February 21, 2014

China Toy Fair

The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

On February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers. The full list of award winners, as reported by the Toy Industry Association, can be found at The Toy Book blog.
The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy.

CPSC Acting Chairman Delivers Keynote Address at Toy Fair

Robert Adler, acting chairman and commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), delivered the keynote address at the Toy Industry Association’s annual Toy Safety Compliance Update, held on February 18 during the American International Toy Fair in New York City.
In his remarks, Adler praised the cooperative efforts of the toy industry and CPSC in maintaining current safety standards. He also said that children’s toys are governed by numerous regulations, which has made for extraordinary safety in the marketplace.
Through its collaboration with the toy industry, CPSC is ramping up efforts to relieve companies of unnecessary third party testing burdens. The commission is expected to hold a workshop on April 3 that will examine ways to reduce testing costs.

Power Rangers’ New Toy Line-Up from Bandai Revealed, Costume Licenses Renewed

Power RangersCoinciding with the February 15 launch of Saban Brands’ Power Rangers Super Megaforce on Nickelodeon, Bandai unveiled the full toy line for the season at American International Toy Fair earlier this week. Central to the new line are collectible Legendary Ranger Keys, which can be inserted into multiple Super Megaforce toys to unlock special features and powers. By using the Power Rangers Scanner app—available on both iOS and Android systems—kids can scan any Ranger Key, morph themselves into that Power Ranger, and battle villains on-screen.
Saban Brands has renewed licenses with Disguise Inc., Rubie’s Costume Co., and Morphsuits to continue producing Power Rangers character-inspired costumes through 2017.


Lego Launches Star Wars Rebels Building Sets Inspired by Upcoming TV Series

Lego Systems will release new Lego Star Wars products based on the new Star Wars Rebels animated TV series, which will premiere on Disney Channel this fall before appearing regularly on Disney XD. The new building sets will launch on August 1. The line includes the Lego Star Wars The Ghost building set, which is based on the Rebel heroes’ starship, The Ghost; and the Lego Star Wars Phantom, an attack shuttle that works in conjunction with The Ghost set.
The introduction of Lego Star Wars Rebels coincides with the 15th anniversary of Lego Star Wars, the first-ever licensed property brought to life in Lego form.

Hasbro’s National School Scrabble Tournament Spells Opportunity for Kids

ScrabbleThe 2014 National School Scrabble Tournament, hosted by Hasbro Inc., is scheduled for April 26 to 27 at the company’s new Providence, R.I., facility, One Hasbro Place. Young Scrabble enthusiasts in fourth through eighth grades are eligible to compete for the $10,000 top prize.
The National School Scrabble Tournament features contestants from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as the youngest and best Scrabble students. Parents, teachers, and coaches can go to www.schoolscrabble.us to learn more about the event and to register students for the tournament.
Registration costs $100 per team and will be open until April 11. Those who wish to learn more about the School Scrabble Program or register a club to receive more information from Hasbro should visit the company’s website.

Applicants Wanted to Serve on ABC Board of Directors

The All Baby & Child (ABC) Board of Directors, comprised of an equal number of manufacturers and specialty retailers, is currently accepting applications for board seats. Persons or associates from an organization or store who are interested in serving on the ABC board should forward résumés to board@theabcshow.com.
The following information should be included in a letter or résumé: current employment, employment history for at least the past 10 years, education levels attained, information about other boards served on, and a brief paragraph on why you are interested in serving on the ABC board and what insight, expertise, and skills you would bring to the group.
The candidate must be currently employed as a juvenile products retailer, manufacturer, or representative; be either an owner, have interest or equity in, or be at the vice president level; and have been employed within the juvenile products industry for at least the past five consecutive years. Board members’ responsibilities include participation in monthly board conference calls, service on subcommittees, and other duties as requested. Letters of interest must be received by email no later than March 10.

K’NEX and Fox Release First Line of Family Guy Building Sets

Family GuyK’NEX Brands, in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, has released its first line of officially licensed building toys inspired by the animated comedy series Family Guy. The new product line combines the K’NEX building system with iconic characters and elements from the TV show.
Buildable Family Guy figure two-packs come in Brian and Meg, Stewie and Lois, and Peter and Chris Buildable Figures. Family Guy: Stewie and Time Machine Building Set includes a buildable Stewie figure dressed in his pajamas, as well as K’NEX rods, connectors, and bricks to build his time machine complete with a working door. Family Guy: Peter and Station Wagon Building Set includes a buildable Peter figure dressed in his work suit, and K’NEX pieces to build a moving replica of the family’s red station wagon, which has a seat for Peter.

Jazwares Melds Superheroes and Athletes into NBA Heroes

Jazwares has entered a licensing agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to create a line of NBA Heroes action figures, play sets, and role-play toys. The line will be available in the U.S. and Canada this fall.
These new basketball player-based toys will feature classic action figure attributes fused with superheroic alter egos.
NBA Heroes will start its lineup with some of the NBA’s top players, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin. Each fully articulated figure will be created in six-inch scale proportionate to each player’s height and build. The collection will be accompanied by a separate environmental play set.

Mattel, WWE Extend Partnership Through 2019

WWE MattelMattel Inc. and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will extend their global master toy licensing agreement through 2019. Since 2009, Mattel and WWE have developed a diverse portfolio of toys currently available in more than 50 global markets worldwide. WWE is the No. 1 action figure property in the U.S., ranging from FlexForce figures that incorporate signature WWE Superstar moves to plush Brawlin’ Buddies.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with WWE as they expand their global footprint and leverage our global scale to deliver WWE toys to kids around the world,” said Doug Wadleigh, senior vice president, global brands marketing, boys and entertainment for Mattel.






Yvolution Takes Kids’ Rides to the EXY Extreme

EXY Extreme YvolutionYvolution has launched its new EXY Extreme Yvolution series. The first two products in the line include the EXY Trickstartr, an entry-level stunt scooter with an innovative wheelie system, and the EXY Sharker, a three-wheeled skateboard made for urban street surfing.
The EXY Trickstartr features a slick matte black/vibrant color design and comes with a special patent-pending device that allows riders to do a wheelie. The EXY Sharker is a three-wheeled skateboard with a modern surfboard design, and is half-caster board and half-skateboard, with a front 360-degree caster wheel and traditional skateboard trucks in the back.
Both are available in green or purple, and are for sale exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores and online. Before hitting the skate park, kids can watch a series of EXY “learn to ride” videos online that help them get started.



New LeapFrog LeapPad2 Custom Edition Lets Kids Personalize Their Tablets

LeapPad 2 CustomAlong with providing access to nearly 1,000 learning games and creativity apps courtesy of LeapFrog’s educational library, the new LeapPad2 Custom Edition, from LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., lets kids create unique looks for their tablets.
Similar to the original LeapPad2, the LeapPad2 Custom Edition includes a tech-forward design with access to leveled reading experiences. It also has 10 sticker skins and 11 digital wallpaper designs for more than 100 different ways to personalize the tablet, front and back cameras and video recorders, 4GB of memory, and nine free preloaded apps.


MGA Scores Top Spots in Several 2013 Categories, Says NPD Data

MGA Entertainment’s leading brands ranked at the top for 2013, according to The NPD Group, a global market research company and industry authority for market sizes and trends. Based on 2013 point-of-sale data, MGA’s Little Tikes and Lalaloopsy lines dominated some of the biggest toy categories in the U.S. last year.
Lalaloopsy scored the No. 1 spot in three major categories, including Playset Themes Figurines & Accessories for the Lalaloopsy Mini Doll Assortment; Display Dolls and Accessories for the Lalaloopsy Collector Ivory Ice Crystals; and Other Dolls & Accessories for the Lalaloopsy Soft Doll Assortment. Little Tikes also stood out as the No. 1 item in the Playground Equipment category for its Jump N Slide Dry Bouncer.

Yomega and YoYoJam Team Up for Joint Product Line

Yomega YoyoJamYomega Corp. and YoYoJam Inc. have teamed up to develop and market a line of high-performance plastic yo-yos. The initial YoYoJam from Yomega collection will include three yo-yo models designed for yo-yoers interested in learning basic skills and tricks, as well as those moving towards advanced and competitive play. Among the models offered is an updated version of YoYoJam’s Journey, which features an adjustable gap system so players can perform various string tricks, while the new Firestorm is a high-performance plastic yo-yo with a bold look and solid feel. The most advanced yo-yo in the YoYoJam from Yomega line is the Odyssey, an update of the classic YoYoJam Surge.
The line will be produced in the U.S. by YoYoJam and distributed by Yomega, which will also be responsible for the packaging and marketing. YoYoJam from Yomega will be available at traditional and online toy and hobby retailers this summer.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

On the December 21 episode of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, Seth Meyers delivered the following: “Toys “R” Us announced this week that its stores will remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas. Not to be outdone, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.” This was meant to be a joke to make us all laugh (and it was funny), but at the same time it needs to be taken seriously, as the Internet has certainly changed the way we conduct our lives. Read more…

Reaching Consumers at Home

Consumers want to shop local. They want to support their communities and their neighbors’ businesses. Moms and dads truly want to keep their hard-earned dollars in their hometowns whenever possible. Small Business Saturday has 3.3 million likes on Facebook. At the very least, people like the concept of supporting their local retailers. “Sure, Jackie, easy for you to say. Show me the business.” Of course there are obstacles. If you’re not seeing the sales levels you’d like, ask yourself why. Read more…

Lighting Up Imaginative Play: Light-Up Toys Provide Magical Fun For Kids

When I attended Fall Toy Preview in October, I had a conversation with a few industry executives about how when companies expand their line to include glow-in-the-dark or light-up SKUs, it often signals the end of the brand. They referred to glow-in-the-dark and light-up products as a “last resort,” and said it typically means that there are no other possible innovations for the product line. However, I know a certain 4-year-old boy who would absolutely disagree with this idea, along with his 8-year-old sister (aka my niece and nephew!). LED lights have a strange magic to them—especially for kids. Read more…

Ashley Mady Elected New President of Women in Toys

Ashley MadyThe Woman in Toys Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Ashley Mady as the organization’s new president, effective April 1. Mady is currently president and founder of Brandberry Inc. In addition, she has been an active board member of the South Florida Chapter Chair, co-chair of the Wonder Woman in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards Dinner for several years, and chairs the Web and Social Media Committees.
The announcement coincides with the 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. Joan Packard Luks, president of Woman in Toys since August 2010, will receive the 2014 Presidents Award. Mady is Luks’ successor as president of the organization.

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