Sweet Suite 2016

COMMENTARY: Action Figures Moving Forward by Looking to the Past

Breaking Bad ReAction Jesse as Cook action figure, from Funko

Breaking Bad ReAction Jesse as Cook action figure, from Funko

Here at The Toy Book, we constantly find ourselves staring at the unfolding future of toys. In the case of action figures, the future always seems to be on bigger, sleeker, and more—whether that pertains to more points of articulation, more swappable accessories, more high-tech bells and whistles, etc.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: These Toy Fair Exhibitors Have Science Education Down to a Science

Kids First Level 1: Amusement Park Engineer, from Thames and Kosmos

Science kits are typically geared toward kids ages 8 and up. There have been plenty of logical reasons for this—for one thing, kids need to be able to read the manual to do the experiments; and for another, science experiments can be complex, requiring kids to have longer attention spans and higher critical thinking skills. However, at this year’s North American International Toy Fair in NYC, many companies have found ways to introduce science to a younger audience.
[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Toy Fair 2015 Debuts Plush for Both Kids and Adults

Moulin Roty Cat Plush, from Magicforest

Plush is not just about stuffed teddies anymore. At North American International Toy Fair, there were dozens of companies with plush on display—ranging from traditional bears, to robotic plush, to artistic plush. Creative plush designs are especially cool because they appeal to both kids and adults. The right plush piece can even add a unique design element to a room, and many of these types of plush characters are great gift ideas for expectant parents who are waiting to find out their little one’s gender, since they have a gender-neutral heirloom quality to them that makes them extra special.

[Read more...]

Etch A Sketch Turns 55

Edited.OhioArtEtch A Sketch, which turns 55 this year, was first introduced in the U.S. by The Ohio Art Company as a mechanical drawing toy. Since debuting at the American International Toy Fair in New York City in 1960 (It became the No. 1 selling toy for Christmas of 1960), it has sold more than 175 million units. [Read more...]

Modarri, a Different Kind of Toy Car, Arrives at Retail

ModarriModarri, from Thoughtfull Toys, launched at American International Toy Fair in February, and now the car line is hitting retail stores.

Modarri is a kind of miniature car that’s driven with the fingers using realistic steering and suspension. Recommended for ages 8 and up (though not for ages 0 to 3 due to small parts), users can design their own unique cars by swapping parts from one vehicle to another using the included Hex Tool.

Each modular car includes a chassis, hood/windshield, seat pan, seat, fenders and frame, hex tool, four wheels, front suspension, and rear suspension. The line is launching with a Street Car S1, Dirt Car X1, and Track Car T1. In addition, the DIY model allows users to make custom vehicles with their own paint jobs.

Thoughtfull Toys had created a Kickstarter project for Modarri, which finished at more than $69,000, or more than 300 percent of its funding goal. The group successfully raised a second round of financing from accredited investors, with a focus on website development to make the car line interactive and digital as well as physical.

NFL Players Inc. Wants to Turn Toymakers into Playmakers

NFLPlayersAssociationNFL Players Inc. (NFLPI), the marketing and licensing arm of the NFL Players Association, introduces Playmaker Challenge, an exciting new competition for toy developers. To be considered, new toy ideas must feature the unique intellectual property assets licensed only by NFLPI, including names, uniform numbers, signatures, nicknames, images, and likenesses for more than 1,800 active NFL players.

The competition, announced at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, runs through December 19, and NFLPI is accepting applications for concepts through the Playmaker Challenge microsite. The grand prize winner will receive an NFLPI-issued license, an NFL player promotional appearance at their Toy Fair booth, and $10,000 towards player marketing, which can be used on retail partnerships, social media activation, and/or player appearances. Additionally, NFLPI will work with the winner and retail launch partner to donate a quantity of the newly licensed toy to a pre-determined children’s charity.

A committee will review submissions and invite three finalists to present their concepts to the NFLPI committee from January 4 to February 13. The winner will be announced at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.

COMMENTARY: Endangered Species Toys Can Help Raise Environmental Awareness


Endangered species stuffed animals, from Gund and Cuipo

Animal-themed toys are nothing new, but in recent months, I’ve been noticing a focus on endangered species. Shortly after Toy Fair 2014, BeginAgain released its Balance Boat: Endangered Animal Edition, a stacking toy featuring rubberwood versions of the panda, rhinoceros, tortoise, and more. Meanwhile, Green Tones by Hohner put out Endangered Animal Shakers, beautifully carved rubberwood musical toys that depict an owl, leopard, and turtle.

And on the plush front, Wild Republic has added vulnerable species such as the Siberian Tiger to its Cuddlekins line. Last but not least, Gund and Cuipo have collaborated on stuffed animals based on the endangered sun bear, emperor monkey, and three-toed sloth, among others. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 2

So Japan has toys that are compelling enough for grown-ups to enjoy? Figures. No, I mean action figures. As I mentioned in part one of this commentary last week, Japan has some of the coolest action figures on the planet, and much of why has to do with that country’s toy-buying market, which skews older than, say, in the U.S.

However, a lot of that sophistication is now making its way over to this country, in the form of toys that are either imported from Japan, or have their roots there. Some are kids’ items that have double appeal among older audiences, while others are purposefully aimed at grown-ups. That’s a bit of a blanket statement, of course, as any toy can appeal to lots of different demographics for varying reasons. However, we have a feeling adults will want to get their hands on these particular figures once they’ve cleared customs–probably even more so than kids will.

Phil.April23.HikariTMNTThis spring, Funko will introduce its new line of Hikari Japanese Vinyl figures, which are inspired by the vinyl “kaiju” figures that have developed a considerable following among collectors in Japan. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [Read more...]

Toy Fair Named One of New York’s Top Events

From advertising and technology to fashion, entertainment, sports, and more, the event planning news site BizBash has curated its 2014 list of New York’s Top 100 Events—and has named American International Toy Fair to this exclusive list. To choose and rank the Top 100 list, BizBash considers several factors including economic impact, buzz, innovation, and the event’s prominence within the communities it intends to serve. The largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair takes place each February at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Toy Fair and the rest of New York’s Top 100 Events 2014 can be found at www.bizbash.com/top-100.