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.
MakieLab 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.
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.
Avengers: 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.
When it comes to creating great toys, games, or just about anything, it all boils down to the idea. Great things are often borne of flashes of inspiration, and more than ever, we’re seeing toy companies try to tap into the mental spark of their customers.
Today’s toy shopping experience has become a combination—or choice—of in-person browsing, online price comparisons, and research in a way we’d previously never seen before the dawn of the smartphone. Gone are the days of browsing the aisles of a single store, limited to its inventory and prices. Competitors used to be a trip or a phone call away, and often, shoppers didn’t have the time or desire to drive around town in search of a slightly lower price.
There was a time when consuming toys required going to where the toys are. That meant the neighborhood toy store, or the big chain retailer attached to the shopping mall. Even with the advent of Internet shopping, buying a new toy still required logging onto an online account, browsing for the item, and clicking a mouse to purchase it.
Shopping consciously is a lot easier when there are toy companies out there dedicated to manufacturing products in the U.S. While made-in-the-U.S. toys may not have been one the biggest trends at Toy Fair this year, we still wanted to round up some of the fantastic products we saw, that you all should keep an eye out for this year!
by Jeff Stier, senior fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to hear from you.
The agency has extended its comments period until April 15 as it considers a rule that would regulate a range of chemicals within a group called phthalates. These chemicals, among other purposes, keep plastics from shattering when bent, and play a useful role in a range of consumer products.