NRF Survey: 147 Million to Visit Stores, Shop Online Black Friday Weekend
According to a preliminary Black Friday shopping survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), up to 147 million people plan to shop throughout Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), a slight decrease from the 152 million who planned to do so last year. Specifically, 71 million said they would shop and another 76 million said they would wait and see what retailers have in-store that weekend.
Half (49.5 percent) of consumers said they will keep up with advertising circulars throughout the holiday season and three in 10 (30.5 percent) said they will use television advertisements to stay up-to-date with upcoming sales and events. There are also a growing number of consumers who prefer to see things digitally; 26.8 percent will follow retailers’ websites, and 31.4 percent will track e-mails from retailers in order to get the latest holiday announcements.
Online, mobile, and in-store promotions, especially for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday offerings, continue to grow. According to the Shop.org’s eHoliday survey, conducted by BIGinsight, three in 10 (29.0 percent) multichannel retailers say they will promote their in-store Black Friday deals with mobile alerts, up significantly from the 18.4 percent who planned to do so last year. Additionally, 80.6 percent will use Facebook to alert shoppers about in-store deals, up from 73.7 percent last year.
TIA Announces Toy of the Year Finalists
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has announced the 84 finalists for the Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 13, toy-lovers can visit toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys in 12 categories including activity toys, boy toys, e-connected toys, educational toys, games, girl toys, infant/toddler toys, innovative toys, outdoor toys, preschool toys, properties, and specialty toys.
This year’s finalists, representing 69 products or properties from 46 companies, were selected from nearly 650 nominees for consideration. Nomination committees comprised of academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers narrowed the field to the current 84 finalists.
The winners will be announced during the awards ceremony on February 9 as the kick-off to the 110th American International Toy Fair.
For a complete list of finalists and to vote on your favorite toys, visit www.toyawards.org.
Imagination to Release Fifty Shades of Grey Party Games
Imagination Games will release Fifty Shades of Grey: Party Game, a new game that allows all players to “Release their Inner Goddess!” This is the first in a series of fun, social party games that will be available in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia on December 10. The game will be released internationally in time for Valentine’s Day.
All players listen to the vanilla-style question before secretly voting on which of the eight pre-determined friends they believe is best matched to the question. Any player that picked the same friend as the reader wins an Inner Goddess token.
The game will be available from Barnes & Noble for pre-orders in the U.S. and from WH Smith and Amazon in the UK.
Tomy Launches Pajanimals Toy Line in Time for the Holiday Season
A new line of toys from Tomy, based on Pajanimals, is now available at retail and online. A co-production with The Jim Henson Company, Sprout, and Sixteen South Television, the television series airs daily on Sprout during The Good Night Show and on Saturday morning on NBC.
The product line includes the Pajanimals bedtime friends’ plush line, inspired by the show’s four main characters—Sweetpea Sue the pony, the excitable duck Squacky, the creative cow CowBella, and the optimistic puppy Apollo—in 9-inch and 15-inch versions. Other new products include the Snuggle Up Story Mat, whichfeatures a soft book that transforms into a pillow to help children transition from play time to nap time, and an interactive mobile app. For additional information on retail locations for Pajanimals products, visit www.henson.com.
Moose Enterprise Secures Australian Distribution Rights for Hedbanz
Moose Enterprise has secured the Australian distribution rights for the children’s game Hedbanz. From Trends International, the game has sold millions of units worldwide and is the newest edition to Moose’s cache of games.
Based on a classic play pattern, Hedbanz is the goofy quick-question game of "What Am I?" Players wear a picture card in their headband and then quickly ask questions to figure out what they are. When they figure it out, they get rid of a chip. The first player to get rid of all three of their chips wins. The game is intended for two to six players.
Neighborhood Toy Store Day Marketing Reaches Millions of Consumers
The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that media coverage about the advantages of specialty toys reached a reading audience of more than 90 million consumers in the ramp-up to this year’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day.
The importance of supporting locally owned toy stores was mentioned in several hundred media outlets around the country and across multiple platforms, including print, radio, broadcast, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.
Among the placements were mentions in Examiner.com, SheKnows.com, CoolMomPicks.com, and The ShoppingMama.com. Neighborhood Toy Store Day was created by ASTRA to position ASTRA retailers for a strong holiday season. It is celebrated annually on the second Saturday of November.
Santa to Bring High-Tech Gadgets, Familiar Favorites to Children This Holiday Season
Children’s wish lists this holiday season are full of the latest gadgets such as Apple iPads and the Nintendo Wii U, but there’s still demand for classic gifts like Lego blocks, dolls, and toy cars, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s 2012 Top Toys Survey, conducted by BIGinsight.
A surprise item in this year’s top 10 is Furby, which ranked No. 3 on girls’ wish lists and No. 9 on boys’ lists. Furby became a must-have item and child favorite in the late 90s but has since undergone a digital makeover complete with LCD eyes and compatible iPad apps. Video games also appeared on both lists this year. According to NRF’s holiday survey, 45.1 percent of consumers plan to buy toys this holiday season.
Little, Brown and Hasbro to Launch Publishing Programs Based on My Little Pony, Transformers
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has reached an agreement in principal for print and electronic rights in the U.S. and Canada, under license from Hasbro, Inc., for the My Little Pony brand. The publishing company will also extend its existing license for Transformers into next year.
The standout titles in this deal include an Official Guide to the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic animated TV series, which releases next spring, and a Transformers pop-up book, scheduled for the fall. Additional books based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic include 8 x 8s, readers, chapter books, and other companion and novelty formats, as well as an original My Little Pony picture book, which will release in April. For the youngest fans of Transformers, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers plans to release books starting in May based on the Transformers: Rescue Bots animated TV series.
The Young Scientists Club Partners for Clifford Science Toys
A big red dog will be teaching science tricks to youngsters next year. Through a new licensing agreement, The Young Scientists Club has enlisted Clifford The Big Red Dog to guide kids to discover bubbles, rainbows, and experiments by the kitchen sink in three new kits. The big dog will appear on the cover of the kits and throughout the science experiment manuals. Clifford will lead kids by the paw with the help of his friend Emily Elizabeth, who narrates the storyline of each experiment.
Tonner Doll Company Creates Dr. Seuss-Inspired Line
Tonner Doll Company, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., has introduced a vibrant, high-fashion doll collection based on Dr. Seuss characters.
There are three pieces in the Dr. Seuss Collection: The Cat’s Hat, Sam I Am, and Truffula. Each doll in the line is inspired by the art included in Dr. Seuss’s books. Each doll is 16-inches tall, adorned with inset eyes, rooted Saran hair, and includes multiple points of articulation for posing and play. Only 500 pieces of each doll will be made.
Bluewater Trading Company to Release Angry Birds Air Swimmers
The Bluewater Trading Company is set to release Angry Birds Air Swimmers. After the release of William Mark Corporation’s Air Swimmers last year, the WMC team continued to expand its brand and added a twist to the product. Air Swimmers were redesigned making them easier to use, faster, and more lightweight. The Angry Birds Air Swimmers turbo versions consist of auto-swim features, allowing them to flap on their own. The guidance system was also upgraded with a rechargeable battery, a remote control, and a docking port. Angry Birds Air Swimmers consist of the Red Bird, Bad Piggy Balloons, Red Space Bird, Blue Bird, and the Black Bird.
Star Wars Action Figures and Dominoes Enter National Toy Hall of Fame
Star Wars action figures and the centuries-old game of dominoes will join the National Toy Hall of Fame. The honorees were selected from a field of 12 finalists, including Clue, Fisher-Price Corn Popper push toy, Lite-Brite, little green army men, Magic 8 Ball, pogo stick, sidewalk chalk, Simon, tea set, and Twister.
To date, 51 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame, including Atari 2600, Etch A Sketch, and Mr. Potato Head. An internal museum advisory committee comprised of curators, educators, and historians reviews the submitted nominations and determines which toys meet the criteria for selection. A national selection committee then reviews the list of toy finalists. Each national selection committee member votes for his or her top toy picks for induction. The votes are then tallied, with the toys receiving the most votes making the cut for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. For more information about the hall, visit www.toyhalloffame.org.
Wee Believers Expands Reach Across U.S.
Wee Believers, the award-winning inspirational toy and gift company, recently signed on with new gift representative groups committed to expanding their reach and developing strategic relationships with retailers across the U.S.
The Southern Link, an Atlanta-based premier wholesale sales agency in the gift and home industry, will be representing Wee Believers gifts and toys across seven southeastern states. Wee Believers products will also be on permanent display at Southern Link’s 14th floor showroom at AmericasMart in Atlanta.
Don-Mar & Associates, a New Jersey-based professional sales agency in the gift, holiday item, and baby products market, has signed on to represent Wee Believers toys across the mid-Atlantic territory.
3 Gentrys, a Dallas-based sales group in the home, gift, and accessories market, has signed on to represent Wee Believers toys across the southwest and midwestern states.
The Dolan Group, an Ohio based sales, service, and merchandising group in the gift industry, has signed on to represent Wee Believers toys across the southeast and mideastern States.
McDonald’s Happy Meals to Feature Moshi Monsters Toys
Mind Candy, creator of the Moshi Monsters franchise, and McDonald's USA LLC, have partnered to feature the Moshi Monsters characters within McDonald’s Happy Meals at participating restaurants across North America.
The promotion will run chain-wide at McDonald’s for four weeks during the holiday season, December 14 through January 10. Participating restaurants will offer one of eight characters from the Moshi Monsters universe including an all-new mystery Moshling to be unveiled as part of the promotion. The characters will include Katsuma, Poppet, and Iggy. Each toy also comes with a free three-day membership to MoshiMonsters.com.