MasterPieces, Smart Play Signs on for Animal Planet and Shark Week Merchandise

MasterpiecesPuzzlesLogoMasterPieces Puzzle Company has signed a deal with Discovery Consumer Products to produce Animal Planet and Shark Week puzzles and craft sets. It will also create Animal Planet-branded dinosaur and safari products, as well as Shark Week-branded 3-D puzzles with a paint component and buildable craft kits made of wood.

Smart Play will develop children’s educational toys offering different ways to discover the world of animals. The line includes 3-D flashcards and puzzles, puzzle cubes, alphabet floor puzzles, a lighted click-and-see toy projector, and an electronic learning pad. The new items will be available next year.

New Girl Scouts Collection from Wicked Cool Toys to Include Girl Scout Cookie Oven

GirlScouts.DeluxeOvenLogoWicked Cool Toys has entered into a licensing relationship with Girl Scouts of the USA to introduce a new Girl Scout Cookie Oven, as well as a comprehensive line of role play, craft, and activity products.

The Girl Scout Cookie Oven will feature mixes inspired by popular Girl Scout Cookies such as Thin Mints, Trefoils, peanut butter, and caramel coconut varieties, as well as traditional classics such as chocolate chip, oatmeal, and brownies. Meanwhile, Wicked Cool’s line of craft and activity kits for ages 6 and up, entitled D.I.Y. girl, is inspired by fun projects Girl Scouts engage in. These include such diverse offerings as a string art kit, a jewelry making kit, a collage silhouette kit, a garland making kit, and more.

Wicked Cool Toys expects its line to arrive at mass market retailers throughout the U.S. beginning in the fall of next year.

Puzzles, Costumes, and More All Part of DHX Brands’ Line-up for Teletubbies

DHXMediaOriginalTeletubbiesDHX Brands has appointed numerous new UK licensing partners for the revamped Teletubbies series. Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) brokered the deals.

CPLG secured deals with Ravensburger to produce themed puzzles, MV Sports for wheeled and outdoor toys, and International Greetings for the arts and crafts category. Rainbow Productions has been enlisted to create costumes based on characters Tinky Winky, Laa Laa, Dipsy, and Po.

DHX Brands has also recently appointed Character Options as global master toy partner.

Products are expected to arrive in retail locations beginning in 2016.

BeginAgain to Distribute Artterro Eco Art Kits

BeginAgain_logoBeginAgain is expanding its offering of earth-friendly playthings, as the three-year-old company has inked an agreement to distribute Artterro’s popular line of art and craft kits.

Artterro is known for unplugged art projects made of sustainable materials, and the company’s line is assembled by hand in Madison, Wis. It includes eleven titles featuring needle felting, mixed-media collage, art journaling, and more.

Urban Canvas Introduces Design Tins Craft Kits

UrbanCanvas.DesignTinsUrban Canvas, an eco-friendly craft toy company, has introduced Design Tins, a new collection of portable tin boxes packed with art activities. The first two kits in this collection, Doll-Tin Cafe and i.am.ro.bot., contain wooden and paper board pieces that children can decorate, assemble, and easily transport from place to place in a tin box.

The Doll-Tin Cafe contains two wooden dolls, decorative tape, paper board furniture pieces, and wooden tableware. With this kit, children can use their imagination to create a cafe scene and “dress up” wooden dolls with removable decorative tape.

The second kit, i.am.ro.bot., is a do-it-yourself block set. With this set, children can mix and match robot parts with blocks that are decorated with stickers that they can stick on and color. The kit comes complete with four wooden blocks, robot stickers, and colored pencils.

First Loomy Awards Loom Large This Month

“Loomers” from far and wide are invited to submit their creations for the first-ever award for loom bracelet fanatics: the First Annual Loomy Awards. Sponsored by The Original Loom Boom, winners will be chosen from four categories: Best Bracelet, Coolest Charm, Wackiest Wearable, and Best Loom Boom. Three winners will each receive a $250 gift card, and one grand prize winner will receive a $500 gift card. In addition, all winners will receive a special edition of The Original Loom Boom.

Entries are already being accepted at The Original Loom Boom’s Facebook page, and winners will be announced on a live web award show on April 30.

For Saban Brands and Center for Childhood Creativity, It’s Inventing Time!

Julius JrSaban Brands is partnering with the Center for Childhood Creativity for its animated preschool series, Julius Jr. The Center for Childhood Creativity has been working closely with Saban Brands to produce a series of “Inventing Time” activities designed for parents and caregivers to use at home, and for teachers to use in a preschool setting.

The Julius Jr. discussion guides encourage kids to take everyday objects they find around the house and turn them into extraordinary things, such as bridges, musical instruments, shadow puppets, and more. The activities come with a list of open-ended questions for adults to ask children while they are working on the various projects, enabling original thought and problem solving.

These materials are available at the Center for Childhood Creativity’s website, as well as for pick-up at San Francisco’s Bay Area Discovery Museum.

NPD Group: Cyber Monday Week Toy Sales Are Strong, Up from Last Year

npd_group_logoRetail dollar sales for the toy category were up 23 percent for the Cyber Monday week compared to the same period last year. For the combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks, The NPD Group reports that toy sales were up 12 percent on a dollar basis compared to the previous year. These sales trends include both online and brick and mortar channels.

The NPD Group noted that all 11 super categories it tracks in the toy sector experienced positive dollar sales growth during the period covering Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks. Those with the highest growth—and their respective change in dollar sales compared with Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks last year—include plush at 34 percent, youth electronics at 32 percent, arts and crafts at 26 percent, and outdoor and sports at 18 percent. These results reflect brick and mortar and online sales combined.

ASTRA’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day Celebrates Fourth Year

ASTRAtoystoredayOn November 9, independent toy stores across the U.S. will participate in the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) fourth annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day. The initiative raises consumer and media awareness about the positive influence that specialty and independent toy retailers have on the local community and economy.

Local toy stores will mark the occasion with special in-store events, including crafts, entertainers, scavenger hunts, and more. Participating ASTRA store owners can download banners and graphics and access sample promotional language on ASTRA’s website for members. For more information about Neighborhood Toy Store day, visit YourNeighborhoodToyStore.org.

COMMENTARY: Kids Love to Make Stuff

Kids love to make stuff. Arts and crafts, do-it-yourself kits, construction sets—you name it. I loved crafts as a kid, especially the kinds that didn’t quickly run out of the included supplies, so I could start over if it wasn’t quite right the first time.

Christine.Oct7.b

Recently, I took home Schylling’s Metal Pot Holder Loom. It was the first time I’d made one of those over-under hook-and-loop pot holders since elementary school. Even back then, I remember taking great pains to get the weave tight, so there weren’t gaps or curves. This time was no different, except that the loom is now significantly larger. The kit includes a metal loom, a metal hook, a plastic crochet hook, an instruction manual, and enough loops to create two pot holders and still have some left over. One quiet weeknight, I settled in with a good show on TV and started making a pot holder. The little girl in me still enjoyed the process, and I put thought into the design before beginning. The result was an even, tight, and pretty awesome-looking kitchen accessory, if I do say so myself. [Read more...]