August 21, 2013

Pinkie Cooper

China Toy Expo

Disney Infinity Debuts at Toys “R” Us Stores Nationwide

Disney InfinityDisney Interactive officially launched Disney Infinity at Toys “R” Us and on toysrus.com on August 18. The new video game platform is available on the Xbox 360 system, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Wii U, and iPad. The game integrates collectible figures featuring characters from The Walt Disney Co. and Pixar Animation Studios with a video game experience that allows the characters to interact together. In the U.S., the Infinite Crystal Series figures will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us. These figures have enhanced in-game abilities, as well as Power Discs that unlock special in-game powers, gadgets, vehicles, and more.
Each Disney Infinity character figure comes to life and they can all play together in a virtual toy box. The game also includes a story-driven experience, “Play Set,” which allows players to solve puzzles, battle enemies, and explore locations from Disney properties. In “Toy Box” mode, players can build and customize their own virtual worlds using their favorite characters, vehicles, settings, and accessories. Disney Infinity launched with an initial line of 18 collectible interactive figures and 21 Power Discs.
In other Disney Interactive news, two new mobile apps, Disney Infinity: Action! and Disney Infinity: Toy Box, provide connected extensions of the console experience. Disney Infinity: Toy Box allows players to build and edit new worlds from the Disney Infinity Toy Box mode on their iPad, transfer any Toy Box creation between their iPad and console, and play with Mr. Incredible for free. Disney Infinity: Action! lets users discover unique animations, use them in the Movie Maker to create their own movies, and share the movies by posting to Facebook or YouTube.
Disney Infinity: Toy Box will be available for free for the iPad in coming weeks, while Disney Infinity: Action! is available now for free on iTunes and in the Windows Store, and will be available for the Google Play Store soon.

American International Toy Fair to Host Digital Kids Conference

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and media company Engage Digital have announced that the 8th Annual Digital Kids Conference will co-locate with the American International Toy Fair in February 2014 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Taking place February 18 to 19, the Digital Kids Conference will address new strategies, tools, and marketplace insights that will enable youth-focused media professionals to create digital toys, games, and media services for kids. The partnership between the two shows will provide Toy Fair attendees with access to the Digital Kids Conference, and TIA members will receive reduced rates to attend the sessions. Digital Kids attendees will gain access to the Toy Fair show floor, where they will be among the first to view 150,000 new toys and games on display by more than 1,000 toy companies.
Toy Fair 2014 will be held from February 16 to 19. Toy Fair will showcase the year’s new products and also includes an educational program designed to help toy inventors and designers, licensors, independent and specialty retailers, and many more constituents grow their businesses, comply with new safety requirements, identify the biggest toy trends of the year, and more.

PlayStation 4 Launches November 15 in North America

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) has announced that the PlayStation 4 (PS4) computer entertainment system will launch on November 15 in Canada and the U.S., and on November 29 in Europe. The PS4 will also launch in the following Latin American countries on November 29: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
Along with offering powerful graphics and speed, deeply integrated social capabilities, and innovative second-screen features utilizing devices such as PlayStation Vita,
PS4 will support Twitch, a live Internet streaming service devoted to video gaming.  Since its launch in 2011, Twitch has earned remarkable popularity worldwide as a live streaming video platform oriented towards video gaming, gathering more than 38 million visitors per month.
A total of 15 Blu-ray Disc titles developed by SCE Worldwide Studios and numerous software developers and publishers worldwide will be released between the launch of PS4 and December 31. In addition, there are currently more than 180 PS4 titles in development, and since June of this year, the number of developers joining the platform has increased from nearly 500 to 620.

LeapFrog Introduces Read With Me Scout

LeapFrogLeapFrog Enterprises has released Read With Me Scout and Read With Me Violet, two new interactive plush puppies designed to build early reading skills. The products offer an interactive story time experience with learning activities that help develop early reading comprehension, listening, and vocabulary skills.
Children can choose one of five books, and as the pals read the story aloud, kids build comprehension skills and early vocabulary. They also learn about the relationship between print on a page and the story as they turn the pages and listen to more than 70 spoken questions and audio responses. Parents can switch Scout and Violet into Sleepy Time mode to select a read-aloud story or eight minutes of lullabies.
Read With Me Scout and Read With Me Violet are the latest additions to LeapFrog’s line of Scout learning products that includes interactive plush such as My Pal Scout and My Pal Violet, My Own Leaptop, Chat & Count Smart Phone toys, and DVDs. The new plush puppies are available online and at major retailer locations in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and France, and will be available in Spain and Mexico later this year.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Live Global Broadcast Shows Off New Features, Call of Duty App

Call of DutyActivision and Xbox gave fans worldwide a sneak peek of the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts via a live-streamed world premiere. Call of Duty: Ghosts features extensive customization and new weapons, maps, and game modes. The game includes a Create-a-Soldier system, in which players can customize their soldier’s physical appearance for the first time in the series. More than 20,000 possible combinations are possible from different heads, body types, equipment, gender, and more.
Players can also enter a new mode of play called Squads, where they can play solo, cooperatively up to six players, or competitively for one-on-one matches. The latter mode pits players and their squads against other players and their squads.
In addition, players can now utilize Call of Duty accounts, secured either free in-game or on the web, to carry their profiles with them, including profile change updates between different Xbox systems or different PlayStation systems.
Finally, a new Call of Duty app gives players a second screen mobile and tablet experience designed to work hand-in-hand with both current and next-generation versions of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Created by Beachhead Studio and Infinity Ward, the app lets fans to stay connected to the console experience wherever they go. With the app, players can edit their entire squad pre-match, have one-touch access to change loadouts for their next spawn while in match, view and share after-action results on Facebook and Twitter, and more.
The new Call of Duty app launches alongside Call of Duty: Ghosts this November on mobile and tablet devices.

Hasbro Launches New B-Daman Toys and App

B-Daman CrossfireHasbro Inc. has expanded on the animated series B-Daman Crossfire by bringing the series to the physical and digital play space with a new B-Daman toy line and app. With the launch of the new B-Daman toys from Hasbro, kids can choose which figure’s personality and fighting style best represents themselves in the B-Daman marble battles. Whether players want to enhance their rapid-fire, power, or precision skills in solo play against B-Daman targets or advance to competition levels with fellow battlers in engaging arenas, B-Daman play allows kids to create their own set of rules and games.
In addition, the new B-Daman line of toys will offer kids the opportunity to connect the physical figures with a digital experience. Players will be able to scan any B-Daman figure via the B-Daman app (available now for Android and iOS devices) on their mobile devices. The app recognizes the toy and allows the user to choose a figure for a digital experience. Kids can also manually enter their toys into the app by using a 14-digit numerical code found on cards included with each toy. Additionally, the codes can be used online to unlock virtual B-Daman figures and gain access to exclusive digital content on the B-Daman Battles website.

VTech Unveils Go! Go! Smart Wheels

Go! Go! Smart WheelsVTech has launched Go! Go! Smart Wheels, a new line of vehicles and play sets. Go! Go! Smart Wheels enhances a popular play pattern, vehicle play, while teaching important learning skills, encouraging interactivity, and providing an outlet for kids.
Each play set features SmartPoint locations recognized by Go! Go! Smart Wheels vehicles. As a vehicle rolls over a play set’s various SmartPoints, the car flashes and plays greetings, fun sounds, short tunes, and sing-along songs. The line features more than 20 different play sets, vehicles, and accessories, including a train station, a construction site, and an airport that can connect into an expansive toy world.
Go! Go! Smart Wheels is available at www.vtechkids.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com, and Walmart.com.

Toys “R” Us Inc. Expands “Price Match Guarantee” to Include Online Retailers

Toys "R" UsToys “R” Us Inc. has enhanced its “Price Match Guarantee” on items available at its Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide to include selected online retailer pricing. The company will now match online pricing on in-store purchases of identical items from: walmart.com, target.com, bestbuy.com, sears.com, kmart.com, buybuybaby.com, meijer.com, fredmeyer.com, diapers.com, babydepot.com, and amazon.com.
The price match will be given at the time of checkout. Customers also have the opportunity to receive a price adjustment retroactively at an “R” Us store if a purchased item is advertised at a lower price by a local competitor within seven days of their original purchase, so long as the customer has a valid receipt. The difference is returned in the same form of payment in which the original purchase was made.

Identity Games Lands Worldwide Rights to Find It Games

Identity Games USA, a division of Identity Games based in the Netherlands, has acquired exclusive, worldwide rights to the Find It games brand and all associated properties from its founder, Bob Knight. Identity Games has been developing games for both the corporate and consumer markets for 20 years, and has won Toy of the Year recognitions in multiple countries.
Find It will be integrated into the other game product lines of Identity Games. In order to accelerate the integration and growth of the new Identity Games portfolio in the U.S., the company has retained Brian Maggio of Revenew Sales & Market Development, who will serve as the new general manager for the U.S. Meanwhile, in an effort to integrate retail feedback into the product development process, new editions and fresh packaging designs will be unveiled in Dallas at the upcoming Fall Toy Preview in October.

Nickelodeon Celebrates 10th Annual Worldwide Day of Play

Nickelodeon plans to celebrate its 10th annual Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP) health and wellness initiative with an event on the Nethermead in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on September 21. This year’s WWDoP event will feature more than 30 national and local partner organizations, including the NFL, NBA, USTA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and YMCA of Greater NY. Leading up to WWDoP, Nickelodeon will also partner with NYC & Co. to host health- and wellness-themed public events across the city beginning September 16. Locations include the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and Union Square.
Nickelodeon’s WWDoP in Prospect Park will be a free, ticketed event offering an entire day of activities and games for kids and their families, including football and tennis drills, dance, stepping, and double dutch, as well as arts and entertainment to encourage active and healthy lifestyles. The network and its partner organizations including the Girl Scouts of America, National Parks Foundation, Police Athletic League, New York Road Runners, the ASPCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, and Association of Children’s Museums will be at the Nethermead in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional partners will be announced on www.nick.com/play.

Shout! Factory Partners with Hasbro Studios for Animated Series

Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios have announced a new distribution agreement to bring a library of nine animated adventure movie and pop culture TV hits to the home entertainment marketplace in the U.S and Canada.
This multi-year, multi-property alliance provides Shout! Factory exclusive rights to My Little Pony animated family adventures My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade, My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas, My Little Pony: Runaway Rainbow, My Little Pony: Dancing in the Clouds, and My Little Pony: Friends are Never Far Away. The deal also includes TV properties Transformers Animated (2007-2009 TV series), Transformers: Armada (2002 TV series), Transformers: Energon (2004 TV series), and Transformers: Cybertron (2005 TV series).

Shaping Moral Values Through Play

Toys are so much more than just playthings. All children learn through play, and aside from basic skill building, toys can teach kids moral values and help them enhance and embrace their individuality. Being “different” is often shunned at the grade school level, especially with increased bullying in schools and on the Internet. Kids need to learn how to love what makes them unique and build their self-esteem, and there are many toys on the market that help them do exactly that. Read more…

Dolls: Inspiring Kids Through Play

For years, Mattel’s Barbie has been held under very close scrutiny for her appearance. She is often criticized for her unrealistic body type and the kind of message that sends to girls. But, of course, Barbie’s good qualities should not be overlooked. She is a smart woman with quite an impressive resume. Another quality Barbie is famous for is her vast array of careers. Barbie can be anything that she wants to be—and so can the kids that play with her. I use Barbie as an example because she is probably the most popular and widely known doll on the market, but there are many other dolls out there that have positive messages for young girls attached to them—and they come in many different shapes and sizes. Read more…

Different Licensees Mean Different Toy Takes on Pac-Man

Quite a few companies are taking on Pac-Man, the character featured in the classic arcade game by Namco. It’s easy to see why, as Pac-Man is the most popular video game of all time, not to mention a global icon that inspired a slew of merchandise during the ’80s. One current toy licensee is Paladone, whose recent Pac-centric products have included the radio-controlled Pac-Man Racers Set, a plush doll, a candy dispenser, and more. These toys are based around the basic character design: a yellow spheroid with a missing wedge for a mouth. Other than having eyes (shaped like small Pac-Men) and a handy third dimension, he doesn’t look all that different from Pac-Man in the original game. Read more…

Outfit7 Expands European Management Team With Two New Executives

Outfit7’s European management team grew with the appointment of two new executives at Outfit7’s UK subsidiary. They will oversee the global licensing portfolio and brand strategy for Talking Tom and Talking Friends. Angeles Blanco has been appointed Senior Licensing Director and Randeep Sidhu becomes Senior Brand Director.
Blanco and Sidhu join the Outfit7 team, which has headquarters in Cyprus and subsidiaries in the UK, Slovenia, the U.S., and South Korea. In her new role as Senior Licensing Director for EMEA, Blanco will advise the management team and implement Outfit7’s licensing strategy across the region, while Sidhu takes on the newly created role of Senior Brand Director with responsibility for advising and expanding the global brand management of Outfit7’s portfolio of products.

Jakks Pacific Stock Trades at 12-Month Low

Shares of Jakks Pacific hit a new 52-week low during trading hours this past Monday, according to AR Network. The company traded as low as $5.10, which was also the price it last traded at, with a volume of 205,473 shares trading hands. The stock had previously closed at $5.25.
Several analysts had recently commented on the stock. Analysts at BMO Capital Markets upgraded shares of Jakks Pacific from an “underperform” to a “market perform” rating, while analysts at Zacks reiterated an “underperform” rating in a research note to investors on Friday, August 2nd. Meanwhile, three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating, and one has issued a buy rating. Jakks Pacific has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $10.90.

Videogame Industry’s U.S. Sales Shrink in July

The videogame industry’s U.S. sales continued to shrink in July as customers held back spending while waiting for new game consoles later this year, The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog reports. There were double-digit contractions in nearly all areas. Sales of videogame hardware, software, and accessories in U.S. retail shops fell 19 percent to $443.0 million, according to market researcher NPD Group. The same data showed sales of videogame titles fell 20 percent to $222.3 million.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are due to be released in the coming months, and industry executives hope they bring an upswing in sales. In the meantime, a dearth of new titles has further hurt the industry’s sales, continuing a disturbing trend of contracting revenue for more than a year, according to NPD.
All told, videogame hardware sales in the month of July fell 34 percent to $99.4 million, based on NPD’s data. Market researcher PwC estimates that worldwide console videogame sales will grow 4.2 percent this year to $25.98 billion. In 2014, sales are expected to rise another 6.4 percent to $27.62 billion.

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