China Toy Fair


VTech to Offer Toca Boca Content on InnoTab MAX Tablet

VTech-LogoVTech has entered a content distribution deal with the leading digital play studio Toca Boca. InnoTab MAX, VTech’s first children’s learning tablet with Android 1 learning content, will include one free Toca Boca app available for download. Consumers can choose between Toca Lab and Toca Pet Doctor after registering InnoTab MAX on VTech’s Learning Lodge app store.

Toca Lab lets children explore the world of science by experimenting with all 118 elements of the periodic table—each with its own unique personality. Toca Pet Doctor allows kids to care for, love, and help 15 different sick or injured animal friends, including a dog, turtle, bird, and more. All of Toca Boca’s apps are gender-neutral and non-competitive with no external advertising or in-app purchases.

InnoTab MAX, a 7-inch tablet featuring access to educator-approved VTech and Android apps, as well as VTech’s library of cartridges, will be available in October.

TIF to Auction Off a Tour of Sesame Street and More

by Alexis Willey

tif_logoThe Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) is launching an online fundraising auction to benefit TIF programs and grants, which help children in need around the world.

TIF partnered with global charity auction site, Charitybuzz, to host the auction—which includes a visit to the set of Sesame Street in New York, tickets to Nickelodeon’s 2015 Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles, and private meetings with top toy executives.

Bids may be placed through September 30 at charitybuzz.com/tif.

Spielwarenmesse eG Organizes World of Toys Pavilion at Kids India 2014

by Alexis Willey

SpielwarenmesseegSpielwarenmesse eG once again organized the World of Toys Pavilion at this year’s Kids India international trade fair in Mumbai. Companies from 12 countries displayed their products on Spielwarenmesse eG’s international joint stand from September 18 to 20.

In total, 153 exhibitors from 13 countries unveiled their products at Kids India, which focused on toys, baby products, licensed products, sporting goods, and leisure and hobby products.

Larger Headquarters for Safari Ltd.

by Alexis Willey

safari ltd new logoSafari Ltd. is moving its headquarters to a new, larger location.

The company will call its new 105,000 sq. ft. site in Miami Lakes, Fla., home beginning on September 22. The new building will replace the company’s current headquarters, where it has been located for more than 20 years.

FIRST Lego League Announces Seventh Youth Challenge

First.logoby Alexis Willey

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) has announced the topic of its seventh FIRST Lego League (FLL) task, asking students to explore the future of learning as part of the FLL World Class Challenge.

The challenge asks teams of 9- to 14-year-olds (9 to 16 outside North America) worldwide to research and present original ideas to enrich the current landscape of learning. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using Lego Mindstorms technology to solve a series of wisdom-gathering missions based on the theme.

More than 260,000 children in nearly 80 countries are expected to participate in the FLL event, with an additional 27,000 6- to 9-year-olds expected in the Junior FLL competition. Teams of up to 10 children, with two adult coaches, participate in the eight-week challenge, which culminates in high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Past challenges have included topics such as natural disasters, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, quality of life for handicapped and senior populations, and transportation. [Read more...]

Nickelodeon’s TV and Digital Channels to Go Dark for 11th Annual Worldwide Day of Play

Nickelodeon will empower kids to get active when its TV channels, websites, and app go off air and offline for its 11th Annual Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP) on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr., TeenNick, nick.com, nickjr.com, nicktoons.com, teennick.com, and the Nick App will all participate.

The network’s national pro-social partners—United States Tennis Association, NFL Play 60, the Boys and Girls Club of America, among others—will host several thousand local events across the country to help celebrate kids’ love of play. These events will be hosted by Nickelodeon’s national partners, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and more.

On September 20, Nickelodeon will air health and wellness-themed messaging beginning at 9 a.m. At 12 p.m., Nickelodeon will sign-off on air and online, signaling kids and families to get up and get moving. While the network is dark, a message encouraging viewers to go play will appear on a loop. [Read more...]

GameStop to Exit Spanish Market, Sell Locations to GAME

GamestopGameStop intends to exit the Spanish market via the sale of retail locations to specialist video game retailer Game Digital Plc (GAME), in combination with closures of its remaining locations. Under the terms of this proposed agreement, GameStop will transfer ownership of a portfolio of GameStop stores located in Spain, with the remaining retail sites winding down this year.

GAME already has a consumer presence in the country, in addition to its retail operations in the UK. GameStop’s strategic decision to exit the Spanish market was made after a careful review of the market’s financial performance and future opportunities, which indicated that the company would be better served by curtailing its operations in Spain, and focusing its resources in other countries where GameStop has significant market share. GameStop expects to maintain and expand its presence in the other European countries in which it currently operates.

During the coming months, GameStop will work closely with GAME to ensure continued support for GameStop’s customers in Spain. The proposed deal will require Spanish Competition Authority approval, which is expected in October. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hasbro to Step Back from The Hub Children’s Network

Hasbro logoAs reported by The Wall Street Journal, Discovery Communications Inc. and Hasbro Inc. are ending their equal partnership in The Hub, a cable network that hoped to become a force in children’s television against Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

Under the terms being completed, Discovery would take a controlling interest in The Hub and reposition the channel as a family network aimed at parents as well as children. Hasbro will retain a large stake in the service and control six hours of daytime programming on the network, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Launched in 2010 with a $300 million investment from Hasbro for half of the network, The Hub was designed to be an outlet for some of Hasbro’s best-known toy brands, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony.

The makeover could take place as early as the fourth quarter, with The Hub renamed Discovery Family.

Second Kids India to Kick Off with 40 Percent More Exhibitors

kids india 2014The second annual Kids India will kick off on September 18 with 40 percent more exhibitors than last year. The Indian trade fair will be held at the Bombay Convention & Exhibition Center, with a total of 153 exhibitors from 13 countries. The trade show organizer Spielwarenmesse eG has increased the exhibition area to 8,700 square meters, 1,500 square meters more than last year.

Kids India represents the international platform of the Indian toy industry. In addition to toys, Indian and international exhibitors will be presenting baby products, licenses, sport, leisure, and hobby. At its premiere last year, more than 100 exhibitors and over 5,200 visitors attended the trade show in Mumbai. The show offers participants free workshops and seminars, including national and international speakers discussing current issues and trends in the toy industry. [Read more...]

August Video Game Sales Up Year-over-Year, but New Software Launches Show Weakness

NPDGrouplogoAccording to analysis from The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan, overall new physical retail sales of video game hardware, software, and accessories increased by 8 percent this August over the same month last year. These overall sales also followed a similar pattern as prior months, with explosive hardware growth driven by eighth generation consoles offsetting declines in software.

For August, overall hardware sales doubled from the same month last year, caused by a more than 200 percent increase in console hardware sales with continued strong sales of eighth generation hardware, including Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One. Eighth generation hardware represented close to 70 percent of August’s hardware sales—the highest percentage share since the release of the Xbox One and PS4 last November.

As far as software, new launches in August declined 41 percent compared to last August, due to poor comparisons between titles. Eight of the top 10 games last August were new launches, compared to only three during this past August. Madden NFL 15 was the number one game in August, with growth over last August’s Madden NFL 25.