China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Nintendo Is Game for Playing in the Toy World

amiibo.largerversionSince the 1980s, Nintendo has always seemed to be the “family-friendly” choice in video games. With wholesome characters such as Mario and Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Toad, and bad guys that make you laugh more often than they scare you (except for Bowser in the original Super Mario Bros. game on NES—he was straight up scary), Nintendo has always given off a welcoming, family-friendly vibe, with games available for kids of all ages, and systems and controllers that are intuitive rather than intimidating.

Despite knowing this—and being a Nintendo fan my whole life—it still caught me a bit off-guard when Nintendo announced that it would be launching amiibo, which are action-figures designed to connect and interact with compatible games. “By holding the amiibo over your Wii U GamePad, you’ll open up new experiences within each corresponding game,” reads the Nintendo website. [Read more...]

Penguin UK Reaching for the Skylands with First Licensed Magazine

SkylandersLogoPenguin UK is taking its first steps into licensed magazine publishing after acquiring the world representation rights to a new Skylanders Universe magazine, based on the Skylanders video games.

Penguin, which also owns the rights to the Skylanders Universe books, acquired the rights from brand owners Activision. It has appointed Immediate Media to produce the content and distribute the magazine in the UK.

The stories in the magazine will be based on characters from the Skylanders games—Skylanders Spyro’s Adventures, Skylanders Giants, and Skylanders Swap Force.

Activision to Bring Eon’s Elite Toy Line to Skylanders This Fall

STT_PremiumEdition_PackshotActivision Publishing will bring Eon’s Elite, a new set of premium toys, to Skylanders fans worldwide this fall. The limited edition Eon’s Elite will introduce eight repowered collectible versions of fan-favorite Skylanders characters that started it all, beginning with Spyro and Chop Chop.

These heroes hail from the original Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and feature a never-before-seen decoration with a distinct, metallic finish and golden base. Each of the special edition toys will be offered in premium foil packaging and features a display case with a 3-D lenticular background. Also, Eon’s Elite characters will be up to three times as powerful over other characters, which represents the biggest in-game boosts ever incorporated into a Skylanders toy to date.

Eon’s Elite characters will be available in limited quantities at GameStop and EB Games in North America, Australia, and New Zealand, and select retailers in Europe this fall while supplies last.

Skylanders Trap Team First-To-Play Tour Launches at Comic-Con International: San Diego

SkylandersLogoActivision Publishing Inc. is kicking off a four-month, nationwide Skylanders Trap Team First-to-Play Tour, in which attendees can play Skylanders Trap Team inside a customized Game Truck, which serves as a mobile video game media room.

The tour will give fans a hands-on experience of the game prior to its North American launch on October 5. The first stops coincide with Comic-Con International: San Diego, and are scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fans can visit the Game Truck at Interactive Zone, located at Petco Park’s Lexus Premier Lot, Imperial Avenue at 11th Avenue.

Skylanders Has Soccer Fever, and the Prescription is Kickoff Countdown

SkylandersSWAPForce.KickoffCountdownThe newest Skylanders Swap Force team member is soccer-themed. Kickoff Countdown will premiere exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide, and online at toysrus.com, this Sunday, and will be available at retailers worldwide on May 25. Featuring the head of a soccer ball, Kickoff Countdown is the only Skylander that appears in both toys and the game.

Skylanders Makes the Jump to Comics This July

SkylandersLogoIn conjunction with Activision, IDW Publishing will release the first-ever Skylanders comic-book series, by writer Ron Marz with Mike Bowden and David Baldeon as lead artists. Skylanders is the best-selling kids’ video game franchise since its launch in 2011. The first issue of the comic book series, a prequel to the Skylanders Trap Team storyline, provides fans an inside look at where some of their favorite Skylanders came from, as well as a first look at some all-new characters from the upcoming game.

Skylanders will make the leap to comics this July, debuting at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014. Skylanders #0 features an introductory 16-page story, character guides, and additional back-up information. It will be launched in both print and digital during SDCC weekend.

“We are thrilled to be combining Skylanders, the pioneer of the toys to life video game genre, with IDW, one of the industry’s leading comic-book publishers in the U.S.,” said Ashley Maidy, vice president of global licensing and partnerships at Activision. “The comic-book series will offer fans a glimpse into the backstories of their favorite Skylanders characters, expanding on the universe that they’ve embraced so enthusiastically in the franchise’s short history. To explore the world of Skylands beyond the game is an opportunity we know our fans have long been awaiting, and we couldn’t be more excited to see this manifested through a comic series.”

Nintendo to Launch Character Figurines that Interact with Video Games

NFPNintendoNintendo is planning a new line of character figurines that can communicate with video games, similar to Activision’s Skylanders and Disney Infinity. The new Nintendo Figurine Platform (NFP) was announced last Thursday by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata at the company’s annual financial briefing.

“Other than using character IP in Nintendo’s video game software, we need to start a new business that will someday become one of our core activities,” said Iwata. He stressed the importance of taking risks and coming up with interesting ways for Nintendo to leverage its character intellectual property. [Read more...]

Skylanders Trap Team Brings Digital Characters into the Physical World

SkylandersTrapTeamActivision’s newest installment to the $2 billion Skylanders franchise, Skylanders Trap Team, redefines the toys-to-life phenomenon with a new ground-breaking innovation. Unveiled today, the new game will reverse the magic of bringing toys to life by allowing kids to pull villains—including Kaos—out of the digital world and into the physical world.

In Skylanders Trap Team, Kaos continues his ongoing quest to rule over Skylands. He has discovered the location of the legendary Cloudcracker Prison—a fortress built entirely out of the magical substance, Traptanium, and home to Skylands’ most nefarious villains. In an attempt to build his own army of foes, Kaos blows up the prison, releasing the baddies and blasting shards of Traptanium to Earth in the form of Traps. Now it’s up to Portal Masters to recapture all of the escaped villains using powerful Traptanium Traps and defeat Kaos. The new adventure delivers a diverse and dynamic story-driven gameplay experience, filled with adventure, combat, puzzles, mini-games, activities, platforming, and drop-in/drop-out co-op play—all set within new compelling, breath-taking environments.

With Skylanders Trap Team, Portal Masters seek out and defeat the most-wanted villains in all of Skylands, pulling them out of the game and into living rooms by capturing them in the magical crystal traps. Players can then send the trapped villains back into the game where they will fight for good. The latest installment will include the Traptanium Portal, a new ring of magical energy that enables kids to not only bring their Skylanders to life, but also magically capture villains using the new traps. Once they’ve defeated the villain in the game, kids will be able to place a Trap into the new portal to capture it. They will also be able to hear the villain inside the Trap, furthering the magic of Skylanders in 2014. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Tech Toys That Extend Beyond the Screen

TT12This year, for the first time ever, the Toy Insider released a list of top tech toys for the holiday season in its gift guide called the Top Tech 12. This list promotes the belief that we have here about a “well-balanced toy box.” In a world that has new technology each day—and tons of digital, innovative toys for kids—it’s easy to get caught up in buying the newest, most glamorous toys out there without really knowing if it’s the right toy for your kid. The Toy Insider’s goal with this list is to help shoppers sift through all of the options out there for forward-thinking and impressive tech-based toys that incorporate the latest in digital play, creativity, and innovation.

Shameless self-promotion aside, tech toys are becoming harder and harder to sift through, so finding the perfect one for every kid can be difficult.  Of course, many in the industry, wandering the shopping aisles, and generally existing around toys know about Skylanders Swap Force and Disney Infinity, two new innovative video game platforms that mix digital and physical play, but they aren’t the only toys out there with exciting new technology. All of the toys on our Top Tech 12 list are great, but I picked a few favorites that are not only great technology innovations, but they also give kids other options of physical play—so they aren’t glued to a screen all day.

robodog_dalmatian_p9_go_pee_copy (1)Zoomer, from Spin Master, is a trainable robotic dog that is the perfect option for kids that want a pet and parents that want a clean house. Zoomer can be trained to respond to a bunch of different commands and tricks in three different languages (English, Spanish, and French). Zoomer learns kids’ voices and how to respond to these commands. He is adorably cute and lifelike. Left to his own devices, he’ll wander around the room, just like a real puppy. Zoomer’s LED lights blink and react making him seem more alive than your typical robots. [Read more...]

Activision, Treyarch, and Xbox Partner to Help Veterans Through the Call of Duty Endowment

CallofDutyendowment

Activision Publishing Inc., its studio Treyarch, and Xbox have partnered to support the Call of Duty Endowment. Through October 14, U.S. fans can purchase any of the 17 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Personalization Packs that are currently available on Xbox Live for a 25 percent discount. Additionally, Activision, Treyarch, and Xbox will donate all profits from the packs sold to the Call of Duty Endowment.

Personalization Packs in Call of Duty: Black Ops II offer fans more options to customize and expand their experience. Each themed Personalization Pack contains one unique weapon camo, three targeting reticules, and a player calling card.