COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [Read more...]

FAO Schwarz Hosts a Rilakkuma Day of Fun

RilakkumaThis Saturday, the world of Rilakkuma will take over FAO Schwarz in New York City. Rilakkuma, created by San-X, is one of Japan’s most popular characters, famous for its “bear in relaxed mood” lifestyle of eating, sleeping, and listening to music.

Consumers will have the opportunity to celebrate Rilakkuma Day and interact with a life-size Rilakkuma mascot and branded Lolita girls. There will also be merchandise giveaways while supplies last. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at FAO Schwarz Flagship Store, 767 5th Ave., New York, NY.

Toys “R” Us Stores Nationwide Remain Open 87 Continuous Hours Ahead of Christmas

toysrusToys “R” Us stores nationwide will remain open for 87 consecutive hours for last-minute shoppers. Beginning at 6 a.m. on December 21 and continuing through 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, gift-givers can shop day and night for toys, including those that can only be found at Toys “R” Us.

Bargain hunters can also take advantage of savings and deals, as well as the company’s Price Match Guarantee, every day leading up to Christmas. Select discounts available at Toys “R” Us from December 20 through December 21 include buy one, get one free deals on all Chuggington Engines and Totally Me! by Victoria Justice crafts; buy one, get one 50 percent off all FAO Schwarz toys; and more.

Meanwhile, beginning December 22 through December 24, select discounts include buy one, get one free deals on all K’NEX building sets; buy one, get one 40 percent off all Disney Pixar Cars and Disney Planes die cast vehicles, and play sets; discounts on Disney Infinity Starter Packs; and more.

Ridemakerz Comes to FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue

imagesRidemakerz is driving to New York City with the grand opening of the experimental Ridemakerz store-within-a-store at the FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue location on the second level. The shop officially opens at 10 a.m. on November 11, and Ridemakerz will offer 100 complimentary Ridez to the first 100 people who arrive before 11 a.m. In celebration of Veteran’s Day, a complimentary Ridemakerz baseball cap will be offered to veterans who visit the store.

The Ridemakerz shop resembles the look and feel of an authentic race car garage and offers a unique experience for kids and adults to build their own toy cars. Customizers can choose from authentic cars, including Corvettes, Vipers, and Mustangs, and entertainment characters like Lightning McQueen, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. There are more than 649 million possible combinations to be made with customizable options, including lights, sounds, accessories, and decals.

For a unique experience, participants can also engage in the Pit Crew Challenge where their build times can be compared against family and friends. For special occasions such as birthdays, group outings, and company team-building, Ridemakers offers Revved Up Bashes, where friends can “Chooze, Customize, and Cruise” home with a one-of-a-kind Ridez. As the holidays approach, Ridemakerz will begin offering special, in-store events, as well as in-store and online deals on new products.

Interactive Ridemakerz retail shops have already opened in Downtown Disney in Anaheim, Calif.; Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; Branson Landing in Branson, Mo.; and Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Opens New Store at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue

BABW_NewCircleLogoBuild-A-Bear Workshop has announced plans to open a shop within the FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue flagship store. Opening in early November, the new location is the first Build-A-Bear Workshop store-within-a-store in the U.S.

While visiting the store, guests can participate in the hands-on Build-A-Bear Workshop stuffed animal-making experience, which has been enhanced with digital technology. The company worked with Microsoft, Samsung, and other leading technology companies to create the store design, which includes:

  • A touchscreen storefront display that allows guests to interact with the brand by playing and exploring the latest Build-A-Bear Workshop furry friend collections.
  • An interactive Love Me station that enables guests to customize their stuffed animals by giving personality traits to the red satin heart, which is added to their animal at the Stuff Me station.
  • A Hear Me station where popular music and special sounds can be added. Guests can also record their own voice to further personalize their stuffed animal.
  • The Fluff Me station where customers can play with a sensory effects digital bath tub with virtual bubbles.
  • The Name Me station, which allows guests to reveal the personality traits and customized features that were added to their stuffed animal throughout the bear-making process. At Name Me, guests also create a one-of-a-kind birth certificate.

Hansa and Zinger Launch Plush-TV In-store Signage to Retailers

ZINGER DIGITAL SIGNSHansa North America launched of their new Plush-TV signage channel to its more than 900 retail dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Plush-TV is an in-store entertainment channel, branded for each retailer, and shown to their shoppers. Hansa features more than 5,000 designs of individually handcrafted, realistic animals. Hansa’s products are sold worldwide in collectables and gift  shops, museums, toys stores, zoos, and retailers, such as FAO Schwartz.

Plush-TV’s entertaining and educational content is focused on the animal kingdom in their natural habitat. Plush-TV was developed by Zinger Digital Signs. Zinger customizes Plush-TV signage for each retailers’ requirements. Zinger brands with each retailer with banners, advertisements, and interactive content. Plush-TV also showcases each retailer’s Hansa store inventory. Shoppers can interact with the Plush-TV using QR codes and texting. Zinger Digital Signs manages the content and equipment for each retailer.

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Fao Schwarz Unveils “A Fashionable Collection Of Tonner Dolls” for Fashion Week; Tonner to Visit Store

Doll Artist Robert Tonner to Visit FAO Schwarz Flagship Store to Meet with Fans

In conjunction with the celebration of its 150th Anniversary, today FAO Schwarz unveiled a walk-around gallery showcasing a collection of dolls from the Tonner Doll Company, timed to coincide with Fashion Week in New York City. The exhibit will run through October 16 and can be viewed online beginning September 13. Items from the exhibit will also be featured on the company’s timeline on Facebook.

In honor of “A Fashionable Collection of Tonner Dolls,” FAO Schwarz will host a special event with Robert Tonner. On Monday, September 24 at 5 p.m., Tonner will meet with fans and sign Tonner Doll Company and Wilde Imagination product purchases.

Items on display include the Alice in Wonderland Collection, AmFar Model, Antoinette, City Girls, Ghosts of Christmas, Porcelain Alice and Red Riding Hood, Ellowyne Wilde and Blithe Spirit, Evangeline Ghastly with Coffin, Fashion Bird with stand, the Gone with the Wind Collection, the Harry Potter Collection, the Marvel Collection, the Mary Englebriet Set – Doll with Bed and Toys, Memoirs of a Geisha, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog, a 22-inch Model in Court Gown and 22-inch Model in Goth Gown, the New York City Ballet, Precarious, the  Steampunk, Imperium Park, Sydney Chase at the Piano, Tyler Wentworth Fashion Designer with “Model,” the Wizard of Oz set, and a 22-inch Wonder Woman.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Colorforms: A Touch of Nostalgia

Colorforms 60th anniversary set

The Colorforms brand is celebrating 60 years of creation by releasing new products to match today’s generation.

What do you get when you put two artists together? In at least one case, you get a “sticky” concept of classic shapes that allow imaginations to run free.

In 1951, Harry and Patricia Kislevitz were given flexible, paper-thin vinyl by a friend who manufactured pocketbooks. Curiously, they began experimenting with the vinyl, cutting shapes and placing them on the bathroom walls in their New York City apartment. They noticed the vinyl stuck to the semi-gloss paint, but could also be removed and rearranged, so the two left a pair of scissors and pieces of vinyl in the bathroom so guests could make their own creations.

With that, the Colorforms concept was created. This month, the brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary, with the launch of a special-edition Colorforms set, FAO Schwarz display, an iPad/iPhone app, and more.

[Read more...]

TIA Reveals New Hall of Fame Inductees

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced that Arnie Rubin, founder and CEO of Funrise Toy Corporation, and the late Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of FAO Schwarz, have been selected as the next inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame comprises a roster of 57 individuals who have been recognized for their significant contributions to the growth and success of the toy industry. The newest inductees were nominated by toy industry members and selected via vote from TIA members and previous Hall of Fame honorees.

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Candy Spelling’s Extensive Madame Alexander Doll Collection to be Auctioned

Earlier this year, Aaron and Candy Spelling’s chateau in the Holmsby Hills area of Los Angeles was sold, and on Sunday, November 20, Candy Spelling’s collection of Madame Alexander dolls will be auctioned at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Conducted by Theriault’s, the world’s largest auction house for antique dolls, toys, and teddy bears, the auction will feature 350 dolls, including the rare early portrait models Victorian Bride, Pink Champagne lady, and Deborah Ballerina, along with dolls from the biblical series, a number of Wendy models inspired by Gone with the Wind, dolls created exclusively by FAO Schwarz during the 1950s, and more.

The complete collection will be on exhibit at the Waldorf-Astoria on November 20 starting at 9 a.m., followed by the auction at 11 a.m. Both the viewing and auction are open to the public. On November 19, Madame Alexander and Theriault’s will host a gala reception allowing doll enthusiasts and collectors to meet Candy Spelling; Stuart Holbrook, president of Theriault’s; and Gale Jarvis, president of Alexander Doll Company.

To RSVP for the reception, email info@theriaults.com.