicalweekdeals. November 25, all of Disney Store’s Magical Week deals will be available in stores and online at special low prices, a first for the retailer. An additional deal will be unveiled online on Thanksgiving, November 28, and when stores open for Magical Friday.

Shoppers can interact with Disney Store’s guest services team on Twitter @DisneyStore. Updates on deals will be posted on Disney Store’s Facebook page as well. For holiday gift-giving inspiration, shoppers can browse the Holiday Gift Guide on DisneyStore.com and the Holiday Lookbook on Facebook.

Shoppers who prefer to shop from mobile devices can use the Disney Store’s mobile site and app. Through the mobile site, users can receive timely message alerts for new arrivals, in-store events, and promotional offers.

 

Major Toy Retailers Welcome Shoppers on Thanksgiving with Black Friday Deals

ToysRUsLogo copyThis Thanksgiving, Toys “R” Us nationwide stores will open at 5 p.m. on November 28, so parents and gift-givers can get a head start on their holiday shopping. Promotions include four-hour deals, as well as Thursday through Sunday discounts on toys, games, and tablets.

Shoppers can plan their strategies as early as November 24 on the Toys “R” Us Facebook page, and a 28-page circular is set to arrive in newspapers across the country on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, for the first time, customers can shop the majority of Thanksgiving weekend deals online at toysrus.com/blackfriday starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

Those shoppers who spend $75 or more between November 28 and 29, at Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us, will receive a $10 redeemable coupon that’s valid in-store or online between December 1 through December 7. [Read more...]

Fisher-Price Launches Share the Joy! Campaign

Laugh & LearnFisher-Price has launched a new holiday digital advertising campaign called, “Share the Joy,” which stems away from traditional product features to original video vignette-ads. The three videos each have its own distinct story line and feature a holiday carol including, “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Carol of the Bells” with re-written lyrics from a child’s point of view.

The brands and products highlighted in the videos include Laugh & Learn, Little People, and Imaginext. You can watch them and find sharable coupons on Fisher-Price.com/SharetheJoy.

COMMENTARY: Tech Toys That Extend Beyond the Screen

TT12This year, for the first time ever, the Toy Insider released a list of top tech toys for the holiday season in its gift guide called the Top Tech 12. This list promotes the belief that we have here about a “well-balanced toy box.” In a world that has new technology each day—and tons of digital, innovative toys for kids—it’s easy to get caught up in buying the newest, most glamorous toys out there without really knowing if it’s the right toy for your kid. The Toy Insider’s goal with this list is to help shoppers sift through all of the options out there for forward-thinking and impressive tech-based toys that incorporate the latest in digital play, creativity, and innovation.

Shameless self-promotion aside, tech toys are becoming harder and harder to sift through, so finding the perfect one for every kid can be difficult.  Of course, many in the industry, wandering the shopping aisles, and generally existing around toys know about Skylanders Swap Force and Disney Infinity, two new innovative video game platforms that mix digital and physical play, but they aren’t the only toys out there with exciting new technology. All of the toys on our Top Tech 12 list are great, but I picked a few favorites that are not only great technology innovations, but they also give kids other options of physical play—so they aren’t glued to a screen all day.

robodog_dalmatian_p9_go_pee_copy (1)Zoomer, from Spin Master, is a trainable robotic dog that is the perfect option for kids that want a pet and parents that want a clean house. Zoomer can be trained to respond to a bunch of different commands and tricks in three different languages (English, Spanish, and French). Zoomer learns kids’ voices and how to respond to these commands. He is adorably cute and lifelike. Left to his own devices, he’ll wander around the room, just like a real puppy. Zoomer’s LED lights blink and react making him seem more alive than your typical robots. [Read more...]

The Mensch on a Bench is a New Hanukkah Tradition for the Whole Family

MosheThe Mensch on a Bench was created by Neal and Erin Hoffman, who were inspired to create an alternative to the Elf on a Shelf for their 4-year-old son Jacob.  After a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Mensch on a Bench makes its debut this holiday season.

The Mensch on a Bench book tells the story of Moshe the Mensch who was in temple with the Maccabees after they won the war against the Greeks. There was only enough oil for one night, so Moshe volunteered to sit on the bench and watch over the Menorah while the rest slept. Each night, Moshe incorporates a different Jewish tradition into the story.

In addition to the hardcover book, families receive their very own 12-inch plush Mensch to watch over their own Menorah. The Mensch loves to play dreidel, eat Latkes, sing songs, and be with family.

The Mensch on a Bench is available in limited quantities and available exclusively at themenschonabench.com.