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...]

U.S. CPSC Now Accepting Comments on Third-Party Testing Costs

Last Thursday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hosted a day-long public workshop to gather technical information and evidence that could help to reduce third party testing costs for manufacturers of toys and children’s products sold in the U.S.

Held at the CPSC’s National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Md., the workshop featured presentations of technical data by representatives of industry, consumer groups, and academic institutions. Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA), and Rebecca Mond, TIA director of federal government affairs, were both on-hand on behalf of the toy industry.

The technical data will assist the CPSC in determining which material types do not contain any of the six banned phthalates, lead, and/or heavy metals listed in the ASTM F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, and therefore do not need to be routinely tested. [Read more...]

Messe Frankfurt and GDTA to Organize Guangzhou Trade Shows

Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd and the Guangdong Toy Association (GDTA) have signed a letter of intent to join forces in organizing the Guangzhou International Toy and Hobby Fair and the Guangzhou International Stroller and Baby Product Fair starting next year.

The GDTA acts as an industry voice to communicate with the Chinese government and coordinate with the government for industry research and survey projects. It also organizes the Guangzhou International Toy and Hobby Fair.

Trade show organizer Messe Frankfurt is responsible for Ambiente, Christmasworld, Paperworld, and Tendence. It has exhibition and collaboration experience with different industry associations and government bodies in greater China.

Geocache Becomes First-Ever Fan-Voted Scrabble Word

The word “geocache” beat out 15 other nominees in last month’s Scrabble Word Showdown, and as a result, will be included in the fifth edition of Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, scheduled for release this August. This marks the dictionary’s first major update in nearly a decade, and the first time it has ever included a word voted on by fans.

Nominated by fans following a national call-for-entries on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page in March, “geocache” is a verb meaning to seek items by means of a GPS device as part of a game. It faced 15 other popular choices in an online showdown from April 2 to 10, besting such fan favorites as “bitcoin,” “cosplay,” and “ew.”

Geocache will be an eligible word right in time for National Scrabble Day on April 13. It will also be playable in the upcoming National School Scrabble Championship on April 26 to 27 and the National Scrabble Tournament in August.

Child’s Play Communications Creates CPC Tech

Child’s Play Communications has launched CPC Tech, a new division devoted exclusively to creating awareness of and demand for family-friendly technology products. CPC Tech will be responsible for promoting products ranging from apps to tablets to technology-driven toys.

Recent clients have included multiple Peppa Pig apps, and littleBits, a system of electronic modules that snap together with magnets to create circuits. “We’ve been handling so many child- and parent-focused tech products recently, we’ve decided to launch a group entirely devoted to that category,” said company president Stephanie Azzarone.

Super 4 Gets Distributor in Italy and Latin America

Super4PGS Entertainment has secured broadcast deals with Cartoon Network in Italy and Latin America for the new animated series Super 4. Inspired by Playmobil’s universe, Super 4 is a CGI comedy-adventure that marks the first time the children’s brand has come to TV.

Super 4 is produced by Method Animation and morgen studios, with France Télévisions as commissioning broadcaster. PGS represents the series in all territories.

Vintage Snoopy Astronaut Doll Sells at Auction for $1,300

SnoopyAstronautOn Tuesday, a Snoopy Astronaut doll was auctioned for $1,300 ($1,625 including premium) at Bonhams. Made out of plastic and textile and standing 10 inches tall, the doll features the Peanuts comic strip character in a space suit and helmet. It was produced in China by Determined Distributions of San Francisco for United Feature Syndicate in 1969.

Snoopy was adopted by NASA with the full blessing of creator Charles M. Schulz as the Manned Flight Awareness (MFA) program mascot, which used him as a “spokesperson,” to emphasize such topics as flight safety and good quality control during spacecraft manufacturing.

The lot included the original red and blue distribution and display box, and the doll helmet back is inscribed and signed, “Snoopy LM-4, GENE CERNAN, Apollo X LMP.” The Apollo X LM crew named their lunar module Snoopy partly to bring greater recognition to the MFA program.

EA Sports UFC to Feature Bruce Lee

Bruce_LeeThe legendary Bruce Lee, considered the father of mixed martial arts, will make his historic first step into the Octagon in EA Sports UFC from Electronic Arts Inc. and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The game is scheduled to launch on June 17, and fans can complete the game’s career mode at Pro difficulty to unlock him.

A recently released trailer, EA Sports UFC Gameplay Series: Bruce Lee Reveal, shows Bruce Lee realized in the game.