Mattel’s HIT Entertainment to Develop New Thomas & Friends Digital Content

Thomas&Friends,70yearsThomas & Friends will embark on new adventures that will arrive on YouTube throughout this year. The global preschool content development division for Mattel Inc., HIT Entertainment, will develop 52 three-minute original digital videos for Thomas & Friends. The new short-form videos feature Thomas the Tank Engine having adventures off the Island of Sodor in fascinating destinations like London, Paris, and New York City, and coming to life in children’s playrooms. [Read more...]

CTA and TIA Share the Benefits of Using a Canadian Distributor

PrintThe Canadian Toy Association (CTA), an affiliate partner of the Toy Industry Association (TIA), recently asked its members to share the unique perks of partnering with a Canadian distributor. A survey of U.S. TIA members found that Canada is their No. 1 target market for toy, game, and youth entertainment product distribution.

The top four advantages, compiled by CTA, are as follows:

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Q&A with Geoffrey Greenberg, Co-President, Just Play

JustPlay.GeoffreyGreenbergThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you use 3-D printing in your research and development? Will you incorporate 3-D printing into your consumer offerings in the future?

Geoffrey Greenberg (GG): We use 3-D printing extensively in our development process. The quick turnarounds enable for faster approvals and the ability to make changes as needed without a long wait. A designer can be much more precise when working with a printed sample, and it helps move the development process along more quickly. [Read more...]

ASTRA Survey Says Independent Retailers Saw Strong 2014 Sales Growth

astra_logo_smallLocally-owned retail stores beat the 2014 holiday performance of many national chains, according to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) annual post-holiday national survey of independent businesses.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in partnership with the Advocates for Independent Business, surveyed 3,000 locally-owned businesses for the data. Among independent retailers, which made up roughly half of the sample, revenue increased overall by 5.1 percent in 2014, versus 2.3 percent in 2013. Holiday sales at specialty stores grew by an average of 4.8 percent, ahead of the 0.9 percent decline in December retail sales reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

However, nearly three-quarters of the local retailers surveyed said that online retailers not needing to collect sales tax has negatively impacted their sales. In addition, difficulty accessing credit continues to be a barrier for new and growing small businesses.

Target Shares Plans for Growth, Corporate Restructuring

Target LogoAt a meeting on Tuesday for the investor community, Target Corporation Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell and members of his leadership team presented strategies intended to put Target on a clear path to growth. The retailer plans to differentiate itself in the marketplace through stronger merchandising authority, as well as a shopping experience featuring mobile as its front door. In addition, Target will create a headquarters team that is more agile, efficient, and guest-focused. [Read more...]

Highlights, Mega Brands Prove a Great Fit for New Puzzles Partnership

MEGA+Branks+logoHighlights for Children and Mega Brands Inc. have entered a multi-year licensing partnership to develop a new line of puzzles. The collaboration will feature Highlights’ Hidden Pictures illustrations and other classic photos on Mega Brands’ line of engaging puzzles for kids.

“We are so excited to join forces with Highlights in bringing their characters, puzzles, graphic content, and stories into the world of puzzle building,” said Wendy Martin, director of puzzles and games for Mega Brands. “Children of all ages will embrace the Highlights line of easy-to-challenging puzzle products.”

ToyBacker Launches First-Ever Crowdfunding Site Dedicated to the Toy Industry

ToyBacker.com LOGOToyBacker has launched toybacker.com, the first crowd-funding site dedicated solely to the toy industry. The site will serve as a hub for creative toy innovators of all types to share their ideas, gather funding, and bring their products to fruition with the financial support of the consumer. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Bathtime Toys Clean Up at Toy Fair 2015

This year, bathtime and playtime will become one and the same. Kids will no longer take pride in going days without bathing or purposely “forgetting” to wash behind their ears. In fact, judging from all of the amazing bath toys seen at the North American International Toy Fair, I’m betting that kids everywhere will be cleaner than ever and the dreaded bathtime battle between kids and parents will be a thing of the past. So, check out these babies and get ready for them to hit store shelves throughout the year! (Thought you should know, they’re listed in no particular order.)

Musical Duck Race (Yookidoo)


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JMPR Tapped to Handle Media Relations for Tonka Toys

TonkalogoJMPR Public Relations Inc. has been retained by Funrise Inc. to handle media relations duties for its Tonka-branded products under license from Hasbro. JMPR will work with Funrise’s internal marketing team to help develop strategy and implement consumer engagement programs, new product launches, and special events. JMPR will also be responsible for leading a broad range of media outreach initiatives, including the promotion of Tonka Motorsports’ involvement with racing series and sponsorship of drivers. [Read more...]

LeapFrog and Kristi Yamaguchi Partner to Raise Awareness of Early Childhood Literacy

Jan27.LeapFrogLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. and Olympic Gold-Medalist figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi have launched the 20/20 Reading Challenge, intended to raise awareness of the importance of reading to young children.

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