Q&A with Tony Norman, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Innovation First International

Hexbug.TonyNormanThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you use 3-D printing in your R&D? Do you plan to incorporate 3-D printing into your consumer offerings in the future?

Tony Norman (TN): We have three commercial-grade 3-D printers at Hexbug headquarters that run pretty much continuously. Design is iterative, and our 3-D printers enable us to engage in rapid prototyping. This rapid prototyping allows us to get real working samples out to focus groups quickly and frequently, so as to gather feedback and make the necessary changes prior to starting production. This highly accelerated production process significantly reduces our time to market and sets us apart from other toy companies.
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NPD Group Sees Sales Increases in Video Game Hardware, Software, and Accessories

NPDGrouplogoIn his analysis for The NPD Group, Games Industry Analyst Liam Callahan reports that hardware, new physical software, and accessories experienced sales increases in February of this year with combined sales of $956 million, up 8 percent compared to last February.
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YOXO Arrives in Select Target, Barnes & Noble, and Specialty Retailers across the U.S.

YOXOSpecialty retailers and select Target and Barnes & Noble stores have begun stocking their shelves with YOXO, a construction brand known for encouraging creativity in kids. The construction kits incorporate durable, recyclable, and interchangeable chipboard connectors in Y, O, and X shapes for kids to construct infinite creations powered by their brains and not batteries.
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TIA Calls on Grassroots Advocacy for New TSCA Law

TIAThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) is urging support for a new bill before the U.S. Senate, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. The TSCA empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address chemical safety, require testing, and establish regulations on chemicals used in products sold in the U.S.
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Q&A with Jay Foreman, President and CEO, The Bridge Direct

resized,TheBridge.JayForemanThe Toy Book (TTB): Which licenses do you anticipate will be key drivers in 2015?

Jay Foreman (JF): I think everyone would agree on Marvel’s The Avengers, Frozen, Cinderella, Minions, and Star Wars, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; however, there are a few nontraditional brands emerging from toy companies, like Shopkins, that should be considered.
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Lego Demonstrates New App, Makes it Easier to Get Started Using Robotics

LEGO_LogoAt the SXSWedu Conference in Austin, Lego Education demoed the new Lego Education EV3 Programming App for use with the Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 solution. The app is intended as an effective way for classrooms to get started with Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 within a 45-minute classroom period. [Read more...]

GUEST COMMENTARY: Montreal Toy Maker Wooky Entertainment Roars onto the World Stage

by Simon Forsyth, Media Relations Advisor, Corporate Communications, Export Development Canada

WookyEntertainmentAs kids we needed toys. They spurred our imaginations, occupied our days, and generally brought joy to our then simple lives. But our love for them was fickle–we’d obsess over them one day, discard them the next, and soon beg for new ones.
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COMMENTARY: These Toy Fair Exhibitors Have Science Education Down to a Science

Kids First Level 1: Amusement Park Engineer, from Thames and Kosmos

Science kits are typically geared toward kids ages 8 and up. There have been plenty of logical reasons for this—for one thing, kids need to be able to read the manual to do the experiments; and for another, science experiments can be complex, requiring kids to have longer attention spans and higher critical thinking skills. However, at this year’s North American International Toy Fair in NYC, many companies have found ways to introduce science to a younger audience.
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Marvel Rolls Out Extensive Toy, Kids Product Program for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spider-Man, and More

Marvel LogoOn Wednesday, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) revealed its 2015 plans for Marvel and its key franchises, including The Avengers and Spider-Man. This year will see the roll-out of one of DCP’s biggest licensing programs to date, which would revolve around Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the launch of new animated content, and innovative marketing initiatives.
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Q&A with Laura Zebersky, CCO and EVP, Jazwares

Jazwares.LauraThe Toy Book (TTB): How have you seen consumer expectations change over the past decade?

Laura Zebersky (LZ): Over the past 10 years, the convergence of toys and entertainment has been unprecedented. Consumers have come to expect both online and offline experiences from their favorite brands. It’s not enough anymore to create a new toy. Stories, videos, and other content are needed to really engage kids and toy fans of all ages. This leads into another big change: If you want to reach consumers today, traditional formulas from years ago need to be augmented with strategies that include communication across multiple social platforms. Kids are engaging in new ways with different types of media; they might interact simply by sharing images and video of exciting new toys on various social channels or become avid fans and essentially create celebrities on YouTube. They want the whole experience, and the brands of tomorrow will have to provide it in accessible and innovative ways to stand out from the crowd.
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