Retail Toy Sales Up 4 Percent on Building Sets, Electronics, Frozen, Says NPD Group

NPDGrouplogoAccording to retail sales data from The NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of toys generated $18.08 billion last year compared to $17.46 billion in 2013, an increase of 4 percent.

Retail sales over the 2014 holiday shopping season got off to a bumpy start, with the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday experiencing mixed results of -2 percent and 1 percent (compared to the same time periods in 2013). However, with one extra shopping day the week of Christmas compared to last year, Christmas week grew 27 percent, lifting December growth to 6 percent. Meanwhile, fourth quarter sales were up 3 percent for the 13 weeks starting October 5 through the week ending January 3. [Read more...]

Kids Can Be Spy Mission Heroes with Chrono Bomb from Patch Products

Jan19.ChronoBombPatch Products is bringing France’s popular Chrono Bomb game to the U.S. The game is a secret spy mission, where kids use included clamps and a string to create a pretend laser field to crawl through. Kids must make it to the end of the maze to defuse the bomb, which will tick down faster if the string is bumped.

The game encourages kids to get up and move around. Different courses can be played, or kids can race each other against the clock to see who can diffuse the bomb the quickest. Kids can also use a smartphone to download a free companion app, where they can scan special cards to receive extra secret missions.

Blue Orange Games to Launch New Disney Products

Blue-Orange-GamesBlue Orange Games—a leading designer of tabletop family games—will introduce nine new Disney licensed games by this fall.

The company will adapt its existing titles to feature Disney properties, enhancing ways that children can interact with favorite Disney characters.

The line will feature educational content from existing games Spot it! and Tell Tale. It will highlight popular Disney characters and movies such as Frozen, Disney Planes, and Disney television shows Sofia the First and Jake and the Never Land Pirates.

COMMENTARY: Games Are Fun, and Can Keep Kids Thinkin’ Over Summer Vacation

I think any kid would back me up when I make the claim that the best part about summer vacation is having no school. As a youngster, the summer meant the beach, sports, barbeques, and playing outside all day, which made it my favorite time of year. However, summer can also mean reading, keeping up with topics, and building on concepts that were learned months before. That list isn’t always a kid’s favorite cup of tea, but something that they all love is toys and games.

The door in the educational category for toys is now wide open, especially with schools under extra pressure because of Common Core standards. There are quite a few games to keep kids’ noggins churning while having fun, which is one of the best ways to keep them engaged and interested while school is out. Some examples of such are these new games from Funnybone Toys:

cubu-1-250x250Cubu plays on visual illusions to confuse players as they try to follow number and color sequences. This game forces players to use both sides of their brain at the same time, which stimulates the mind in a way that you wouldn’t expect. The challenge lies in keeping up with the number, color, and position of boxes on the cards, while the key hurdle is identifying the pattern and seeing what cards you have in your hand to make your next move. The game lasts until someone reaches 100 points and is declared the winner. The instructions also offer a speed round of Cubu and alternate ways to play the game. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Easter Is the Other Big Holiday

I don’t know about you, but in my family, Easter is the “other” big holiday. It gets as much attention as Christmas and Thanksgiving, complete with family from near and far, a feast, candy, and, of course, Easter baskets. My sister and I are both in our 20s, but who says grown-ups can’t still get excited to open their Easter baskets and see what goodies await? While Easter isn’t the time for lots of presents, our baskets usually contain some candy, a few small trinkets, and one bigger gift. This Sunday, when kids across the country open their Easter baskets, some may be lucky enough to receive any of the following fun spring toys.

airhogsskywinder

Spin Master Air Hogs Skywinder is an awesome choice for a kid’s “big” basket gift. Kids toss the R/C stunt rocket into the air and squeeze the trigger on the remote. The rocket flies, dives, hovers, and loops, and is lightweight enough that it can be used indoors. It flies high, though, so kids will enjoy it most outside—a perfect reason to go outdoors and celebrate spring! [Read more...]

University Games Acquires Briarpatch Inc.

UniversityGameslogoUniversity Games will acquire the assets of Briarpatch Inc., a manufacturer of preschool specialty games and puzzles based on popular literary properties such as I Spy and Fancy Nancy.

The merger will increase University Games’ domestic revenue by approximately 20 percent. Additionally, the Briarpatch licenses will augment University Games’ Colorforms business. University Games will begin shipping Briarpatch products this month.

John Donofrio and Martine Redman founded Briarpatch in 1991, and Donofrio will join University Games in a consulting role.

Les Berger, Founder of Cardinal Industries, Passes Away at Age 95

The Toy Book is so sorry to hear about the passing of Leslie Berger, founder of Cardinal Industries.

In 1944, Les Berger founded the company with a dream and knowledge of plastics, on the corner of Keape and Hope Streets in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first product that he produced was dominoes. Now Cardinal Industries games and puzzles in some of the most popular licenses, while maintaining business in core basic games, such as dominoes. Berger continued to work, and until very recently, was still coming into the office to work. He was a true pioneer in the business.

Berger lived his 95 years surrounded by a loving family. His son Joel and daughter Bonnie, who have take over and grown the company to a very successful privately owned toy company that is committed to making family-friendly, challenging, and innovative games and puzzles that are affordable for everyone. His wife Sylvia has been his partner in life and business for 64 years.

He will be profoundly missed by his entire family:  Sylvia, Joel, Bonnie, Jody, his grandchildren Carly, Ilana, Justin, Perri; and his numerous friends and countless associates in the toy industry.

COMMENTARY: Minecraft Brings A Whole New World

CARSONI admittedly didn’t know very much about the Minecraft toy and game selection until Halloween, when my uncle sent a photo of the costume that he had made for his son; who am I kidding—I knew nothing until then! My cousin Carson is a 5 year-old obsessed with the stuff! At the time, all I knew was that Carson could make anything look adorable, and that he had clearly moved on from trains and into this world where players can build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3-D generated world. I can’t even begin to understand all of the insider ins-and-outs of Minecraft, and it seems as though the name represents an entity of games and licensed products. I do, though, like to get as involved as I can with Carson, as I am much more aware of the favorites of his sister, Kennedy, since they were the same as mine: all things pink. Man, girls are simple! In time for the holidays, I took the game home to see what this Minecraft business is all about, so I can get those ever-elusive little kid “brownie points” while I’m home for Christmas. [Read more...]

PopCap Launches Peggle 2 for Xbox One

PopCap logoPopCap, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. has launched Peggle 2, available exclusively for Microsoft’s Xbox One. Peggle 2, a sequel to the original puzzle game, has tons of new features and is available from the Xbox Live Games Stores.

Key features of this game include five Peggle Masters, each with multiple costumes, 60 all-new gameplay levels, 60 all-new trials, 180 objectives, achievements and  1,000G to collect, Peg Party mode for multiplayer fun, high-definition graphics and orchestral audio specific to each Master, and Kinect gesture and voice commands for in-game and menu controls in some markets.

New Research Data Released on Kids Making In-App Payments

New data from youth research agency Dubit has shown that parents have a greater hold on in-app payments (IAP). The research shows that only 2 percent of kids have ever spent without their parent’s permission, and not one of the 500 kids surveyed had ever spent more than $16 on a single purchase. Furthermore, only 17 percent of children are allowed by parents to spend money in-game, and they rarely spend more than $3 in one go.

Of the 500 parents and children (ages 6 to 12) surveyed by Dubit, 71 percent of the children played mobile games, compared with 91 percent of parents. Only 17 percent allow their child to spend real money in-game. The data shows that such permissions increase as kids get older: the older the child, the more likely they are to conduct an in-app purchase.  

Eighty-seven percent of kids always ask their parents before making a purchase, and 11 percent usually ask, meaning that only 2 percent have ever bought something without their parents’ consent. Although 2 percent is still a worry, this does not appear to be a case of kids being out of control. It appears that parents acknowledge this as 41 percent of children who are allowed to make in-app payments know their parent’s app store account details. [Read more...]