Kids Russia Reflects the Nation’s Interest in Toys

Toys & Kids RussiaKids Russia, which took place from March 11 to 13 in Moscow, saw a steady number of trade visitors at 10,591 retailers and buyers in attendance, compared to 10,406 last year. A total of 242 companies presented new products at the Crocus Expo International Exhibition Centre, including nine exhibitors on the international pavilion organized by World of Toys by Spielwarenmesse eG.

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Toy State Agrees to Partnership with WWE

TS15_4C_LOGOToy State has entered into a licensing agreement with WWE. The deal includes products developed for the R/C vehicle category for the North American market, the first of which will be in stores later this year.  This agreement marks Toy State’s first licensing agreement under the Nikko brand since its acquisition of the company last year.

“There are few brands with as loyal and passionate a fan base as the WWE,” says Andy Friess, Toy State president. “The personality of the brand is perfectly aligned with the attitude and innovation of our toys, and we can’t wait for WWE fans to see our products when they hit the shelves.”

Toy State recently reached a nine-race agreement to be the primary sponsor of Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 7 car on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Circuit.

Toy$, a Comic Strip by Dustin Glick

We really enjoyed this recent Dustinland comic, which centers on taking a kid to Toys “R” Us.

Don’t squint; click on the image for a larger-sized version.

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TIF Collects Thousands of Donated Toys at ToyFest West

tif_logoThe Toy Industry Foundation collected thousands of dollars worth of brand-new toys and games for children in need at the close of ToyFest West on March 11, according to the Toy Industry Association. This year marked the Foundation’s first time as the official partner for the Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association’s annual Las Vegas show.

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Buffalo Games to Expand National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games

BrainGamesBuffalo Games will develop adult and family board games and card games based on the National Geographic Channel series, Brain Games. The Joester Loria Group served as the exclusive licensing agency behind the deal.

The initial product offering will require that players complete a series of challenges and experiments intended to test all aspects of their brain. The five different categories of questions will include mind vs. body, illusions, language, logic, and head-to-head challenges. The game will launch at key specialty retailers this holiday season and expand to mid-tier and mass accounts next spring.

PlayScience Unveils New Study Showing Gender Influence on Parents’ Digital Preferences for their Children

PlaySciencelogoPlayScience recently unveiled a new study showing parents’ perceptions about their child’s technology and media use is heavily influenced by their child’s gender—along with device type and perceived educational value. The study was conducted with a national survey of 501 parents of children between the ages of 2 and 9 years old.

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GUEST COMMENTARY: Feds to Ban Kids’ Soft Plastic Toys for No Good Reason

by Jeff Stier, senior fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research

jeffstierThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to hear from you.

The agency has extended its comments period until April 15 as it considers a rule that would regulate a range of chemicals within a group called phthalates. These chemicals, among other purposes, keep plastics from shattering when bent, and play a useful role in a range of consumer products.

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Matt Sweeny Joins KidStuff PR

Matt-Sweeny-headshot_LRKidStuff Public Relations has hired Matt Sweeny as a full-time employee in its Wisconsin office. He will manage shipments of samples from the company’s office as well as coordinate shipments sent by clients, manage the image library, help respond to reporter inquiries, manage clients’ media coverage, and update the company’s website, among other duties.

Lego Friends to be Final Room Theme at Legoland Hotel at Florida Resort

LEGOLAND Florida ResortA Lego Friends suite was unveiled as the last of the four highly themed room designs for the new Legoland Hotel at Legoland Florida Resort. The life-size replica of the children’s sleeping area of the room includes a bunk bed with a trundle bed, TV, Lego models, and a treasure chest. SGA Production Services created the replica, closely following the plans for the actual hotel rooms.

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Disney Consumer Products Launches Multi-Platform Keys to the Kingdom Campaign this Fall

Disney Royal Celebrations app is available now.

Disney Royal Celebrations app is available now.

Disney Consumer Products will launch Keys to the Kingdom, a multi-platform experience that will drive awareness and excitement for new Disney Princess product offerings across multiple categories at retail. Disney Princess fans will have the opportunity to unlock music videos, special content, and app extensions through activations across retail that celebrate the inner qualities of the Disney Princess characters. [Read More...]

Toys “R” Us Inc. Provides TRU Transformation Strategic Update

toysrusAt presentations today for investors, industry analysts, and the media, Toys “R” Us Inc. provided an update on its strategy to improve the company’s operational performance, as it continues its work to position the business for long-term profitable growth.

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Falcon and Loki Join Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes

Two familiar faces from the Marvel Universe—one friendly, the other slightly less so—make their way into Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) today. Fans will be able to purchase figures for Falcon and Loki, who join a variety of Marvel super heroes, Disney fan favorites, and more to create all-new adventures.

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NRF Survey Says Consumers are on the Hunt For Candy, Spring Apparel this Easter

nrfThe average person celebrating Easter this year will spend $140.62, an slight increase from last year’s $137.46, according to the National Retail Foundation’s (NRF) Easter Spending Survey conducted by Proper Insights & Analytics. Total spending is expected to reach $16.4 billion, including purchases of apparel, decorations, gifts, candy, food, and flowers.
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Funko Takes Star Wars Pop! Out of the Vault

Funko.GreedoIn anticipation of the new movie, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, Funko is will be re-releasing previously vaulted Star Wars Pop! until the film arrives in theaters on December 18. The re-released Pop! will come in special edition packaging that distinguishes them from the original items.

Available in stores this April, Greedo is the third Pop! to make its return and will be limited in its run.

COMMENTARY: Action Figures Moving Forward by Looking to the Past

Breaking Bad ReAction Jesse as Cook action figure, from Funko

Breaking Bad ReAction Jesse as Cook action figure, from Funko

Here at The Toy Book, we constantly find ourselves staring at the unfolding future of toys. In the case of action figures, the future always seems to be on bigger, sleeker, and more—whether that pertains to more points of articulation, more swappable accessories, more high-tech bells and whistles, etc.

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Within Me Now Inspires Kids with Positive Messages

WithinMeNowWithin Me Now is a line of board books and companion plush that represents a group of quirky and cuddly friends, who remind kids that qualities like love, strength, courage, joy, and peace are already inside of them. The stories are inspired by the daily challenges of kids’ lives and lessons learned when using what’s already within.

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The Transformers Brand Transforms the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis into an Immersive Experience

Transformers,RobotsinDisguiseThe Children’s Museum of Indianapolis celebrates 30 years of Hasbro’s Transformers brand with Transformers Robots in Disguise, exhibiting between now and July 26.

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Expanded Toy & Hobby China and Baby & Stroller China to Offer Wider Range of New Products

Toy&Hobby,ChinaToy & Hobby China and Baby & Stroller China are both set to return to the Poly World Trade Center Expo in Guangzhou. Held from April 8 to 10, the fairs will be some of the earliest trade events in the region, and will kick off the industry’s key sourcing season this year.

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Q&A with Mattel: Social Media, 3-D Printing, and More

logo_Mattel logoThe Toy Book (TTB): In what new ways are you using social media to correspond directly with consumers?

Mattel: We engage with consumers across all brand and corporate social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as retailer sites, like Wal-Mart and Kohl’s. At Mattel, we have a fully functioning reporting and engineering team dedicated to understanding what the consumer is saying and turning that data into actionable improvements for both our manufacturing and design process.

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COMMENTARY: These Toys Are Full of All-American Goodness

The Lemonade Set, from BeginAgain Toys

Shopping consciously is a lot easier when there are toy companies out there dedicated to manufacturing products in the U.S. While made-in-the-U.S. toys may not have been one the biggest trends at Toy Fair this year, we still wanted to round up some of the fantastic products we saw, that you all should keep an eye out for this year!

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Q&A with Kathleen McHugh, President, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)

ASTRA.KathleenMcHughThe Toy Book (TTB): How can specialty retailers compete in 2015?

Kathleen McHugh (KM): ASTRA is launching an exciting new program that is designed to help independent specialty retailers position their stores as destinations. The program will offer exclusive products for ASTRA member retailers that will not be available elsewhere.

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Day 6 Partners with Andrew McCutchen for Backyard Sports Baseball

Day 6 Sports Group Andrew McCutchenDay 6 Sports Group has signed Andrew McCutchen to be the face of its Backyard Sports Baseball line. The company is working with Major League Baseball (MLB), mlb.com, and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) for its re-launch of the Backyard Sports franchise.

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COMMENTARY: This Year’s Dinosaur Toys Extend Beyond Jurassic World

Sand Glove Dinosaur, by HABA

There’s no denying that Jurassic World and its Indominus Rex roared into the North American International Toy Fair in a big way this year. There are figures and role play and plush (oh, my!) and so much more inspired by the upcoming film—and they’re all really exciting. But, as a big prehistoric fanatic myself, I was excited to see that dinosaurs themselves were quite trendy this year (Finally! The world is catching on!), even if they won’t be appearing in a major motion picture later this spring.
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Q&A with Tony Norman, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Innovation First International

Hexbug.TonyNormanThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you use 3-D printing in your R&D? Do you plan to incorporate 3-D printing into your consumer offerings in the future?

Tony Norman (TN): We have three commercial-grade 3-D printers at Hexbug headquarters that run pretty much continuously. Design is iterative, and our 3-D printers enable us to engage in rapid prototyping. This rapid prototyping allows us to get real working samples out to focus groups quickly and frequently, so as to gather feedback and make the necessary changes prior to starting production. This highly accelerated production process significantly reduces our time to market and sets us apart from other toy companies.
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News

Toys “R” Us Inc. Reports Full Year and Fourth Quarter Results

On Friday, Toys “R” Us Inc. reported financial results for both the full year and fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, which ended on January 31. For full year fiscal 2014, net sales improved by $61 million, or 0.5 percent, excluding a $243 million negative impact from foreign currency translation, to $12.4 billion compared to the [...]

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Recall-Sharing Program Allows Countries of the Americas to Exchange Product Safety Information

A new technology information system is allowing regulators in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the nations of Central and South America to quickly and reliably exchange information about consumer product recalls, according to the Toy Industry Association. The Inter-American Rapid Alert System, launched by the Organization of American States‘ Consumer Safety and Health Network, will [...]

Greg Choyke Joins ASTRA Staff as Director of Education

Professional education specialist Greg Choyke has joined the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) as its director of education. In the newly created position, Choyke will lead ASTRA’s effort to increase access to and participation in innovative professional educational programs that will help ASTRA members strengthen their business. ASTRA will be introducing a new education [...]

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Articles

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Q&A with Jay Foreman, President and CEO, The Bridge Direct

The Toy Book (TTB): Which licenses do you anticipate will be key drivers in 2015? Jay Foreman (JF): I think everyone would agree on Marvel’s The Avengers, Frozen, Cinderella, Minions, and Star Wars, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; however, there are a few nontraditional brands emerging from toy companies, like Shopkins, that should be [...]

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Q&A with Laura Zebersky, CCO and EVP, Jazwares

The Toy Book (TTB): How have you seen consumer expectations change over the past decade? Laura Zebersky (LZ): Over the past 10 years, the convergence of toys and entertainment has been unprecedented. Consumers have come to expect both online and offline experiences from their favorite brands. It’s not enough anymore to create a new toy. [...]

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Q&A with John Gessert, President, American Plastic Toys

The Toy Book (TTB): Which toy categories do you expect to expand in 2015? Which do you expect to contract? John Gessert (JG): We are starting to see more interest at the consumer level in toys that promote or support basic play patterns. We have received notes from consumers that complement our products not only [...]

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