Mega Brands Partners with UP&L for Despicable Me Building Sets

DespicableMe.MegaBloksOn Tuesday, Mega Brands Inc. entered a multi-year international licensing partnership with Universal Partnerships & Licensing (UP&L) to develop a new kids construction line based on the Despicable Me franchise from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment.

Due in stores this December, the Mega Bloks Despicable Me construction sets will offer fully buildable characters, locations, and vehicles inspired by Despicable Me 2. The line’s customizable construction sets will include mix-and-match features, such as interchangeable accessories. In addition, each set will feature buildable Minions that are unique to the set, for a variety of Minions to collect, build, and play with.

To launch the line, seven fans will participate in the #MinionMontage Challenge on social media. Fans can visit the Mega Bloks Facebook page to see highlights.

The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]

Major Toy Retailers Welcome Shoppers on Thanksgiving with Black Friday Deals

ToysRUsLogo copyThis Thanksgiving, Toys “R” Us nationwide stores will open at 5 p.m. on November 28, so parents and gift-givers can get a head start on their holiday shopping. Promotions include four-hour deals, as well as Thursday through Sunday discounts on toys, games, and tablets.

Shoppers can plan their strategies as early as November 24 on the Toys “R” Us Facebook page, and a 28-page circular is set to arrive in newspapers across the country on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, for the first time, customers can shop the majority of Thanksgiving weekend deals online at toysrus.com/blackfriday starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

Those shoppers who spend $75 or more between November 28 and 29, at Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us, will receive a $10 redeemable coupon that’s valid in-store or online between December 1 through December 7. [Read more...]

MBE Releases Despicable Me 2 Toys in India

Despicable Me 2 Toy RangeMy Baby Excels (MBE), along with Thinkway Toys, released a new line of toys in India, based on the characters of Despicable Me 2. The toy range includes interactive figures like Gru, Agnes, and the yellow minions Stuart and Dave. All the toys are suitable for kids ages 4 and up, and are available at leading retail stores like Hamley’s, Landmark, Shopper Stop, Lifestyle among others as well as on the leading E-commerce websites like Flipkart.com

COMMENTARY: Despicable Me 2: An Instant Feel-Good Favorite

DM2 LogoDespicable Me 2 explores all kinds of love: Father-daughter love, admiration for a co-worker, new love, puppy love, motherly love, male camaraderie, and, of course, Minion love. A fun flick for the whole family, the sequel to the 2010 hit is a heart-warming 98 minutes full of life lessons, slapstick, and downright adorableness.

Former super-villian Gru (Steve Carell) has given up the good (bad) life for his three little girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). Moving on from his evil days, he decides to explore the wonders of jam and jelly making and small business. However, his evil roots catch up to him soon enough and he is enlisted by the Anti Villian League (AVL). Together with his AVL partner, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), Gru goes undercover to apprehend a dangerous transmutation formula, which the AVL fears has fallen into the wrong hands. With a few likely suspects easily identified, Gru and Lucy embark on their mission to save the world.

Growing from the first film, Gru is now faced with all of the joys of fatherhood, including dressing up like a Fairy Princess, aiding in performance rehearsals, and steering love-sick boys away from his daughter’s direction. Though, he may appear to have become a bit love-sick himself. No longer orphans, the girls have clearly acclimated to their life with Gru as their dad, but they are eager for Gru to find love, and simultaneously, a mother figure. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: The Best of Both Worlds

My fondest childhood memories always involve some sort of book. Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and the Baby-Sitters Club series played a huge role in my adolescence, and I still feel the pang of sweet nostalgia when I see these titles today. Part of my job is to round up toys, mobile apps, games, music, and books to feature in Toy Insider, but in recent months I find myself frantically searching for books to include while games, toys, and especially apps appear in abundance. I am a bit resistant to change, as I still prefer to hold a book in my hand to a Kindle or Nook, so the decline of printed books had me bogged down a bit. As I began searching for books to feature, I realized that reading is reading, and anything that brings a child to find his or her inner bibliophile is A-OK with me. There are so many new platforms for reading that don’t leave out books but take them to a new level, and we have to keep up!

8341295_0_9999_med_v1_m56577569853114439I am fascinated by the LeapReader Read & Write System by LeapFrog. This company is known for its kid-friendly tablets, but this new product has the coolest gadgets and gizmos that should make any child excited about story time. Starting with the very basics, the LeapReader Read & Write books will help your child learn to read and write by sounding out words and guiding letter strokes interactively. The set includes the LeapReader Reading and Writing System, an activity sampler book, one learning paper writing sheet, and free downloads of one audio book bundle, one music album, and one trivia fun pack. I think the coolest part is that interactive handwriting guidance helps children learn to write stroke-by-stroke on mess-free, no ink LeapFrog learning paper—which is also ecofriendly! There are more than 150 books and audiobooks available to add to the set, of which my personal favorite is Learn to Write Letters with Mr. Pencil. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: This Summer’s Cinema Gets Cuddly

With the release of The Smurfs 2, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University this summer, the movie theater will be a great destination for rainy days – and those days that are just too hot. With summer blockbusters come, of course, summer toys based on these movies to bring the movie worlds to life for fans. When it comes down to it, some of the best toys from these franchises are the simplest: plush toys. Plush toys allow kids to bring home new friends in cuddly, soft versions of their favorite characters. Bring the movie characters to life with these great plush products from your favorite summer movie:

54008Smurfs_Movie_Basic_Plush_SmurfetteJakks Pacific will introduce a line of 11-inch plush based on the characters from The Smurfs 2. With 12 characters to collect, kids can bring home their favorite friends from Smurfette to Grouchy to Papa Smurf. These Smurf plush toys aren’t just for fans of the new movie, but also for Smurf fans of all ages. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Becomes Ultimate Despicable Me 2 Destination

2012-12-10 125Toys inspired by the highly anticipated 3-D, CG-animated, comedy-adventure film Despicable Me 2from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, have made their debut at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com. Through May, Toys “R” Us is the only U.S. retailer to offer an all-new line of toys based on the movie, making it the ultimate Despicable Me 2 destination. Fans eager to get their hands on action and interactive figures, plush, games and more, can find them all at Toys “R” Us.

The movie, which arrives in theaters on July 3, is the sequel to the 2010 Despicable Me, which became the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. Despicable Me 2 sees the return of super-villain Gru and his arsenal of gadgets and gizmos, his adorable girls, and the unpredictably hilarious Minions.

[Read more...]