More Details Released on 2015 TOTY Awards Ceremony

TOTY2015logoThe 15th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on February 13 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. The evening event, which kicks off the North American International Toy Fair, will include a cocktail networking reception with hors d’oeuvres and dinner, followed by the awards ceremony.

Over the course of the event, presenters will announce the TOTY winners in 12 categories, as well as the People’s Choice Award, which is based solely on consumer votes, and the overall Toy of the Year Award, which is selected by mass and specialty retailers, journalists, and Toy Industry Association (TIA) members. The winners will be chosen from more than 600 products submitted for consideration during the open call for nominations this fall. Voting is currently open for all TOTY finalists at www.toyawards.org. [Read more...]

Madame Alexander to Debut Limited Edition Disney’s Frozen Elsa Doll at FAO Schwarz

Elsa.closeupwithshoesMadame Alexander will debut a special limited edition Disney’s Frozen Elsa doll at FAO Schwarz in New York City. Designed using the iconic, 21-inch Madame Alexander Cissy doll, the new collectible Elsa features detailed costuming and is decorated with 5,000 hand-applied Swarovski crystals.

She also holds a Swarovski crystal snowflake in her hand, and snowflakes adorn Elsa’s platinum braided hair.

Orders can be placed by calling FAO Schwarz at (212) 644-9400, x3043. Each doll is custom-made for a suggested retail of $5,000.

Petra’s Planet Hosting Player Power Event to Celebrate One Million Users

PetrasPlanetDramaforum recently announced that Petra’s Planet user registrations have surpassed 1,000,000. Petra’s Planet is a free-to-play browser-based virtual world that allows children to play games, chat, and explore world cultures in a safe online environment.

Currently, to celebrate this milestone, children who visit Petra’s Planet will be able to participate in a special, week-long Player Power event to collect special items and rewards. Petra’s Planet is COPPA compliant and advertising-free, and includes a safe chat system, a stringent privacy policy, and live moderators who guard against any misconduct, providing a safe environment for children and peace of mind for parents. [Read more...]

Activision Leads with Three Top-Selling Video Game Titles

Activision Publishing Inc. has delivered the top two selling console retail releases of the year the U.S., as well as the No. 1 kids video game franchise of 2014, based on retail sell-through, according to the NPD Group.

In only its first month of release, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is already the top-selling console game of the year through November in the U.S. overall, as well as individually on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation3. Call of Duty games continue to lead November console game sales for 6th consecutive year. [Read more...]

CPSC Amends Operating Plan to Reflect Concerns about Testing Burdens

CPSCAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), on December 13, the U.S. Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill to fund government operations through next September. The bill included $123 million in funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is the amount the agency asked for in its budget request for next year.

The committee report accompanying the bill includes a requirement that the CPSC allocate $1 million to reduce unnecessary and duplicative testing burdens. The language instructs the CPSC to provide a report within 90 days on the status of the agency’s testing burden reduction efforts, as well as a public timeline detailing what steps, if any, the agency will take to reduce testing costs while still assuring compliance. The accompanying report also includes a requirement that $4 million be allocated to import surveillance activities.

On Friday, December 12, the CPSC voted to amend the agency’s fiscal year operating plan for next year, after being strongly urged to use $1 million to find ways to reduce testing burdens. The agency voted 5 to 0 to amend their operating plan to include these funds.

Any questions related to this matter may be directed to the TIA’s Rebecca Mond, director of federal government affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org.

Alex Brands Acquires Shrinky Dinks

AlexBrandsShrinky Dinks will be part of the Alex Brands family of toys, which includes Alex Toys, Poof, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, and more. Invented in 1973, Shrinky Dinks consist of large, flexible sheets, which when heated in an oven, shrink to small hard plates without changing their color or shape.

Alex Brands historically licensed the Shrinky Dinks brand for use in the Alex Toys product line. It also joins Alex Brands’ growing collection of Made in the U.S. products, including Poof foam balls and Slinky products.

MasterPieces, Smart Play Signs on for Animal Planet and Shark Week Merchandise

MasterpiecesPuzzlesLogoMasterPieces Puzzle Company has signed a deal with Discovery Consumer Products to produce Animal Planet and Shark Week puzzles and craft sets. It will also create Animal Planet-branded dinosaur and safari products, as well as Shark Week-branded 3-D puzzles with a paint component and buildable craft kits made of wood.

Smart Play will develop children’s educational toys offering different ways to discover the world of animals. The line includes 3-D flashcards and puzzles, puzzle cubes, alphabet floor puzzles, a lighted click-and-see toy projector, and an electronic learning pad. The new items will be available next year.

Lincoln Logs Production Returns to the U.S. with 10 New Sets

LincolnLogsNext year’s entire line of Lincoln Logs, part of the K’NEX family of brands, will be manufactured in the U.S. by Pride Manufacturing in Burnham, Maine. Following industry trends, Lincoln Logs production was moved overseas during the mid-20th century. K’NEX, which licenses the brand from Hasbro, has been manufacturing Lincoln Logs since 1999.

Pride Manufacturing, the world’s leading supplier of wooden golf tees and related golf accessories, met K’NEX’s requirements for a wood manufacturing facility that could match the precision and detail required for Lincoln Logs. All sets come with a storage container for clean-up, are intended for kids ages 3 and up, and will be available next fall.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: I Don’t Know Art, But I Know What I Like (and That Includes Books about Lego)

Everybody loves Lego. But naturally, not everyone loves it in the same way. For some, what they find most appealing is the look of the bricks, which can capture the shape of an object—whether we’re talking about the Empire State Building or the Batmobile—while retaining an element of whimsy. For others, what makes Lego so awesome is the infinite number of possibilities it presents; that is, the fact that with enough pieces (and the right ones), a person can construct whatever they want. The only limiting factor is one’s imagination. [Read more...]

Imports Dragon Grows Sales Team in Toronto

ImportsDragon.logoImports Dragon has added five new members to its Toronto sales team following the successful expansion of its Caillou and Johnny Test product lines in the U.S. market, as well as the continued success of its Shopkins, The Trash Pack, and The Zelfs product lines.

The new additions to the sales team will be working under the leadership of Renee Lochhead, director of sales, who has more than 16 years of experience and joined the Import Dragon team this past July. Other additions include Danny Machado, who has more than 13 years of experience working at Wal-Mart, and Blake Turvey, who has more than 14 years of managerial and corporate development experience.

Gail Benham, Jason Kiss, and Tyler Patriquin round out the new sales team that will be working out of the company’s Mississauga headquarters.