China Toy Fair


Mattel’s First Quarter Results Include Gross Sales Decline for Top Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel reported 2014 first quarter financial results, which included a decline in worldwide sales for Barbie, but strength in some of the company’s other girls brands.

For the first quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls and boys brands were $656.9 million, down 5 percent versus the previous year. This included a decline in worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand of 14 percent. Worldwide gross sales for Mattel’s other girls brands increased 4 percent on the strength of Disney Princess and Ever After High, partially offset by Monster High. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Inspirational Young Girls Can Change the World

American Girl has this wonderful program where they release a Girl of the Year doll, who comes along with stories, games, and activities that “celebrate what it means to be a girl today.” There’s a lot of dolls out there on the market that are providing great, positive messages to girls worldwide. Whether they are promoting positive body image, confidence, the drive to dream big, STEM education, or all of the above and more, girls have their pick of the litter when they are searching for a doll that is, in a sense, just like who they are or who they strive to be. American Girl announced their 2014 Girl of the Year on January 1: Isabelle, “an inspired dancer that finds her own way to shine.”

But some girls aren’t able to find that doll that would really make them feel special—and brave 10-year-old Melissa Shang has spoken out (adorably and politely) requesting that her favorite doll company, American Girl, make the 2015 Girl of the Year doll that is more like her.

Shang has Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a debilitating form of muscular dystrophy, and is leading one of the fastest-growing petitions right now on change.org for American Girl to create a Girl of the Year doll with a disability. Shang is truly an inspiration. In just over 72 hours of her starting the petition, more than 15,000 people have joined the campaign she has launched. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 10.45.00 AM

The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]

American Girl Expands Into Canada

AmericanGirlAmerican Girl, a division of Mattel, Inc., will expand into Canada. The new American Girl retail  stores will open this spring in Indigo’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, and Robson Street, Vancouver.

Visitors to Indigo’s new American Girl store-in-store boutiques will  find an assortment of the company’s doll brands, including:

  • Girl of the Year: a modern-day 18-inch doll, launched annually, accessories, outfits, and books that reflect the interests and issues  of today’s girls.
  • My American Girl—a line of contemporary 18-inch dolls that allows a girl to select from several different  combinations of skin tone, eye color, and hair-color to create a doll  that’s just right for her. A variety of books, outfits, and  accessories round-out the play experience for girls.
  • Bitty Baby—a line of baby dolls  available in 11 different combinations of skin tone, eye color, and  hair-color, accompanied by premium picture books, outfits, and  accessories that encourage nurturing play in girls 3 and up.

In addition to the doll lines, the Indigo American Girl store-in-store  boutiques will carry Dress Like Your Doll girl-sized clothing and  a variety of American Girl books. Fans can also  treat their dolls to a new hairstyle or ear piercing in the Doll Hair Salon and enjoy free girl-and-mom-friendly events and programs  offered throughout the year. Future announcements about grand-opening dates will be made as  schedules are finalized.

Dreamworks Animation Acquires IP for Trolls with Plans to Take Iconic Dolls’ Brand (and Hair) to New Heights

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has acquired the IP for the Troll franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things of Denmark, with plans to introduce the brand to a new generation of fans around the world. DreamWorks has named American Girl veteran Shawn Dennis as head of brand development to cultivate this classic franchise.

The Troll doll phenomenon was born in 1959 when Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam, too poor to afford a Christmas present for his young daughter Lajla, carved a doll for her based on the legendary Scandinavian troll. The Trolls experienced a resurgence in the 1990s, and in 2003, the Toy Industry of America named Trolls on its list of 100 of the Century’s Most Treasured Toys.

DreamWorks Animation is now the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights for the classic Troll Dolls, with the sole exception of Scandanavia, the birthplace of the Trolls, where Dam Things will remain the licensor.

American Girl’s 2013 Girl of the Year Turns Passion into Persuasion to Promote Arts Education

Saige Copeland is American Girl‘s 2013 Girl of the Year. Saige is a spirited and imaginative young girl who loves painting and horseback riding at her grandma’s ranch in Albuquerque—the hot-air balloon capital of the world. Saige’s collection is available for one year; the character comes to life with an 18-inch Saige doll featuring long auburn hair and an array of outfits and accessories, including a hot-air balloon and a posable horse. A new movie from Universal Studios Home Entertainment based on Saige’s stories will premiere on DVD this year. [Read more...]

BREAKING: CEO Bryan Stockton Named New Chairman of Mattel

Mattel, Inc., has announced that the Board of Directors has named CEO Bryan Stockton as chairman of the board effective January 1. Mr. Stockton succeeds Robert Eckert, who has informed the Board of his decision to retire from his service as director and chairman of the board, effective December 31. Stockton will continue to hold the position of chief executive officer, a position held since January 2012. [Read more...]

American Girl Launches Charitable “Shine On Now” Campaign

American Girl is launching  Shine On Now, a new charitable campaign that encourages girls to give support to other girls in need. The company hopes to donate $1 million in clothes, dolls, books, and money to Kids in Distressed Situations, National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, National Wildlife Federation, and Save the Children.

Starting June 28, girls can become American Girl Ambassadors at shineonnow.com; ambassadors will receive a free, downloadable tool kit with tips and ideas for fund-raising, volunteering, or donating to the four charities. On July 13, visitors to the website can contribute 100 free stars a day to eventually reach 1 million stars. If 1 million stars are collected, American Girl will donate its maximum gift of $1 million.

American Girl will also be launching a new virtual campus, Innerstar University, with a variety of games, quizzes, and other activities. Access to the online world comes with each 18-inch My American Girl doll.