Mattel Wants You to Help Take a Bite Out of Chocolate Bunny Extinction

Mattel’s North American team has week kicked off an Easter program called Save the Bunny.

The chocolate bunny has been an Easter tradition for more than 200 years, but the future of this holiday icon is… well, melting. This Easter, Mattel, the Endangered Chocolate Bunny Commission (ECBC), and celebrities such as Chris Harrison, Stephen Collins, and Kate Flannery, have come together to Save the Bunny with a special hare-raising and entertaining PSA.

Help support our chocolate friends and sweeten up Easter baskets with toys at www.savechocolatebunnies.com. Visitors to the site have the opportunity to win a Mattel toy, download exclusive coupons on toys from Mattel brands, and win grand prize money.

Creatures of Delight Fuse Fangs and Fun

There is a softer side to all kinds of fictitious creatures: from Yetis, aliens, and trolls, to dragons, human-devouring plants, and purple dinosaurs.

Tom Kopian, artist and creator behind Creatures of Delight, a line of specialty, handcrafted monster toys, works with a small team and his 11-year partner, Stewart Buffaloe, to make one-of-a-kind creatures using a variety of molds and his patented latex-fiber blend material.

Large Feed Me Creature

The creatures are a combination of creepy and cute and appeal to a broad demographic. Though the line is composed mostly of traditionally scary, fictional monsters, their vibrant color palettes and bright-white smiles make them appeal to girls as much as boys. “I think essentially the toys are gender neutral. They are rough and tough monsters, so it can be a boy thing, but girls like some of the cuter pieces like Snarl, Floyd, and the Grudges. It is not definitively a boy or girl thing,” Kopian explains. [Read more...]

All the New Specialty Games and Puzzles Fit to Print, and Then Some

The Toy Book‘s July/August issue showcases new puzzles and games for mass and specialty retail. We received dozens of submissions fit to print, beyond what fit on our printed pages. Here’s a look at 10 more specialty games and puzzles after the jump.

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Uglydoll Tin Toys – One of My New Favorite Things

You know how everyone always wants to know what Oprah’s Favorite Things are? Well, there might be one or two people who want to know what my favorite things are, and Schylling’s Uglydoll Tin Toy line is definitely on my list. The line features the fantastic Uglydoll characters from Pretty Ugly, LLC, and includes tin trucks that double as coin banks or pencil holders, cars, wind up tin robots, a jack in the box, an alarm clock, and keepsake boxes.

New Angelina Ballerina PSA Featuring Larry King

Apparently, Larry King has some moves. Check out this PSA of King, Nigel Lythgoe (executive producer of So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol), and kids’ character Angelina Ballerina promoting the health benefits of dance.

Produced by Hit Entertainment and the Dizzy Feet Foundation, the PSA is part of the Dance 4 Your Life national health campaign launched by the Larry King Cardiac Foundation and the Dizzy Feet Foundation, aiming to get people dancing their way to a healthier lifestyle.

Disney Store Times Square Opens With Grand Celebration

Last week, Disney Store celebrated the grand opening of its Times Square location with appearances by celebrities, New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and more. The celebration kicked off with a colorful parade of Disney characters—including Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and Buzz Lightyear—as they arrived by horse-drawn carriages and classic cars and traveled down a trail of Pixie dust.

Hosted by Robin Roberts from ABC’s Good Morning America, other celebrity appearances included Melissa Joan Hart of ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey; Anika Noni Rose, voice of Princess Tiana from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog; ESPN’s Jesse Palmer; actress Brooke Shields; Bloomberg; Walt Disney Co. President and CEO Robert Iger; and more.

The two-level, 20,000-plus square foot Disney Store in Times Square boasts a 2,250-square-foot digital billboard, a two-story Disney Princess castle with a “talking” Magic Mirror, colorful Lucite trees throughout the store that showcase custom Disney content, and a 350-square-foot Disney Store Theatre that features a 12-foot screen, playing Disney film clips, videos, and more. Kids can also build a customized Disney·Pixar Cars-branded Ridemarkerz car or purchase exclusive New York City-inspired Disney merchandise.

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Bandai Introduces New Babysitting-Free Tamagotchis

Bandai America Incorporated has introduced a new generation of Tamagotchis, the virtual pets that allow kids to act like caregivers. The new TamaTown Tama-Go by Tamagotchi–available in dozens of Gotchi figures–is redesigned with a new high-contrast, four gray-scale display screen, a changeable design faceplate, and includes the new “pause” option that eliminates the need to babysit.

Also, caregivers can go online at www.tamatown.com to play games and nurture their Gotchi characters in simulated worlds, including Swirly Sweet City, Forest Falls, and Flower Hills Park.

To celebrate the release of TamaTown Tama-Go, Bandai has teamed up with select Toys “R” Us stores to demo the product on the first and second Saturdays in October (October 2 and October 9). Bandai is also sponsoring the “Oh My Gotchi!” Sweepsakes, giving entrants the chance to win a Swarovski-encrusted TamaTown Tama-Go toy and more. The contest runs through November 28. For more information, visit www.tamatown.com.

K.I.D.S. Hopes to Raise $100 million Through SMS

Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), Inc., unveiled its plan to project a 15-second PSA on a jumbotron in Times Square. Beginning August 15 and continuing until October 15, mobile phone users who text “HAPPYKIDS 25″ to 27138 will trigger a $25 donation to its cause.  According to K.I.D.S., each $25 donation will help distribute $250 worth of donated products to children and parents. The PSA will run in Times Square on the CBS Spectacular jumbotron facing the north side of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

As part of the organization’s 25th anniversary, K.I.D.S. also hopes to raise $100 million worth of products for distressed and underprivileged children, including basic necessities, toys, clothing, and other comforts.

For more information, visit K.I.D.S.’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Elf On The Shelf Picks Peanuts as Merchandise Licensing Agent

Peanuts Worldwide has been appointed the merchandise licensing agent for The Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition brand. The Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition tells the story of magical scout elves who are sent to children’s homes to watch children and report to Santa if a child has been naughty or nice. After each elf has returned from reporting at the North Pole, it can be found hiding in a different location. The activity transforms The Elf On The Shelf into a hide-and-seek game.

Each Tradition-in-a-Box comes with a scout elf, a hardbound children’s book, and keepsake box for easy storage. Peanuts Worldwide will develop a global licensing program, for children ages 0-8 years, which will initially focus on social expression, ornaments, stationery, holiday décor, gifts, interactive, confection, apparel, and accessories.

Disney Store to Premiere New Shop Design This Summer

Disney Store will unveil a brand new store design this summer, in major markets across the United States and Europe. The new design will premiere in June at The Shops at Montebello in Montebello, Calif. (just outside Los Angeles). The European premiere will follow in July at La Vaguada in Madrid.

The new design was developed from a child’s perspective and features the latest technology and special features such as the Disney Princess castle with magic mirror and the Disney Store Theater.

More than 20 new and remodeled Disney Store locations are slated to open this year throughout North America and Europe, including Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY; Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, Calif.; NorteShopping in Oporto, Portugal; Orio Center in Bergamo, Italy; and more.

With each new store opening this year, Disney Store will designate a day for 10 percent of the sales to be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the U.S., Spain, Italy and Portugal, and to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity in the UK.