Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition to Premiere at Comic-Con International
Activision Publishing Inc. is bringing the Skylanders video game franchise to Comic-Con International: San Diego, and attendees will be the first to check out the Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack toys. The pack includes the Ultimate Kaos Trap, a special, larger-sized trap, which allows Portal Masters to trap and play as Kaos when the game launches in North America on October 5.
In addition, the pack will include two Traps; exclusive black and silver variant designs of new characters Snap Shot, Wildfire, and Food Fight; a two-sided poster; sticker sheets; and trading cards. The Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack will be available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U systems.
Comic Con International: San Diego kicks off on Thursday, but North American fans can pre-order the Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack at major retailers while supplies last.
Funko and Mindstyle Form Alliance with Sights on China and Southeast Asia
Funko and Mindstyle International have reached an agreement for a strategic alliance in greater China and Southeast Asia. The new alliance will build on Funko's existing position globally and create new growth opportunities.
Funko will retain creative, marketing, and sales responsibilities for its portfolio of iconic collectibles, which include its Wacky Wobbler Bobble-Heads, Wisecracks, Mystery Minis, and the ultra collectible Pop! Vinyl Figures. Mindstyle—a global creative, development, and manufacturing company based in China—will bring strong product development with Pop! Asia and premium product lines, local distribution, and a history of initiatives for the Asia market.
Mattel Brings Star Wars, Minecraft, and Call of Duty to Comic-Con International: San Diego
This week, Mattel Inc. will preview upcoming toys at Comic-Con International: San Diego, including its line of Hot Wheels Star Wars vehicles and play sets due out later this year. The line includes Star Wars-inspired Hot Wheels character cars, as well as replica die cast starships.
Mattel will also debut a line of Minecraft-inspired items, created in partnership with Mojang AB, and Mega Bloks will unveil its first Mega Bloks Call of Duty Signature Series building set.
NRF Finds Back to School Spending Is Up, Driven by Demand for Electronics and Supplies
According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Back-to-School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics. This is up 5 percent from a total spend of $634.78 last year, driven by increased demand for electronic items.
Broken down by grade, the average family shopping for middle school and junior high students will spend $682.13, while parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94.
Every category will see an increase in spending, including average spend on supplies and electronics. According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers will spend an average $212.35 on electronic items, up 7 percent from $199.05 last year, with total spend expected to reach $8.4 billion.
Lego Systems Shows Off New Products at Comic-Con International: San Diego
At Comic-Con International: San Diego this week, Lego Systems Inc. will unveil upcoming products, including two Lego Super Heroes: DC Comics sets scheduled to launch next year, one of which is an 1,800-piece tumbler.
In anticipation of this December's theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Lego Systems will preview one of the new Lego the Hobbit sets slated to arrive in stores this October. The company will also show off an upcoming set based on The Lego Movie, as well as sets based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series and new feature film.
Lego Systems will also unveil the fourth wave of Lego Mixels characters and content, set to launch next year.
SuperFanArt Launches, Lets Fans Be Creators Using Hasbro Brands
Hasbro Inc. and Shapeways are launching SuperFanArt, a website that enables fans inspired by Hasbro brands to showcase their artwork and sell their 3-D printed designs on Shapeways. Through the site, the Hasbro fan base has a license to create new art and product offerings.
SuperFanArt will launch with the My Little Pony franchise, and additional Hasbro brands will be introduced in the coming months. At its launch, SuperFanArt will showcase work by several talented fan artists, and consumers can click through to each artist’s shop to place an order. Additional artists and 3-D printed products will be featured on the site in the future.
Mattel Launches New Direct-to-Consumer Strategy for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway
Mattel is bringing a new shopping experience to Thomas & Friends fans nationwide, through a cross-company collaboration that began this month. Anchored by the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, the new experience includes the first ever Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway direct-to-consumer catalogue, e-commerce website, and partnerships with 20 independent specialty retail stores, which will serve as official Thomas & Friends Specialty Stations in the U.S.
Thomas & Friends will also introduce a limited-release wooden engine, Logan, a Shunter that works at the coal plant, and is only available in the U.S. through the new catalogue, e-commerce website, and official specialty stations.
The e-commerce website, thomaswoodenrailway.com, launches next month, and the Logan wooden engine will be available through December 31 of next year.
In addition, moving forward, Toys “R” Us will become the exclusive national chain retailer of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.
CPSC Releases CHAP Report on Phthalates and Phthalate Alternatives
Following four years of investigation by the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) appointed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the CPSC has released a report detailing the potential health effects of phthalates and phthalate alternatives in toys and child care articles.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, there are currently permanent bans on three types of phthalates—DEHP, DBP, and BBP—in toys and certain child care articles, and interim bans on three additional phthalates—DINP, DIDP, and DnOP—in mouth-able components of these products.
The CHAP report recommends lifting the interim bans on DnOP and DIDP, which are not typically used in toys and children’s products, and permanently banning DINP. It also recommends that four additional phthalates—DIBP, DPenP, DHexP, and DCHP—be permanently banned from use in children’s toys and child care articles at levels greater than 0.1 percent.
The full report is available on the CPSC website. The Toy Industry Association is reviewing the report, and invites member questions to be directed to Al Kaufman, TIA senior vice president of technical affairs, at (646) 520-4868.
Sony Pictures Teams Up with Iconic Video Game Companies for Pixels
Sony Pictures Entertainment has brought together a number of iconic video game companies, whose characters—such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Frogger, and Q*bert—will be featured in next year’s action comedy Pixels, to be released on May 15.
Companies with classic arcade games that are teaming with Sony Pictures on the film include: Atari Interactive (publisher of Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, and Missile Command), Konami Digital Entertainment Co. Ltd. (Frogger), Bandai Namco Games Inc. (Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug), Nintendo (Donkey Kong), Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. (Q*bert), Taito Corporation (Space Invaders), and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Joust, Defender, Robotron, and Wizard of Wor).
Bif Bang Pow! Enters Licensing Deal for Mike Tyson Mysteries Toys
Bif Bang Pow! is partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) to release a collection of action figures from the upcoming animated comedy series, Mike Tyson Mysteries, which will premiere this fall. The collection includes a Mike Tyson Mysteries Mike Tyson with Boxing Gloves 8-Inch Action Figure, a convention exclusive for Comic-Con International: San Diego.
This venture between Bif Bang Pow! and Warner Bros. builds upon the companies' existing partnership for products based on the TV series, The Big Bang Theory. The Mike Tyson Mysteries line will be available to order at Entertainment Earth.