December 12, 2013

China Toy Fair

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The NPD Group: Retail Sales Results Indicate Green Black Friday for Toys

According to retail sales data from The NPD Group, the toy category in the U.S. performed well during the Black Friday week (week ending November 30), with dollar sales growing 4 percent compared with Black Friday 2012. In fact, for the holiday shopping season to date (nine weeks ending 9/29/12 through 11/24/12, vs. 10/5/13 through 11/30/13), which began after back-to-school, NPD reports that toy sales are up 6 percent on a dollar basis compared with last year’s sales.
“What is encouraging is that the growth we are seeing is due to shoppers actually buying more toys—it is not being driven by price inflation,” says Russ Crupnick, senior vice president, Industry Analysis, The NPD Group. “It’s also noteworthy that this performance outstrips what retailers are reporting for Black Friday as a whole.”
The NPD Group noted that of the 11 super categories it tracks in the toy sector, seven experienced positive dollar sales growth. Those with the highest growth and their respective change in dollar sales compared with Black Friday week 2012 are Youth Electronics (29 percent), Plush (23 percent), Arts & Crafts (13 percent), and Outdoor & Sports (11 percent).

Toy Fair 2014 to Be Biggest U.S. Toy Fair Yet

The American International Toy Fair in February is expected to be the largest toy trade show ever held in North America. Though registration has been open for just a few weeks, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) reports that the show has already surpassed a record-breaking 400,000 net square feet of exhibit space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
The 2013 event—which hosted the largest exhibit area since 2000—covered just over 366,000 net square feet at the Javits Center. As of press time, total registration for the 2014 American International Toy Fair is up 10 percent over the same period last year, while buyer registration is up 6 percent year-to-date, and international buyer attendance has surged 18 percent over last year’s point-in-time figures.
Approximately 30,000 visitors are expected to attend, exploring products on display by more than 1,000 exhibiting toy companies.

Wham-O Partners with The Wish Factory on New Lines

Wham-O and The Wish Factory Inc. have entered into a strategic sales and marketing agreement in which The Wish Factory will manage marketing and sales worldwide for Wham-O’s classic brands. These include Super Ball, Hula Hoop, Track Ball, Hacky Sack, and Aqua Sports.
In addition to re-launching many of the Wham-O iconic brands, Wham-O and The Wish Factory will present an expanded line next fall. The new product lines will include Wham-O Extreme Sports, which will be introduced to retail trade in January, and Wham-O Swim.

Zact Introduces Kids’ Smartphone Featuring Disney Apps

Zact MobileZact Mobile is bringing kid-friendly smartphone service with pre-loaded Disney apps and content. The Zact Mobile service will come pre-loaded with apps from Disney, including Toy Story: Smash It! and Disney Infinity: Action!. It will also feature access to family-friendly content such as Disney Video, Disney Music, and Disney’s Spanish-language destination, Disney ¡Ajá!,  
Zact lets parents manage their kid’s smartphone use, which apps they can use, and who they can contact. Parents either use a Zact-enabled phone to control their kids’ phone or they can download a free app, Zact Control, from iTunes or Google Play.


Play Visions Expands Global Distribution

Sands Alive, a new line of organic sand activity sets from Play Visions, has added distribution partners in Europe, South America, Australia, and Canada. Play Visions has joined forces with Goliath Games for Europe, Character Options for the U.K., Macro Toys for Latin America, Hunter Products for Australia, and Incredible Novelties for Canada.
An organic compound that feels soft and doughy, Sands Alive can be molded or poured—just like real sand. It can also be packed to create paths or roadways with a rolling tool, or shaped into castles, forts, and other creations. Sands Alive will launch in February at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.

The Young Scientists Club Turns 15

The Young Scientists ClubTo celebrate its 15th anniversary, The Young Scientists Club is adding new kits inspired by the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (S.T.E.M.) education. The company will show off the new kits, which feature The Magic School Bus and Clifford the Big Red Dog, at February’s American International Toy Fair.
The Magic School Bus Math Explosion features a volcano that kids can explode by getting their math facts correct, while The Magic School Bus Engineering Lab lets kids build a solar oven, design a car, construct a bridge, create solar energy, and more. Clifford Animal Science includes a colorful lab tray, measuring cup, and magnifying glass for kids to perform experiments in animal science. Finally, Clifford Food Science guides young scientists through tasty experiments with catchy titles such as rainbow ice and ice cream in a bag.

Monopoly Meets The Wizard of Oz in New Collector’s Edition
A new version of the classic board game Monopoly salutes the beloved film, The Wizard of Oz. Produced by USAopoly, under license from Hasbro Inc. and in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Monopoly: The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition features a game board that unfolds to reveal a spectacular 3-D pop-up center showcasing movie plot points.
There are also new Monopoly rules created just for this game, the houses and hotels from the traditional game have been transformed into custom farmhouses and Emerald Cities, respectively, and classic movie icons such as the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat, the ruby slippers, and Toto replace the familiar Monopoly movers.

Calibre Lands Merchandising Rights to Transformers: Age of Extinction

Calibre Concepts has joined the international platform of licensed toys and collectibles with the merchandising rights to Transformers: Age of Extinction. The 2014 merchandise range includes detailed 3-D sculpted collectibles such as talking coin banks, twist action figures, light up magnet heads, and projector key rings, along with novelty products such as figural danglers, light up key rings, dog tag style metal key rings, and vinyl stickers diorama play sets. These products are scheduled for an end of April release.

TIA to Host Webinar on Traditional and High-tech Toys

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a webinar entitled “A Sneak Peek Inside the Evolution of Play,” on December 12, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Presented by The NPD Group, the session will uncover how children and parents are reacting to the convergence of traditional and digital toys, and will outline an NPD tracking study that provides toy companies with an overview of children’s play patterns and parental attitudes on key issues that are affecting sales and performance at retail.
Topics will include the enduring importance of traditional toys within a child’s play ecosystem; how parents react to tech devices, games and apps; and more. Registration for the webinar is open and free for TIA members at the TIA website.

Nightmarish Christmas Gifts Delight Burton Fans This Season

While my folks are tuning into the Hallmark channel for the sappy Christmas movies that make them cry year after year, and my niece and nephew obsess over Buddy from Elf, I’m still stuck on a classic Christmas favorite that is often misappropriated by Halloween: The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie isn’t called A Dream Before Halloween. For me, that’s enough reasoning to say it is, in fact—no matter how creepy—a Christmas movie. More…

Disney’s Frozen Toys Will Melt Your Heart

The thing that I like most about Disney’s Frozen was that it played with the idea of a typical Disney Princess movie. It touches on the idea of falling in love and being engaged within hours of meeting each other and changes the way the audience thinks about typical princesses and princes. There is, of course, a curse that’s lifted by “an act of true love,” but this act comes from (spoiler alert!) one of sisterly love rather than romantic love. A lot of the plot focuses on the two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa, and the animation is so spectacular as it brings this truly magical story to life. To go along with this great movie, Mattel has introduced an entire line of toys that capture the lively, magical spirit of Frozen. More…

Lego Friends Video Game Appeals to Boys and Girls

I first heard of Lego Friends, developed by TT Games and Hellbent Games for Nintendo 3DS and DS, months before, and even then I was interested in how it might differ from titles intended for more of a boys’ audience. Eventually, I got to demo it alongside Lego Marvel Super Heroes, a game that if not specifically for boys, is certainly a more testosterone-heavy affair. The art direction and color palette for Lego Friends are cuter and brighter, respectively. But do those factors alone—and that the main avatar and supporting characters are all female—qualify calling it a video game for girls? Could it still conceivably appeal to other audiences? More…

Moose Toys’ U.S. Division Gains Two New Employees

Moose Toys has welcomed two new employees to its U.S. division: Larry Falcon, who will serve as the company’s new U.S. head of sales; and Darren Gaffney, who will focus on the company’s Walmart account as national account manager. The additions are timed to support Moose’s immense growth in the U.S. toy market.
Most recently, Falcon served as senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bandai, and previously held similar roles at other well-known companies, including MGA Entertainment, Hasbro, and Parker Brothers. Gaffney has a strong background in sales with more than 18 years of experience in managing national accounts for well-known brands. He was previously the director of national accounts with VTech Electronics, where he managed the company’s Walmart account.

JPMA Reports 2012 Sales and Sees Increase in Online Buying Trends

According to a study by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), the U.S. market for juvenile products was approximately $2.97 billion in manufacturer sales for 2012, up from $2.72 billion the previous year. The juvenile products market is defined by the study as everything for infants and toddlers excluding consumables and apparel. Highlights of the statistical study include: More than $2.1 billion of juvenile products were sold through mass merchandisers, discounters, and specialists; smaller companies transacted a much larger percentage of their total dollar sales through e-tailers and independent juvenile retailers than did mid-size and large companies in both 2011 and 2012; and small companies saw transactions through e-tailers increase to 40 percent in 2012 compared to 25 percent in 2011.

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