Toy Fair 2015 Sells Out of Exhibit Space

ToyFair15LogoAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), exhibit space for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, scheduled for February 14 to 17, has officially sold out. The show has already surpassed a record-breaking 419,000 net square feet of exhibit space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and going forward, prospective Toy Fair exhibitors will be placed on a wait list (under no financial obligation).

The expanded show floor, equivalent in size to more than seven football fields, will feature hundreds of thousands of innovative new toys, games, and youth entertainment products. The North American International Toy Fair draws buyers, licensors, entertainment executives, and other play professionals from 100 countries, who will be on-hand scouting toy trends, spotting unique product lines and brands, and writing orders for next year.

Major global retail outlets already registered to attend include Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, Apple, and Hobby Lobby.

Disney Debuts New Approach to Early Learning with Disney Imagicademy

ImagicademyDisney Publishing Worldwide has created Disney Imagicademy, a technology-driven learning initiative designed for families with children ages 3 to 8 that encourage them to learn by creating, doing, and making. The new platform offers parents a way to expose their children to fundamental educational concepts by combining Disney characters with a research-driven curriculum developed with top academic and education experts.

The integrated program includes more than 30 app-based experiences, a companion app for parents, and books and other physical products. The material covers key subject matters, including math, creative arts, science, language arts, and social and emotional skills. Each in-app experience features progressive early math concepts, including counting forward and backward, sort and classify, skip count, numbers and shapes recognition, reason and logic, and more. The additional physical products and learning toys will be available for back-to-school 2015, featuring items from Smart Toys, Kid Designs, Wonder Forge, and Mercury Active[Read more...]

GoldieBlox Takes Down “Big Sister,” Introduces New Action Figure, in Mold-Breaking Ad

GoldieGoldieBlox, a company set out to get girls building by giving them a role model in the STEM fields, introduced a brand new commercial for its newest product: a Goldie action figure. The commercial shows the company’s alternative to the fashion doll industry. Set to Metric’s “Help, I’m Alive,” the slightly creepy, but very empowering GoldieBlox ad encourages girls to break the mold.

As AdWeek points out, the commercial has the same idea as Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. Girls all dolled up like—well—dolls line up to grab perfect dolls off an assembly line that are dressed just like them. Meanwhile, Big Sister robotically drones repeatedly, “You are beauty and beauty is perfection,” until one Goldie-inspired little girl in overalls and red Chucks steps out of line and smashes the machine with a hammer.

The result? A brand new Goldie action figure for girls.

GoldieBlox’s past commercials have garnered a lot of attention, including one that earned a spot during last year’s Super Bowl.

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...]

COMMENTARY: It’s Alive! Cool Tech Brings Animal Toys to Life

Kids are always begging for pets, especially around the holidays. “Can I have a puppy?” “I want a pony!” I’m sure you’re hearing it all. But if you’re not ready to make that huge commitment to a pet and a messy house (and perhaps all of the dog-walking responsibilities), new technology that’s available is truly bringing animal toys to life.

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

The Hexbug line, from Innovation First, has used new tech to make robotic Hexbug critters that crawl on battery power. Two of the company’s newest lines expand upon this technology to make it even better. The Hexbug Nano V2 critters are gravity-defying bugs that can climb vertically through tubes. The Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole play set, the Nano V2 bugs can climb vertically, horizontally, and around corners. Kids can unleash their creativity by customizing the design and layout of the three-story set. The play set also comes with special accessories including a spiral tube and a black funnel.

The Hexbugs Aquabot line features robotic fish that really swim in water. The micro-robotic creatures have Smart Fish technology that allows it to swim, dive, and change directions. You don’t have to worry about feeding it or cleaning its tank. Aqua bots are available in five translucent colors and designed for kids ages 3 and up. [Read more...]

Zui Launches New Mobile App KidZui

KidZuiSaban Brands has announced the launch of Zui‘s new mobile app for its kid-safe internet browser, KidZui. Operated by Zui, KidZui is a downloadable browser that provides access to a kid-safe Internet experience to more than 6 million websites, online videos, pictures, and games. Designed to make the Internet both fun and safe for kids, the KidZui mobile app provides the entertainment and security that parents and kids have come to love from KidZui, on the go. The free-to-download KidZui app is now available for iOS download on Apple’s App Store and will soon be available for Android as well.

In addition to the new app, KidZui has launched a new software upgrade and refresh to the desktop version. The KidZui browser has several new features and functions making the program quicker and easier to use. It has been updated with a simplified design along with improved functionality to enhance user experience when used on Apple’s iPad.

Updates to KidZui include:

  • Favorites: Easy to use favorite or bookmark feature, allowing kids to save sites and articles for future reference.
  • Games: Mobile version will include HTML5 games for fun and safe game play.
  • Images and Video: Image and video quality has been improved.
  • Content Library: The library has been updated to included new fresh material for kids to enjoy.

Disney Consumer Products, Marvel Entertainment Reveal Creativity Studio Stylus and App for iPad

MarvelAppDisney Consumer Products and Marvel Entertainment has launched the Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus and App, created by eKids, exclusively for iPad. The app delivers a creative space for kids to learn to draw, color, and animate their favorite Marvel Super Heroes and villains from Avengers AssembleThe Ultimate Spider-Man, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., while the stylus adds special and enhanced play value.

App and Stylus features include:

  • Professionally illustrated coloring pages, where you can add your own flare with  drawing tools and an extensive color pallet
  • Use of the stylus to unlock special tools including the “Reveal” tool to color the page like a pro
  • An interactive grid system that includes specialty drawing aids such as side-by-side drawing canvas, trace lines, and unique “Drawing Scope”
  • The abililty to build and animate action scenes with character stickers, sound effects, speech bubbles, and backgrounds
  • Create-your-own custom stickers and add them to animated scenes

In addition to the launch of the Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus and App, the Disney Creativity Studio app has received a content refresh with more drawing tools to use, so kids can now create drawings of other Disney characters including Disney Junior’s Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, as well as Monsters University and Disney Princess characters.

The Stylus, which includes unlimited access to all content and future updates, is available at mass retailers. A deluxe version with a limited-edition zippered carry case is available exclusively at Apple Retail Stores and from the Apple Online Store. The Marvel Creativity Studio app is free and may be found at www.appstore.com/MarvelCreativityStudio. The Disney Creativity Studio App is also free from the App Store or at www.AppStore.com/DisneyCreativityStudio.

Rubik’s Cube to Celebrate 40th Anniversary with Giant Interactive Cube

Grooviks_Highlight_thirdparty[2]Liberty Science Center (LSC) is endeavoring to build Groovik’s Cube—a 1.5-story high Rubik’s Cube that can be controlled via the web from anywhere in the world.

The giant art-meets-science installation will premiere at LSC in spring 2014, on the 40th anniversary of the invention of Rubik’s Cube. It will be the centerpiece of “Beyond Rubik’s Cube,” a 7,000-square-foot exhibition designed to celebrate the world’s most popular puzzle and the many cool things the Cube has inspired in robotics, engineering, mathematics, design, art, and film.

The Rubik’s Cube has been going from strength to strength since Apple Inc. featured the app version of the cube in its latest iPhone TV advertising campaign entitled ‘Brilliant’.  The advertisement showcased the interactive touch play and puzzle experience that has been fundamental the success of the cube. Sales of the Rubik’s Cube app were up 2600 percent while the advertisement was live and hit the top 20 paid apps.

Rubik’s is also launching an updated cube design in 2014 and to celebrate, Rubik’s Cube launched a new logo to commemorate the new generation at Licensing Expo.

Santa to Bring High-Tech Gadgets, Familiar Favorites to Children This Holiday Season

Children’s wish lists this holiday season are full of the latest gadgets such as Apple iPads and the Nintendo Wii U, but there’s still demand for some classic gifts like Lego blocks, dolls, and toy cars, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s 2012 Top Toys Survey, conducted by BIGinsight.

A surprise item in this year’s top ten is Furby, which ranked No. 3 on girls’ wish lists and No. 9 on boys’ lists. Furby became a must-have item and child favorite in the late 90s but has since undergone a digital makeover complete with LCD eyes and compatible iPad apps. Video games also appeared on both lists this year. According to NRF’s holiday survey, 45.1 percent of consumers plan to buy toys this holiday season.

HIT Entertainment, Discovery Bay Games Announce Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station App, Accessory for iPad

HIT Entertainment and Discovery Bay Games have announced a new game and accessory for iPad: Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station. This Thomas & Friends-branded Duo accessory is compatible with the new Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App, available now on the App Store.

Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station gets kids jumping, skipping, and racing with all of their engine friends. The app comes with three games: Steam Engine Relay, Sodor Spot-It, and Seek & Find Adventure. Six engine cards, including Thomas, Percy, and James, along with other engine favorites, interact with Steam Team Station.

Designed for children ages 3 and up, the Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station accessory is now available at Apple Stores and Apple.com, Amazon, Target, and Toys”R”Us. The Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App is available for free from the App Store.