September 16, 2013

China Toy Expo

XOS Offers Free Webinar on Maximizing CPSIA Compliance

XOS is offering a free webinar with featured speaker Quin Dodd, an attorney and noted Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) expert and former chief of staff at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Dodd will provide an overview of new and proposed CPSC regulations and requirements pertaining to the testing and certification of toys and other consumer products. He will also provide concrete suggestions for maximizing compliance while minimizing testing and administrative costs and compliance risks.
Following Dodd’s presentation, Satbir Nayar of XOS will provide a brief overview of high-definition XRF (HDXRF) technology with regards to reducing the cost and increasing the effectiveness of heavy metals testing programs. 
The webinar is scheduled for September 26 at 2pm EST. To register, click here.

VTech Unveils Kid Connect Communication App for Innotab 3S
VTech has launched the VTech Kid Connect app for the InnoTab 3S learning tablet. The communication app helps parents stay connected to their kids when they are apart. Preschoolers ages 3 and up can send text messages and animated stickers to parents’ smartphones from the tablet, and parents can send text messages and stickers back to their child’s InnoTab 3S. Kids can also stay connected to their friends and siblings by exchanging messages between two InnoTab 3S tablets anywhere in the world.
Access to VTech Kid Connect is free for one year with the purchase of an InnoTab 3S. The Premium Kid Connect app includes more features, allowing kids and parents to send each other voice messages, photos, and drawings.

TIA Invites Members to Update Product Listings and Download Logo

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) reminds its manufacturer members that information about product categories each company produces is now being collected. All responses are due by September 20. Once collected, the data will help TIA staff to promote members to retailers, the media, and consumers; update the Toy Fair Buyer and Member Directories; create a new product resource directory on; and identify which companies to contact should category-specific safety issues arise.
A preview of the form has been developed to assist members, and an accompanying product category definitions document, which details the product categories in the survey, has been created to assist respondents. All input is being collected electronically at the following link.
In related news, TIA is inviting all active members to display their commitment to TIA’s standards by downloading and using its TIA Member logo for promotional purposes. The logo may be downloaded from the TIA website and displayed on member companies’ websites with a link to; in marketing brochures, catalogs, and booth signage at industry trade shows and events; and on business cards and signature lines of emails with a link.

Toys “R” Us Prepares to Launch New tabeo e2

tabeo e2Toys “R” Us will debut the tabeo e2, the next generation of its Wi-Fi Android tablet for kids, next month. The upgraded, 8-inch, multi-touch screen tablet is bigger and faster than the original tabeo, and still provides content that kids love and safety features parents desire.
tabeo e2 offers access to thousands of free apps in the tabeo App Store and comes preloaded with dozens of premium apps carefully selected to entertain and educate kids ages 6 to 11. Featuring enhanced technology, such as the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 operating system, Bluetooth, and a dual-core 1.0 GHz processor for faster performance, tabeo e2 also includes improved parental controls and high-impact screen protection. Preloaded content includes the games Need for Speed Most Wanted, Bejeweled 2, and Fruit Ninja; language learning with Little Pim; interactive books; and more.
tabeo e2 will be available in blue, pink, and clear exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at beginning in October.

Pillow Pets, Peaceable Kingdom Each Donate More Than $1 Million in Toys to TIF

More than $1 million in Peaceable Kingdom sticker sets and $1.7 million in Pillow Pets were donated by the manufacturers during the Toys Across America campaign hosted by Toy Industry Foundation (TIF), the not-for-profit affiliate of the Toy Industry Association.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Toy Bank, TIF partnered with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) to host Toys Across America, which brought playthings to children in all 50 states within a single day. The donated Pillow Pets went to kids in 25 states, and Peaceable Kingdom’s sticker sets were donated to children’s charities in four states. A total of 36 generous toy companies participated in the initiative, which brought toys to more than half a million kids in need.
It was a record-breaking summer for donations to TIF overall. Its annual Summer Toy Drive collected more than 896,000 toys for children. Due to donations from 92 toy companies, TIF’s Toy Bank received more than four times as many toys compared to last summer. This year’s contributions were valued at more than $4.5 million.

Hasbro and Disney Expand Relationship to Include Disney Princess and Disney Junior Properties

HasbroHasbro Inc. has expanded its partnership with Disney to include gaming and other play experiences based on Disney entertainment properties Disney Princess and Disney Junior. The deal gives Hasbro global rights to develop games based on the properties, including Mr. Potato Head toys, based on Disney Princess characters.



Lego Partners with Texas Instruments on Lego Mindstorms, and Lego Duplo Announces Play Phone Line

Lego MindstormnsSitara processors and Texas Instruments (TI) connectivity and analog solutions have been selected to power the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics platform.
Lego’s tool kit contains hardware and software to create customizable and programmable robots. It features a programmable brick computer powered by TI’s Sitara AM1808 ARM9 processor to control the motors, monitor sensors, run Linux, and enable high-resolution displays and a variety of connectivity options. In addition, the brick computer contains TI’s CC2560 Bluetooth connectivity solution, which allows each user to control his or her robot with a mobile device using an app.
Lego Mindstorms EV3 is available in retail stores and a special version is available for classrooms through Lego Education.
In other Lego news, in honor of National Grandparents Day, Lego Duplo has launched a Play Phone Line for grandparents. Designed to be a resource that offers tips, suggestions, and inspiration, the free line encourages grandparents and parents of kids ages 1 to 5 to call when they need clever playtime ideas.
Whether the question is how to manage play with multiple grandchildren of different age groups, or simple ways to introduce building play for the first time, adults can call 1-800-835-4386 and mention “grandparents” for creative ideas and information to make playtime even more special. Other tools available include an activity guide that can be mailed or emailed; Lego’s Facebook page; and Lego’s YouTube channel. Grandparents and parents can also email their own ideas to or share them on Facebook.

Just Play Debuts Tickety Toc Toy Line, Available Exclusively at Toys “R” Us

Tickety TocJust Play has introduced the first toy range based on the Nick Jr. preschool series Tickety Toc, from Zodiac Kids, exclusively at Toys “R” Us. The new line, for kids ages 3 and up, features a Tickety Toc Clockhouse playset, the Tickety Toc Musical Pufferty Train, Tommy and Tallulah Talking Dolls, and more.




Activision’s Call of Duty and Eminem Come Together for Ultimate Fan Offer

Activision’s anticipated game, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and music icon Eminem’s new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, will both drop November 5. In collaboration with GameStop, consumers who pre-order Call of Duty: Ghosts at GameStop will get their copy of the game with a code to download a special edition of The Marshall Mathers LP 2, featuring the track “Survival” and a bonus studio track.
The ongoing partnership between Activision and Eminem continues later this month with a music video trailer featuring “Survival” and Call of Duty: Ghosts. The offer is redeemable through November 19.
Call of Duty: Ghosts will release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Wii U on November 5. The title will also release on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year.

EA Sports UFC to Feature Female Fighters

UFCEA Sports UFC, from Electronic Arts Inc.,will feature playable female fighters for the first time in a UFC video game. Starting next spring, players will be able to “Feel the Fight” in the Octagon and experience the power of UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s signature armbar, the intensity of top bantamweight contender Miesha Tate’s grappling, and many other fighting styles from an esteemed roster of female fighters in EA Sports UFC. The game is in development at EA Canada in Vancouver and will be available for the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 next spring.

Hastings Entertainment to Host Midnight Release Party for Grand Theft Auto V

Hastings Entertainment Inc. will host a midnight release party at select stores for its highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V on September 16. Festivities including energy drink and candy deals begin at 9:00 p.m. An offer code for an in-game vehicle called the Atomic Blimp will also be available to anyone who purchases the game at midnight. To find out more about the Grand Theft Auto V midnight release parties, visit or contact a local Hastings superstore or visit

PlayStation 4, Early Games Have Something for Everyone

I am, at best, a casual video gamer. I played a lot of Nintendo and Sega when I was younger, but I haven’t been an active video game consumer since the PlayStation 2. Still, I like to keep up on what’s current, even if all the latest controllers vex me with their myriad of buttons, and what really interests me is whether I can download every game from my childhood. So when I was offered a chance to preview the upcoming PlayStation 4 (PS4) from Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (Sony), along with some games that will accompany the launch, I went after it the way Sega’s Altered Beast would have gone after a shiny blue orb released by the death of a two-headed white wolf—in other words, like it was pretty darned important. Read more…

Billy’s Got the Toddler Beat

As a 24 year-old, one would hope that it would take a fairly fascinating toy to really pique my interest. While it does take probably less than you would imagine (I am admittedly a kid at heart), there is one toddler plaything that I simply can’t get enough of—Billy Beats Dancing Piano. This musical DJ, from Mega Bloks, does it all. Billy is a too-cute-to-handle, dancing piano that is the culmination of all things enjoyed by toddlers. I know that if Billy had been around in my toddler hay-day, his batteries would have needed very frequent changing. My short attention span made it difficult to entertain me, and Billy Beats is four sources of entertainment in one—singing, music playing, dancing, and block building. Win, win, win, and win! Read more…

Gameloft Reports First Half Results

During the first half of 2013, Gameloft achieved consolidated sales of €109.4 million, up 15 percent year-on-year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, growth for the first half was 17 percent. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa represented 32 percent of first half sales; North America represented 25 percent; Latin America 23 percent; and the Asia Pacific region 20 percent. Sales continue to be driven by the worldwide success of Gameloft’s games on smartphones and tablets, the first-half sales of which grew by 45 percent year-on-year, representing 61 percent of total group sales compared with 48 percent in the first half of last year.
Gameloft's rapid growth is also driven by the success of virtual goods and advertising, which currently account for 80 percent of the company's smartphone revenues. Games dating from 2011 and 2012 such as Ice Age Village, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, World at Arms, My Little Pony, Order & Chaos Online, and Six-Guns have contributed to the solid performance of the company in the first six months this year.
The first-half gross profit reached €90.3 million, up 11 percent. The gross margin for the period reached 83 percent, down from 86 percent in the same period last year, but stable compared with the gross margin achieved in H2 2012.

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