Douglas Cuddle Toys Welcomes Tara Rubino

image-1Douglas Co., known for their plush toys and plush accessories, has appointed Tara Rubino to the position of National Sales Manager.

Rubino has had more than 20 years experience in plush sales and management, having worked for two other plush companies prior. All Douglas employees have passion for what they do and take the mission seriously to promote imaginative play and emotional connection for children of all ages.

Douglas products are sold at specialty gift and toy stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

TCG Strengthens Sales Force with New Appointments

In a move to strengthen its Canadian sales force, TCG has promoted Laura Giger to vice president and appointed Moe Merali as sales director. Giger has nearly 20 years of experience as a senior-level consumer packaged goods sales executive, more than half of which have been at TCG. Prior to joining TCG in 2003, she held the positions of national account manager for Hasbro Canada and sales representative for Hugh McIvor Agencies. She will oversee all account relationships in the Canadian market.

Merali joins TCG with more than 10 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods and IT sectors. Prior to joining TCG, he served as sales director Canada at Innovation First International.

Toys “R” Us Releases Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids

toysToys “R” Us, Inc. has released the 2013 Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, a toy selection resource for children with special needs. This annual shopping guide is available in Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide and online, in English and Spanish, at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. This year’s edition features 2012 all-around gymnastics gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas on the cover, alongside Special Olympics Young Athletes Isabella Caesar and Samuel Lopez.

This year’s Guide introduces Toys “R” Us’ first Toys “R” Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. The app guide currently features a selection of 25 apps identified to help children with special needs further develop key skills. Apps featured within the 2013 app guide include Swapsies–Occupations, PicSay–Photo Editor, Learning Letters for Kids, Bubble Buster, and Cookie Dunk Jump. All apps featured within this resource can be found in the Google Play Store for Android or the App Store for iOS.

Gabby Douglas is also helping to cheer on aspiring Special Olympics athletes. The Special Olympics Young Athletes program introduces kids to the world of sports and offers children ages 2 to 7 with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to play, compete, and grow while developing early cognitive, social, and motor skills. The Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund provides ongoing grants to Special Olympics to support the national expansion of Special Olympics’ Young Athletes program. Most recently, it pledged $1 million to become a founding partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games and presenting sponsor of the first Young Athletes Festival, which will provide children and their families with the opportunity to take part in the Young Athletes program, free health screenings, family seminars, and more.

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will be in New Jersey from June 14 to 21. This year, Toys “R” Us has partnered with Wynsum Arts, a social enterprise that makes app discovery and mobile technology accessible to children of all abilities.

KidTribe’s Hoopersize Kit Hits Retail

HoopersizeThe battle over childhood obesity, now declared a disease by the American Medical Association, has a new ally in fitness guru and TED Talks alum Kellee McQuinn. In 2002 she founded KidTribe, and has since evoked a new paradigm of physical education, especially with her Hoopersize hula hoops.

Hoopersize is a retail fitness kit designed to keep children active. The kit includes a full sized Pro-Hoop that’s designed to be a bit thicker, heavier, and a lot sturdier than typical hoops. It also includes two DVDs featuring instructional music videos that teach tricks, lead dynamic routines, and entertain while providing nutritional tips. The kit is packed with 12 instructional games and the Hoopersize CD with music to hula hoop along to.

KidTribe’s routines take the form of fitness concerts known as Hoopapalooza, which has grown to be a popular and award-winning school assembly program seen by more than 3.5 million kids and teachers. Hoopapalooza has garnered so much popularity that it has been a staple at the White House Easter Egg Roll since 2010. The energy of Hoopapalooza can now be captured at home with Hoopersize.

Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band Releases Second Album

HeidiSwedbergHeidi Swedberg, best-known from her role of Susan on Seinfeld, has built a national reputation for her ukulele-inflected, interactive approach to family music-making. Swedberg produced her second album, My Cup of Tea, for national retail release on September 10. To produce the album of 13 songs, Swedberg raised more than $5,000 through crowd-funding site Kickstarter and involved many of her musician friends to create a diverse album.

Amidst frequent national touring with Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band, Heidi holds ongoing weekly music classes at McCabe’s and Los Angeles schools, plus elementary schools and other venues. Her lessons and chord charts are available via the Sukey Jump channel on GoChords. Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band plan concerts in Southern California this fall. Visit the Sukey Jump calendar page for scheduling details.

Gaby Borges Named New Kidz Bop Spokesperson

kidzbopUnivision Communications Inc. and Kidz Bop have teamed up to support the July 16 release of Kidz Bop 24. Tween sensation and Univision correspondent, Gaby Borges, is the new spokesperson for Kidz Bop’s first Spanish-language campaign. The 14-year-old singer, actor, and dancer is also participating in Kidz Bop’s annual Kidz Star USA Talent Search as a special ambassador to encourage aspiring young Hispanic performers to audition for their chance to win an RCA Records recording contract.

The release of Kidz Bop 24 is also timed to coincide with Kidz Bop’s annual Kidz Star USA Talent Search, the premier talent competition for kids 15 and under. This summer, Kidz Bop has partnered with Six Flags for the Official Kidz Star USA Live Audition Tour, hitting 10 theme parks across the country.

Women In Industry Luncheon Benefits K.I.D.S and Fashion Delivers

womeninindustryThe seventh annual Women In Industry Luncheon raised more than $200,000 on June 6 to benefit Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) and Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation Inc., partner charities that have provided more than $1 billion in new product donations to families impacted by poverty and natural disasters.  The event, held at Cipriani 42 St. in New York City, introduced Denise Durham Williams as the new president and CEO of K.I.D.S. and honored Margaret Hayes, president of Fashion Group International; Kelly Neal Mariotti, CEO of First Candle; Joanne Podell, vice chairman, retail services, Cushman & Wakefield; and Maura Regan, senior vice president and general manager, global consumer products, Sesame WorkshopNY1 News journalist Jessica Abo was the emcee. A portion of the proceeds raised by the event will support the charities’ relief efforts for families affected by the recent Oklahoma tornadoes.

Toy and Consumer Products Veterans Launch Cartwheel Kids

Cartwheel LogoToy and consumer products industry veterans Vince Klaseus, Len Mazzocco, and Daniel Setton have launched Cartwheel Kids, an expanded proposition to Xcessory International, focused on bringing creativity and innovation to the toy aisle and beyond. In addition to the quality, innovative dress-up product that Xcessory International currently develops, Cartwheel will design and manufacture toy products, including boys’and girls’ role play, preschool toys, figures and play sets, plush, seasonal, novelty items, and more, that will debut next year.

Boasting a solid track record of success and decades of combined experience, the Cartwheel Kids executive team has already managed to capture the attention of companies in the entertainment and toy industries. The company will be announcing key partnerships in the coming months.

Daniel Setton, founder and CEO of Xcessory International, serves as chief executive officer. Vince Klaseus, former chief executive of Disney Consumer Products’ Global Toys division, is leading the team as president, and Len Mazzocco, former SVP of creative at Disney Consumer Products, is chief creative officer.

According to Klaseus, Cartwheel Kids’ focuses on developing strong relationships and partnerships based on collaboration, mutual trust, and creative solutions. To best serve these partnerships, Cartwheel has recently opened its Los Angeles office to complement the existing Xcessory International office in New York.

Toy Industry Hall of Fame Nominations Now Open

Members of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) and other toy industry stakeholders are invited to submit nominations of deserving candidates (living or deceased) for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, the TIA says in a news release. Selected candidates will join 62 current members of the hall of fame during a ceremony to be held in conjunction with the 14th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards ceremony on February 15 of next year. The nomination period will extend from May 28 through June 28. Membership in TIA is not a prerequisite for submitting a nomination.

Nominees for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame should have longstanding experience in the toy industry; unimpeachable integrity and respect among his or her peers; have made outstanding contributions to the industry and/or to TIA; and be recognized for various accomplishments. Examples include innovative product or marketing introductions; manufacturing process changes, which significantly improved processes or products; a prominent role in promoting the public’s awareness and appreciation of the importance of toys in the lives of children, or promoting the public’s awareness of the toy industry as a significant and responsible member of the business community; and service on the TIA board of directors, or in other important capacities in or related to toys and youth entertainment.

Additional information on the Toy Industry Hall of Fame is available online. Questions and completed nomination forms should be directed to TIA’s Stacy Leistner (646) 520-4858 by June 28.

Thrash Lab and Giant Robot Profile Uglydoll Creator

Ashton Kutcher’s Thrash Lab, in collaboration with Giant Robot Profiles, profiles Uglydoll creator David Horvath. The profile tells the story of how Uglydoll was born around 10 years ago from a simple character drawing in a letter margin to a hand-sewn doll by Horvath’s now wife Sun-Min Kim.

Check out the profile on Uglydoll’s YouTube channel below: