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Lego Introduces Lego Boost at CES

The Lego Group unveiled Lego Boost, a building and coding set that lets kids add sound, personality, and movement to their creations, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Lego Boost will be available in August.
 
The new sets will combine classic play with a traditional Lego set with movement and sound capabilities made possible with app-based coding. Each set comes with three Boost bricks, 843 Lego elements, and a play mat. The accompanying app will be free to download.
 
Powered by Move Hub, a Lego stud-covered brick with a built-in tilt sensor lets kids add additional Lego elements, motors, and a sensor that combines color and distance direction. The set includes instructions for five models: Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4, and the Autobuilder. Each is designed to give kids the basic building and coding skills needed to express their creativity. The app lets kids add voice recordings to their creations and includes more than 60 activities designed to inspire additional coding, building, and play.
 
The app will also include a “create canvas” with basic building instructions for three simple base models—a walking base, a driving base, and an entrance base—for kids to customize their own creations. Once kids are comfortable with building and coding the various Lego Boost models, they can use the kit to boost any Lego creation from any Lego line, including Lego City, Lego Friends, Lego Ninjago, and The Lego Batman Movie.

eOne Names Jazwares U.S. Master Toy Licensee for Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom

Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, the preschool property from Entertainment One (eOne), will make its consumer products debut this fall in the U.S. with preschool-targeted toys from Jazwares. The newly named U.S. master toy licensee will create a collection of toys to launch at retailers nationwide in August. The debut collection will include figures, accessories, multi-packs, vehicles, and play sets.
 
The animated series debuted in October 2015 on Nick Jr., brought by the same team that created Peppa Pig. The show airs across the UK, Australia, Spain, Germany, Latin America, Russia, and the U.S.
 
Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom follows Holly, a young fairy princess who is still learning how to fly and whose magic doesn’t always go according to plan. Her best friend, Ben the Elf, is very good at making things—especially toys.

Moose Toys, eKids Partner for Shopkins Youth Electronics Line

Moose Toys partnered with KIDdesigns’ eKids brand for a Shopkins electronics line, which will be available this year. The collection includes volume-limiting headphones, karaoke machines, walkie-talkies, sing-along microphones, and a purse-shaped boom box.
 
Brokered by The Licensing Shop Inc., the agreement covers North America, the UK, Benelux, the Nordics, Iberia, Italy, France, and Eastern Europe.

American Girl Introduces 2017 Girl of the Year

American Girl debuted Gabriela McBride, the company’s new 2017 Girl of the Year. Gabriela uses the power of poetry to help her break down barriers and overcome a personal challenge with stuttering. 
 
The 18-inch Gabriela doll features dark-brown hair and brown eyes, an exclusive outfit that reflects her creative side, and a book chronicling her story. She also comes with several performance-inspired outfits and accessories, including a dance barre, rehearsal and dance outfits, plus pretend headphones and a microphone. Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting in the spring, and—for the first time—the new Girl of the Year collection will be available for more than a full 12 months.
 
Gabriela's story will be told in a series of three books published by Scholastic and written by Teresa E. Harris. To connect both boys and girls with Gabby's inspiring message, American Girl is partnering with Scholastic to create and distribute Express Yourself, a custom curriculum program that teaches third through fifth grade students how to use poetry as a tool for self-expression. The free materials will be available on Scholastic’s website beginning March 1. In addition, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the program also features a poetry contest for students that will run in April.
 
Family Video Network worked with Mattel to surprise 7-year-old Gabby, the star of the YouTube channel Gabriella Damaris show, with an early copy of the doll sent to her over the holidays. Gabby didn’t know what she was opening in advance, so her honest reaction would be captured for the first time on film. She was thrilled to learn that the doll looked like her and shared her name. “I love her, which is like it feels like I am loving my own self,” Gabby said.

Spielwarenmesse Adds Two New International Pavilions

Spielwarenmesse 2017 will have two new additions to its International Pavilions—France and Indonesia—bringing the total to 14.
 
This year, the pavilions will feature 280 companies, corresponding to 10 percent of all exhibitors. Exhibitors appearing at the pavilions have the opportunity to share targeted information about their products and company operations to enhance their exposure. Trade buyers will use the Exhibition Catalogue to gain a comprehensive overview of national trends and an understanding of the diversity of products available internationally.
 
Participating countries of the International Pavilions include Australia, China, France, the UK, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the U.S./Canada.

2016 Chicago Toy & Game Fair Breaks Records

The Chicago Toy & Game Group had its largest crowd ever at its 14th Annual Chicago International Toy & Game Fair, held the weekend before Thanksgiving at Chicago’s Navy Pier. More than 33,000 consumers, social influencers, and members of the media and trade attended the event and more than 160 companies showcased thousands of toys and games at the Fair. The event also secured more than 1.2 billion media impressions.
 
In addition to the Fair, Chicago Toy & Game Week hosts synergistic events including the Chicago Toy & Game Innovation & Inventor Conferences, PlayCHIC, Toy & Game Innovation Awards (TAGIEs), Blogger & Media Breakfast, Young Inventor Challenge, Young Tech Challenge, and more.
 
Plans for the 15th annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair are already underway for another week of events just prior to Thanksgiving 2017.

Rovio Entertainment Introduces Angry Birds Blast

Rovio Entertainment launched Angry Birds Blast, a new game for mobile devices where players burst balloons as they move through different levels. Each player begins with 2050 gold coins, which allows them to navigate through more than 270 levels.
 
Angry Birds Blast is developed in collaboration with Shanghai-based studio MYBO and is available for download for free on iOS and Android devices.

Kids India Trade Show Enters its Fifth Year

Kids India, India’s largest fair for toys and children’s products is entering its fifth year. First launched in 2013, the show grows every year in number of exhibitors, brands, and visitors. The next edition will take place in Mumbai from Sept. 20 to 22.
 
Last year, companies from 10 countries representing 350 brands and more than 5,000 trade visitors exhibited at and attended the show. Kids India is organized by Spielwarenmesse India, the Indian subsidiary of Spielwarenmesse eG in Germany.
 
Approximately 90 percent of participating companies last year say they would like to show again this year, including Chicco, Chirantan Enterprises, Green Gold, Mattel India, Min Toy, Pegasus, Toy-Kraft, Toyzone Impex, and more. Exhibitors who register early for Kids India 2017 will have the chance to secure a location of their choice with various options. Participating companies can also use a wide choice of marketing measures to help them maximize their success at the fair.

Steve Burns of Blue’s Clues and The Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd Create Album

Steve Burns, the original host of Blue’s Clues, and Steven Drozd, multi-Grammy winner and member of The Flaming Lips, have joined forces as STEVENSTEVEN to record their debut album of kids’ songs for everyone, Foreverywhere. The LP will be released worldwide in February.
 
Foreverywhere kicks off with “Unicorn and Princess Rainbow,” the first in a trilogy of songs about a unicorn who falls in love with a guitar-shredding princess. Additional songs include “Mimic Octopus (Sea Wizard of the Sea),” “A Fact is a Gift You Give Your Brain,” and “If You’re Ginormous and You Know It.”
 
According to STEVENSTEVEN, the album is inspired by Wondering, Burt, Black Sabbath, Cephalopods, Grover, Toy Commercials From The 1970’s, Harry Nilsson, Dr. Seuss, Science, Bill Conti, Queen, Futzees, Rocky Balboa, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, True Love, Neil Diamond, The Zoo, Holly Hobbie, Fairy Tales, David Bowie, and Mister Rogers.

Adrian Roche Launches Black Horse Consulting

Toy industry veteran Adrian Roche launched his consulting business Black Horse Consulting Inc.
 
Roche began his career in the UK as marketing director of Kiddicraft Toys, and then became managing director of Fisher Price-Kiddicraft following the acquisition. He launched European operations for The First Years infant products, and then moved to become vice president of marketing at its headquarters in Boston. After 14 years, he worked at Mega Brands in Montreal, Canada.
 
During his nine years with Mega Brands, Roche ran product development for the preschool and boys business, and developed additional experience running the licensing business. After the sale of Mega Brands to Mattel, Roche went on to start Alpha/Auldey’s operations in North America, based in Boston.
 
The recent announcement from Alpha that the company is relocating to Los Angeles prompted Roche to set up his own consulting business specializing in helping international companies gain access to the North American Market.
 
Roche will be in Hong Kong, Nuremberg, and New York, and can be contacted directly at adrian.roche@blackhorseconsulting.net.

2016 Holiday Shopping Trend Decreased in Seventh Week of the Season Compared to Last Year

Dollar sales in the seventh week of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 11 percent lower than that of the same week in 2015, according to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories across in-store and online channels. Cumulatively, dollar sales in the first seven weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 4 percent behind the first seven weeks of the 2015 holiday season.
 
Each of the five industries being tracked—apparel, toys, technology, athletic footwear, and prestige fragrances—saw dollar sales decline, with the seventh week being the steepest for the holiday season so far. Apparel performed the best of the five industries being tracked, with the lowest decline of the week. Top performing categories include home automation, PC’s, stereo headphones, games/puzzles, and instant print cameras.

January 5, 2017
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