TIA Members at Licensing Expo Are Welcome at LIMA Lounge

TIAToy Industry Association (TIA) members attending Licensing Expo in June are invited to stop by the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association (LIMA) members’ lounge, where they can regroup, refresh, and hold business meetings away from the show floor. The Expo will be held on June 9 to 11 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

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Delta Children Adds New Paw Patrol Products

May29.PawPatrolDelta Children has created Paw Patrol Bedroom Sets based on the popular Nick Jr. television show. All of the products are available now for purchase.

The line includes the Paw Patrol Plastic 3-D Toddler Bed, which has a steel and plastic frame, sleep rails, and 3-D graphics at the footboard; the Paw Patrol Multi-Bin Toy Organizer, which features nine uniquely sized fabric buns supported by a sturdy wood frame; the Paw Patrol Upholstered Chair; and a table and chair set with storage, which features colorful graphics, a spacious tabletop, and built-in storage.

Hasbro to Launch Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader Game

May26.fifthgraderThe Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader TV show returned to Fox on May 26, and Hasbro is bringing the quiz show to homes as a board game this summer. Based on the show, the game puts players’ elementary school knowledge to the test with questions covering first through fifth grade curricula, with subjects ranging from math to social studies, art, and geography.

Toys “R” Us Launches Fifth Annual Campaign Benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

ToysRUs,AlexsLemonadeStandToys “R” Us Inc. will launch its fifth consecutive fundraising campaign to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer. Beginning this Saturday through July 31, monetary donations will be collected at all Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide and online at toysrus.com/alexslemonade.

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Zenescope, Phicen, Executive Replicas Partner for Grimm Fairy Tales Action Figures

May26.GrimmZenescope has partnered with Phicen Ltd. for home collectible versions of their Grimm Fairy Tales characters. Each 1:6 scale action figure will be made with Phicen’s body and stainless steel skeleton, and will be handcrafted in the character’s signature outfit and packaged with signature weapons. Executive Replicas is producing the pieces.

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Alex Brands Buys French Toymaker Juratoys

AlexBrandsAlex Brands has acquired French toymaker Juratoys, marking the toy company’s first move into Europe. Juratoys, the parent company of European toy brands Janod and Kaloo, is based in Orgelet, France, and has offices in the U.K., the U.S., Hong Kong, and China. The news was reported by Propel Equity Partners, which backs Alex Brands.

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COMMENTARY: Licensed Figures? Not the Easiest Business to Figure Out

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Groot Premium Motion statue, from Factory Entertainment Inc.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Groot Premium Motion statue, from Factory Entertainment Inc.

A few months ago, I wrote a commentary about trends occurring in the world of licensed action figures. Since then, I worked on a longer piece for The Licensing Book, the sister publication of The Toy Book, looking at the process in between attaining a license for a movie, TV show, etc., and the production of the final toy. Licensed collectible figures was a fascinating subject to write about, and I am eternally grateful to all of the toy company officials who took time out of their busy lives to answer my unending barrage of (mostly) annoying questions.

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The Strong and Ritsumeikan University Partner for the Study of Video Game History

the strong, museumofplay logoThe Strong (home of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games and the World Video Game Hall of Fame) and the Center for Games Studies and Art Research at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, have entered into a collaborative partnership on the study of video game history and on efforts to preserve video games. For their first effort, the museum and the university will develop an exhibit celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System, slated to open at The Strong later this fall.

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CJ Products Expands TMNT Licensing Agreement with Pillow Pets Plush

May27.TMNTPillowPetCJ Products has created licensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pillow Pets plush products, which will be available this summer on pillowpets.com and select retail stores nationwide. [Read More...]

Cra-Z-Art Named Exclusive Partner of TIF’s Toy Bank Program for 2015

TIFLogoCra-Z-Art will be the exclusive sponsor of the Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) Toy Bank program for this year. Cra-Z-Art’s sponsorship includes a $10,000 donation, which will help TIF bring the magic of play to millions of children in need this year.

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Retail Groups Welcome Ratification of Port Contract, Call for Future Reform

Retail associations have responded to news that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has ratified a five-year labor contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), covering dockworkers at 29 ports on the West Coast.

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NPD Group Finds Interactive Gaming Toys Keep Families and Players Engaged in Play

NPDGrouplogoAccording to “Interactive Gaming Toys,” the latest report from The NPD Group, 70 percent of parents in the U.S. are familiar with Interactive Gaming Toys (IGT), also known as Toys to Life. As reported by Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group, 40 percent state that they own at least one franchise, and 41 percent of those who own an IGT indicate they own more than one franchise.

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ChizComm Ltd. Appointed New Agency of Record for Imperial Toy

ImperialLogoChizComm Ltd. has been named the agency of record (AOR) for Imperial Toy, and will lead public relations and marketing communications efforts across North American markets, as well as grow existing businesses and launch new brands.

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Build-A-Bear Debuts Exclusive, Make-Your-Own Plush Minions Collection

BuildABearMinionsBuild-A-Bear has added a line of exclusive, make-your-own plush based on Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions, which arrives in theaters on July 10. The collection features Minions Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, and is part of Build-A-Bear’s summer season lineup.

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COMMENTARY: Why Every Toy Company Needs to Follow MakieLab’s Lead

MakiesMakieLab has just made the first step in what I hope will be a great leap for the entire toy industry.

The London-based indie toy developer is the first company to respond directly to a viral social media campaign, #ToysLikeMe. The company has created a selection of Makie doll-size impairment aids and accessories, including hearing aids and walking sticks. It—hands down—has got to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard of, and all toy companies should follow suit.

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Toy State Recognized for Licensing Excellence by Caterpillar

ToyStateLogoToy State has been awarded platinum status by the Caterpillar Trademark Licensing Licensee Excellence and Recognition Program for 2014. Toy State has been a Caterpiller licensee since 2002, and its products include the Lights & Sound, Preschool, and Diecast Cat-licensed lines of machines.

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Sesame Workshop Launches Sesame Street Go on Roku

SesameStreetSesame Workshop is bringing Sesame Street Go, its on-demand video service, to the Roku platform as a streaming channel. The channel can be found in the Roku Channel Store within the Kids & Family category.

Sesame Street Go is an ad-free subscription service that provides families with a child-friendly platform to watch full-length Sesame Street TV episodes and short-form minisodes, plus full-length episodes from prior seasons and Sesame Classics, volumes 1 and 2. In addition, users can filter content through eight core learning areas, including math, science, literacy, and the arts. On Roku, kids will have access to the Sesame Street educational programming with segments such as “Elmo’s World,” “Elmo the Musical,” “Super Grover 2.0,” “Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures,” “Cookie’s Crumbly Pictures,” and “Abby’s Flying Fairy School.”

LEGO Dimensions Adds Iconic Characters from DC Comics, Back to the Future, and LEGO Ninjago

Lego Dimensions SupermanWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has unveiled details about upcoming properties coming to LEGO Dimensions, which merges physical Lego brick building with interactive console gameplay.

In addition to LEGO Batman, LEGO Gandalf, and Wyldstyle, the three minifigure heroes used to start the experience, LEGO Dimensions will allow gamers to customize their experience post-launch and throughout the first half of next year with additional packs from brands including: DC Comics Team Pack, featuring LEGO Joker and LEGO Harley Quinn minifigures; three additional DC Comics Fun Packs, featuring LEGO Superman, LEGO Aquaman, and LEGO Bane minifigures; the Back to the Future Fun Pack with LEGO Doc Brown minifigure; and two additional LEGO Ninjago Fun Packs with Sensei Wu and Lloyd minifigures.

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Moose Toys Awarded Toys “R” Us Partner of the Year

MooseToysToys “R” Us has named Moose Toys as Partner of the Year, awarded to the toy partner whose outstanding commitment, dedication, and loyalty have helped make the company a destination for kids, families, and fun. In February, Toys “R” Us also awarded Moose Toys as Vendor of the Year.

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COMMENTARY: Toys Meet Theme Parks and Resorts, or, How You’ll Be Spending Your Summer Vacations

Legoland Florida Resort

Last week, one of the big news stories around the toy industry was Nintendo entering a deal with Universal Studios to create rides and other attractions for the latter’s theme parks. As reported on The Toy Book Blog, Nintendo’s most famous video game characters and worlds would serve as the inspiration for these soon-to-be immersive experiences. Imagine the possibilities: Kids, and adults, may soon interact with environments straight out of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, or any of the video game maker’s other hit franchises.

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COMMENTARY: The Avengers’ Black Widow Is the Odd “Man” Out

Funko.BlackWidowPopfigureAvengers: Age of Ultron debuted in theaters on May 1, earning $187.7 million during its first weekend. Yet the only superhero anyone seems to be talking about is the Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, played by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson.

Between Mark Ruffalo, the actor who played The Hulk, taking to Twitter to ask why there aren’t more Black Widow toys available for his nieces, and Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner making tasteless comments about Black Widow being a “slut” and a “whore,” this female super hero, an Avenger herself (#recognize), cannot seem to catch a break.

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News

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NPD Group Issues Video Game Analysis for April 2015

In the most recent video game analysis from The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan, overall sales across hardware, new physical software, and accessories in April grew by 3 percent over April of last year, due to the strength of new physical software sales, offsetting losses from hardware and accessories. April hardware sales decreased by 4 percent, [...]

Albany County Agrees to Halt Enforcement of Toy Ban

As reported by the Toy Industry Association, a federal judge has granted a motion to stay an Albany County law banning the sale of toys and other children’s products containing certain chemicals. The law will not be enforced while the county seeks to address the serious legal concerns raised by a lawsuit filed by the [...]

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Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge Announces Grand Prize Winners

Genius Brands International, the creators of Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaire’s Club, announced the winners of the 4th annual Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge, sponsored by the Fairholme Foundation. The Individual Winner is Miroslav Bergam, 14, of Short Hills, N.J., and the group winner is Team Keep Track Sticky Back, consisting [...]

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Articles

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The Unvarnished History of Beanie Babies and the Man Who Created Them

by Zac Bissonnette, author, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute Between 1996 and 1999, Ty Warner earned more than a billion dollars with a single line of understuffed beanbag animals that retailed for $5 each. In my new book, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the [...]

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Q&A with Andy Friess, President of Toy State

Having recently been promoted to the position of president of Toy State, it seemed like a good time to sit down with Andy Friess to talk about the state of his company, its high-profile sponsorship agreement with Tommy Baldwin Racing, its upcoming plans for the R/C brand, Nikko, and more. The Toy Book (TTB): How [...]

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How Your Toy Store Can Leverage Ambient Scenting

by Richard Weening, CEO, Prolitec Inc. A properly designed and merchandised toy store is a feast for the senses—a place where bright colors, lively graphics, and upbeat music enhance the delightful atmosphere already created by the imaginative products themselves. And yet in most stores, arguably the most important of the five senses—the sense of smell—is [...]

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