LeapFrog and Kristi Yamaguchi Partner to Raise Awareness of Early Childhood Literacy

Jan27.LeapFrogLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. and Olympic Gold-Medalist figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi have launched the 20/20 Reading Challenge, intended to raise awareness of the importance of reading to young children.

The 20/20 Reading Challenge asks parents, grandparents, and caretakers to spend 20 minutes each day reading to their child during the month of March. For each pledge received, LeapFrog will donate 20 children’s books to The Kristi Yamaguchi Always Dream Foundation, up to $5 million dollars’ worth of books.

The Kristi Yamaguchi Always Dream Foundation is an organization founded to inspire underserved children through innovative reading programs and by advancing the cause of early childhood literacy. For more information or to participate, consumers can visit www.leapfrog.com/challenge.

The Simpsons Arrives on Minecraft for Xbox

TheSimpsonsMinecraftMinecraft players can bring the TV world of Springfield to life in cubic glory, now that Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products and Xbox have launched The Simpsons content packs for Minecraft Xbox 360 and Xbox One editions. The recently released downloadable pack includes the entire Simpsons family—Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie—plus 19 of Springfield Elementary School’s beloved characters. [Read More...]

Q&A with Paul Solomon, Co-CEO, Moose Toys

Moose.PaulSolomonThe Toy Book (TTB): In what new way are you using social media to correspond directly with consumers?

Paul Solomon (PS): The popularity of toy unboxing videos on YouTube has given Moose Toys the opportunity to reach more consumers on platforms other than TV. Moose has seen first-hand how social media allows consumers to engage more directly with our products. For example, Moose garnered more than 11 million views from our animated Shopkins webisodes. [Read More...]

Safari Ltd. Ends Licensing Contract with Carnegie Museum of Natural History

safari ltd new logoEffective this month, Safari Ltd. has ended its 28-year collaboration with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The toymaker is moving forward to explore new opportunities, including the potential to work with other museums and educational institutions.

In a statement, Safari Ltd. CEO Alexandre Pariente stated that the decision was the result of divergent interests. The company plans on significantly expanding its Wild Safari Prehistoric World line, while Safari Ltd.’s Carnegie Dinosaur line will continue to be available online and with retail partners until supplies end.

Report of 66th Spielwarenmesse Shows Increase in Exhibitors, Visiting Countries, and More

SpielwarenmesseegSpielwarenmesse eG has released a report summarizing the results of the 66th Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg. The total number of exhibitors was 2,857, up from 2,748 during the prior year. International exhibitors totaled 2,051 and represented 67 countries, up from 1,951 exhibitors and 61 countries during the previous year. The top five countries based on number of international exhibitors were China, Great Britain, Hong Kong, the U.S., and France. [Read More...]

Jakks Pacific Secures Worldwide Master Toy Agreement for The Smurfs

jakks_logoJakks Pacific Inc. has secured a licensing agreement with Lafig and Sony Pictures Consumer Products to produce toys and related products based on the Smurfs franchise, including the classic Smurfs brand and the upcoming Smurfs feature film premiering in August 2016. The worldwide master toy agreement includes the rights to produce figures, play sets, plush, and more.

Jakks Pacific’s new Smurfs toys will be available at retailers nationwide this fall.

Q&A with Simha Kumar, President, Sports and Fitness, Children’s Entertainment, Sears Holdings

Sears.Kumar,SimhaThe Toy Book (TTB): How are you engaging consumers in-store to drive sales?

Simha Kumar (SK): Kmart is focused on offering the most-desired toys, affordably and conveniently. We feature top licensed toys and hundreds of Kmart exclusives—whether purchasing in-store, buying online and picking up in-store, or having them shipped directly home. [Read More...]

The Art of the Brick to Feature Lego Sculptures Inspired by DC Comics

TheArtoftheBrick,DCComicsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), on behalf of DC Entertainment, is collaborating with The Art of the Brick to create a contemporary art exhibition featuring large-scale sculptures, inspired by DC Comics superheroes and super-villains and made entirely out of Lego bricks. The new exhibition, The Art of the Brick: DC Comics, created by artist Nathan Sawaya, will feature Sawaya’s take on the breadth and depth of the characters and stories from DC Comics’ 80-year history, told through his Lego lens. [Read More...]

Oldies but Goodies: Some of the Biggest Toy Brands of Yesteryear Are Making a Comeback

DebbieDunnHeadshotby Debbie Dunn, Licensing, Marketing, Promotions, & Mom Expert, GennComm LLC

What’s old is new again, and vintage brands are expected to be the biggest hits in the toy aisle for this year. Many of these brands have reinvented themselves in modern ways with digital entertainment content to reach today’s savvy kid consumer, yet they still offer the same trusted attributes that parents–and even grandparents–knew and loved. [Read More...]

COMMENTARY: At Toy Fair 2015, Classic, Low-Tech Play Is Alive and Well

Crayola Cling Maker, from Crayola

Tech toys that make you feel cooler than Marty McFly were in abundance at the North American International Toy Fair this week, such as robots that imitate your movements and a Segway-like device that tracks your thoughts. But not all of the toys at the Jacob K. Javits Center were reminiscent of what Captain Kirk probably played with as a child. There were also some stellar construction sets, high-quality hand puppets, and wooden toys that make you say, “wow.” Classic play is not dead, and not all quality toys require a microchip. Some of the most innovative new products for kids feature little to no tech at all. Here are our favorite low-tech new toys from Toy Fair: [Read More...]

COMMENTARY: Toy Fair 2015 Shows Off Toymakers’ Tech-Savvy Side

The Meccanoid G15 KS, from Spin Master

We all know that kids are more tech-savvy at the age of 2 than most of us will ever be. Living in the digital age comes instinctively for kids, and the fact that they have the ability to understand and use technology so early on lets toy manufacturers create some really, really cool tech toys for kids of all ages. Below is a roundup of favorite tech-y playthings from North American International Toy Fair, in no particular order:
[Read More...]

ToyBacker Launches First-Ever Crowdfunding Site Dedicated to the Toy Industry

ToyBacker.com LOGOToyBacker has launched toybacker.com, the first crowd-funding site dedicated solely to the toy industry. The site will serve as a hub for creative toy innovators of all types to share their ideas, gather funding, and bring their products to fruition with the financial support of the consumer. [Read More...]

News

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2015 Games for Change Awards Nominees Announced

The nominees have been announced for the Games for Change Awards, which celebrate the year’s best social impact games. The award categories include Best Gameplay, Most Significant Impact, and Most Innovative. The eight finalists, narrowed down from a field of more than 150 titles, will also be considered for the top honor, Game of the [...]

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PlayCon 2015 Speakers to Include UK Specialty Toy Store Founder

Innovative business research and trends related to youth, play, and technology will be shared at the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) upcoming educational and networking conference, PlayCon 2015, schedule to take place from April 29 to May 1 at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz. Attendees who sign up by [...]

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TIA Launches 2015 Toy Industry Financial and Operating Benchmark Study

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) will again partner with Industry Insights Inc. to conduct a confidential Toy Industry Financial and Operating Benchmark Study, which will enable toy companies to see how their numbers compare to companies of similar size, category, and distribution channel.

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Articles

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Q&A with Ben Gadbois, Global President and COO, Spin Master Ltd.

The Toy Book (TTB): Which toy categories do you expect to expand in 2015? Which do you expect to contract? Ben Gadbois (BG): While it isn’t a category itself, robotic technology is advancing the toy industry in revolutionary new ways. Toy robots are nothing new to the market, but over the past few years we [...]

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Q&A with Sharon DiMinico, Founder and CEO, Learning Express

The Toy Book (TTB): How are Learning Express retailers engaging consumers in-store to drive sales? Sharon DiMinico (SD): Every month, our stores publish a full calendar of events to draw people into the store. We engage, we entertain, and we have product demonstrations. We also offer classes, costumed character appearances, and featured guests (silhouette artists, [...]

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Q&A with Willie Wilkov, Chief Marketing Officer, Tomy International

The Toy Book (TTB): Which licenses do you anticipate will be key drivers in 2015? Willie Wilkov (WW): 2015 is a big year on the license front for Tomy. We are proud to have the opportunity to work with Disney on two new Disney•Pixar movie properties–Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur– as well as the new Disney [...]

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