Macy’s BalloonFest Shows Off Giant Inflated Versions of Popular Toys

BalloonLineupOn Saturday, kids product luminaries such as Eruptor from Activision’s Skylanders, Mattel’s Thomas the Tank Engine, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, and Pokemon International’s Pikachu crossed paths—though not literally—at Macy’s BalloonFest in Queens, N.Y. The event, which took place at Citi Field, featured a test flight of the newest giant character balloons that will premiere at the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A total of six new character balloons took flight for the first time, directed by Macy’s flight management team and handled by hundreds of volunteers. The newest balloons include Thomas the Tank Engine, the largest and heaviest balloon ever to be featured in the parade; the Weinstein Company’s Paddington, which at 77.5 feet is the longest balloon to date; and Eruptor, which features a paint job requiring more than 40 gallons of fluorescent paint and five barrels of glitter.

Skylanders’ Eruptor Will Take Flight Over NYC in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Activision‘s Skylanders franchise, best-known for bringing physical toys to life, will take flight in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time. Fan-favorite Skylanders character Eruptor will join the collection of balloons at the parade. Eruptor hails from deep in the underground of a floating volcanic island that laughed his entire civilization to the surface after a massive eruption. He is known for being quite the hot head—steaming, fuming, and (literally) erupting over almost anything.

Eruptor

the final sketch of the Eruptor balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

To re-create Eruptor’s smoldering physique, artists used more than 40 gallons of florescent paint and five barrels of glitter. You and your little Skylanders fan can catch the broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in all time zones on NBC. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: As Play Gets Smarter, More Toys Come to Life Digitally

It’s official: Smart toys are taking over the toy space.

Gone are the days in which kids are content with traditional methods of play. Books, activities, and games are all available for kids on mobile devices, and they expect their toys to be no different. But although the mediums that kids are interacting with daily are changing, the one thing that won’t ever change is that kids love play.

Angry Birds Stella Telepods

Angry Birds Stella Telepods

Smart toys integrate physical toys and technology—essentially giving digital life to toys. Manufacturers are starting to realize the added value in these products and how wildly popular they can be. More than 72 million kids say they want smart toys, according to market research firm Interpret in a GameByte study.

In addition, kids are using mobile devices more than ever before. Seventy-one percent of households with a child age 4 to 14 reported owning a smartphone in 2014, already up from 55 percent in 2012, according to The NPD Group. Also, kids who own tablets doubled from 2012 to 2014, growing from 21 percent to 43 percent, respectively. [Read more...]

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...]