China Toy Fair


AG Properties Launches Strawberry Shortcake Program in Nordic Region

strawberry shortcakeStrawberry Shortcake will see a dramatic expansion across Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland this fall, thanks to a new licensing deal between AG Properties (AGP) and strategic partner Tactic Games. They will produce and distribute a variety of publishing products, games, and puzzles, and will serve as distributor in the Nordic region for the new core toy line produced by The Bridge Direct featuring all new packaging.

The deal was handled by local agent Alicom Licensing acting on behalf of AGP.

All products will be distributed via direct selling, book clubs, specialty stores, book stores, supermarket and grocery, hypermarket, mass market, department, duty-free stores, game specialty, novelty, and toy stores.

International Playthings to be Top Toy Distributor for SmartLab Toys

SmartLab Toys has chosen International Playthings LLC to distribute its line of products to specialty retail customers across the United States starting January 1.  

“We are very proud to add SmartLab Toys to our collection of high quality brands,” says Michael Varda, president of International Playthings. “Their products are known for their creativity, durability, ease of use, and appeal to kids, parents, and educators alike. They truly are among the most innovative and engaging and creative toys on the market. We are very excited about partnering with Smartlab and working with their team to expand their brand in the specialty toy market.”

SmartLab Toys will be displaying its line for next year at the American International Toy Fair in February, at its own booth as well as International Playthings’ booth.

Nintendo Becomes More Playful with Play Nintendo Website

PlayNintendoNintendo has unveiled Play Nintendo at play.nintendo.com, a new website where both kids and parents can interact with the video game maker’s characters and franchises. The site is a child-friendly online destination where kids can get to know beloved Nintendo games and characters including Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Peach.

Nintendo will be regularly updating the parents site with new content such as which games are right for families, new games on the way, crafting ideas, suggestions for how to balance screen time with outdoor play, and more.

Baby and Infant Products Will Be Bigger than Ever at Spielwarenmesse

SpielwarenmesseegSpielwarenmesse eG has announced an extension of space for baby and infant products at Spielwarenmesse 2015.

Nearly 350 exhibitors will have products for babies and infants at the trade fair, ranging from toys, textile articles, strollers, and furniture. These exhibitors will be located next to similar product groups, which will include dolls, plush, and wooden toys.

The trade fair will take place in Nuremberg from January 28 to February 2 of next year.

Alex Brands Opens New Worldwide Headquarters and Distribution Center in N.J.

AlexBrandsAlex Brands is expanding its operational footprint with the opening of a new worldwide headquarters and customer showroom in Fairfield, N.J.; a state-of-the-art distribution center in Woodbridge, N.J.; and expanded warehouse capacity in its Canton, Mich., distribution center.

The company’s new worldwide headquarters in Fairfield, N.J., covers 30,000 square feet, and houses the majority of the senior leadership, sales, marketing, purchasing, and compliance teams. It also features more than 4,000 square feet of showroom space, an in-house design center, and a photography and film studio. Along with fostering a collaborative team atmosphere, the new space will serve as a hub for the company’s product development team.

Alex Brands has also made significant investments in expanding its distribution capabilities, with the new Woodbridge, N.J., distribution center adding 300,000 square feet of space. The facility also provides direct-to-consumer fulfillment capabilities to support the company’s rapidly growing e-commerce initiative.

The company also doubled the warehouse space at its Canton, Mich., distribution center. The new facilities are expected to create job opportunities for local communities in Fairfield, Woodbridge, and Canton.

Toys “R” Us Celebrates Skylanders Trap Team’s Arrival with Special Events, Early Opening, and More

SkylandersTrapTeamLogoToys “R” Us is celebrating the debut of the latest Skylanders game, Skylanders Trap Team, with special events, an early opening, exclusive figures, and more.

On Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5, the Toys “R” Us flagship store in New York City will host unique in-store Skylanders-themed experiences. Customers who visit Toys “R” Us Times Square from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on either day can be among the first to play the new game at dedicated kiosks throughout the store.

ToysRUsLogo copyThey can also receive complimentary giveaways while supplies last, as well as have the opportunity to be digitally teleported into a Skylanders Trap Team “Most Wanted” photo alongside some of the game’s villains, including Kaos and Chompy Mage.

When Skylanders Trap Team releases on October 5, all Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will open one hour earlier at 8 a.m., and select stores will open at midnight. A full list of stores opening at midnight can be found at toysrus.com/midnightskylanders. Meanwhile, the Skylanders villain Kaos will be taking over the Toys “R” Us Twitter channel (@Toysrus) on Saturday, October 4, from 11 to 11:50 p.m. to interact with fans and build anticipation for the midnight release. [Read more...]

Popples, Winx Club Animated Series to Debut on Netflix

Popples.NetflixNetflix will bring Popples, bright and fluffy toy creatures popular in the 1980s, to life in a kids cartoon late next year, according to an article in Entertainment Weekly this past Wednesday. Saban Brands will produce the Netflix-exclusive series with ZAG Entertainment. The 26 half-hour episodes will follow the adventures of the five Best Popple Pals in the colorful world of Popplopolis, according to the article.

Additionally, Netflix and Rainbow Studios have announced an expansion to the Winx Club franchise with a spin-off series, Winx Club WOW: World of Winx, that will be exclusively available in all Netflix territories. The first of the two all-new seasons will be available by early 2016 with the second following in the fall.

Antony Hicks Joins Leapfrog as Chief International Officer

LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES LOGOAntony Hicks has joined LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. as chief international officer. In this role, he will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and management to international operations as LeapFrog grows its current international businesses and extends its global reach through entering strategic new markets.

Hicks has extensive experience in developing businesses in Asia. Prior to joining LeapFrog, Mr. Hicks was chief executive officer, Indochina, at The Carlsberg Group where he was responsible for driving market share across the key countries in the region.

TIA to Host Young Professionals Cocktail Party in Dallas

TIA.YoungProfessionalsNetworkThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) Young Professionals Network (YPN), which supports the growth, development, and retention of young professionals in the toy industry, will host a networking cocktail party on October 8 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The event will take place following the close of the second day of Fall Toy Preview.

All young toy industry professionals ages 35 and under are invited to attend the party, to be held at the Hilton Anatole Gossip Bar. Admission is free for both TIA members and non-members; TIA member company representatives will receive one complimentary drink.

RSVP for the cocktail party is requested by October 2. Questions and suggestions for expanding or improving upon the YPN—formerly known as Toy Industry Next Generation (TING)—may be directed to TIA’s Bernadette Boyle, membership manager, at (646) 454-5585.

300,000 Come Out to Verona’s Tocatì Festival

The 12th edition of the Tocatì Festival, or International Festival of Street Games, featured Mexico as this year’s guest country. The festival, which was held in the historical center of Verona, Italy, took place on September 18 to 21.

The festival featured roughly 40 traditional games from both this year’s guest country, Mexico, and various Italian regions. About 300,000 people—matching the total from the previous year—took part in more than 40 traditional games, which filled the city streets and squares with life.

Among the Mexican games was Carrera de arihueta (played by Tarahumaras women); Juego de la caña de maíz (played by the ethnic group Tzotzil of Chiapas); and the pre-Columbian games from Sinaloa State, Ulama de antebrazo (a ball game in which the ball is hit with the forearm) and Ulama de cadera (in which the ball is hit only with the hips). There was also the Mexican game Pelota p’urepecha, played with a ball that is actually on fire. [Read more...]