China Toy Fair


Spirit Halloween to Host Annual Spirit of Children Program

SpiritofChildrenSpirit Halloween will continue its annual Spirit of Children program, which brings Halloween cheer and festivities to hospitalized children by hosting more than 84 events in conjunction with Child Life departments throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Special guests at select Spirit of Children parties will include Warner Brothers’ Batman, Saban‘s Power Rangers Super Megaforce; Nickelodeon‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer, and Bubble Guppies; DreamWorks Animation‘s Puss in Boots, Skipper from Penguins of Madagascar, and more.

This year, Spirit of Children’s goal is to raise $5.2 million—bringing its total contribution to more than $21 million donated since the program’s inception in 2006.

Shoppers can donate to the Spirit of Children program online or in a Spirit Halloween location. The funds raised will go to the location’s closest hospital. Spirit Halloween shoppers who make at least a $2 donation will receive a Spirit of Children bracelet.

All funds raised are donated to participating Child Life departments across North America and focus on the emotional and psychological well being of hospitalized children while doctors and nurses focus on their medical needs.

Out of the Blue Enterprises Acquires Colorforms

Out Of The Blue Enterprises.logoOut of the Blue Enterprises is planning an extensive new toy line, animated series, and digital apps based on its newly acquired legacy brand, Colorforms. New products in the line are expected to debut at retail next fall, based on popular brands including Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peter Rabbit, Pete the Cat, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Colorforms Brand LLC, the new division of Out of the Blue, is showcasing its new Colorforms toy line to retailers at the Fall Toy Preview in Dallas this week.

New Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet Available for Pre-Order

FireHDKidsOn Wednesday, Amazon introduced the Fire HD Kids Edition in both 6-inch and 7-inch tablet sizes. This children’s tablet comes with a two-year guarantee, as well as a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which provides access to books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games featuring characters such as Harry Potter, Lightning McQueen, Dora the Explorer, and more.

The Fire HD Kids Edition features a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, front- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Digital audio, and access to Amazon’s content ecosystem of more than 33 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, Android apps, and games. The Fire HD Kids Edition also comes with Amazon FreeTime, which offers parental controls that encourage learning before play and that help manage screen time.

The Fire HD Kids Edition is now available for pre-order and will start shipping in October.

Jeffrey Dunn Named President and CEO, Sesame Workshop

sesame-workshopVincent Mai, chairman of the board of trustees of Sesame Workshop, announced today the appointment of Jeffrey Dunn as president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, effective September 29. Dunn, formerly the president and CEO of Hit Entertainment, will succeed Mel Ming, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

Dunn currently serves as a 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University with a focus on media and education. Previously, he served as president and CEO of Hit Entertainment from 2008 until 2012. Before joining Hit, Dunn served as group COO of the Nickelodeon Networks group and the president of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises, where, among other things, he built Nickelodeon’s international networks business and oversaw the growth of Blue’s Clues, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dora the Explorer into three of the world’s largest licensed property brands.

Dora and Friends: Into the City! Debuts in Primetime this August

DAF_Group_ShotDora and Friends: Into the City! will premiere in primetime on Monday, August 18, at 8:00 p.m. on Nickelodeon. The half-hour series will regularly air on weekdays during Nickelodeon’s preschool block. The original Dora the Explorer series will continue to air.

The new series takes place in the fictional city of Playa Verde, where Dora and her new friends will go on adventures. It features an interactive curriculum focusing on community service, problem solving, emotional skills, the Spanish language, and Latino culture. Throughout her journeys, Dora will use the Map App on her smartphone and a magical charm bracelet to navigate the city and overcome obstacles. Her new group of friends includes Kate, an avid reader who is dramatic and artistic; Naiya, a smart girl who excels at math and science; Emma, a driven and accomplished musician; Alana, an athletic soccer player and animal lover; and Pablo, a smart, playful, energetic athlete and explorer. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Discover the World of Dora and Friends

dora-and-friends-about-the-show-mainImageKids’ favorite explorer Dora will introduce a whole new group of friends in this summer’s new Nickelodeon series Dora and Friends: Into the City. Friends Alana, Emma, Naiya, Kate, and Pablo will all be available in a product line developed by Fisher-Price. The line goes beyond traditional characters such as Boots, Perrito, and even that mischievous Swiper the Fox and brings kids a fresh range of all-new friends that Dora meets in the show’s beautiful pan-Latino metropolis, Playa Verde.

These new, friendly faces will be an instant hit among kids who can choose to collect all of the friends, or obsess over their favorites. I’m naturally drawn to red-headed characters, so I already know that Kate is definitely going to be my favorite—but I’ll give the others a chance to be my favorite, too. [Read more...]

Nickelodeon to Launch Nick Jr. App

March17.NickJrAppThe same Nickelodeon digital team that created the Nick App has developed the new Nick Jr. App, which will launch this spring. The app is designed specifically for preschoolers and will feature educational activities, a high level of interactivity, short-form video and curriculum-based content, and full-length on-demand episodes and live streaming of Nick Jr. with authentication.

The Nick Jr. App includes the television series Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies, PAW Patrol, Peter Rabbit, Wallykazam!, Go, Diego, Go!, Max & Ruby, The Fresh Beat Band, The Backyardigans, and Blues Clues.

The app will be available for the iPad at the App Store and will roll out on additional platforms in the coming months.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort Hosts Power Rangers Weekends in February

PowerRangersSuperMegaforceNickelodeon Suites Resort will host Power Rangers weekends with two Power Rangers Super Megaforce-themed celebrations on February 14 to 17 and February 21 to 23. These weekends include activities for guests such as a super-charged Power Rangers lunch, featuring training sessions with all five Power Rangers; up close and personal meet and greets; Power Rangers-themed activities and crafts; and a sneak peek screening of an all-new episode of Power Rangers Super Megaforce.

In addition to the Power Rangers, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be on-hand to celebrate these weekends with meet and greets, live shows, games, and prizes.

Guests can book a Power Rangers Super Megaforce weekend stay by visiting NickHotel.com/Power-Rangers.

Nickelodeon Teams Up with KidKraft for Dora Inspired Wooden Toys

NICKELODEON DORA THE EXPLORER TOYSNickelodeon and KidKraft have partnered to create a line of designer wooden toys, doll furniture, and accessories featuring Dora from the Dora the Explorer series. The new line of products includes a lifelike kitchen and dollhouse, both standing at almost four feet tall.

Dora’s Dollhouse features 13 wooden crafted furniture pieces and colorful artwork to reflect the animated style throughout the Dora the Explorer series. Similar to the dollhouse, the Dora Kitchen is made of wood, includes a removable sink for quick and easy cleaning, convenient storage space under the sink, functional cabinet doors that open, and wooden pegs for cooking accessories

The Dora Kitchen and Dollhouse are available this summer. Additionally, doll furniture and accessories will be introduced to the line later this year.

COMMENTARY: Musical Toys

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching a live jazz band play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The musicians seemed to thoroughly enjoy the set, and everyone in the audience was having a blast. Remembering my own days in the school band and piano recitals, I thought about how kids can be influenced early on by musical toys and instruments. Here are some of my favorites:

The Recorder

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Stripe Recorder, from Sassafras

A classic. I can almost hear “Hot Cross Buns” just by looking at one. Recorders, while often a symbol of fourth-grade music class, can actually be a gateway into other instruments for kids. While the standard plastic, beige soprano recorder reigns supreme among young players, there are alternatives, such as Melissa and Doug’s Makin’ Music wooden recorder, Sassafras’ Stripe Recorder, or colorful recorders from 1stNote. Alfred Music Publishing offers songbooks featuring tunes from The Wizard of Oz, Looney Tunes, and others.

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30 Key Fancy Baby Grand, from Schoenhut

The Piano

FirstAct offers a Dora the Explorer electronic keyboard for kids to explore music and try out different sound effects. Kids that want a more classical experience can enjoy Schoenhut’s 30 Key Fancy Baby Grand toy piano. For the youngest pianists, Hasbro offers the Sesame Street Let’s Rock Cookie Monster keyboard, featuring one octave of wide, easy-to-press keys.

The Drums

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Learn To Play Electronic Keyboard, from Discovery Kids

Kids that are more rhythmically inclined will enjoy Discovery Kids’ Learn To Play Electronic Drumpad. The battery-operated drumpad features drum sticks and adjustable tempo. Kids can follow the light patterns to play any of eight different rhythms. Union’s Toy Drum set features a bass drum, crash cymbal, and snare drum for little drummers to rock and roll. For a more laid-back beat, Remo’s Kids Bongo lets kids bang it out in colorful style, and are pitched high and low.

What are your kids’ favorite instruments? Let us know in the comment section!

For more commentary from Christine, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!