China Toy Fair


Bandai Namco Launches Ms. Pac-Man Pink Ribbon Campaign

Bandai Namco Games America Inc. has partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) to launch the Ms. Pac-Man Pink Ribbon Campaign in the fight against the second leading cause of cancer among U.S. women.  Ms. Pac-Man will mascot the campaign, which will be anchored with new gameplay incentives across the video game publisher’s line of mobile titles. The campaign will raise funds for NBCF to help women and inspire hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services.

The Ms. Pac-Man Ribbon Campaign will run until Oct. 31 and includes an exclusive new maze for sale across Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man iOS and Android titles. All proceeds from purchases on the new level will go directly to support the NBCF. The in-game user interface and artwork for game will change to a new pink ribbon theme for October alongside the new content.

Bandai’s Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns Toy Line Brings Characters to Life

DorothyBandai has created a toy line based on the upcoming film, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. It features a contemporary take on Dorothy’s signature dress, as well as an assortment of dolls, collectible figures, and plush. One of the fashion dolls sings two songs from the film, as sung by Lea Michele, who plays Dorothy in the movie.

The story follows Dorothy, who has just returned home from her first trip to Oz, only to be whisked back on a magical rainbow as her old friends go on a new adventure. However, Dorothy enlists the help of an entirely new group of friends when her old ones are held captive.

The 3D-animated musical adventure is set to open May 9.

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...]

WIT Honors Outstanding Business Leaders with 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards

At a February 18 dinner attended by more than 400 executives, Women in Toys (WIT) celebrated 10 visionary women business leaders with the 2014 Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. The award recipients are: Kiyomi Haverly of Mattel, Global Brands; Naz Cuevas of Rovio Entertainment Inc. and Donna Tobin of Hasbro Inc.; Rita Raiffe, design director at Gund; Stefanie Barone of M.Z. Berger & Co.; Susie Lecker of Fisher Price; Michele Litzky of Litzky Public Relations; Joan Packard Luks of The Seranata Group; Christina Jansa of Target; and Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.

With support from major sponsors including Nickelodeon and Bandai, WIT also granted six scholarships to future toy industry leaders at toy design programs in universities worldwide.

Power Rangers’ New Toy Line-Up from Bandai Revealed, Costume Licenses Renewed

Feb20.PowerRangersSuperMegaforceCoinciding with the February 15 launch of Saban BrandsPower Rangers Super Megaforce on Nickelodeon, Bandai unveiled the full toy line for the season at American International Toy Fair earlier this week. It includes show-accurate role play toys, action figures, and large-scale buildable robots.

Central to the new line are collectible Legendary Ranger Keys, which unlock the powers of all previous Power Rangers. A quick flip function morphs the figures into unique keys that can be inserted into multiple Super Megaforce toys to unlock special features and powers. There are over 60 different Ranger Keys to collect.

By using the Power Rangers Scanner app—available on both iOS and Android systems—on any smart phone or tablet, kids can scan any Ranger Key, morph themselves into that Power Ranger, and battle villains on-screen.

In other Power Rangers news, Saban Brands has renewed licenses with Disguise Inc., Rubie’s Costume Company, and Morphsuits, so each partner will continue producing character-inspired costumes through 2017.

There will also be a tournament, Morphin Madness, running from March 10 to April 7, in which fans can vote for their Power Rangers dream team. The bracket-style voting system rewards participants with coupons for Super Megaforce toys and a chance to win a 24K gold plated Deluxe Legendary Morpher and Legendary Ranger Key set of the fan-selected top five Rangers. Fans can vote at www.morphinmadness.com.

Saban Brands Reveals Next Season of Power Rangers, Partners with Cirque du Soleil

The next season of Saban Brands’ Power Rangers franchise, Power Rangers Dino Charge, will debut on Nickelodeon next year, and roll out globally later in 2015. Bandai America Inc. will continue as the global master toy licensee for the franchise, creating a new dinosaur-themed product line.

Saban Brands has also partnered with Cirque du Soleil Media to develop an original kids property inspired by the Cirque du Soleil brand. The deal includes a new TV series, web content, interactive content, and merchandise.

Tamagotchi Celebrates 17 Years with New Tamagotchi Friends

TamagotchiFriendslogoBandai is set to relaunch Tamagotchi under the brand Tamagotchi Friends, supported by new devices, technology, and an immersive portfolio of interactive lifestyle products. Tamagotchi Friends will launch with animated webisodes debuting globally on November 23 to coincide with Tamagotchi’s 17th birthday, and supported by a phased rollout of a new website.

Since its debut, Tamagotchi has sold more than 79 million units in 44 versions worldwide, and remains the No. 1 character brand for girls ages 7 to 9 in Japan, as well as a top nostalgic brand in the U.S. The Tamagotchi Friends brand will include physical products, including Digital Friends, apparel, and apps; as well as a virtual world on social media at tamagotchifriends.com, where global visitors can connect to the characters and get to know them.

Bandai will introduce the Tamagotchi Friends portfolio of Digital Friends and other toys globally, with product reaching European retailers beginning in late December, followed by the U.S. market next fall.

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...]

COMMENTARY: Different Licensees Mean Different Toy Takes on Pac-Man

Quite a few companies are taking on Pac-Man, the character featured in the classic arcade game by Namco. It’s easy to see why, as Pac-Man is the most popular video game of all time, not to mention a global icon that inspired a slew of merchandise during the ’80s. One current toy licensee is Paladone, whose recent Pac-centric products have included the radio-controlled PAC-MAN Racers Set, a plush doll, a candy dispenser, and much more. These toys are based around the basic character design: a yellow spheroid with a missing wedge for a mouth. Other than having eyes (shaped like small Pac-Men) and a handy third dimension, he doesn’t look all that different from Pac-Man in the original game.

Paladone Pac-Man and Ghost

Pac-Man original game

I passed on the candy dispenser (it still being swimsuit season), but as for the Pac-Man Racer, it is great fun on smooth surfaces. You control Pac-Man using a remote cleverly styled like an arcade joystick. There is a bit of a learning curve: For example, in order to get Pac-Man to turn, you have to move him forward or backward, and then bank hard left or right after he picks up some speed. Meanwhile, moving him out of certain tight spaces is not so dissimilar from parallel parking with a car (which is potentially good news for adults who need the practice). [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Comic-Con Exclusives Bring the Fantasy Home

Comic-Con: A once-in-a-lifetime (annual) experience. Fans come from all over to get autographs, take photos, and experience the thrill of oversized Lego structures and men-in-costume. A place full of Hobbits, heroes, and happiness, Comic-Con allows consumers to share their love of all things fantasy. Best of all, the licensed merchandise and exclusive product offerings are abundant. These products allow consumers to get a little bit closer to the franchises they love, bridging the gap between fictional worlds and reality. From classic brands like The Power Rangers, to new favorites like Game of Thrones, the product arrays are seemingly endless, and everyone comes eager to take home their piece of Comic-Con history. Here are some of the limited edition and exclusive products we were most excited about in our office:

LEgacy Power MorpherThe Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was by far my favorite show growing up. Though the brand has expanded to include multiple modern versions, the classic series is still my favorite. For other nostalgic Power Ranger lovers, Bandai America released the retro-style, limited-edition Legacy Power Morpher in a Green Ranger/White Ranger Edition. The 24-karat gold-plated Morpher comes with two die-cast coins. With only 1,000 available, each Morpher is individually numbered.

Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, oh my! Though Marvel superhero merchandise is never in short supply at Comic-Con, the limited-edition Marvel exclusives are always something to look forward to. In preparation for the upcoming film, The Wolverine, hitting theaters this Friday, Diamond Select, in partnership with Marvel, has unveiled the Marvel Minimates Wolverine Saga Box Set. This four-pack features 2-inch versions of Symbiote Wolverine, Spacesuit Wolverine, Ultimate Wolverine, and Logan-san in Japanese robes with a variety of interchangeable parts. [Read more...]