Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Now Available for Preview at Select Disney Stores

Playmation Shoot (TBD)Kids and parents can now experience Playmation Marvel’s Avengers for the first time at participating Disney Store locations, where two- and five-minute training sessions are available daily. For those who want to take part in an expanded experience, 30-minute Avengers Gear Orientations are available on Saturdays and Sundays by reservation only. During the longer Avenger Gear Orientation, kids and parents can learn more about the Avenger Gear, follow instructions from JARVIS, and interact with other participants to complete missions and adventures.


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CogniToys, from Elemental Path, Enters Pre-Sale Mode

CogniToysToday, Elemental Path is beginning its pre-sale of CogniToys, a line of cloud-based talking dinosaurs that learn and grow alongside children. Recommended for kids ages 5 and up and introduced earlier this year, CogniToys is available in green, blue, or pink; and each dinosaur measures roughly 7.5 inches tall.

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McFarlane Toys and HBO Reach Agreement for Game of Thrones Construction Line

McFarlaneToys,GameofThronesMcFarlane Toys, in partnership with HBO Global Licensing, has signed a licensing agreement to bring the TV series Game of Thrones to the construction toy aisle this fall. Following in its tradition of highly detailed construction sets, McFarlane Toys will add an artistic layer to each Game of Thrones brick piece, resulting in construction sets that double as realistic models of notable locations seen on the show.

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Skylanders SuperChargers Brings the Dark to Comic-Con International

Skylanders SuperChargers Dark 1Activision Publishing Inc. will unveil the new Skylanders SuperChargers Dark Edition at Comic-Con International: San Diego, and attendees will be among the first consumers to play the game with dark versions of the Starter Pack characters. They include Dark Turbo Charge Donkey Kong with the Dark Barrel Blaster land vehicle, Dark Hammer Slam Bowser with the Dark Clown Cruiser sky vehicle, and Stealth Elf in a new Dark version.

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Barnes & Noble Names Ronald D. Boire to CEO Position

Ron_BoireRonald D. Boire has been named CEO of Barnes & Noble’s retail business, effective September 8. He is currently president, CEO, and a member of the board of directors of Sears Canada.

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Scrabble Console Game Now Available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4

ScrabbleScrabble, a console game based on the classic word-spelling game, is now available for download in the U.S. through the Hasbro Game Channel online, or on Xbox Live for Xbox One and on PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 4.

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TIA’s Genius of Play Campaign Collects 58,000 Hours After One Week

TIA,GeniusofPlay,ClayAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the Genius of Play campaign was launched last week, and parents and caregivers across the U.S. have already pledged to play a collective 58,000 hours with the children in their lives. In addition, more than 50 TIA member companies have shared the campaign’s inaugural Facebook post and its message about the essential role of play in the development of children.

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Q&A, Erin Black, Founder of Lyla Tov Monsters

Lyla Tov Monsters is a line of plush dolls created by the mother-daughter team of Erin Black, and her daughter, Lyla Black. Recently, The Toy Book had a chance to sit down with Erin and talk to her about doll-making, launching a Kickstarter campaign, the future of the specialty doll space, and more.

The Toy Book (TTB): Starting from the moment that you first saw Lyla’s design for the dolls, can you take us through the development process?

ErinwMonsterErin Black (EB): When Lyla was three years old, she drew a picture of a “good” monster and asked me to help her, “make it real,” as a gift for her daddy. We raided my bins of fabric scraps, and she picked out the perfect fur for the monster body, a well as appropriate fabric for all his limbs and accessories.

My husband loved the monster and suggested we make more to sell. I had a booth reserved at a local craft fair to sell some other products I had made, so Lyla and I decided to make a batch of 20 monsters for her to sell there as well. The monsters flew off the table and into the hands of eager customers, and Lyla Tov Monsters was born.

We first sold a few Monsters on Etsy, and then quickly moved to having a web site of our own, from which people could order their one-of-a-kind Lyla Tov Monster. Soon we had some local retail shops interested in carrying Lyla Tov Monsters, and the demand for our product outgrew what Lyla and I could produce off the dining room table.

We ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund our first run of factory-produced Monsters. Once we had sold enough of these initial two Monsters, we reinvested the money to create two more styles. We now have four limited edition Lyla Tov Monsters in our line.

TTB: The doll space is a very competitive one. How do Lyla Tov Monsters stand out amidst a crowded field?

ForrestEB: I think Lyla Tov Monsters are appealing for several reasons. Their bright colors and interesting patterns and textures make them stand out on a store shelf. Also, they are somewhere between doll and plush toy, so children can hug and snuggle them like they might a teddy bear, but also give them the same life and personality that they might with a doll. Because Lyla Tov Monsters were designed by a child, they resonate well with a young audience that connects to their simple shape and cheerful faces.

TTB: According to the Lyla Tov Monsters home page, you oversaw patterning and fabrication for the doll line. For readers who may not know much about those aspects, can you talk about what that entails, and how it’s important for making a good doll?

EB: Before diving into the world of toy production, I was a costume designer for the Jim Henson Company. Part of my job there was to make patterns, choose fabrics, and stitch garments.  These skills all came into play when I started to fabricate the initial Lyla Tov Monsters prototype from Lyla’s sketch.

I’m used to interpreting a two-dimensional drawing and turning it into a three-dimensional object, so I was able to stay true to the spirit of Lyla’s vision while making sure to create a toy that was interesting and well-constructed. This was especially useful when we started to use a factory for production, as I could send them a finished prototype as well as my flat pattern pieces to work from. This saved us a lot of back and forth in the early stages of our relationship with our factory.

TTB: Kickstarter seems to have become a viable new way for launching a toy. From your experience, what would you say were the greatest advantages and disadvantages of using it as a fundraising tool?

Lyla Black, with monsters

Lyla Black, with monsters

EB: We were thrilled when we met our Kickstarter funding goal within the first eight days! It was a fantastic way to not only get the seed money we needed to produce our first factory-run Monsters, but also to test the waters and make sure there was an audience for our product.

It felt like less of a risk to take the plunge into mass production knowing that people out in cyberspace believed in what we were doing and were willing to back our idea. The only real downside was that it took a lot of work to create the video, and to set up and promote our Kickstarter campaign. It was well worth it because we reached our goal, but it would have been frustrating to have invested that time and energy and come up short.

TTB: What is the current retail situation for Lyla Tov Monsters? Besides Amazon and at craft fairs, where else can they be found?

EB: We do a lot of our Lyla Tov Monsters sales direct to consumers from our website at www.lylatov.com! We are also in several boutique toy and gift shops across the country.

TTB: You recently attended the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA) Marketplace and Academy. What was the experience like? Did you encounter many specialty retailers who hadn’t encountered Lyla Tov Monsters before, and how were their reactions?

CharlotteEB: We had a fantastic time at the ASTRA show. We had the chance to meet and network with shop owners as well as other toy manufacturers. We were thrilled by the number of people who had heard of Lyla Tov Monsters and knew our story prior to the show, and excited about all the new orders we wrote at the show.

Some people came to our booth because they had read about Lyla Tov Monsters prior to the show and knew they wanted to carry them in their shop. Others stopped as they were walking by because they were drawn in by our display. The response we got was very positive and we thoroughly enjoyed everyone we met!

TTB: Given the success of the first wave of dolls, what does the future hold for the line? 

EB: We hope to expand our line in the next few months so that it will include six varieties of Lyla Tov Monsters. We have found that customers really love to have a choice and spend a lot of time deciding which is the perfect Monster to buy as a gift, and that retailers are eager to display an assortment of Lyla Tov Monsters. Lyla is already working on the designs for the next two Monsters we will make!

TTB: What do you think the future holds for the specialty doll space? What is it about this type of dolls that’s so appealing to consumers?

EB: There is a bright future ahead for specialty dolls and toys. I think these days people are really drawn to small manufacturers, supporting family businesses, and having the chance to give a gift or buy a product that isn’t available on every corner. Boutique stores like to sell toys that have a story to go with them, and customers feel more invested in their purchases if they feel part of that story.

American Girl Opens Its Doors in Mexico with El Palacio De Hierro

AmericanGirl,MexicoboutiquesAmerican Girl is opening its first-ever American Girl shop-in-shop boutiques in Mexico with El Palacio de Hierro, the country’s largest and best-established high-end retailer. Located at El Palacio de Hierro Interlomas and Perisur locations, the new boutiques range in size from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. Opening on July 4, they mark the second international retail presence for American Girl.

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Little Charmers App Hits No. 1 on iTunes

Little Charmers SparkleUpRoughly a week after its launch, Little Charmers: Sparkle Up has taken the No. 1 spot for downloaded iPad apps in the App Store on iTunes across the U.S. and Canada. The first app for the Little Charmers brand, Little Charmers: Sparkle Up is a free download for tablets and smartphones that will be available on Amazon and Google Play this month. So far, it has garnered more than 100,000 downloads in the U.S. and Canada.

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