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

Jazwares.LauraThe 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. Stories, videos, and other content are needed to really engage kids and toy fans of all ages. This leads into another big change: If you want to reach consumers today, traditional formulas from years ago need to be augmented with strategies that include communication across multiple social platforms. Kids are engaging in new ways with different types of media; they might interact simply by sharing images and video of exciting new toys on various social channels or become avid fans and essentially create celebrities on YouTube. They want the whole experience, and the brands of tomorrow will have to provide it in accessible and innovative ways to stand out from the crowd.
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Q&A with Geoffrey Greenberg, Co-President, Just Play

JustPlay.GeoffreyGreenbergThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you use 3-D printing in your research and development? Will you incorporate 3-D printing into your consumer offerings in the future?

Geoffrey Greenberg (GG): We use 3-D printing extensively in our development process. The quick turnarounds enable for faster approvals and the ability to make changes as needed without a long wait. A designer can be much more precise when working with a printed sample, and it helps move the development process along more quickly. [Read more...]

Tech 4 Kids and Irwin Toy Brings the 3D Creation Maker to Toy Fair

3DMakerTech 4 Kids has partnered with Irwin Toy on the first kid-friendly 3D Creation Maker, which will appear in prototype form at North American International Toy Fair. Using an applicator with a unique gel, children trace a design onto a template that is inserted into the 3D Creation Maker. After 10 seconds, the gel turns into a solid, allowing kids to build multi-dimensional structures. Unlike other 3-D design systems, the patent pending process is done safely with light and not heat. The gel is available in multiple colors, including a special glow-in-the-dark formula, and the 3D Creation Maker comes with a variety of pre-designed templates.

The free downloadable 3D Magic App, available for both Android and iOS devices, lets kids create whatever structures they dream up, turning them into templates for use with the 3D Creation Maker.

Spielwarenmesse Kicks Off with Widest Offering Ever

SpielwarenmesseegThis year, Spielwarenmesse will kick off in Nuremberg with 2,857 exhibitors. The number represents 67 countries and the widest offering ever seen at the event, scheduled to take place from January 28 to February 2. Spielwarenmesse eG is expecting an estimated 75,000 trade visitors from more than 100 countries. [Read more...]

Makies Make U.S. Debut at Chicago Toy & Game Fair

MakieLab makies dollsLondon-based indie toy developer MakieLab is bringing its Makie dolls to its U.S. The dolls will debut at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair from November 22 to 23. Makies, an alternative to mass-produced fashion dolls, are the world’s first safety-certified 3-D printed toy at retail.

No two Makies are alike. With 3-D printing technology, each doll’s hand-crafted face is built individually for its new owner. Makies also emphasize hands-on making and crafting skills, healthy body shape, and expressive individuality.

Customers can build their own Makie at mymakie.com and receive their custom 10-inch doll in two weeks. When building the doll, customers can choose the gender, skin and eye color, hair style, and clothing of the doll. Additional accessories are available for purchase.

Changing Technologies to Add Replacement Toys and Toy Parts to Its 3-D Printing Portal

ChangingTechno_3DprintingChanging Technologies Inc. (CHGT) will add replacement toys and toy parts to the list of products available on its interactive 3-D printing retail portal, which is currently in development.

The portal will allow consumers to create their own products using 3-D printing technology or to search the database for printable 3D models and purchase them from the site. CHGT subsidiary 6th Dimension Technologies and interactive software developer Advarion Incorporated are developing the portal.

In addition to offering original equipment manufacturer replacement-part manufacturing and licensing opportunities with game and animation developers, the site will feature a diverse menu of options, enabling users to determine the specific toy replacement part or toy they require, and allowing parents to easily recreate broken or missing toy parts.

XYZprinting Ships First All-in-One 3-D Printer Plus Scanner

AiO Image.copyToday, XYZprinting began shipping its da Vinci 1.0 AiO 3-D printer plus scanner, the first-to-market combo unit available for purchase in the U.S. market. The da Vinci 1.0 AiO boasts a simplified printing process and consumer-friendly price point, thereby reducing the barrier to entry to 3-D printing.

Features of the 3-D printer include built-in hi-res scanning that scans objects with an industrial grade 0.5mm resolution in minutes, a build size that prints items at 7.8 inches by 7.8 inches by 7.8 inches, and a minimal number of required steps to go from scanning to printing. In addition, any scanned item can instantly be saved as a design that can be replicated in the future or shared with others.

Toys printed by the da Vinci 1.0 AiO 3-D printer, from XYZprinting.

When objects are placed inside the da Vinci 1.0 AiO, XYZprinting’s proprietary software scans it, and provides a sandbox interface through which the object can be rotated or adjusted in size. Users can add more objects, and the scanner will automatically make all of them fit the printer space.

The past year has seen a number of toy innovations involving 3-D printing. [Read more...]

Hasbro, Disney, and 3DPlusMe Team Up for Super Awesome Me

SuperAwesomeMeHasbro Inc. and 3DPlusMe are introducing Super Awesome Me, a personalized 3-D printing experience that allows kids (and those who are kids at heart) to become Captain America or Iron Man. The initiative provides fans with a customized, 12-inch action figure through an in-store experience. In conjunction with Disney Consumer Products’ Marvel Super Hero September celebration, the Super Awesome Me experience will launch at ten Wal-Mart and two Sam’s Club locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston between September 19 and 28.

Fans visit an in-store scanning station, where a 3-D face scanner captures their likeness to create a 3-D model. Each Super Awesome Me figure, recommended for fans ages 4 years and up, features a traditional articulated plastic action figure body and full-color 3-D printed head. Figures are available for pick-up at Wal-Mart locations or shipped to Sam’s Club customers in four weeks.

More information on the Super Awesome Me experience, as well as a full list of participating Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations, is available at superawesomeme.com.