Mattel Launches First Multi-Brand Hispanic Integrated Campaign

logo_Mattel logoIn preparation for the holidays, Mattel Inc. has launched its first ever Spanish-language multi-brand marketing campaign, toy feliz. Already live in Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami, this Hispanic-oriented effort spans multi-media marketing platforms and key brands, including Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, and Barbie.

The campaign includes TV and radio advertising on Univision, a retail partnership with Walmart, a bilingual website, geo-targeted coupons, and printed advertising inserts in participating markets. Mattel has even partnered with Padres Contra El Cáncer to help in the non-profit’s mission to provide emotional and financial support, as well as bilingual health education, to children with cancer and their families. As part of the partnership, Mattel is sponsoring Padres’ annual holiday parties, which provide families who have a child undergoing treatment with the opportunity to enjoy the holidays in a fun-filled and safe environment. Mattel will also make donations to Padres families at local Los Angeles and Miami hospitals.

Famosa Launches Range Rover Ride-On

Range Rover Ride-OnEuropean toy company, Famosa, has launched its new Range Rover Sport 12-Volt Ride-On vehicle modeled after the Land Rover SUV. This new luxury ride-on is available exclusively at Toys “R” Us and is a part of the Feber brand, which is known for its lineup for quality indoor and outdoor products, activities, and games.

Besides just looking stylish, the Range Rover Ride-On has a ton of awesome features: Kids can connect an iPod of MP3 player to the speaker jack and blast their favorite songs through the speakers; rev up the engine, honk the horn, and open and close the doors; drive safely at 4.5 mph by shifting into gear and pressing the foot pedal to travel forwards or backwards; and take advantage of the two-seater’s cup holders, cool tailpipes, and big tires.

Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the Range Rover Ride-On will keep kids engaged in hours of active play.

COMMENTARY: Ease Your Walking Dead #zombiebrain with Licensed Products

Along with more than 8 million other Americans, I’ve taken to spending my Sunday nights biting my nails watching Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Michonne slice through zombie skulls on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Needless to say, thoughts of the zombie apocalypse have now pretty much overrun my life. I’m dubbing this obsession #zombiebrain. If, like me, you or someone you love suffers from #zombiebrain, here are some awesome toys and games to feed your addiction.

Monopoly.WalkingDead.USAopMonopoly: The Walking Dead Survival Edition, from USAopoly brings everyone’s favorite board game into the world of the (un)dead. Based on The Walking Dead comic from Robert Kirkman, the game challenges players to fight for their own property and avoid zombies at all costs. Monopoly: The Walking Dead Survival Edition delivers classic Monopoly wheeling and dealing game play—but this time, players must fight for their survival. Everything about the game screams “WALKERS!” Properties correspond with the series landmarks, such as the prison cells, the Greene Family farm house, and Woodbury, while game tokens resemble key items from the series such as Rick’s sheriff hat, a bucket of body parts, the telephone, Dale’s R.V. (RIP Dale!), the Katana (aka Michonne’s awesome sword), and Lucille (aka a ridiculously effective baseball bat wrapped with barbed wire). Instead of using money to purchase property, players must trade essential supplies, such as food, ammo, and fuel to gain more territory on the board or to place a guard tower or wall (instead of the standard houses and hotels) to secure their safe haven from Walker attacks. The game is recommended for two to six players ages 13 and up and is now available at comic book specialty shops. [Read more...]

The Beatrix Girls Sign New Licensees

The Beatrix GirlsWith an official launch still to come this year, The Beatrix Girls brand has already announced nine new licensing agreements after its successful introduction at the International Licensing Show. The new line of collectible pop-star dolls has expanded since its promotional agreement with Peavey Electronics to add new brand partners in the teen/tween market. Licensing deals, including apparel, bags and backpacks, accessories, back-to-school, bedding, stationery, footwear, headwear, and more, were brokered by the licensing firm AALMG.

The U.S. licensees The Beatrix Girls have recently signed include Children’s Apparel Network for branded tops, bottoms, sets, dress, and outerwear; Berkshire Fashions for branded baseball caps, fashion headwear, fleece hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, head bands, ear muffs, leg and arm warmers, socks, slipper socks, rain slickers, ponchos, and umbrellas; Hanover Group for branded necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, anklets, charms, headbands, barrettes, ponytail holders, hair clips, hair scarves, lanyards, coin purses, purses, zipper pulls, flashlights, key chains, backpack clips, shoelaces, novelty headbands, tiaras, wands, eye masks, brushes, sunglasses, and gift sets; Skyhigh International LLC for branded back-to-school stationery, including notebooks, memo books, portfolios, binders, planners, journals, address books, list pads, book covers, stationery sets, stickers, pens, and pencils; Jay Franco & Sons for branded bedding, bath, room décor, beach towels, beach blankets, and beach backpacks; AME for branded girls sleepwear; Playa Vista Designs for branded footwear; and Fast Forward for branded handbags, backpacks, totes, sports bags, small leather goods, cell phone cases, luggage, lunch juts, and beverage bottles.

The Beatrix Girls band members—Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal—produce real music that kids can collect. Each pop-star has her own developed personality, making it not only possible for her to live and interact in the human world, but for kids to vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop-star through play.

Musical Toys: An Inspiration to Pursue the Art

by Rachel Matthews, guest blogger

Not too long ago, the Kidz Bop kids found their way performing at venues in New York and New Jersey. Their collection of poppy, top 40 covers has allowed them to produce dozens of compilation albums, launch a U.S. star search, release books, video games, and toys.

The line-up of the group is in constant rotation as each member ages. Because of this rotation, many a child beg their parents for a singing lesson—especially in New York—after seeing a Kidz Bop performance. The chances of becoming a member is hard pressed as detailed by this young musician, but the combination of their U.S. talent search and brand gives hope to many children within the States.

Of course, aiming to sing for a band such as Kidz Bop is only part of what’s driving up sales in music -parents must by music-related toys to help further their children’s ambitions.

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COMMENTARY: Billy’s Got the Toddler Beat

As a 24 year-old, one would hope that it would take a fairly fascinating toy to really pique my interest. While it does take probably less than you would imagine (I am admittedly a kid at heart), there is one toddler plaything that I simply can’t get enough of—Billy Beats Dancing Piano. This musical DJ, from Mega Bloks, does it all. Billy is a too-cute-to-handle, dancing piano that is the culmination of all things enjoyed by toddlers. I know that if Billy had been around in my toddler hay-day, his batteries would have needed very frequent changing. My short attention span made it difficult to entertain me, and Billy Beats is four sources of entertainment in one—singing, music playing, dancing, and block building. Win, win, win, and win!

billybeatsHe has eight classic preschool songs in his repertoire, and he knows them all in three styles—with standard piano sounds, barnyard animal sounds, and a funky DJ-style. Kids can mix-and-match the sounds in the “Discover Music” mode. The “Dance Along” option makes Billy dance along as the song plays. The keys light up and Billy shakes his little piano booty. I think my favorite is the “Teach Me” setting. Billy Beats’ keys will light up in the order of the notes in the song. Toddler musicians can follow along, playing the song. If they make a mistake, Billy Beats lets out an adorable little giggle; if they get it right, he plays the song back for them—and of course adds a little jig.

Staying true to the Mega Bloks First Builders brand, Billy Beats is a construction toy that is fully compatible with all Mega Bloks First Builders blocks. They can be stored in the space under his red cap, and built up over his keys and on top of his head. Along with the included blocks, Billy Beats comes with stickers of sheet music that kids can play on his light-up keyboard.

For more commentary from Kara, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

COMMENTARY: Kids Getting Older Younger—Or Younger Older?

Everyone always talks about how kids are getting older younger. Kids as young as 8 years old are swapping their Barbie dolls and Transformers for iPods and tablets—but this isn’t the case for everyone. There are big kids everywhere, and toys have a funny little habit of bringing an adult’s inner-child giggling wildly to the surface.

Nostalgia is a huge trend in toys today—classic properties such as The Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pac-Man have resurfaced and are engaging a whole new generation. Traditional toys, such as Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven, Kahootz’s Spirograph, and POOF-Slinky’s Slinky, all still appeal to young kids the same way they did decades ago. However, adults and older kids will find just as much fun in new products primarily targeted toward youngsters, too.

RainbowLoom.Butterfly Blossom braceletThis weekend, I was loomed. A family friend’s daughter, Karli, had her wrist covered in the colorful rubber bracelets that are a product of Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Designs. A huge craze among kids, I was enamored by the bracelets and begged her to teach me how to make one. She did, and of course, hers came out better. I’ve been staring at it on my wrist every day since she made it for me, and I was extremely tempted to purchase my own loom when I went into a Michael’s craft store and saw the enormous display (but I thought to myself: “You’re 23 years old, Marissa! Taking home product samples is one thing, but you cannot justify BUYING a toy!”).

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Nintendo Invites Fans for a Legend of Zelda Contest

legendofzeldaNintendo is holding a contest on Facebook that lets fans submit art inspired by The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for the Wii U console. The creators of the five top selections will win a Wii U console and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD game. In addition, the five winners and top 50 finalists will have their art displayed on the main screen at The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert, where it will be accompanied by music from The Legend of Zelda series. The five winners will also have their art displayed in the lobby of the Seattle performance of the concert tour on September 12.

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses features live orchestral performances of theme music from The Legend of Zelda games. The Seattle performance will also include game-play kiosks for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HDThe Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for Nintendo 3DS, and photo opportunities with the King of Red Lions replica. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is a remastered version of the Nintendo GameCube original. The game launches in October for Wii U and features high-definition graphics, GamePad features, and enhanced game play, such as faster sailing.

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.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band Release Lishy Lou and Lucky Too

lishylouLucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will release a new album of songs that create a world of adventurous listening for all ages. Lishy Lou and Lucky Too  is the new album and  features musical and theatrical guests, and will be available on October 1 on www.luckydiazmusic.com.

Lishy Lou and Lucky Too is a color-splashed, enhanced-reality, family-friendly variety show à la Peewee’s Playhouse, with a dash of The Lucy Show and the Marx Brothers comedy. Lishy Lou (Alisha Gaddis) and Lucky (a real-life husband-wife team) live together in a magical treehouse, and each episode presents a problem that Lishy, Lucky, and their friends and guests solve together. They’re a bilingual household (English and Spanish) that is filled with music and dance, encouraging movement and learning through song.

The album begins with the peppy theme song and a doo-woppy tune called “Thingamajig,”. Other songs spotlight people in history like Amelia Earhart (“8,000 Feet”) and Jackie Robinson (“Jackie”). The Beatles’ classic “Till There Was You” takes on new meaning when Lucky and Lishy sing it, and the song “When I Grow Up” will inspire kids to live their dreams.

The idea for Lishy Lou and Lucky Too came during a road trip, when together with daughter Ella, Lucky and Alisha shared music and stories. Lishy Lou and Lucky Too follows two family music albums from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band: A Potluck (2012), and the 2013 Spanish language release ¡Fantastico!. The band is also planning several family concerts this fall to celebrate the release, including a concert on September 14 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.