Warner Bros. Consumer Products Brings Godzilla-Sized List of Licensees to Toy Fair

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) enters this year’s American International Toy Fair with an extensive lineup of global licensees in support of its entertainment properties, milestone anniversaries, and upcoming theatrical releases.

Bandai America Inc. and Jakks Pacific Inc. will each support Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, with new toy lines. Jakks’ line of Godzilla products will include an Ultimate Large Scale Godzilla Figure with 12 points of articulation and a length of over 43 inches, making it one of the largest toys in Godzilla history. Other worldwide partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., NECA, and Sideshow Collectibles.

WBCP’s toy partners will also release toys and collectibles based on The Hobbit Trilogy. The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will support the film series with new figures. Additional partners include Eaglemoss, Funko, Kosmos, and Ravensburger.

The Wizard of Oz will celebrate its 75th anniversary with Mattel‘s new line of dolls for The Wizard of Oz Barbie collection. Enesco, Tonner Doll, and Madame Alexander will each offer collectible figures. Warner Bros. will also continue its There’s No Place Like Home campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Gone with the Wind will also mark its 75th anniversary with new collectible figures from Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll. Mattel will offer an anniversary Barbie collection and Enesco will introduce a stone resin figure. [Read more...]

Barbie Goes Mermaid in Upcoming Video Release

Barbie.ThePearlPrincessThe latest movie featuring Barbie is set for home video release next March. In Barbie: The Pearl Princess, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, the famous fashion doll from Mattel stars as Lumina, a mermaid who dreams of being a princess.

As long as Lumina can remember, she’s had the magical power to make pearls dance and glow. Along with her best friend Kuda, a pink seahorse, she embarks on an adventure to a mer-kingdom, where Lumina uses her powers to help her friends prepare for the Royal Ball—and to unlock her true destiny.

Barbie: The Pearl Princess will be released on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on March 11.

Mattel’s Fourth Annual 12 Days of Play Program Impacts More Than 100,000 Children

MattelChildrenFoundationMattel has started its fourth annual global Mattel 12 Days of Play program, a series of holiday-themed philanthropic events that will give the gift of play to more than 100,000 children in more than 30 countries. Mattel 12 Days of Play brings Mattel employees together to impact the lives of children at underserved schools, hospitals, food banks, orphanages, and other community organizations around the world with a variety of play, toys, and fun activities.

In the Los Angeles area alone, more than 2,000 volunteers are joining children at inner-city elementary schools and the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Working with its signature partner Playworks, as well as LA’s Best and other local organizations, Mattel will create a total of eight Winter Wonderlands. The play areas have approximately 400 tons of snow combined, where an estimate of 5,000 kids ages 6 to 11 can play.

These events feature real falling snow and activities such as sledding, ice skating, racing Hot Wheels cars down a 40-foot track, photo opportunities with real-life Barbie, a chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and plenty of toys. On December 5, Mattel’s global headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. was covered in more than 100 tons of snow and real flakes fell from the sky. Kids were also able to sled down three tracks and drive Power Wheels through an obstacle course. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

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The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]

NPD: Fashion Dolls Still in Fashion for the Holidays

According to retail sales data from The NPD Group, year to date through October, the doll category is entering the holiday season with dollar sales up 1 percent compared to year ago. The Fashion Themed Dolls segment is the main driver of this growth with year-over-year sales growth of 6 percent through October.

This increase is due not only to several new brands such as My Little Pony Equestria Girls and Sofia The First, but also growth in some of last year’s more popular brands, including Monster High, Doc McStuffins, and Lalaloopsy.

Within dolls, other subclasses that have experienced strong growth are Fashion Styling & Dressup and Fashion Themed Clothes, which include items such as Monster High Fashion Sets and Barbie Ultimate Closet.

The following lists the Top 15 Fashion Doll items for the last 13 weeks ending November 9, ranked on dollar sales and in alphabetical order:

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: 1996: The Best Christmas Ever

1996. It was the year of the New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the year of Jerry Maguire and the Macarena. It was the year of Bill Clinton’s reelection. But most importantly, 1996 marked the best Christmas ever, with toy companies cranking out some of kids’ favorite toys of all time.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime KidWho could forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls, from Mattel? Those pudgy-faced, yarn-haired little cuties each had a motorized mouth, and kids could feed their doll a french fry, a pretzel stick, a banana, and other yummy snacks. This was one of the toys my mom admits to pushing other moms out of the way for at Toys “R” Us on Black Friday morning. The food, which the dolls realistically chewed when kids inserted it into their mouths, fell into a backpack on the doll’s back, so kids could feed them over and over again. Of course, this beacon of glory was shortly recalled after the holiday season, as kids were getting their hair, skin, and fingers stuck in the doll’s mouth (as you can imagine, this resulted in many unhappy parents and kids with bald spots). While I made sure my hair was secured tightly in a ponytail while playing, my Snacktime Kid remained one of my favorite toys through ’97.

[Read more...]

The Toy Book Chats with Sherry Gunther-Shugarman, CEO, Popstar Club

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Sherry Gunther-Shugarman, CEO of Popstar Club, which is the manufacturer of the fresh, new doll line, The Beatrix Girls. Sherry gave me an overview of what makes her doll line so unique, and why girls are going to be clamoring for them this holiday season.

SherryGunther.BeatrixCEO

 

Where did you get the idea for Beatrix Girls?

The Beatrix Girls came out of the idea of tying music and dolls together. Ultimately the approach to this was to create a multiplatform brand that really reaches kids everywhere that they are, recognizing that kids are not just watching TV and they’re not just playing with dolls or toys, they’re not just online playing games or being social, they’re doing all of the above. A forward-thinking property really needed to have presence in all of those mediums and to have an integration between all of those formats ingrained in its DNA.

The webisodes are done in a very unique way. How did you come about using that style?

It’s interesting because the natural for me was to go with animation as I spent over 20 years in animation, but there were a lot of things that attracted me to doing it this way, creating webisodes that have the dolls featured interacting in real life. It comes out of the fact that the concept itself has the girls as real. So they’re real and they interact in our world. They’re a real pop star band, we9’re creating real music, not composed music like we would for a toy property or an animated show, but real, credible, pop music written by a platinum-winning writer/producer, mixed by a Grammy-winning engineer, so this is really relevant, today, great music and so we really want to sell them as true pop stars.

Animation oftentimes, especially when doing them based on a product or especially dolls, skews a little bit younger, and we really wanted to have the cool factor and have these be edgier. The medium that we used felt so much more current and fresh and innovative and YouTube generation-like and it felt much more fitting to the brand itself. It gives the dolls the credibility of being real in our world. They have a real human manager, they perform in real venues, so it allows us to play up that real factor for them. And then the scale gives us a lot of humor opportunities for 12-inch dolls interacting in a life-size world.

The really nice side effect that we found is that girls are really responding to the fact that they can relate to the way it was done because it was shot on purpose with hands showing and manipulating the dolls. The idea was that kids could really relate to it and feel like I can do that, I can get four dolls and with my friends create a scene and a scenario.

 

For some reason it reminds me of Mr. Bill, the old SNL skit.

That’s kind of what we were going for. We were going for rather than just sort of just straight, weak, almost too young-skewing animation. We wanted it to be edgier and quirky and fun and hilarious and this medium allowed us to do that, to have that feel to it.

[Read more...]

Mattel Launches First Multi-Brand Hispanic Integrated Campaign

logo_Mattel logoIn preparation for the holidays, Mattel Inc. has launched its first ever Spanish-language multi-brand marketing campaign, toy feliz. Already live in Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami, this Hispanic-oriented effort spans multi-media marketing platforms and key brands, including Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, and Barbie.

The campaign includes TV and radio advertising on Univision, a retail partnership with Walmart, a bilingual website, geo-targeted coupons, and printed advertising inserts in participating markets. Mattel has even partnered with Padres Contra El Cáncer to help in the non-profit’s mission to provide emotional and financial support, as well as bilingual health education, to children with cancer and their families. As part of the partnership, Mattel is sponsoring Padres’ annual holiday parties, which provide families who have a child undergoing treatment with the opportunity to enjoy the holidays in a fun-filled and safe environment. Mattel will also make donations to Padres families at local Los Angeles and Miami hospitals.

Mattel Launches Playground Productions Creative Storytelling Division

Mattel.PlaygroundMattel Inc. has announced the formation of Playground Productions, a new division within the Mattel Global Brands group dedicated to the creation and development of strategic multiplatform storytelling. Playground Productions will drive creative storytelling across all Mattel brands, including Barbie, Monster High, and Max Steel, along with the development and launch of the new animation Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome debuting next year.

Playground Productions has brought on Mercury Filmworks for the project in a story that delivers new Hot Wheels thrills in three formats including a 22-minute origin story for spring, 11 humorous two-minute action-packed shorts for the summer, and a 74-minute direct-to-video movie for the fall.

Additionally, Playground Productions will manage and provide creative direction for the recently announced live-action feature film for Max Steel. In co-development with Dolphin Films, the movie will have a wide release in theaters next year. The division is also partnering with Columbia Pictures on an upcoming Masters of the Universe theatrical project.