China Toy Fair


Cwist Adds ThinkFun Games and Fat Brain Toys to Digital Library

CWIST LOGOcwist, Inc., a free, crowd-sourced, digital library of interactive learning challenges for kids, has entered partnerships with educational game manufacturer ThinkFun, Inc. and online retailer Fat Brain Toys.

cwist features a “wish engine” that helps kids ages 5 to 11 make the connection between the things they want and the effort it takes to get them, as they earn parent-approved rewards upon successful completion of a cwist challenge.

cwist will develop challenge content for its platform that enhances the learning experience with ThinkFun’s products and programs. cwist will also cross promote, support and create challenge content for ThinkFun’s events and programs such as Big Games and community game nights. [Read more...]

K’NEX Kicks Off Its Prepare for Titanfall Giveaway on Facebook

K'NEX.TitanK’NEX has launched a sweepstakes running on the K’NEX Facebook page, open to U.S. fans 13 years of age or older. Fans can log on to the K’NEX Facebook page through July 23 and enter the Prepare for Titanfall Giveaway daily for their chance to win one of ten Titanfall K’NEX Prize Packs. These include one Titanfall IMC Pilot Strike Building Set, one Titanfall Militia Pilot Attack Building Set, one Titanfall IMC Atlas Titan Building Set, one Titanfall Militia Ogre Titan Building Set, and one Titanfall Angel City Escape Building Set.

In addition, one grand prize winner will be awarded a Deluxe K’NEX Titanfall Prize Pack, which includes all the prizes from the basic prize pack, plus one Titanfall Ultimate Angel City Campaign Building Set. Winners will be chosen at random on July 24.

Participants can enter once per calendar day, and fans can earn bonus entries by sharing the promotion with Facebook friends. Official sweepstakes rules are available online.

West Coast Ports Negotiations Resume as Cargo Shifts East

The shipping news journal Lloyd’s List reports that the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have resumed contract negotiations following a three-day hiatus last week. In the meantime, retailers are bringing holiday merchandise into the country at record levels to protect against potential supply chain disruptions, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to total 1.5 million containers this month, the highest monthly volume in at least five years. This follows a trend of unusually high import levels that began this spring as retailers worked to import merchandise ahead of potential problems.

The contract between the PMA and the ILWU expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement. [Read more...]

Barnes & Noble Celebrates Pop Culture in Stores This Summer

Barnes & Noble will bring pop culture favorite books, comics, superheroes, and television shows to life in stores nationwide from July 18 through August 10. The Get Pop Cultured with Barnes & Noble series of themed events will feature panel discussions, contests, exclusive content, giveaways and prizes, sneak peeks, activities, and more featuring popular characters, DVDs, artists, illustrators, and pop culture icons.

The campaign will highlight the influence that books, graphic novels, movies, TV shows, music, toys, games, and collectibles have on culture. Get Pop Cultured with Barnes & Noble will kick off with a preview weekend and costume contest from July 18 to 20. All Barnes & Noble stores will have limited quantities of free, never-before-seen samplers of upcoming releases, posters, and digital downloads during Preview Weekend. Other events include Batman Day on July 23, where all Barnes & Noble stores nationwide will sell exclusive merchandise; the DC Comics Spectacular from July 23 to July 27, which will offer fans a chance to celebrate DC Comics with activities, special giveaways, and a limited time offer on graphic novels; a sing-along and story time event, Frozen Friday: Cool Off with Olaf! on August 1; Marvel Day on August 2, which will feature Marvel Comics-themed activities, giveaways, and product offerings; and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jr. Ninja Training Academy Event, which will include activities, crafts, and a Ninja training event.

There will also be special guests such as Grumpy Cat, Christopher Paolini, and various authors.

Moshi Monsters Boss Michael Acton Smith Steps Down

Michael Acton Smith, who has run Mind Candy for 10 years, will step down. He has stated that he wants to focus on a more creative role rather than the day-to-day running of the firm.

Divinia Knowles, who has been at the company for eight years, and is currently chief operating and financial officer, will become president. A new chief executive will be announced at a later date, the company has said.

Mind Candy is known for the children’s social network Moshi Monsters, one of the world’s most popular children’s social networks, with around 80 million users. The service operates through paid subscriptions; however, associated merchandise—plush toys, music albums and other spin-offs—generate roughly half of Mind Candy’s revenue.

NPD Group Reports Increase in Phone Usage Causing Shift in U.S. Gamer Segmentation

npd_group_logoThanks in large part to an increase in usage of phones for gaming, avid omni gamers, defined as those who play on multiple systems, are the only gamer segment to experience growth in the U.S. this year, according to Gamer Segmentation 2014, the latest report from The NPD Group.

The number of avid omni gamers climbed 6 percentage points to 22 percent of the total gaming population, replacing casual gamers as the second largest gamer segment when compared to last year. The largest segment, free & mobile gamers, maintained its size at 29 percent of the U.S. gamer population. The remaining segments—casual gamers, core console gamers, family gamers, and social gamers—declined 1 to 2 percentage points. [Read more...]

K’NEX Promotes Rachel Robbins to Vice President

K’NEX has promoted Rachel Robbins to vice president, legal affairs and general counsel. Hired in 2013, Robbins previously served as associate general counsel for K’NEX Brands, and prior to joining K’NEX, she was a partner in the Commercial Litigation group of the law firm Cozen O’Connor.

In her new position, Robbins will provide legal counsel to company management and business teams as to commercial relationships, as well as all general corporate matters, including contracts, employment, regulatory, and intellectual property.

Mattel and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Partner Up to Share the Play

logo_Mattel logoMattel and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) have entered into a toy and game donation program to provide children with greater access to play. Called Share the Play, for every online order placed by consumers at Mattel’s online toy stores, Mattel will donate a toy to BGCA. Through the program, up to 250,000 toys will be distributed to BGCA’s nationwide network of 4,100 Clubs.

From now through December 31, every qualifying order made online at mattelshop.com and fisher-pricestore.com will result in a toy donation to BGCA. Mattel will donate a minimum of 200,000 toys to BGCA through the program, with a goal of 250,000 toy donations to the organization.

The donation program builds on a successful multi-year partnership between Mattel and BGCA.

Southard Communications Adds to Its Roster

Southard Communications has landed several major accounts and relocated its New York office to the downtown area. New account wins include School Zone Publishing, for which the agency will launch a new Little Scholar kids tablet; eCarrot, a Reno-based kids technology and software company; and Maverix USA, which is launching a line of electric skateboards in the U.S.

Meanwhile, after almost two decades in the flatiron district, Southard has expanded its New York headquarters with new space at 111 John Street.

Along with toys, other industries of expertise for Southard include juvenile and baby products, consumer electronics and technology, digital applications and software, fitness, and more.

Dora and Friends: Into the City! Debuts in Primetime this August

DAF_Group_ShotDora and Friends: Into the City! will premiere in primetime on Monday, August 18, at 8:00 p.m. on Nickelodeon. The half-hour series will regularly air on weekdays during Nickelodeon’s preschool block. The original Dora the Explorer series will continue to air.

The new series takes place in the fictional city of Playa Verde, where Dora and her new friends will go on adventures. It features an interactive curriculum focusing on community service, problem solving, emotional skills, the Spanish language, and Latino culture. Throughout her journeys, Dora will use the Map App on her smartphone and a magical charm bracelet to navigate the city and overcome obstacles. Her new group of friends includes Kate, an avid reader who is dramatic and artistic; Naiya, a smart girl who excels at math and science; Emma, a driven and accomplished musician; Alana, an athletic soccer player and animal lover; and Pablo, a smart, playful, energetic athlete and explorer. [Read more...]