littleBits Raises $44.2M in New Funding and Expands Its Executive Team

littleBits1littleBits Electronics Inc. has landed $44.2 million in new funding to further its growth. The additional funding round was led by DFJ Growth, with additional participation from new investors Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Grishin Robotics, and Wamda Capital, among others.

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Barnes & Noble Throws the Book at Toy Retail

This article first appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of The Toy Book.

Science CenterThe great American bookstore has made room for a great American toy store.

Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookseller in the U.S., with nearly 650 stores nationwide, as well as a thriving web presence. But in recent years, the bookstore chain has also been expanding its non-book offerings, balancing out shelves of New York Times bestsellers with educational toys, games, and collectibles.

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Alex Brands Buys French Toymaker Juratoys

AlexBrandsAlex Brands has acquired French toymaker Juratoys, marking the toy company’s first move into Europe. Juratoys, the parent company of European toy brands Janod and Kaloo, is based in Orgelet, France, and has offices in the U.K., the U.S., Hong Kong, and China. The news was reported by Propel Equity Partners, which backs Alex Brands.

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YOXO Arrives in Select Target, Barnes & Noble, and Specialty Retailers across the U.S.

YOXOSpecialty retailers and select Target and Barnes & Noble stores have begun stocking their shelves with YOXO, a construction brand known for encouraging creativity in kids. The construction kits incorporate durable, recyclable, and interchangeable chipboard connectors in Y, O, and X shapes for kids to construct infinite creations powered by their brains and not batteries.
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Registration Open for TIA’s Toy Fair Credit Meeting

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoRegistration is open for the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) annual Toy Fair Credit Meeting, scheduled to take place on February 17 at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel in New York City.

An exclusive forum for TIA member manufacturers, the Toy Fair Credit Meeting offers trade information and educational and networking opportunities for credit, finance, and operations professionals. Through discussions and workshops, industry experts, major retailers, and fellow participants of the TIA Credit Interchange program will share knowledge from across the toy industry. [Read more...]

Barnes & Noble Kicks Off Holiday Shopping Season with Discovery Weekend

Barnes & Noble will host a Discovery Weekend, a three-day event to kick off the holiday shopping season, to launch in all stores nationwide from November 21 through November 23. The event will build on the company’s first-ever Discovery Friday last year, and the expanded program will begin one week before Black Friday. The weekend will feature family-friendly events, interactive activities, Storytime events, and book signings and appearances by more than 100 bestselling authors and personalities like Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” and actress Evangeline Lilly.

Throughout the weekend, customers will receive promotions, special discounts, and Nook offers. For the first time, Barnes & Noble will provide customized gift ideas to holiday shoppers on Twitter using the hashtag #BNGiftTip through December 23.

Events taking place at Barnes & Noble stores across the country include a Linkee Trivia Tournament on November 21; transforming a book or card using the ArtFolds technique; learning how to draw like Mo Willems, puppet-making and holiday sing-along, and a Fluxx game night on November 22; and storytime, crafts, and activities on November 23.

Barnes & Noble will also be hosting giveaways during Discovery Weekend. Customers can visit the Nook counter to demonstrate the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. Guests will be able to enter to win a trip for two to New York City and a $1,000 Barnes & Noble Gift Card to meet, greet, and shop with Nick Jonas. Also, shoppers will be encouraged to wear their Most Outrageous Holiday Sweaters to wear at local Barnes & Noble Stores. If shoppers post a photo of their outfit on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #BNSweaterContest, they will enter to win one of three grand prizes.

Children of Soldiers and Wounded Warriors Get New Toys from TIF and BGCA

toyindustryMore than 1,700 children of military personnel and Wounded Warriors were given brand-new toys and games on November 6 at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va. Hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services, the toy giveaway was held in celebration of Military Family Appreciation Month.

Every child in attendance got to take home a toy, choosing from a selection of skill-building, enriching, and comforting playthings donated by Barnes & Noble, Big Time Toys, Imperial Toy, Lego, Mattel, Patch Products, and Yamie Chess. The event was held as part of the joint TIF/BGCA Play Comforts program, in which toys and games are delivered on an annual basis to families on U.S. military installations at home and abroad.

Entertainment One Launches Peppa Pig Magazine, Expands U.S. Toy Program

PeppaPigMagEntertainment One Licensing (eOne Licensing) has partnered with Redan Publishing Inc. for a bi-monthly publication based on Peppa Pig. Fun To Learn Peppa Pig Magazine will launch this month at major retailers throughout the U.S., including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Kroger.

Based on the animated TV show airing daily on Nick Jr., Fun To Learn Peppa Pig Magazine, for children ages 2 to 7, showcases the adventurous and loveable little pig along with her brother George, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig. Every issue will feature 36 pages of Peppa-themed activities designed to reinforce early learning skills as well as fun and inventive crafts projects, puzzles, product giveaways, and more.

In addition, a host of new licensed products are slated to make their retail debut in the spring. Better Toyz will offer a range of licensed sporting goods, including ball pits and tents, play balls, skates, scooters, kiddie pools, and skateboards. Fiesta Toys will produce an assortment of Peppa Pig plush and toys for the amusement park channel, from plush novelty hats and peek-a-boo pillows to Rolley bags and backpacks.

Barnes & Noble Partners with Rovio for Exclusive Angry Birds Stella Preview

June4.ABStella-300x186 copyNook Media, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble Inc., together with Rovio will make the upcoming Angry Birds Stella game available for fans to preview exclusively at Barnes & Noble stores from today to September 3. Angry Birds fans and Barnes & Noble customers can visit the Nook counter at any store nationwide to play the game on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook in-store demo devices.

Angry Birds Stella will launch on September 4 across all major platforms.

Barnes & Noble Celebrates Pop Culture in Stores This Summer

Barnes & Noble will bring pop culture favorite books, comics, superheroes, and television shows to life in stores nationwide from July 18 through August 10. The Get Pop Cultured with Barnes & Noble series of themed events will feature panel discussions, contests, exclusive content, giveaways and prizes, sneak peeks, activities, and more featuring popular characters, DVDs, artists, illustrators, and pop culture icons.

The campaign will highlight the influence that books, graphic novels, movies, TV shows, music, toys, games, and collectibles have on culture. Get Pop Cultured with Barnes & Noble will kick off with a preview weekend and costume contest from July 18 to 20. All Barnes & Noble stores will have limited quantities of free, never-before-seen samplers of upcoming releases, posters, and digital downloads during Preview Weekend. Other events include Batman Day on July 23, where all Barnes & Noble stores nationwide will sell exclusive merchandise; the DC Comics Spectacular from July 23 to July 27, which will offer fans a chance to celebrate DC Comics with activities, special giveaways, and a limited time offer on graphic novels; a sing-along and story time event, Frozen Friday: Cool Off with Olaf! on August 1; Marvel Day on August 2, which will feature Marvel Comics-themed activities, giveaways, and product offerings; and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jr. Ninja Training Academy Event, which will include activities, crafts, and a Ninja training event.

There will also be special guests such as Grumpy Cat, Christopher Paolini, and various authors.