China Toy Fair


TinkerBots Launches New Robot-Building Construction Line

TinkerBotsTinkerBots is a building set that enables kids ages 5 and up to create an endless number of toy robots without wiring or programming. The set includes “Power Brain” and kinetic modules, which easily twist and snap together along with other TinkerBots pieces, adding movement and interest to whatever robot is built.

TinkerBots is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to offer parents the opportunity to pre-order a TinkerBots robot building set, and to support the production of a toy that introduces robotics and STEM concepts to kids in the form of play. The toys are expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Inside the Mega Bloks Factory, Where Innovation Is Their Building Block

March19.MegaBloksFactoryThere’s been a trend of late among North American toy manufacturers to either move manufacturing back home or to stay put entirely. Recently, I had a chance to visit the Mega Bloks factory in Montreal, where Mega Bloks—the signature toys of Mega Brands Inc.—are produced, and it only strengthens the argument not to export toy-making abroad. Jean-Francois Albert, vice president of manufacturing for the company, offered a guided tour that showed off the facility’s various innovations, which keep it cost-effective, even compared to China and other countries that traditionally offer cheap labor. [Read more...]

Young Builders, Make Way for Modular Toys USA!

Modular Toys.Racetrack_piecesModular Construction Toys, the Israeli-based manufacturer of Modular Toys construction sets, is bringing its product line to U.S. specialty retailers with Modular Toys USA. More than 125 stores across the country are already stocking the company’s construction sets, and the expansion includes racetracks, as well as locomotive construction and building sets. These toys are suitable for kids age 4 to 8.

Modular Toys’ sets are designed to grow vertically through the use of included elevation pieces. No sorting needs to take place, since the innovative connector pieces let children mix and match different sets. This season’s new additions include the Mega Racetrack, which includes nine construction pieces, three cars, and a sturdy plastic storage bin for clean-up and organization; and the [Read more...]

Mattel to Acquire Mega Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. and Mega Brands Inc. have signed a definitive agreement for Mattel’s acquisition, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., of Mega Brands for $460 million.

The acquisition advances Mattel’s global growth strategy of building upon its world-class portfolio of brands by expanding into two of the fastest-growing toy categories. Mega Brands is the No. 2 player in the $4 billion construction building sets category with its Mega Bloks brand, as well as a competitor in the $2 billion arts and crafts category.

mega brands logoMattel’s portfolio of brands will complement Mega Brands’ flagship Mega Bloks brand and existing licensed brands, including Halo, Skylanders, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The acquisition will give Mattel the opportunity to broaden its relationship with its entertainment partners.

Mega Brands ranks among the top 15 toy companies globally in terms of sales, according to statistics published by The NPD Group last year. Additionally, the company achieved record sales of preschool construction toys. [Read more...]

Lego Mixels Mix Things Up

Jan29.MixelsLego Mixels is a new series of buildable toys that create fun collectible characters that leverage the versatility and creativity of the Lego building system. Mixels are colorful creatures that belong to different tribes, each based around a unique element. Set to debut in stores on March 1, Lego Mixels are batched in tribes, such as Frosticons, Infernites, Stretchers, Cragsters, Electroids, and the Fang Gang. Kids will be able to mix and combine the Lego Mixels using the mysterious Cubits, resulting in new characters and further immersion in the Mixels universe.

The Mixels franchise will also debut on multiple screens and digital platforms next month.

Spin Master Launches Tenkai Knights by Ionix Toy Line

Tenkai WorldSpin Master Ltd. has launched the Tenkai Knights toy line. Tenkai Knights is the first franchise to launch under the Ionix construction brand, a revolutionary new construction system featuring shape-shifting building bricks. Ionix bricks are fully compatible with other construction sets, which allows kids to build whatever their imagination can create. Tenkai Knights by Ionix is available at Toys “R” Us and Target, and will be available at Walmart on December 1.

Kids of all ages will be able to bring the Tenkai Knight’s world to life by unleashing the Tenkai power inside each unique construction brick. The building bricks are packed with surprises and infused with a special kind of shape-shifting Ionix magic that will allow kids worldwide to experience classic construction play in a brand new way. The toys bring the characters and the world of the Tenkai Knights animated TV series to life.

The Tenkai Knights TV Show, which airs Saturday mornings on Cartoon Network, is a U.S. and Japanese co-production.  The Spin Master entertainment team worked with production company, Shogakukan-Shueisha (ShoPro), to create the series.  Tenkai Knights has a unique style, mixing traditional 2-D animation with CGI, creating a distinct look that separates Tenkai Knights from other series.

Kids Preferred Introduces New Buildex Wooden Construction Toys

image2In celebration of 10 years of play, Kids Preferred has introduced Buildex wooden construction toys, which introduce a world of adventure in the form of cars and vehicles. Developed in conjunction with Chelona Wooden World, these toys are designed to encourage the development of 3-D thinking and an appreciation for construction, movement, and design.

The collection utilizes a construction system that allows for safe assembly and play. Featuring a patent pending Grid-Lock system, the cars and vehicles are made with natural suspension and have functional steering.

The Speed Machines collection from Buildex includes The Road Glider and Speed Drifter Street Bikes, The Blaze Racer, The Buildex Speed Buster, The Fire Blaster fire truck, and the Rail Runner high-speed train.

Mega Bloks, Activision Introduce New Call of Duty Collector Construction Sets

MegaBloks.CallofDutyMega Brands Inc. and Activision Publishing Inc. have introduced a new premium line of Mega Bloks Collector Construction Sets, based on the Call of Duty franchise. The new line brings a level of sophistication and detail never before seen in the highly collectible construction category.

Call of Duty Collector Construction Sets are part of a multi-year, global license with Activision that expands upon the two companies’ development of innovative, creative, and entertaining construction collectibles. The sets offer a range that includes buildable vehicles, themed locations, and collectible micro action figures. The action figures feature a level of articulation that includes unique joint design and poseability.

Laser Pegs Introduces Zippy Do

ZippydoZippy Do is the newest creation from Laser Pegs. The Zippy Do comes packaged as a car, but it can also be transformed into a helicopter or jet plane. Kids can also convert the Zippy Do packaging into a ramp and launch their new jet, helicopter, or car into the sky or along an imaginary racetrack.

Zippy Do comes with a light-up core that also has the capability to be set on flash mode, and comes with three batteries, instruction manuals for creating each model, and 22 different colored pieces that are interchangeable and 100 percent compatible with other construction toy sets. Children can follow the manuals or they can create something only they can dream up.

After the child has finished their creation, they can take a picture and upload it to the Laser Pegs website to be entered to win free Laser Pegs toys. Parents ands kids can also download the Zippy Do app for iPad and Android on the website. In the app, kids can choose between a virtual Zippy Do car, jet, or helicopter and race against time to record the fastest speed.

Zippy Do is suggested for kids ages 3 and up.

COMMENTARY: Shaping Moral Values Through Play

Photographer Dennis Di Laura Stylist Xu Job# 1249680A retouch: Peter Kaye

Toys are so much more than just playthings. All children learn through play, and aside from basic skill building, toys can teach kids moral values and help them enhance and embrace their individuality. Being “different” is often shunned at the grade school level, especially with increased bullying in schools and on the Internet. Kids need to learn how to love what makes them unique and build their self-esteem, and there are many toys on the market that help them do exactly that.

Consumers are often critical of Barbie, from Mattel, arguing that her appearance is unrealistic and leads girls to feel self-conscious about their less-than perfect bodies. However, let’s not forget that first and foremost, Barbie teaches girls that they can be anything they want, including a chef, a scientist, a doctor, and a veterinarian. Though she may love her mascara, she is a power woman at heart and she gives kids the confidence they need to pursue their dreams. In the July/August edition of The Toy Book, we featured dolls of all shapes and sizes, and many of them teach kids important moral values, including nurturing techniques, celebration of individuality, and the importance of environmental conservation. Check out the full dolls showcase on page 31.

[Read more...]