ChiTAG Group Brings Largest Toy and Game Inventor Event to Chicago Toy & Game Week

CHITAGHosted by the Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG), the International Toy & Game Innovation Conference (T&GCon) is a networking and educational opportunity in which both industry leaders and those looking to get involved in the industry and/or have their product licensed can come together to share key insights and ideas.

The conference, scheduled to take place on November 20 and 21 at the Navy Pier in Chicago, also includes the International Summit for Professional Inventors (I-SPI), and the Inventor Relations Summit (IRS), which is part of I-SPI. Attendees will have the chance to meet top executives from Hasbro, Spin Master, Ravensburger, NASA, Patch Products, and more.

At T&GCon, new inventors will have opportunities to show their ideas to dozens of toy and game industry companies. Meanwhile, at I-SPI, aspiring inventors can meet colleagues from around the world, experience new technology, meet with manufacturers in private offices, and more. Finally, at IRS, attendees can discover new ideas, products, and innovation from different inventors and companies, as well as discuss ways to strengthen both the inventor community and the industry as a whole.

Registration includes a ticket to PlayCHIC, the toy, game and entertainment brand-inspired fashion show on the evening of November 20, as well as a ticket to the Toy & Game Inventor of the Year Awards. Interested parties can visit the official T&GCon site to register.

Nintendo Unveils New Features for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

SuperSmashBrosNintendo has unleashed over 50 new features and details for its upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U  game, including an eight-player mode, Nintendo 3DS features, the ability to build and share custom stages, and a soundtrack offer.

For the first time, eight players can play the game in a special mode in local multiplayer. This option is only available in the Wii U version, and lets players compete in larger stages to accommodate the amount of characters. In addition, players can also use amiibo figures to play, which can gain levels to become stronger and add equipment as they gain experience through battling. Also, fans can now build their own stages and hare them with friends and other players around the world using the touch screen of the Wii U gamepad. [Read more...]

The Little Gym Partners with Nickelodeon, Creates SpongeBob Parties

TheLittleGym.logoSpongeBob SquarePants, the animated character from Nickelodeon, is coming out from his pineapple home for birthday parties at The Little Gym, a national gym designed for children ages six months to 12 years. The company is developing the curriculum for the parties in partnership with Nickelodeon.

As kids go on an undersea adventure inside their local The Little Gym, they will engage with characters such as Patrick, Squidward, and Mister Krabs in an interactive and imaginative story designed to get them moving, climbing, and tumbling.

The Little Gym has offered Awesome Birthday Bash parties since 2012. Each party features age-appropriate games, music, and fun activities led by trained instructors, and The Little Gym team handles both setup and cleanup.

Chicago Toy & Game Group to Honor The Kohner Family at TAGIE Awards

ChicagoDuring the 2014 Toy & Game Inventor of the Year (TAGIE) Awards, the Chicago Toy & Game Group will present this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award to The Kohner Family, which includes brothers Frank and Paul Kohner and Paul’s son, Michael Kohner. The latter will accept the award on behalf of The Kohner family, which has worked in the toy and game industry for almost 75 years.

In 1940, Paul Kohner founded Kohner Brothers alongside Michael’s uncle, Frank Kohner, and what began as a wooden bead company quickly transformed into a toy-making endeavor. The Kohner Brothers cemented their place with the introduction of the game, Trouble, featuring the Pop-O-Matic dice device.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the In Memoriam award will be given to the family of Bill Goodman, while Hasbro Co. will receive the 2014 TAGIE Excellence in Character Design award for the Transformers toys in celebration of the brand’s 40th anniversary. The TAGIE Awards are scheduled to take place in the Grand Ballroom of Chicago’s Navy Pier on November 21.

Jakks Pacific Reports Third Quarter Results

Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa doll

Jakks Pacific Inc. reported results for the company’s third quarter ended September 30. Net sales for the third quarter increased to $349.4 million, up 12 percent from net sales of $310.9 million reported in the comparable period last year. Reported net income for the third quarter increased 16 percent to $44.1 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, compared to reported net income last year of $36.6 million, or $1.11 per diluted share.

Net sales for the nine months ending September 30 increased 12 percent to $556.0 million compared to $495.2 million last year. Reported net income for the nine-month period was $18.7 million, or $0.61 per diluted share. This compares to a net loss for the first nine months last year of $37.8 million, or $1.73 per diluted share. Strong sales of the Frozen Snow Glow Elsa doll and Light Up Musical Dresses, Disguise Halloween offerings, Nintendo plush and figure products, and licensed large-scale figures contributed to the company’s improved third quarter results.

FedEx and UPS Hiring More Workers to Avoid Holiday Delays

As reported by ABC News, FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) are hiring more workers to avoid the delays that plagued last year’s holiday season.

FedEx plans to hire 50,000 seasonal workers, up from 40,000 last year, while UPS will add up to 95,000 people, up from 85,000. Last year, both companies scrambled to hire more seasonal employees than they had planned.

FedEx also expects to invest $1.2 billion in its ground-shipping network in its current fiscal year, with most of that going to increase capacity and automation. The company said that the improvements have sped up ground delivery by a day or more in more than two-thirds of the U.S. UPS has also invested to boost shipping capacity during the holidays.

Last December, the delivery giants were caught off-guard by bad weather and a surge in last-minute online shopping, leading to an estimated 2 million packages arriving late for the holidays.

About 1.3 million express packages handled by UPS and 618,000 carried by FedEx failed to get delivered on time last Christmas Eve, with UPS and FedEx at fault roughly 30 percent of the time, according to ShipMatrix Inc. In most cases, retailers promised guaranteed express delivery, but didn’t pay the delivery companies for that speedier service.

The retail federation’s online division, Shop.org, predicts that online sales in November and December will rise 8 to 11 percent over last year.

Buyer, Trade Guest Registration Open for North American International Toy Fair

Oct22.ToyFairBuyer and trade guest registration has opened for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, according to the Toy Industry Association. Toy Fair 2014 is scheduled to take place February 14 to 17 in New York City.

The event, formerly the American International Toy Fair, was recently re-named the North American International Toy Fair, as part of a new affiliation agreement between TIA and the Canadian Toy Association. CTA and TIA will have a single toy fair, rather than single marketplace events in the U.S. and Canada.

Last year’s Toy Fair had a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibition space and welcomed an 11 percent increase in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in attendees.

Ohio Art Announces Winner of Nanoblock Award: Build It Your Way Competition

Edited.OhioArtSean Smith has won the nanoblock Award: Build It Your Way Competition from The Ohio Art Company. Using only nanoblock bricks, Smith created an original piece of the Great Djenne Mosque, a landmark in Africa, and won with its intricate and fine attention to detail.

A panel of judges consisting of toy industry opinion leaders and Ohio Art representatives reviewed all submissions for the competition. As the grand prize winner, Smith will receive a family vacation package, an iPod nano, and a year-long supply of nanoblock bricks.

ASTRA Retailers Set to Promote Specialty Toys on Neighborhood Toy Store Day

ASTRAlogoHundreds of independent toy retailers in the U.S. and Canada will mark Neighborhood Toy Store Day with special in-store events and activities on Saturday, November 8.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day is an annual American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) event that occurs on the second Saturday in November. It is designed to help independent toy retailers spotlight attention on the quality and play value of specialty toys, plus the advantages of shopping at locally owned toy stores.

ASTRA retailers create activities around Neighborhood Toy Store Day that will engage their customers and communities. Meanwhile, ASTRA supports retailers by providing professionally designed, downloadable posters; post cards; ad slicks; and other images along with draft emails; social media posts; and press releases that retailers can use to promote their store.

To find an ASTRA store to visit on Neighborhood Toy Store Day, visit www.neighborhoodtoystoreday.com.

GBI Encourages Children with Secret Millionaires Club: Grow Your Own Business Challenge

SMC2_LE_LOGO_2012_NEW2Genius Brands International (GBI) has launched its 4th Annual Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge. The national online competition was created to encourage kids to be entrepreneurial and to practice good financial habits from an early age.

Kids ages 7 to 14 are invited to submit original business ideas for consideration in the competition. Five individuals and three groups will be selected as finalists to present their ideas to Warren Buffett and a panel of VIP judges next May.

Grand prize winners will each be awarded $5,000 and invited to nominate a teacher who was most inspirational in the process to win up to $1,000. Full rules and entry instructions are available at www.smckids.com.