Sony Pictures Entertainment, Mattel Bring Barbie to the Big Screen
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Mattel, and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation have partnered on a live-action comedy based on the iconic Barbie doll. The film will go into production at the end of this year.
In her live-action big screen debut, Barbie will be shown inhabiting many of the 150 roles she has played throughout the franchise’s more than 50-year history, including a mermaid, a movie star, and the president.
The project marks the second collaboration between Sony Pictures and Mattel, which are currently developing a film adaptation of Masters of the Universe, based on Mattel’s popular action figures. The live-action Barbie film will be written by Jenny Bicks, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and executive produced by Parkes+MacDonald’s president Marc Resteghini alongside Julia Pistor, who will executive produce for Mattel’s Playground Productions.
Beyond Rubik’s Cube Debuts at Liberty Science Center
This Saturday, Beyond Rubik’s Cube premieres at Liberty Science Center (LSC) in Jersey City, N.J. The exhibition, which marks the 40th anniversary of the puzzle toy, features interactive physical and digital challenges, and invites visitors to consider how the Cube emerged from a workshop in Communist-era Hungary to become a worldwide phenomenon.
LSC, Google, and the Cube’s Budapest inventor, Erno Rubik, designed the exhibition, which will be at LSC through the end of November. On the same day, the Bank of America Tower and the Conde Nast Building in Manhattan will be lit up in Rubik's Cube colors to celebrate Beyond Rubik’s Cube. The Empire State Building will follow suit on May 8.
World Congress Promises Comprehensive Look at the Play Industry
Members of all play-related industries are invited to attend the 2014 World Congress of Play, presented by Global Toy Experts and Creativity Inc. The objective is to foster new relationships, ideas, and businesses, and to engage in conversations about the rapidly changing play market.
The Congress will feature a cast of global speakers who touch on all aspects of play, including video games, traditional toys, digital play, board games, music, entertainment, theme parks, and more. There will also be out-of-the-box discussions regarding where the business of play might be headed.
The event will take place from September 8 to 10 at the Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square. Registration can be found online.
Nintendo Teams Up with National Park Foundation for White House Easter Egg Roll
On Easter Monday, Nintendo of America joined with the National Park Foundation to bring active-play video games to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Nintendo was at the event with Wii Fit U and Wii Sports Club, two Wii U games that challenge players to get active.
Mario and Luigi costumed characters were on site to greet guests, take photos with fans, and cheer on families as they played. The White House Easter Egg Roll, which took place in President’s Park on the South Lawn of the White House, supports the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to help kids grow up healthy.
Marvel, Feld Entertainment Release Exclusive Comic Book for Marvel Universe Live!
This summer, Marvel Universe Live! will bring more than 25 Marvel characters together for a live arena show that will tour 85 cities. Feld Entertainment, the producer of Marvel Universe Live!, has released an exclusive prequel comic book created by Marvel, which gives audiences insight into the story behind the show.
The comic is available for a limited time with pre-ordered tickets, and will introduce a new item in the Marvel Universe that plays a key role in the live show: the Lectro Link. The Lectro Link will also be available as a unique collectible item, which customers can either pre-order online when purchasing tickets or purchase at the show.
Paws Inc. Signs Wicked Cool Toys as Master Toy Licensee for Garfield
Wicked Cool Toys has been appointed master toy licensee for the Garfield brand in a deal brokered by Bulldog Licensing Inc., Garfield’s U.S. licensing representative on behalf of Paws Inc. The agreement grants Wicked Cool Toys the worldwide rights to develop and market a line of figures, plush, vehicles, play sets, role play, and seasonal products based on Garfield. The Garfield products are expected to launch this holiday season.
TIA Announces PlayCon 2014 Guest Speakers
Digital experts from Google/YouTube, Amazon, RocketHub, and Tongal will present their insights on connecting with 21st century kids and moms, crowdsourcing, and crowdfunding at the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) International Conference of Play Professionals, PlayCon 2014. The event is scheduled to take place from May 7 to 9 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“Growing Up Digital: Creating, Consuming, Connecting” will feature Katie Rottier, head of U.S. industry, sports and toys, at Google/YouTube. She will provide tips and tactics for brands wishing to engage with kids and moms online. “Amazon: Key Customer, Marketing Partner, Platform for Customer Engagement, or All Three,” will be presented by Eva Lorenz, category leader for Amazon’s Toys & Games store. She will discuss how companies can maximize their success with Amazon by leveraging the online retailer’s resources. For “Get Out of the Box—Get Into the Crowd!” Brian Meece, CEO of RocketHub, and Caleb Light-Wills, senior vice president of product at Tongal, will provide an in-depth look at crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.
Full agenda details, as well as hotel and registration information, can be found at the TIA website.
The Prettie Girls Enjoys Strong In-Store Retail Launch
This month, The Prettie Girls!, a line of multicultural dolls from The One World Doll Project, began retailing at select H-E-B stores in Houston. According to an H-E-B representative, two locations sold through on inventories, resulting in management placing an additional order.
On Saturday, April 19, doll designer Stacey McBride-Irby made special appearances at certain H-E-B locations carrying the line to autograph dolls for children. “The genuine excitement of the children when they saw The Prettie Girls! made me proud to be the designer,” McBride-Irby says. “Having happy and smiling kids line up to see the dolls made me feel wonderful. It’s a dream come true.”
TIA Calls on Toy Companies to Take Action in Vermont and Connecticut
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) encourages toy companies with business operations in Vermont, Connecticut, or both to join with TIA in taking action against chemical bills under consideration in those states. According to TIA, Vermont Senate Bill 239 and Connecticut Senate Bill 126 would result in arbitrary lists of products that contain certain “chemicals of concern.” This, in turn, would result in additional testing costs for toy companies, as well as the potential for fees per chemical and chemical/material bans.
TIA member companies and their employees are encouraged to take action by sending pre-loaded and editable letters to their local Vermont and Connecticut legislators. Links to both letters can be found at the TIA’s website.