Toy Fair 2014 Shows Increase in Attendees, Double-Digit Rise in International Visitors
Last week’s American International Toy Fair in New York City drew nearly 26,500 toy professionals from 94 countries, and boasted a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibit space. According to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2014 also welcomed an 11 percent surge in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in overall attendees, bringing the total attendance to 26,493.
There was an estimated 1,153 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agents, and nearly 10,000 buyers from more than 5,000 retail outlets, including delegations from Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us.
Next year’s Toy Fair has been scheduled for February 14 to 17—beginning on a Saturday—and will once again take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Show information will be available in the coming months at www.ToyFairNY.com.
NPD Report Shows 36 Percent of U.S. Plays Digitally Downloaded Games
According to The NPD Group’s Exploring Digital Gaming report, an estimated 36 percent of the U.S. population ages 13 and up are digital gamers, defined as currently playing digitally downloaded games on either a computer, video game console, or portable device. Of that percentage, 16 percent report only playing games downloaded digitally.
The computer is the most popular device for digital gaming, owning 90 percent of digital gamers playing on the device, while 28 percent play digitally downloaded games on a video game console. Although digital play is increasing among console players, only about two-thirds of primary console players—or those who play on consoles most often—purchase digital games more than once per year. Only 14 percent purchase on a regular, monthly basis.
When asked about their purchase preference if both physical and digital formats of a game are being offered at the same price, 44 percent of primary console players are more likely to choose physical in this scenario. Primary computer players do not automatically choose digital, with the group being split between 25 percent for digital, 28 percent for physical, and the remaining gamers being indecisive.
Jazwares Releases Minecraft Series 2 Figures
Jazwares will expand its core Minecraft action figure line to feature core-scale figure packs of Diamond Armor Steve, Iron Golem, Blacksmith Villager, and a deluxe Animal Mobs 6-pack.
The Diamond Armor Steve pack will include Steve with removable helmet, diamond sword, and diamond ore block. The Iron Golem pack will come with accessories including a poppy flower and a block of iron, while the Blacksmith Villager pack includes a removable apron and an anvil accessory. Meanwhile, the Animal Mobs 6-pack will include one of each of the following: Cow, Sheep, Tamed Wolf, Pig, Ocelot, and Chicken. The Series 2 items will all be available at retailers this spring.
CBeebies/Sesame Workshop’s The Furchester Hotel Begins Filming
The Furchester Hotel, the new children’s series from CBeebies and Sesame Workshop, has begun filming at BBC Children's home in MediaCityUK, Salford. Filming will continue for more than three months at the enormous Furchester Hotel set, which fills all 700 square meters of the HQ2 studio at MediaCityUK.
The show is about a close-knit family of cheerfully incompetent Muppet monsters who own and operate an “almost” world-class hotel. The Furchester family is joined at the hotel by Elmo, a family relative, and Cookie Monster, who has landed his dream job as a room service and dining-room waiter.
The Furchester Hotel, which is set to debut on CBeebies in the UK this autumn, is co-produced by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street.
WIT Honors Outstanding Business Leaders with 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards
At a February 18 dinner attended by more than 400 executives, Women in Toys (WIT) celebrated 10 visionary women business leaders with the 2014 Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. The award recipients are: Kiyomi Haverly of Mattel, Global Brands; Naz Cuevas of Rovio Entertainment Inc. and Donna Tobin of Hasbro Inc.; Rita Raiffe, design director at Gund; Stefanie Barone of MZ Berger; Susie Lecker of Fisher Price; Michele Litzky of Litzky Public Relations; Joan Packard Luks of The Seranata Group; Christina Jansa of Target; and Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.
With support from major sponsors including Nickelodeon and Bandai, WIT also granted six scholarships to future toy industry leaders at toy design programs in universities worldwide.
Activision Teams Up with Frito-Lay to Let Fans Choose New Skylanders Hero
Activision Publishing Inc. and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division will provide fans with the opportunity to choose and name a new hero that will appear in the next Skylanders game, which is slated for release this year. The winner will also receive a $100,000 scholarship.
Between now and March 21, fans ages 18 and up can visit Frito-Lay’s official site to select one of three potential heroes and submit a suggested name and 200-character or less inspiration for the name they chose. In May, one fan-created name for each of the three potential heroes will be selected by a panel of judges and announced as finalists, and fans ages 13 years and up will be invited to vote online for the hero they want. Later this year, the winning hero will be revealed.
Tommo Completes Acquisition of Humongous Entertainment Brand
Tommo Inc. has completed the acquisition of the Humongous Entertainment Brand and most of its assets. The acquisition was initially announced last summer, when Tommo acquired the Humongous Entertainment Brand and over 100 classic game IP’s from Atari Inc. during the Atari assets bankruptcy auction. Humongous Entertainment was originally formed in 1992 and has sold more than 15 million games over 20 years.
Classic Humongous titles Putt-Putt Joins the Circus, Pajama Sam: Thunder and Lightning, and Spy Fox: Dry Cereal are currently available for download on the iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon App Stores.
Super Duper Going the Retail Route with Educational Products
Super Duper Publications will partner with U.S. retail and online resellers to sell its children’s educational products. The company has more than 750 common core and state standards-aligned card decks, games, workbooks, software programs, mobile apps, and more for kids ages 3 to 12.
Previously, the company mostly sold directly to consumers and educators, and only offered certain items to retailers. To date, the most popular Super Duper creations include the HearBuilder programs, which have helped students dramatically improve their early learning and pre-reading skills.
The Little Gym Active Toys Available at Target Canada
The Little Gym International has partnered with Aqua-Leisure Industries for children’s development and activity toys for kids ages 3 to 7. The brand’s first line of active toys will be available exclusively at Target Canada stores starting this month. The line includes products that emphasize physical development, imaginative play patterns, and experiential learning.
In addition, The Little Gym has launched music CDs available for download on iTunes and for purchase on Amazon.