China Toy Fair


Wicked Cool and Sesame Workshop to Partner on Summer and Seasonal Products

WickedCoollogoupdatedWicked Cool Toys has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Sesame Workshop for summer and seasonal toys based on classic Sesame Street legacy characters, including Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby. The licensing agreement covers North America, and the line is expected to include balls, hoppers, sprinklers, and sandboxes. These items will begin arriving at retail next spring.

“We are thrilled to be working with the talented entertainment innovators at Sesame Workshop, and to bring a line of engaging seasonal, sand, and water toys to market beginning next year,” said Jeremy Padawer, co-president of Wicked Cool Toys.

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [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...]

Warner Bros., Sesame Workshop Release Sesame Street: Fairytale Fun DVD

Sesame StreetWarner Bros. Home Entertainment and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, have released Sesame Street: Fairytale Fun on DVD. Now kids can join Elmo and Abby on their educational adventure through fairytales, such as Hansel and Gretel and nursery rhymes with Mother Goose.

The two-hour DVD includes a CinderElmo bonus feature and everyone’s favorite Sesame Street monsters such as Oscar the Grouch. Now in its 44th season, Sesame Street is the longest-running program in kids’ TV and this new addition to the program’s collection of DVDs will be just as fun and educational. The Sesame Street: Fairytale Fun release is also available for digital download.

COMMENTARY: Why I Love Elmo

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

bighugsI’ve loved Elmo for as long as I can remember … and I’m not alone! He spans generations of boys, girls, kids, and adults. And while one might be able to argue that Mickey Mouse has the same appeal (and in many ways he does), every year there’s a brand new Elmo for a brand new group of kids to bring home and to love. But be warned, not all Elmo’s are alike.

When my kids were toddlers Elmo came in the form of a simple stuffed animal. He was cherished by all my girls, but especially my oldest, now 23. Today, she still adores him. I’ve actually had my ups and downs with Elmo (though my true love for him never really falters) as he has engaged in the world of technology.

Every holiday season I’m asked, “What’s the new Tickle Me Elmo this year?” and I think to myself, “I hope there isn’t one.”  Yes, Tickle Me Elmo, from Fisher-Price, was a retailer’s and a manufacturer’s dream toy—a toy retailers couldn’t keep in stock because demand was so high, and at the time, no one had ever seen such innovation in plush. Add the Elmo factor and it was a solid hit (followed by a few more, such as the extreme version). But while it was sold out everywhere, sold for huge markups by individuals, and fought over in stores—and as cool as the innovation was—this was not my favorite Elmo. I could never watch Elmo laugh or roll over on the floor, pounding the floor and laughing, without full out laughing myself. The problem was that I was just watching. [Read more...]

New Study Says Elmo Helps Toddlers’ Early Learning Skills

New research shows that children’s character Elmo is more effective in helping toddlers learn basic skills than if the toddlers were taught by unrecognizable faces.

Researchers from the Children’s Digital Media Center at Georgetown University conducted an experiment using three groups of 21-month-old toddlers. The first group watched a video of an Elmo puppet placing nesting cups inside one another, the second group saw the same task being performed by an unknown character puppet with the same Elmo-like voice, and the third group did not watch a video.

When applying what they had learned to their own nesting cups, the first group was able to complete the task significantly better than both the second and third groups. The first group was also more likely to smile and say the character’s name.

[Read more...]