May 09, 2013

Laser Pegs

Tek Recon Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Tek ReconTek Recon, from Tech 4 Kids, will be available for the first time through Kickstarter.com on May 9, beginning at 8 a.m. EST. The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to enhance the development of the Tek Recon blaster and the free app, and to get the product into the hands of early adopters and key influencers helping to create the first real-life, online video game.
Through the course of 31 days, fans will be able to fund the project by purchasing product, exclusive rewards, and by bidding on prizes that include appearances in the TV commercial and an all-expenses-paid trip to present at E3. The Kickstarter funding goal is $50,000.
Tek Recon Blasters feature a first-of-its-kind design with real trigger action and specially designed, reusable NRG Rounds that blast up to 75 feet. To optimize the battle and team experience, Tek Recon developed a free “Real-Life Online Gaming” app. Kids can simply connect their mobile device to the blaster to experience video game-styled play through mobile and GPS technology. The free Tek Recon app will be available for iOS and Android devices, enhancing real battle experience through an interactive heads up display, live chat, vision modes, and more.
For more information on this product and the Kickstarter campaign, visit TekRecon.com.

WWE and The Bridge Unveil New Construction Toy Line

WWE has signed an exclusive, multi-year agreement with The Bridge Direct to develop and market construction toys based on WWE events and characters. The agreement marks the first time WWE will enter the construction toy category. Targeted to WWE fans between the ages of 4 and 14, the comprehensive line includes figures, accessories, and construction bricks, bringing WWE’s action-packed events and superstars to life. The WWE construction toys are expected to roll out at major mass retailers next spring.

K’nex and Fox Consumer Products Announce Family Guy Partnership

K'nexK’nex Brands has partnered with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products to create a new line of building toys inspired by the animated comedy series Family Guy.
The partnership combines the K’nex building system with characters and elements from Family Guy, including Peter, Stewie, Brian, the Griffin Family station wagon, and Stewie’s time machine.
Family Guy, currently in its 11th season, has dominated TV ratings and garnered support from its fans with more than 52 million followers on Facebook. The new K’nex Family Guy building sets will be available at major retailers next spring.

The Wiggles to Launch Summer Family Concert Tour 

After 21 years of entertaining children around the world, The Wiggles will head out on their “Taking Off” family concert world tour this summer.
The Wiggles are an entertaining group of people and characters, including the blue, red, yellow, and purple Wiggle, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Captain Feathersword, Wags the Dog, and Henry the Octopus. For decades fans have been dancing and singing along to favorite songs, such as “Hot Potato” and “Rock-a-Bye Your Bear.”
The new CD includes songs such as “Do the Propeller!,” “Peanut Butter,” “Little Bunny Foo Foo,” and “Emma (with the Bow in Her Hair),” along with some re-worked classics, such as “Get Ready to Wiggle” and “The Shimmie Shake!”
The Wiggles are in the U.S. and Canada for a media tour now through May 16, and will be meeting thousands of fans around North America. Their North American tour kicks off mid-August and runs through October.

Strider Sports Holding Kids Events at the Indianapolis 500

Strider SportsStrider Sports International, manufacturer and marketer of children’s no-pedal balance bikes, will host five Strider Adventure Zones leading up to the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 race. Admission to the Strider Adventure Zone is free with paid admission to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Held in the infield of the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, these free events will allow children ages 18 months to 5 years old open riding time, an opportunity to socialize with peers, and play and practice tricks on the Strider No-Pedal Balance Bike. The custom-built, cordoned-off courses feature a variety of terrain and obstacles that encourage children to explore the world on two wheels, while developing balance, control, motor skills, and confidence in even the youngest riders
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TCG and Ganz Form Strategic Partnership

TCG and Ganz have formed a strategic partnership that merges the expertise and consumer-focused approach to products of both companies. The partnership will focus on the development of key toy and game product platforms for specialty and mass retailers. The companies remain separate.
TCG, a license-driven toy company known for its range of puzzles, games, and activities for children and adults, brings mass-market distribution and a focused in-house team of toy product development specialists.
Ganz, a leader in the gift industry and a pioneer of web-enabled toys with the creation of its iconic Webkinz brand, will bring innovation through its Ganz Studios, as well as penetration into the North American gift and specialty market.

ASTRA Adding New Resources for Children with Disabilities

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will present updated information on toys and play for children with disabilities for specialty toy retailers and manufacturers at the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy in Nashville, Tenn. An educational session, Connect Children with Special Needs to Toys and Games on Your Shelves, will be offered on June 16 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a new publication titled ASTRA Guide to Toys for Children with Disabilities will be available at no charge for ASTRA members at the Marketplace & Academy. Non-members may purchase the publication.
Ellen Metrick of the National Lekotek Center will present the Connect Children with Special Needs session at Marketplace & Academy. The session will focus on helping parents, grandparents, occupational therapists, and teachers select toys and games for the special children in their lives. It will include a basic understanding of some common disabilities and specific features of play that children with these challenges can enjoy. Retailers will learn what questions to ask customers and how to train store employees to serve this very special niche.
The ASTRA Guide to Toys for Children with Disabilities is designed as a handbook for manufacturers, sales reps, and store staff. It summarizes characteristics of common disabilities and types of toys that work well for children who have those disabilities. It also includes ideas that ASTRA retailers can give to parents for adapting toys and play activities to fit the needs and abilities of their children.

Big Tent Expands Domo DC Comics Collection with Plush
 
DomoBranded entertainment company Big Tent Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), on behalf of DC Entertainment, has signed a new licensing agreement with License 2 Play to help Domo take on his favorite DC Comic Super Heroes in the form of plush collectibles.
Domo will sport the attire of DC Comics superheroes similar to the line of vinyl collectibles released by Funko earlier this year. Launching this summer, the line includes collectible plush that range from clip-ons to large plush with Domo portraying Superman, Superman (Clark Kent), Batman (The Dark Knight), Batman (Classic), The Flash, and Green Lantern.

Brandberry Announces the First Poopeez Licensee  
 
PoopeezBrandberry has entered into a licensing relationship with Alley Oop Toys for Poopeez, the new potty humor brand that offers a comical twist on life’s stinkiest moments. Under the new agreement, Alley Oop Toys will create an array of potty-inspired products, including Farts & Crafts coloring kits, No. 2 pencil toppers, and farting plush.
Each Poopeez character has humanistic qualities and a unique personality, including Pooper Heroes, the Toot Fairy, Old Farts, Turdle, Humpty Dumpty, Log & Eco Poo—a strikingly green poo who believes in conserving toilet paper. In addition to the more than 200 characters in the line, there are also Poopeez songs, poems, and puns.
Poopeez will be launching webisodes and a viral campaign later this month and will be meeting with a number of potential licensees at Licensing Expo.

Walt Disney Co. and EA Announce Multi-Year Star Wars Games Agreement

The Walt Disney Co. and Electronic Arts Inc. have signed a new multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop and globally publish new games based on Star Wars characters and storylines. Under the agreement, EA will develop and publish new Star Wars titles for a core gaming audience, spanning all interactive platforms and popular game genres, while Disney will retain certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet, and online game categories.
EA Labels President Frank Gibeau says that three of EA’s top studios will be creating games for the Star Wars brand. DICE and Visceral will produce new games, joining BioWare, which will continue to develop games for the Star Wars franchise. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Creative Kidstuff Purchases Online Retailer Sensational Beginnings 

Specialty retailer Creative Kidstuff has purchased Sensational Beginnings, a catalog and online toy retailer based in Monroe, Mich. Sensational Beginnings will function as a sister company of Creative Kidstuff under the umbrella of a new holding company, GreaterGood Kids LLC.
Creative Kidstuff’s primary purpose in purchasing Sensational Beginnings is to help it continue to thrive as an online leader in the specialty toy business. Creative Kidstuff aims to introduce some of its engaging online resources to Sensational Beginnings customers such as the social media community, newsletter, and tips to help families play. As Creative Kidstuff works to update the Sensational Beginnings website, customers will be able to purchase all items through CreativeKidstuff.com.
As part of this new partnership, Creative Kidstuff and Sensational Beginnings are now part of the GreaterGood Network, a family of online activism sites that harnesses the power of the Internet to help people, animals, and causes in need. In honor of the new partnership, GreaterGood will be launching a program to donate a toy to a child in need for every sale over $75 from either Creative Kidstuff or Sensational Beginnings for the remainder of the calendar year.
Creative Kidstuff launched its own online platform in 2005. Since then, the service has expanded to become roughly 13 percent of its annual retail sales. Later this month, Creative Kidstuff will be re-launching its website platform. With the re-launch, online customers will now have access to the all-new Gift Finder that guides shoppers to the just-right present, and a Buy-a-Toy, Give-a-Toy Program that supports families in need.  

FTC Votes to Keep July 1 Effective Date for COPPA

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously voted to retain the July 1 implementation date for the updated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The TIA was among several organizations that sent a letter to the FTC last month urging the commission to consider extending the effective date to January 1 to provide companies with sufficient time to complete the complex and difficult task of redesigning products and services to ensure compliance with the new rule.
Following the 4-0 vote, the commission issued a letter stating that it would retain the July 1 effective date announced last December because companies had been given enough time to prepare for compliance.
The TIA has directed members to various resources on its website to aid in compliance.

Candy Land Makeover Causing Controversy

Great attention is paid to that fine line between self-expression and growing up far too fast when it comes to children, tweens, and teenagers. It seems as though self-esteem issues and body-image obsessions are stemming from less-obvious outlets though, namely Candy Land, a board game we all know and love. A wasp-waisted, more-suggestive Queen Frostine has replaced the original Princess, Grandma Nutt found a plastic surgeon, and Mr. Mint’s biceps have tripled in size. The irony lies in the doubled portions of ice cream and candy; the board is now covered in sweets, while the peanuts and plums have been removed from the 1980s version. So, the real question is: How is Queen Frostine maintaining that figure? Read more.

Musical Instruments Get Kids into the Groove

There are so many musical toys options to choose from that I wanted to continue the theme and discuss three more instruments that let kids’ creative juices flow. My last post on this topic covered the recorder, piano, and drums. This post is focused on older children’s interests, and on toys that can prepare kids for the real thing. Read more.

Disney Reports Second Quarter Earnings          

The Walt Disney Co. has reported earnings for its second fiscal quarter and six months ended March 30. For the second quarter, Disney reported revenues of $10.55 billion, up from $9.63 billion during the same period last year. Net income was recorded at $1.5 billion, up from $1.14 billion in the same period last year. For the six months ended on March 30, revenues were $21.89 billion, a 7 percent increase from $20.4 billion the previous year. Net income was reported at $2.89 billion, up 11 percent from 2.6 billion in the previous year.
Media networks revenues for the quarter increased 6 percent to $5 billion, and segment operating income increased 8 percent to $1.9 billion. Meanwhile, consumer products revenues increased 12 percent to $763 million, and segment operating income increased 35 percent to $200 million. Higher operating income was primarily due to increases in merchandise licensing and in Disney’s retail business.

Activision Blizzard Releases First Quarter Earnings

Activision Blizzard Inc. released financial results for the first quarter, which ended March 31. Activision Blizzard’s net revenues were $1.32 billion, as compared with $1.17 billion for the first quarter of last year. On a non-GAAP basis, the company’s net revenues were $804 million, as compared with $587 million for the first quarter of last year. For the first quarter, GAAP net revenues from digital channels represented 28 percent of the company’s total revenues. On a non-GAAP basis, net revenues from digital channels were 53 percent.
First quarter results were driven by key franchises. Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm was the No. 1 PC game for the quarter. Additionally, during the quarter, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft remained the No. 1 subscription-based game with more than 8 million subscribers.

Electronic Arts Reports 2013 Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year Results

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) has released preliminary financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter and fiscal year, which ended March 31. For the quarter, net revenue was recorded at $1.04 billion, an increase compared to $977 million reported for the same period the previous year. For the 12 months ended on March 31, EA reported $3.79 billion in net revenues, compared to $4.18 billion the previous year.
EA was the No. 1 publisher in Western retail markets in the March quarter, and the No. 1 global publisher in the iOS game market for fiscal year 2013. The company projected that its net revenues for the current fiscal year should reach $4 billion.

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