China Toy Fair


NPD Reports Star Wars, Disney Princess among Top-Selling Toy Properties in Six Countries

npd_group_logoThe NPD Group recently released lists of the top five toy properties by country, ranked by value sales for January to June. Across the U.S., the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Australia, Star Wars is the one property that ranks among the top five properties for each country. In the U.S., the top toy properties are Disney Princess, Barbie, Nerf, Little Tikes, and Star Wars.

Lego ranks in the top five toys for the UK, Australia, and Germany, with both Lego City and Lego Duplo on the short list for Germany. Disney Princess, meanwhile, ranks among the five top-selling toy properties in the U.S., the UK, and Australia.

“The unique cultures of a country lend themselves to unique preferences, and the toy industry is no different,” says Frédérique Tutt, global toy industry analyst with The NPD Group. “However, there are clearly messages and styles of play that resonate with a child, regardless of geography.”

Barbie and the Secret Door Opens into a Magical World

Universal Studios Barbie and the Secret DoorIn Barbie and The Secret Door from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Barbie stars as Alexa, a shy princess who discovers a secret door in her kingdom and enters a whimsical land filled with magical creatures and surprises. Inside, Alexa meets Romy and Nori, a mermaid and a fairy, respectively, who explain that a spoiled ruler named Malucia is trying to take all the magic in the land. To her surprise, Alexa has magical powers in this world, and her new friends are certain that only she can restore their magic.

With seven original songs and a trifecta of characters, Barbie and The Secret Door will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack including Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet on September 16.

Archie Comics: Let’s Hear It for the Boy Next Door!

By Stuart Fischer

ArchieComicslogoWhen one thinks of the comic book character Archie, one envisions a bright-eyed teenager who has a constant smile on his face, as if he does not have a care in the world. That might be true of this wonderful fictional character, but the company behind him is a hard-working, innovative force: Archie Comic Publications.

Founded in 1939 by Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater, the name of the company was first MLJ Publications. It was changed a few years later to Archie Comic Publications as a salute to the character that became its greatest success.

MLJ began publishing various titles during the beginning of the comic book industry, most of them humor, although there were also a few adventure series. The company’s first comic was Blue Ribbon Comics, published in November 1939, followed shortly by Pep Comics, which began in January 1940 and introduced The Shield, a patriotic hero who resembled Marvel’s Captain America, who started appearing one year later.

In Pep Comics issue no. 22, published in December 1941, Archie Andrews made his first appearance. The world would never be the same. [Read more...]

Mattel Launches Entrepreneur Barbie to Inspire Girls Everywhere

EntrepreneurBarbieMattel has launched Entrepreneur Barbie, coinciding with real-life female entrepreneurs gracing the cover of Time‘s Most Influential People issue and leading one-in-five start-ups. To celebrate her newest career, Barbie has partnered with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs, including the founders of Girls Who CodeRent the RunwayOne Kings LanePlum AlleyGenuine InsightsSugarfina, and The TomKat Studio.

Girls and parents can explore inspirational tips, career-themed games, and activities at www.barbie.com, and purchase career dolls available at retailers nationwide.

Mattel and Warner Bros. Extend Strategic Relationship for DC Comics Universe

Batman EvergreenWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), with DC Entertainment, has extended its alliance with Mattel Inc. with a new multi-year agreement granting Mattel rights to continue as master toy licensee for the DC Comics universe of characters. Under these terms, Mattel is granted unprecedented access to the DC Comics vault of characters, which includes more than a thousand DC Comics superheroes and super-villains, such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and The Joker. The deal continues Mattel’s support of DC Comics across its entire portfolio of core brands, including Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Barbie, Mattel Games, and Fisher-Price.

In addition to existing characters and content, the extension includes Mattel’s rights to produce toys based on future DC Comics films, animation, and TV projects that are developed and produced during the term of the agreement. Mattel is set to develop toy lines for two of Warner Bros.’ most highly anticipated theatrical releases: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is set for a summer 2016 release, and the recently announced Justice League film to follow. [Read more...]

Richard Dickson Appointed Chief Brands Officer for Mattel

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. has created a new, unified marketing and creative division to span the company’s global portfolio of consumer brands. To lead this new global brand team, the company has tapped Richard Dickson to be its chief brands officer, with responsibility for growing and strengthening the company’s portfolio of beloved brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.

Dickson will oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution, product development, and content creation across Mattel’s legacy and new brands, and will be responsible for driving innovation throughout the portfolio. He will report directly to Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton and will serve as a member of the company’s executive leadership team. [Read more...]

The Prettie Girls! from One World Doll Project Embraces a Multicultural World

OneWorldDolls-Group Prettie GirlsKids are easily influenced at a young age from the world around them, the people they interact with, and even the toys they play with. For young girls especially, something as simple as a doll can change the way they perceive themselves. One company’s solution is to make a positive impact through the doll category.

Trent. T. Daniel founded the One World Doll Project in 2010 with Stacey McBride-Irby, who began working for the company in February 2011. The company was established to bring multicultural dolls, products, and toys into the marketplace through the creation of The Prettie Girls! dolls.

“The days of there being this one prototype for the female figure–the blonde hair, blue eyes, and thin waist–is not a realistic representation of what our kids are seeing every day in their schools and mainstream America,” Daniel said.

The goal of the company is to create a line of products that represents true diversity in the melting pot society that the world is today. According to Daniel, the perfect place to start was with the development of a line of dolls that addresses and understands a certain market. [Read more...]

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Mattel Bring Barbie to the Big Screen

barbie-logoSony Pictures Entertainment, Mattel, and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation have partnered on a live-action comedy based on the iconic Barbie doll. The film will go into production at the end of this year. In her live-action big screen debut, Barbie will be shown inhabiting many of the 150 roles she has played throughout the franchise’s more than 50-year history, including a mermaid, a movie star, and the president.

The project marks the second collaboration between Sony Pictures and Mattel, which are currently developing a film adaptation of Masters of the Universe, based on Mattel’s popular action figures. The live-action Barbie film will be written by Jenny Bicks, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and executive produced by Parkes+MacDonald’s president Marc Resteghini alongside Julia Pistor, who will executive produce for Mattel’s Playground Productions.

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: Not a Barbie Girl!

Barbie just celebrated her 55th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, made a splash on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Wearing a skimpy, and quite-controversial, neutral-toned swimsuit, Barbie caused quite a stir. Many argue that it may be time for Barbie to finally step down as the queen of the children’s doll world. Nickolay Lamm, creator of the new Lammily doll, would certainly agree that there is a new girl in town: the “average is beautiful”-promoting Lammily doll.

Lamm claims that Lammily is the world’s first normal-sized doll. Last year, Lamm designed images of what he dubbed, “normal Barbie,” in an attempt to make the doll reflect the proportions of real female bodies. He used the measurements of the average 19-year-old woman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and molded them into a 3-D model of Barbie.

lammilyBarbie’s unrealistic proportions have long been criticized by feminist campaigns. Although her waist was expanded and her bust made smaller in 1998, her figure remains significantly out of proportion and unrealistic for the average teenager. Studies show that if transformed into a real woman, Barbie’s 16-inch waist would be four inches thinner than her head. She would be required to walk on her hands and feet, as her 6-inch ankles and vast, missing areas of body would not be able to hold her upright. Studies also show that body image issues in young girls may be related, in part, to Barbie and dolls of the like, and that more than 50 percent of girls ages 9 to 10 claim to be, “on a diet.” This is deeply unsettling, and it seems that while no one thing can be blamed for this warped sense of body image in young girls, Barbie’s unrealistic figure can’t be helping.

Lammily represents something new. [Read more...]