August 29, 2013

Pinkie Cooper

China Toy Expo

Voting Opens for 2014 Toy Industry Hall of Fame Inductees

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has opened its annual ballot to determine the next inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. The voting period will extend to September 13. This year’s candidates were chosen from a slate of 24 highly-qualified nominees submitted for consideration by members of the Hall of Fame (HOF) Committee. All of the nominees have left notable marks on the North American toy industry.
Responses are due by September 13. Designated points of contact at TIA member companies, former Hall of Fame inductees, and recent TIA Board members are invited to rank their choices in the living and posthumous categories.
The inductees will be honored during the Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards ceremony on February 15 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which officially launches Toy Fair Week in New York City.

Toys “R” Us Releases Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids

Toys “R” Us Inc. has released the 2013 Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, a toy-selection resource for kids with special needs. This annual shopping guide is available in Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide, and online in English and Spanish at toysrus.com/differentlyabled. This year’s edition features 2012 all-around gymnastics gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas on the cover, alongside Special Olympics Young Athletes Isabella Caesar and Samuel Lopez.
This year’s guide introduces Toys “R” Us’ first-ever Toys “R” Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. The app guide currently features a selection of 25 apps identified to help children with special needs further develop key skills. Apps featured within the 2013 app guide include Swapsies–Occupations, PicSay–Photo Editor, Learning Letters for Kids, Bubble Buster, and Cookie Dunk Jump. All apps featured within this resource can be found in the Google Play Store for Android or the App Store for iOS.

American Girl Welcomes the Brand-New World of Bitty Baby

Bitty BabyAugust 27 marked the debut of American Girl’s Bitty Baby line of 15-inch dolls, outfits, and accessories. The new line includes 11 different dolls with various skin tones and hair and eye color combinations, as well as illustrated picture books, premium play sets, plush animals, and online activities.
Girls ages 3 and up can select their doll from the expanded choices, at which point they receive the Bitty Baby doll dressed in its signature sleeper, along with a special “wishing star” keepsake toy and Bitty Baby and Me, the first in a series of five hardcover picture books. New outfits in various designs are also available to allow kids to further personalize their Bitty Baby.

The Wizard of Oz Celebrates 75 Years with New Toys

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Warner Bros. Consumer Products is launching a comprehensive campaign that includes toys and games from top licensees. Among them is McDonald’s, which will feature limited-edition The Wizard of Oz toys in Happy Meals at more than 14,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada from September 20 to October 10.
Toy and game partners supporting the milestone anniversary include Jazwares, Mattel, and Adora Dolls, the latter of which will be introducing special-edition Wizard of Oz Toddlers. Meanwhile, commemorative collections of toys are expected to be part of “The Wizard of Oz’ 75th Anniversary Celebration,” scheduled to debut on QVC on September 26 at 9 p.m.

The Wiggles Toys Debuting Exclusively at Toys “R” Us

The WigglesA new toy line from Wicked Cool Toys based on the children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles, will debut exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores and online at toysrus.com. The release coincides with the group’s North American “Taking Off!” concert tour.
The toy line includes plush, cars, and musical instruments. The Wiggles–Anthony, Emma, Lachy, and Simon–appear in the Ready, Steady Wiggle! TV series on Sprout as well as CDs and DVDs, and they have performed live in concerts worldwide. The toys are aimed at Wiggles fans ages 2 to 6.

 

Barbie Staying Put in New Malibu Dreamhouse, Partners with Girl Scouts for First Barbie Patch

Barbie DreamhouseOver the past year, Barbie, the original California girl, traveled the world to find the perfect place to call home. After touring New York, Paris, even the Australian outback, she has decided to stay in the beachside city of Malibu, Calif., in a newly-renovated, three-story Dreamhouse from Mattel.
The new Dreamhouse play set, which is suitable for kids ages 3 and up, features ocean views and six rooms with details that include pink “stainless steel” appliances and two pull-string elevators. It expands from the center to reveal spacious living areas and a main elevator.
In addition, Barbie has partnered with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to create the first Barbie “Be Anything, Do Everything” patch. The participation patch is designed to inspire the next generation of female leaders by encouraging girls to explore career possibilities through new program activities. With the core theme “Be Anything, Do Everything,” the partnership reaches girls online and offline, and includes an activity booklet, a special patch, and a digital game and poll.

LeapFrog Partners with Random House for Audio Book Library

LeapFrogLeapFrog Enterprises and Listening Library, an imprint of Random House LLC, have partnered to bring Listening Library’s library of children’s audio books to the LeapReader platform. Listening Library’s audio books are available for download via LeapFrog’s App Center.
LeapReader is the new learn-to-read-and-write system that helps kids build literacy skills and reading confidence with LeapReader’s three essential experiences–learn to read, learn to write, and learn through listening. Kids sound out words and read sentences, write letters with interactive guidance, and develop listening skills, comprehension, and imagination through audio books, music, and more all available in the LeapReader library of more than 150 learning experiences.

Activision’s Skylanders Products Are a Force to Beat

Activision Publishing has announced that the Skylanders figures outsold all action-figure properties in the U.S. and Europe year-to-date this year–and the Skylanders property outpaced all toy properties overall in the UK year-to-date as of June 30.
As of July 31, the Skylanders franchise has generated more than $1.5 billion in worldwide retail sales in both North America and Europe. Skylanders Giants was also the best-selling console and hand-held game overall in dollars.

Scribblenauts UnmaskedA DC Comics Adventure Video Game Set for Release

ScribblenautsScribblenauts Unmasked–A DC Comics Adventure is a new videogame that melds the creativity of the DC Comics characters and objects with the classic Scribblenauts art style. The game features a story where players embark as protagonist Maxwell on an imaginative quest, taking them through Gotham City, Metropolis, Atlantis, and other iconic locales from the DC Comics universe. The game features puzzles called Heroic Feats that increase the game’s replayability by continuously generating original scenarios requiring different solutions with each visit. Scribblenauts Unmasked–A DC Comics Adventure is compatible with Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PC. On Wii U and PC, players can create their own Super Hero or Super Villain using any item from the DC Comics Universe and then setting properties for how it behaves, changing its appearance and powers. Players can then share their creations with the community and download others. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developed by 5th Cell, Scribblenauts Unmasked–A DC Comics Adventure will be available for purchase September 24.

Ticket to Ride Offers In-App Purchase of Physical Games on Kindle Fire

Days of Wonder has released a new digital version of its award-winning game Ticket to Ride for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. Days of Wonder’s updated app incorporates Amazon’s new Mobile Associates API for in-app purchasing of physical goods, providing customers a new kind of immersive retail experience where they can acquire the tabletop board game while playing the digital version, and have their purchase delivered directly to their doorstep. Days of Wonder brings together its top-rated sales in both physical and digital gaming for this five-star rated game that is a consistent seller in Amazon’s Toys & Games Store.
Exclusively on the Kindle Fire, customers can also purchase physical versions of Ticket to Ride, and any of its numerous expansions, from directly within the app and have the corresponding physical game delivered straight to their homes. To celebrate the launch of this feature that ties the digital and cardboard versions of the game together, the Kindle version of Ticket to Ride even includes some new custom wooden score markers for the board game, which customers can purchase with a single tap from within the app.

TÜV Rheinland Offers ISO 50001 Certification Service

TÜV Rheinland of North America is offering ISO 50001 certification service to companies across all industries seeking to enhance energy performance, reduce production costs, and improve overall sustainability and competitiveness. The ISO 50001 Energy Management System standard provides a roadmap to establish proven processes to manage the supply, use, and consumption of energy.
Organizations that already have a fully functioning ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, which manages various activities impacting the environment, can fast-track the implementation of an Energy Management System. A certified ISO 14001 Environmental Management System potentially has up to 75 percent of the elements required for ISO 50001 already in place.
ISO 50001 certification and readiness audits are offered as part of TÜV Rheinland’s Management Systems Certification service. More information about the benefits of ISO 50001 can be found at the TÜV Rheinland website. TÜV Rheinland will also hold a complimentary webinar on the benefits of ISO 50001 on September 18 with registration available online.

Madden NFL 25 Writers Celebrate Game’s Launch with 25-Hour Gaming Marathon

Madden NFL 25Two official game guide writers for the upcoming Madden NFL 25, Stephen “SGibs” Gibbons and Zach “ZFarls” Farley, played the new game for 25 straight hours leading up to its launch on August 27. The authors began playing Madden NFL 25 on Monday at 11 p.m. EST. The marathon gaming session was viewable online at www.twitch.tv/maddentips.
Gibbons and Farley write for Prima Games, an imprint of Random House LLC. They had spent several months in Orlando, Fla., working with EA Sports developers and learning the nuances of the new game.

Solar-Powered Toys Let Kids Harness the Power of the Sun

The best way to learn is hands-on, and there are lots of great toys that let kids learn about the world around them—while having fun at the same time! With solar-powered toys, kids come to understand how the sun provides energy and how to harness it for their use. Read more…

Oldies but Newer: Upcoming Video Game Sequels to Look Out For

With the impending release of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, it’s only natural to be on the lookout for new video games to try on these latest platforms. However, games from other consoles and devices shouldn’t be excluded either, especially with the forthcoming distribution of newer versions of old classics. Whether it’s a sport, action-adventure, or fantasy game, there’s a game out there geared towards any gamer in any genre. The best part is that the timeless games players have grown up with are being revamped to ensure a different gaming experience than with previous versions. Before eliminating these new editions to opt for a newer series, it might be worth it to consider what these current renditions have to offer. Here are some classic franchise games getting ready to put out their latest publication that might capture your interest. Read more…

Homemade Accessories Are Now Easier Than Ever to Make!

It has become somewhat of a tradition along the South Shore of Long Island to sell bracelets and other accessories down by the beach boardwalks during the summer. I can vividly remember watching in delight as my older cousins worked ferociously to complete the bracelets, ankle bracelets, hair ties, and even necklaces they would sell for less than a dollar each. It wasn’t about making money, although a busy day was certainly a plus; it was about creating the accessories. They would allow me to sit with them on the spread out beach towels, which doubled as a makeshift bracelet display area, until I was old enough to start making and selling the bracelets myself. A few years later my younger sister followed suit, and now my six-year-old cousin and her friends are keeping the tradition alive, proving that no matter how many store-bought bracelets and accessories there may be, nothing can really replace a handmade one. Read more…

Kids Need to Move It, Move It

Today, kids are swarmed with toys that enable them to experience every world of play possible without ever having to move. Play buttons are all that’s required, and while this is incredible for the mind, it leaves the next generation sedentary. Millions of toys are available for molding the brain, but what are kids doing for their bodies? I remember a time that my mom had to beg us to come inside because it was getting dark out, and nothing could keep me still for very long. In a world where touch screens have replaced backyard swings, remote controllers have replaced running, and headphones have replaced jump ropes, it’s so important to get kids up and moving. Read more…

Chicago Toy & Game Group Adds Two Members to Board

There are two new additions to the Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG) advisory board: Brian Torney and Tanya Thompson. They will serve as the principal body of the organization, providing counsel on the group’s overall direction and ensuring that its mission is being promoted.
Torney is a co-founder of the toy studio Otherdoor Entertainment, the digital strategy director of consumer and entertainment brands at Manifest Digital, and a writer for Global Toy News. He also promotes groundbreaking creative and interactive projects for industry-leading entertainment and toy companies such as Cartoon Network, Fox, Nickelodeon, Step2, The Marketing Store, McDonald’s, THQ, and Hasbro.
Thompson serves as the head of inventor relations at ThinkFun Inc., where she is also an integral member of product and program development. She began her career as a math teacher before joining the board of the SNAP Mathematics Foundation, which promotes the use of recreational mathematics and puzzles in the classroom. In addition, Thompson chairs the organizing committee for Gathering for Gardner–Celebration of Mind, a global initiative promoting mathematics, magic, and puzzles, and was previously involved with the Chicago Toy and Game Week in a variety of capacities.

GameStop Reports Second Quarter Sales and Earnings

Last Thursday, GameStop Corp. reported sales and earnings for the second quarter ended August 3. Total global sales for that period were $1.38 billion compared to $1.55 billion in the prior-year quarter, a decrease of 10.7 percent. Consolidated comparable store sales decreased 10.7 percent as well, slightly better than the guidance provided on May 23.
During the quarter, mobile sales expanded 121.4 percent to $55.1 million and digital receipts grew 17.9 percent to $158.0 million. Sales of new software decreased 9.3 percent, outperforming the overall market and leading to 290 basis points of market share gain. New hardware sales declined 19.4 percent and pre-owned sales decreased 6.0 percent, as consumers wait for the launch of the new consoles later this year.
GameStop’s net earnings for the second quarter were $10.5 million compared to net earnings of $21.0 million in the prior-year quarter. Diluted earnings per share were $0.09, exceeding the high end of the company’s guidance by $0.02. The primary drivers of these better-than-expected results were expense control and gross margin improvement.
Looking ahead at the third quarter of this fiscal year, GameStop expects comparable store sales to range from +11.0 to +15.0 percent. Diluted earnings per share are expected to range from $0.50 to $0.55.

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