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.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 10.45.00 AM

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...]

COMMENTARY: Will Black Friday Need to Be Rebranded?

by David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC

The Christmas holidays and toys are synonymous. Indeed, toys and the Christmas season are a tradition. Another holiday tradition is Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Yet over the past several years, Black Friday has started to lose its meaning with retailers pushing opening hours ever earlier. Now many retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day, and pushing the envelope to see how early they can open on that holiday. This is an attempt in some aspects to rebrand the holiday shopping season and establish Thanksgiving Day as the start of the traditional shopping season. Retailers are stating that they are responding to consumer demand; yet surveys show that 87 percent of Americans are opposed to retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day (even though they frequent the stores).

So what would be a smart strategy for the toy industry as this happens? Should toy stores open on Thanksgiving? Should toymakers make a strong push for Thanksgiving Day sales? Is Black Friday over and should everyone jump on the Thanksgiving Day bandwagon? The answer to these questions is a resounding no. [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...]

Cupcake Digital Develops Yo Gabba Gabba! App Series for Preschoolers

yogabbagabba

DHX Media has selected Cupcake Digital Inc. to develop a new series of kids’ apps featuring the characters from Yo Gabba Gabba!. Cupcake Digital will create deluxe activity apps designed for kids ages 5 and under.

The first Cupcake Digital Yo Gabba Gabba! app will launch this winter, as part of DHX Media’s comprehensive Yo Gabba Gabba! marketing and licensing strategy, which kicks off with the first live holiday tour and A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Christmas DVD, featuring two original episodes, “A Very Awesome Christmas Special” and “Christmas.”

The app is inspired by the tune “There’s a Party in My Tummy.” The app will feature DJ Lance Rock and Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex, and Toodee. The activities within the app offer a variety of creative and imaginative ways for kids to learn about healthy foods and encourage kids to try them. The app will be available day-and-date on iTunes, AmazonGoogle Play, and the Barnes & Noble for Nook store.

More Microbes Are Coming

Microbes Stocking Box

GIANTmicrobes, Inc. is releasing its latest set of collectible microscopic toys, the Stocking Box, November 1.

Joining last year’s Tree Box, the Stocking Box will include five ornaments: Dust Mite with antlers and a red nose, Red Blood Cell sprinkled with snowflakes, Salmonella decked out with festive holly, Penicillin decorated with colorful ornaments, and an exclusive Green Amoeba bundled up in a red scarf and ear muffs. These educational holiday toys are modeled after actual microscopic organisms, and blown up a million times their actual size.

[Read more...]

From Factory to Shelf: An Inside Look at Target’s Holiday Toy Merchandising Strategies

Walking into the toy section of a store like Target during the holiday season can be overwhelming for shoppers, who are faced with toy aisle upon toy aisle of great products to choose from. Thousands of additional products can be found online. Those that make it onto store shelves during the season are often thought of as the crème de la crème, and being chosen for Target’s shelves can bring tremendous success to a toy manufacturer.

Stephanie Lucy, Target’s vice president of merchandising, chats with Elizabeth A. Reid of The Toy Book to talk about holiday merchandising strategies, how it makes its toy selections, and what Target is doing to become a top destination for holiday shopping.

The Toy Book: Let’s paint a picture of how great toys get to Target. How far in advance do you plan for each holiday season?

Stephanie Lucy: We actually start looking for content for the holiday season in September or October the year before. For example, we are going to market right now to look for products for next holiday season.

TB: So, how do you pick the toys? When you are at market, what do you look for?

SL: First of all, it starts with us evaluating what is currently working at Target—what’s selling and what’s not—and ensuring that we understand what the guest is interested in. Beyond that, it really is strong partnerships with our vendors. We do business with the largest toy manufacturers around the world. So, it’s sitting down with them and understanding what they believe the hottest toys are going to be, and what they believe content should look like for the year to come.

[Read more...]

The Toy Insider’s Hot 20 Toys for the Holidays

Have you seen The Toy Insider‘s Hot 20 toy picks for this holiday season? You can get a quick rundown by watching the video above, which shows some of the Hot 20 toys that are sure to be on kids’ wish lists this year.

For a full list of the Hot 20, click here.

The Toy Insider will also release an extended list of 110 toy recommendations for the holiday season in the November 17th issue of Woman’s Day, on newsstands November 1. Plus, even more recommendations will be posted on www.thetoyinsider.com.

For more information, visit www.thetoyinsider.com, follow @thetoyinsider on Twitter, or become a Fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/toyinsider. The holidays are approaching!

A Little “Magic Dust” Goes a Long Way

The Magical Tale of Santa Dust – A Christmas Tradition, written by Patricia Cardello, tells a tale of two small children who, on Christmas Eve, sit by their window eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa, only to be bypassed on his yearly journey.

The book is based on a tradition Cardello started with her children, then told to children in her neighborhood, and explains the common question of “How will Santa know where I live?” Each book is packaged with one pouch of “Santa Dust,” a magical potion used by children worldwide to help guide Santa and his reindeer to their door. Children sprinkle their Santa Dust, leave milk and cookies for Kris Kringle, and hope to awake to presents the next day.

The Magical Tale of Santa Dust is the first in a series of books written by Cardello, and is available for purchase at www.magicdusts.com.

Giantmicrobes Introduces Food Poisoning Plush, More for the Holidays

Ever wondered what food poisoning would look like in plush form? Well wonder no more, Giantmicrobes, Inc.—designers of collectible toys inspired by the microscopic world—is releasing new editions to its educational toy line.

The new products, like all Giantmicrobes products, includes the toy modeled on electron micrographs, enlarged a million times, and includes the micrograph image as well as information about the microbe it represents. The collection spans more than 100 microbes, including Common Cold, Brain Cells, Bed Bugs, and more.

On November 5, the company released Food Poisoning and Diarrhea, as well as Nibble the Bed Bug vinyl figure. Each vinyl figure comes with an animation flipbook and an action-pose sticker.

[Read more...]

Free Shipping Day to be Held on December 17

The third annual Free Shipping Day, created by Freeshipping.org, has been scheduled for December 17. Free Shipping Day is a one-day shopping event that allows consumers to browse merchants who will offer free shipping and guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. So far, said Freeshipping.org CEO Luke Knowles to InternetRetailer.com, 125 online merchants have signed up to participate this year. Knowles expects that more than 1,000 retailers will sign up for this year’s event. Last year, more than 750 merchants listed their free shipping offers on the website, and Knowles estimates that 35,000 purchases were made.

According to Knowles, any merchant can list its free shipping offer for free on Freeshippingday.com and all retailer logos will appear on the home page. For more information, visit www.freeshippingday.com.

Would you postpone your holiday shopping until December 17 to save on shipping?