ASTRA Convention to Host Special Session on Succession

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is featuring a special session at its annual ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy that will focus on helping specialty toy retailers build succession plans for their businesses. The key takeaways will include: critical factors in determining the value of an independent toy store; how to get stores ready for a sale or transfer of ownership; and establishing a timeline for an independent retailer to make a smooth exit.

Lynn Switanowski of the Creative Business Consulting Group will lead this session. ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy will be held on June 8 to 11 in Phoenix, Ariz.  Following the convention, the succession topic will be continued in member-only discussion groups on ASTRA’s website.

Nintendo and National Park Foundation Team Up for 2014 White House Easter Egg Roll

NintendoNintendo of America will join with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to bring fun, active-play video games to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Nintendo will be at the event with Wii Fit U and Wii Sports Club, two Wii U games that ask players to get active.

Mario and Luigi costumed characters will also be on site to greet guests, take photos with fans, and cheer on families as they play. The White House Easter Egg Roll, which takes place in President’s Park on the South Lawn of the White House, supports the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to help kids grow up healthy.

PAX South to Launch in San Antonio in 2015

ReedPOP and Penny Arcade have announced the addition of a new PAX event to the calendar: PAX South. Slated to debut in San Antonio, TX, from January 23 to 25 of next year, the southern addition marks the fourth PAX show and third in the U.S. The others take place in Seattle, Wash.; Boston, Mass.; and Melbourne, Australia.

Following the PAX format, the new show will focus on video games, tabletop games, game-inspired music, competitive gameplay, and insights from leaders in the world of gaming.

K’NEX Education to Exhibit at USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo

K’NEX Education will be participating in the third USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo and Book Fair, hosted by founding and presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin. Designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, the Festival Expo allows kids and adults to participate in more than 3,000 hands-on activities, as well as see more than 100 live stage performances.

The K’NEX Education Build and Learn Zone invites kids of all ages to have fun with hands-on learning while designing, building, investigating, problem solving, and evaluating scientific and design principles in action using K’NEX rods, connectors, gears, tires, and hubs at interactive building stations. Kids will have the opportunity to chat with K’NEX designers and engineers, and teachers can stop by and learn how K’NEX Education building sets can complement their STEM curriculum.

The Festival Expo is scheduled for the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on April 26 and 27, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mattel’s First Quarter Results Include Gross Sales Decline for Top Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel reported 2014 first quarter financial results, which included a decline in worldwide sales for Barbie, but strength in some of the company’s other girls brands.

For the first quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls and boys brands were $656.9 million, down 5 percent versus the previous year. This included a decline in worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand of 14 percent. Worldwide gross sales for Mattel’s other girls brands increased 4 percent on the strength of Disney Princess and Ever After High, partially offset by Monster High. [Read more...]

Radio Flyer’s Chicago Headquarters Goes LEED Platinum

Radio Flyer Inc LEED Glass WallsThe Chicago, Ill., headquarters of Radio Flyer Inc. has received platinum certification for its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Focused on environmentally sustainable practices, the certification acknowledges key design decisions, including the renovation of existing warehouse space, dedicated on-site recycling areas, and geo-thermal heating and cooling systems.

Radio Flyer renovated 70,000 of its 150,000 square foot space into an open concept area featuring wooden beams, natural lighting, an indoor and outdoor paly lab, eco-friendly parking lot, and landscaped “backyard” complete with native prairie plants. Other “green” solutions include cisterns that retain 10,000 gallons of storm water, which is re-purposed for fertilizer-free irrigation, bike storage and locker room for employees who bike to work, and a preferred parking area for high efficiency, low emission cars.

Toys “R” Us Canada Honors Jakks Pacific for Cabbage Patch Kids Launch

JakksJakks Pacific was honored with the 2013 Product Launch of the Year award from Toys “R” Us Canada. Toys “R” Us recognized Jakks Pacific both for its overall business partnership, as well as the exceptional launch of the 30th anniversary of Cabbage Patch Kids last year.

toysrus“We accept this award with gratitude and look forward to continually growing our partnership with Toys “R” Us, as we bring innovative products to all children,” said Steve Morris, senior vice president of Jakks Pacific Canada.

For the anniversary, Jakks Pacific Canada and Toys “R” Us Canada appealed to multiple generations with a program that included media events, exclusive product offerings, and a 30th birthday celebration in select Toys “R” Us stores throughout Canada. The award marks the third consecutive year that Jakks has received an honor by the toy retailer.

ASTRA Welcomes 80 New Manufacturers to Its Marketplace & Academy

astra_logo_homeAs reported by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), more than 80 new toy manufacturers will be showing new products in the exhibit hall at the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Most of these products are not yet available online, which gives specialty retailers the opportunity to offer them in their communities before anyone else.

“Specialty toy retailers need innovative products with high play value that consumers cannot find elsewhere, and ASTRA is the place to discover them,” said Kathleen McHugh, President of ASTRA. “These products help retailers position themselves as a hands-on shopping experience that is more creative and more fun and more interesting than the competition.”

ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy will be held June 8 to 11 in Phoenix, Ariz. Admission to the ASTRA Marketplace exhibit hall is free to specialty toy retailers, with registration through ASTRA’s website.

First Loomy Awards Loom Large This Month

“Loomers” from far and wide are invited to submit their creations for the first-ever award for loom bracelet fanatics: the First Annual Loomy Awards. Sponsored by The Original Loom Boom, winners will be chosen from four categories: Best Bracelet, Coolest Charm, Wackiest Wearable, and Best Loom Boom. Three winners will each receive a $250 gift card, and one grand prize winner will receive a $500 gift card. In addition, all winners will receive a special edition of The Original Loom Boom.

Entries are already being accepted at The Original Loom Boom’s Facebook page, and winners will be announced on a live web award show on April 30.

PlayCon 2014 Agenda Includes Speakers from The NPD Group, Google/YouTube, and More

A number of educational topics related to the toy industry will be explored at PlayCon, the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) International Conference of Play Professionals, scheduled to take place May 7 to 9 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The May 8 program includes a keynote address delivered by Doug Van Andel, executive creative director at global ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi; a case study presented by Michael Moynihan, vice president of marketing at Lego Systems Inc.; a two-part session by The NPD Group focused on the latest sales data; a presentation entitled “The Broader World of Play,” from Katie Rottier, head of U.S. industry, sports & toys, at Google/YouTube; and more. [Read more...]