GUEST COMMENTARY: Take Action: Urge Your Senator to Support TSCA Reform

TIA Logoby Ed Desmond, executive vice president of external affairs, Toy Industry Association (TIA)

One of the biggest threats facing your business today is the increasing problem of state after state seeking to ban certain chemicals used in toys. Individual state legislatures—and even counties—have been creating their own flawed chemical management laws, which could force retailers to pull perfectly safe products from store shelves. While the TIA is working to prevent such state laws, we are also actively engaged in addressing this threat by urging Congress to pass a federal, uniform chemical management policy that will help preempt state-by-state activity.

[Read more...]

GUEST COMMENTARY: Game Stores versus Toy Stores: There’s More than Enough Fun to Go Around

by Sara Erickson, owner, Rook’s Comics and Games

Rook's InteriorSitting in my game store on a warm Saturday afternoon, I watch as customers stream in with tote bags full of games they plan on playing during the next three or four hours. I know most of them by name and would consider many of them my friends. They’ve been shopping and playing at my store for the past nine years, and I’ve seen them grow from awkward teenagers into professional adults. Many have even outgrown my store and are now shopping at the local toy store across the street for their own kids. Eventually, the cycle will repeat and I’ll be selling the newest hot game to the next generation.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: What I’ve Learned About the Toy Industry—An Intern’s Perspective

ToyBooklogoAfter quarterly report cards and end-of-the-year science projects, if my grades were above a B+—and my teacher’s comments weren’t scolding—my mother would drive me to Toys “R” Us in Massapequa, N.Y., to pick up a Summertime Beach Barbie.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: ASTRA Marketplace & Academy: It’s All Fun and Games

Mollie Thonneson, the creator of Tag the Art Game, at ASTRA Marketplace & Academy with Alan Walker, aka The Art Cowboy

Mollie Thonneson, the creator of Tag the Art Game, at ASTRA Marketplace & Academy with Alan Walker, aka The Art Cowboy

So I recently attended the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Marketplace & Academy, which took place in Charlotte earlier this month. While it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as its northeastern counterpart, February’s North American International Toy Fair, it was still a great place to spot new developments in toys and games, especially the latter.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Let the Games (Surrounding Video Game Console Exclusives) Begin

SSC_Hammer Slam Bowser_FIN_HiResThis past Tuesday started out innocently enough. We were monitoring the news out of Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) when the announcement broke: As part of an agreement between Disney Interactive, Lucasfilm, and Sony, this fall will see the arrival of a special version of the upcoming Disney Infinity 3.0. The limited-edition Star Wars Saga Starter Pack will offer fans the chance to play as Boba Fett, the popular bounty hunter from the Star Wars movies. It will also allow players access to a much-anticipated Disney Infinity Play Set one month before it arrives on shelves, and even more importantly—at least, for the purposes of this commentary—the deal is only available for Sony’s PlayStation system.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Smart Technology Spans New Categories

by Reyne Rice, trend hunter, toy trend expert, industry analyst, and consultant

Resized,Reyne_RiceSmart tech for kids is no longer buzzword lingo. It has become a reality and has grown to encompass so much more than just technology added to toys to make them interesting or “tech-y.” Today, kids’ technology-enhanced products offer engaging and explorative play patterns that span a wide spectrum of categories. And while there are new technologies being used in these toys, the thrill is in the play experience, not in the technology itself. New technology enhances and extends play patterns way beyond how kids were playing in past decades. Plus, parents, older siblings, caregivers, and educators are all using new technology that companies are translating into toys and tech products for kids’ worldwide.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Licensed Figures? Not the Easiest Business to Figure Out

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Groot Premium Motion statue, from Factory Entertainment Inc.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Groot Premium Motion statue, from Factory Entertainment Inc.

A few months ago, I wrote a commentary about trends occurring in the world of licensed action figures. Since then, I worked on a longer piece for The Licensing Book, the sister publication of The Toy Book, looking at the process in between attaining a license for a movie, TV show, etc., and the production of the final toy. Licensed collectible figures was a fascinating subject to write about, and I am eternally grateful to all of the toy company officials who took time out of their busy lives to answer my unending barrage of (mostly) annoying questions.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Why Every Toy Company Needs to Follow MakieLab’s Lead

MakiesMakieLab has just made the first step in what I hope will be a great leap for the entire toy industry.

The London-based indie toy developer is the first company to respond directly to a viral social media campaign, #ToysLikeMe. The company has created a selection of Makie doll-size impairment aids and accessories, including hearing aids and walking sticks. It—hands down—has got to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard of, and all toy companies should follow suit.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Toys Meet Theme Parks and Resorts, or, How You’ll Be Spending Your Summer Vacations

Legoland Florida Resort

Last week, one of the big news stories around the toy industry was Nintendo entering a deal with Universal Studios to create rides and other attractions for the latter’s theme parks. As reported on The Toy Book Blog, Nintendo’s most famous video game characters and worlds would serve as the inspiration for these soon-to-be immersive experiences. Imagine the possibilities: Kids, and adults, may soon interact with environments straight out of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, or any of the video game maker’s other hit franchises.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: The Avengers’ Black Widow Is the Odd “Man” Out

Funko.BlackWidowPopfigureAvengers: Age of Ultron debuted in theaters on May 1, earning $187.7 million during its first weekend. Yet the only superhero anyone seems to be talking about is the Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, played by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson.

Between Mark Ruffalo, the actor who played The Hulk, taking to Twitter to ask why there aren’t more Black Widow toys available for his nieces, and Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner making tasteless comments about Black Widow being a “slut” and a “whore,” this female super hero, an Avenger herself (#recognize), cannot seem to catch a break.

[Read more...]