Q&A with Ben Gadbois, Global President and COO, Spin Master Ltd.

SpinMaster.BenGadboisThe Toy Book (TTB): Which toy categories do you expect to expand in 2015? Which do you expect to contract?

Ben Gadbois (BG): While it isn’t a category itself, robotic technology is advancing the toy industry in revolutionary new ways. Toy robots are nothing new to the market, but over the past few years we are seeing more innovative integration of robotics, allowing kids to do incredible things. From our trainable, voice-recognizing dog, Zoomer, to the autonomous, fiercely independent Zoomer Dino, toys are coming to life and great new play patterns are emerging. This year, we are fusing the latest technology and robotics with the iconic Meccano brand (known as Erector in the U.S.) with our latest robot, Meccanoid G15 KS. Meccanoid embodies the core values of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and empowers children by acting as a fun and engaging way to learn about coding, robotics, and engineering. As society advances, so do our toys, and there is a new thirst in the market as consumer behavior shifts toward products that can be both fun and educational. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Toy Fair 2015 Shows Off Toymakers’ Tech-Savvy Side

The Meccanoid G15 KS, from Spin Master

We all know that kids are more tech-savvy at the age of 2 than most of us will ever be. Living in the digital age comes instinctively for kids, and the fact that they have the ability to understand and use technology so early on lets toy manufacturers create some really, really cool tech toys for kids of all ages. Below is a roundup of favorite tech-y playthings from North American International Toy Fair, in no particular order:
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Newest Assortment of The Walking Dead Minimates Coming to Toys “R” Us

TheWalkingDead,TRUfiguresThe fifth season of TV series The Walking Dead will be accompanied by new The Walking Dead Minimates, from Diamond Select Toys and arriving at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and toysrus.com in March. The new assortment features characters from the “All Out War” story arc featured in issues No. 115 to 126 of The Walking Dead comic book series, in which Rick’s group teams up with other communities against the powerful Saviors group. [Read more...]

Brandberry and Flux Animation Studio Team Up on Furmaids

Basic CMYKBrandberry has joined forces with Flux Animation Studio to develop Furmaids, and is searching for broadcast partners around the globe, in addition to a toy partner. Furmaids are magical animals that transform into animal/mermaid hybrids when they enter the water. The brand features themes of transformation, exploration, and cooperation—with an ecological twist. [Read more...]

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...]

CPSC Commissioners Emphasize Testing Burden Relief at TIA’s Toy Safety Update

CPSCIn their remarks during the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) annual Toy Safety Update, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Elliot Kaye and Commissioners Ann Marie Buerkle and Marietta Robinson emphasized that easing unnecessary third-party testing burdens for toy manufacturers will be a priority focus for the agency during the coming year. [Read more...]

Nelvana to Create New TV Series and Drive Global Merchandising for Cepia’s Zhu Zhu Pets

ZhuZhuPets, JillyCorus Entertainment‘s Nelvana has entered a partnership with Cepia LLC to bring the Zhu Zhu Pets brand back to store shelves, with Nelvana Studio producing a new animated series based upon the property. Nelvana Enterprises will also oversee global merchandising of the brand in conjunction with the distribution of the new series. [Read more...]

Toy Industry Association (TIA) Elects New Leadership at Annual General Meeting

TIAAt its annual general meeting held on Monday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the election of three new members to the TIA Board of Directors for two-year terms of office expiring in February of 2017. Nominated to serve their first terms on the TIA Board were Kerry Cunnion, senior vice president of sales at Tomy International; Howard Kahn, chairman of Madame Alexander and CEO of Kahn Lucas; and Bruce Raiffe, president of Gund. [Read more...]

Colorforms Launches New Disney, Marvel, and Disney•Pixar Play Sets

DisneyDocMcStuffinsColorformsColorforms Brand debuted an all-new line of Colorforms vinyl stick-on play sets at this year’s North American International Toy Fair. The initial launch, which hits shelves in the fall, includes such properties as Disney’s Frozen and Doc McStuffins; Disney•Pixar’s Cars; and Marvel’s The Avengers and Spider-Man. [Read more...]

Wal-Mart to Boost Pay of U.S. Workers

logo-walmartAs reported by The Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to boost the pay of all its U.S. employees to at least $9 an hour by April. This raise would top the federal minimum wage by 24 percent and take a bite out of the company’s profit this year. Wal-Mart has stated that the investment in higher wages and better training will cost the company.

The wage announcement came as Wal-Mart reported a relatively strong holiday season, with sales at its core U.S. business up 1.5 percent. For the quarter ended January 31, Wal-Mart reported earnings of $4.97 billion, up from $4.43 billion a year earlier, while revenue rose 1.4 percent to $131.6 billion.