ICTI CARE Foundation Names Carmel Giblin Its President and CEO

The International Council of Toy Industries(ICTI) CARE Foundation has named Carmel Giblin as its new president and CEO. ICTI CARE promotes ethical manufacturing, fair labor treatment, and employee health and safety in the global toy and children’s product supply chain. Giblin will officially assume this new role on February 2.

For the past five years, Giblin has been the CEO of Sedex, a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to improvements in ethical and responsible business practices in global supply chains.

ASTRA Sees Growth Continuing for Independent Retailers this Holiday Season

AstraLogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is optimistic about growth in customer traffic and sales for independent businesses during the upcoming holiday season—with hopes of matching or exceeding the 5.3 percent growth posted last year.

According to a consumer survey conducted during the second quarter of this year, six out of ten customers say they go out of their way to shop at small, locally-owned businesses. The U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that over 90 percent of fourth quarter shopping will take place in brick-and-mortar stores.

Advocates for Independent Business (AIB), a coalition of trade associations and other organizations concerned with the success of locally-owned, independent businesses, documents that locally-owned retailers have a far greater impact on their communities than national brands. For every $10 million in customer spending at amazon.com, for example, amazon.com creates 14 jobs. Meanwhile, the same amount spent at local brick-and-mortar stores creates 57 jobs, or 75 percent more. ASTRA is a founding member of AIB.

An infographic for retailers to use in their stores and around their communities to reinforce the value added aspects of shopping locally can be downloaded and printed here.

Charmazing and Toys “R” Us Team Up for Upcoming Demo Events

A Charmazing display, from the October 19 launch event of Charmazing, at the Toys “R” Us Times Square store.

Charmazing, a brand of charm-bracelet-making kit from Wooky Entertainment, has upcoming events planned that will take place at Toys “R” Us-operated locations. These will be demo events, in which store associates will show off Charmazing kits, as well as hand out Charmazing bracelets while supplies last. The events are scheduled for November 22, and will take place at the FAO Schwarz flagship store at 767 Fifth Avenue, from 1 to 5 p.m.; and at Toys “R” Us stores chainwide.

In addition, on November 23, at Toys “R” Us Times Square from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Toys “R” Us and the Charmazing brand will host the Uniformed Firefighters Association Widow’s and Children’s Holiday Party, benefiting families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. Activities will include Santa Claus arriving aboard a FDNY fire truck, as well as a marching band performance. In addition, some attendees will have the opportunity to take home charm bracelets.

Nintendo to Power Up Malls Across the U.S. This Holiday Season

NintendoFrom November 24 to December 21, Nintendo characters Mario, Luigi, and Pikachu will visit 16 malls across the country to offer holiday shoppers hands-on play time with new games for Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo 2DS. Visitors can also check out amiibo, Nintendo’s foray into the toys-to-life category.

Interactive spaces tailored for kids will feature a Mario Kart 8 tournament played on a large, high-definition display. Visitors can also play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The scheduled lineup of Wii U games also includes Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Super Mario 3D World, Skylanders: Trap Team, and Nintendo Land.

Meanwhile, Nintendo 3DS fans will be able to check out Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Pokémon Omega Ruby, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Tomodachi Life, Yoshi’s New Island, and more. [Read more...]

Skylanders’ #TrapAndPlay-Sweeps Puts Fans on the Path to Prizes

SkylandersTrapTeamLogoActivision Publishing Inc. has launched #TrapAndPlaySweeps, a three-week sweepstakes for Skylanders fans. Players are instructed to tweet photos or video of themselves playing Skylanders Trap Team to the official Skylanders Twitter channel (@SkylandersGame), using #TrapAndPlaySweeps #Skylanders for the chance to win prizes through December 11.

Along with being available for consoles, Skylanders Trap Team is compatible with third and fourth generation iPads—the iPad mini Retina, the iPad Air, and the brand new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.

Cupcake Digital Acquires App Developer Little Bit Studio

CupcakeDigitalCupcake Digital Inc. has acquired Little Bit Studio LLC, developers of the popular Bugs and Buttons series of apps for children. Little Bit Studio founders Scott Vann and Jason Luber will hold senior positions at Cupcake Digital.

Little Bit Studio will fold into Cupcake Digital’s broader structure of technology and marketing resources aimed at new products and marketing initiatives. The company will be making an initial investment in marketing and advertising to support the introduction of new products as early as the first quarter of next year.

Earlier this year, Cupcake Digital acquired another app company, iStoryTime.

New Lifestyle Hall to Open Its Doors at Spielwarenmesse 2015

SpielwarenmesseegSpielwarenmesse eG will introduce a new area of products dedicated to letting kids express themselves at next year’s toy fair. The new Lifestyles area will include a range of fashion and trend-related goods including clothing, accessories, and toys with a focus on letting children and young people develop their own style.

Companies in the new hall will exhibit items pertaining to fashion, home decoration, designer toys, stationary, fan and souvenir articles, and licensed products. During Spielwarenmesse next year, buyers and traders will find these products in the central entrance hall of the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre and online at www.spielwarenmesse.de/lifestyle.

Nominations Now Open for WIT’s 2015 Wonder Women Awards

WIT.logoWomen in Toys (WIT) is now accepting nominations for the 11th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. Winners in the eight categories will be announced at an awards dinner, scheduled to take place on February 15 during North American International Toy Fair week in New York City. For the first time, the annual awards dinner will be held at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers.

Industry stakeholders are invited to nominate a co-worker, client, associate, family member, or acquaintance for consideration in one or more of the following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Rising Star, PR or Social Media, Manufacturer, Designer or Inventor, Licensing or Entertainment, Social Responsibility, and Marketing or Advertising. With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement category, which must be submitted by December 1, all nominations are due by January 15.

Nominations may be submitted online. The Award Selection Committee and WIT Board of Directors will review all nominees and select the winners for each category. All nominees must be WIT members in order to be eligible to win; however, WIT members and non-members are invited to submit nominations.

Hasbro Launches New Initiative to Spread the Joy of Play to Children with Developmental Disabilities

ToyBoxTools_logo (2)Hasbro Inc. has launched ToyBox Tools, an initiative that brings the joy of play to children with developmental disabilities. Through expertise provided by The Autism Project, ToyBox Tools provides a series of instructional videos, printed instructions, play mats, and more for several classic Hasbro brands. These tools will serve as a free, online resource for parents, caretakers, and educators to make play easier and more accessible for children who need support.

ToyBox Tools helps children experience the joy of play with three levels of tools available for those who need support: basic play, expanding play, and social play levels. Parents and caregivers can visit the ToyBox Tools site, access the tools they need, and download and print them for use at home or in the classroom. Each level caters to different aspects of play that children may need help with, like simply introducing the toy and how to use it, experiencing alternative ways to play with a toy, and encouraging turn-taking with peers.

Nearly one out of four children is said to have some type of developmental challenge, ranging from ADHD and autism spectrum disorders to learning disabilities and developmental delays.

ToyBox Tools encourages parents and caregivers to use their judgment in selecting the right product and level of play appropriate for their child. Supportive tools are included for Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh Dr. Drill ’N Fill, and Trouble.

Toys “R” Us Announces Thanksgiving Weekend Doorbusters, Special Deals for Rewards “R” Us Members

toysrusOn Thanksgiving weekend, Toys “R” Us will offer more than $8,000 in potential toy savings to holiday shoppers. Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will open at 5 p.m. on November 27, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., 4-hour doorbuster deals will include discounts on Disney Infinity Starter Packs and figures; Skylanders Trap Team Starter Packs, figures, and Traps; the V-Tech InnoTab 3S Connect; Frozen Jumbo Olaf Plush, from Just Play; and more.

Meanwhile, selected deals available on November 28 from 7 a.m. through November 29, as well as online at toysrus.com, include buy one, get one for 40 percent off on Disney Infinity and Skylanders Trap Team items, certain Disney Frozen toys, and more.

Toys “R” Us will also provide exclusive, early access to Black Friday deals on more than 100 items, both in-store and online, to Rewards “R” Us members beginning November 23. Not only can Rewards “R” Us members accumulate points on their purchases, those points can be applied to Toys “R” Us shopping into the new year.

In addition, throughout November and December, “R”Us credit cardholders are eligible to receive discounts off Toys “R” Us purchases when using their “R”Us credit card in-store on Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. Through December 20, existing cardholders can also save 10 percent every Saturday when they use their “R”Us credit card in-store.

Finally, the majority of Toys “R” Us Thanksgiving Weekend deals will be available starting on November 26 at 10 p.m. ET at toysrus.com/blackfriday.