China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Endangered Species Toys Can Help Raise Environmental Awareness

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Endangered species stuffed animals, from Gund and Cuipo

Animal-themed toys are nothing new, but in recent months, I’ve been noticing a focus on endangered species. Shortly after Toy Fair 2014, BeginAgain released its Balance Boat: Endangered Animal Edition, a stacking toy featuring rubberwood versions of the panda, rhinoceros, tortoise, and more. Meanwhile, Green Tones by Hohner put out Endangered Animal Shakers, beautifully carved rubberwood musical toys that depict an owl, leopard, and turtle.

And on the plush front, Wild Republic has added vulnerable species such as the Siberian Tiger to its Cuddlekins line. Last but not least, Gund and Cuipo have collaborated on stuffed animals based on the endangered sun bear, emperor monkey, and three-toed sloth, among others. [Read more...]

Cuipo and Gund Join Forces to Save Endangered Rainforests

CuipoGundThe lifestyle brand Cuipo is teaming up with Gund for a new line of stuffed animals. For every stuffed animal sold, one square meter of endangered rainforest is saved. The partnership between Cuipo and Gund is intended to show kids how they can help care for the Earth.

The line includes Sly, a squirrel monkey; Sampson & CoCo, a sun bear and coconut, respectively; Cezar the emperor monkey; Steve, a three-toed sloth; and Tiko the toucan.

Peter Rabbit TV Series Inspires Plush Products

Nickelodeon and Nordstrom are debuting a new specialty plush toy line inspired by the Nickelodeon animated preschool series Peter Rabbit. Along with the Gund plush, two brand-new books, The Start of Spring and Peter and Friends Sticker Activity Book, published by Penguin, will also be accessible to customers.

The line includes 12-inch plush and 6-inch beanbags featuring all three series characters. These featured products will be available online and nationwide in nearly 100 Nordstrom stores in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and other U.S. cities.

COMMENTARY: Taking Plush to the Next Level

Gone are the days when plush was simply a category of stagnant stuffed toys. Kids today can enjoy plush items that sing, dance, play music, light up, talk, and more. With technology moving ever forward, the plush category is seeing new ways to integrate interactive elements into soft products. While mechanized toys aren’t a brand new concept, many companies are producing new items that utilize today’s technologies in ways never seen before.

I’ll be honest—I wasn’t much for animated plush when I was a kid. Maybe it was the fact that interactive items didn’t really do anything cool enough to warrant sacrificing the softness and squeezability of a traditional stuffed animal. Or maybe I didn’t like the fact that you have to change the batteries. Whatever my reasons, I think I would have felt differently about interactive plush if I’d had some of the toys available today.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.50.19 PMPeek-A-Boo Elmo, a licensed Sesame Street item from Gund, holds a cozy blue blanket to play peek-a-boo with kids ages 18 months and up. When kids press Elmo’s foot, he lifts his blanket over his face while saying phrases such as, “Where are you?” and “There you are!” One of the nicest things about Peek-A-Boo Elmo for parents is that by pressing his foot again, he turns off. I also love that he moves his arms up and down fairly quickly, enhancing the surprise factor for little ones. Elmo’s mouth also moves consistently with what he’s saying. Peek-A-Boo Elmo is programmed to say 13 phrases. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Plush Manufacturers Show Off Awesome New Plush at Toy Fair

Toy Fair 14 was a spectacular, four-day event held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from February 16 to 19. Manufacturers from across the country gathered to debut new items, display classics, and make connections with retailers, buyers, and the press. We here at The Toy Book took the opportunity to forge new professional relationships, engage companies with whom we have established relationships, and discover new companies. As I walked the floors checking out the plush items, I saw dozens of great designs that I loved. Big, small, fat, tall—you name it, it was at Toy Fair. Some plush is cute, some is realistic, some is abstract, some is sculptural. While I appreciate all plush, there were some pieces in particular that really caught my eye.

toothpickToothpick, from GUND, was my hands-down, No. 1, absolute favorite plush at the show. I was already “aww!”-ing at the other bears on the wall in the GUND booth when my eyes landed on Toothpick’s skinny little body with his big, cute head and brown corduroy nose. His body is surprisingly sturdy, letting him sit up easily, but is still soft and cuddly. The material that GUND used for Toothpick’s fur is also super-soft, and has an almost curly sort of look to it. He is just adorable. [Read more...]

WIT Honors Outstanding Business Leaders with 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards

At a February 18 dinner attended by more than 400 executives, Women in Toys (WIT) celebrated 10 visionary women business leaders with the 2014 Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. The award recipients are: Kiyomi Haverly of Mattel, Global Brands; Naz Cuevas of Rovio Entertainment Inc. and Donna Tobin of Hasbro Inc.; Rita Raiffe, design director at Gund; Stefanie Barone of M.Z. Berger & Co.; Susie Lecker of Fisher Price; Michele Litzky of Litzky Public Relations; Joan Packard Luks of The Seranata Group; Christina Jansa of Target; and Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.

With support from major sponsors including Nickelodeon and Bandai, WIT also granted six scholarships to future toy industry leaders at toy design programs in universities worldwide.

Uglydoll Collaborates with KISS for New Plush Line

KissPlushUglydoll has partnered with the rock band KISS to create a global, co-branded set of plush collectibles. The KISS Uglydoll collaboration was previewed at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas last June and will officially debut at the American International Toy Fair in February. The collection will include plush dolls, from Gund, featuring Uglydoll dressed as KISS band members: Ox as The Demon, Babo as The Starchild, Big Toe as The Catman, and Wage as The Spaceman.

The dolls are expected to arrive in stores in March.

Gund, TCG, and Ganz Nab Worldwide Licensing Rights to Grumpy Cat Toys

Grumpy Cat, the famously pessimistic, yet hilarious Internet sensation with over 1 million Facebook fans, has signed new deals for branded toys.

Gund, a division of Enesco LLC in the U.S., has acquired worldwide licensing rights to manufacture and distribute Grumpy Cat plush. Gund’s Grumpy Cat was launched in July and is currently being sold to all upstairs channels and specialty markets. The plush recreates the title feline’s famous frowning face. Delivery to stores will begin November 1.

Meanwhile, TCG and Ganz of Canada were also granted worldwide licensing rights to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of consumer products for Grumpy Cat and her brother Pokey. TCG will create puzzles and novelty plush toys for the mass market, and Ganz will produce gift items and plush. TCG and Ganz products are expected to hit retail shelves in December.

Uglydoll Collaborates with Universal Monsters for New Plush

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Pretty Ugly, the official licensors of the Uglydoll brand, has partnered with Universal Partnerships and Licensing to develop a new series of Uglydoll plush dolls based on the Universal Monsters. The Universal Monsters series of dolls will make its retail debut Halloween this year.

Gund, a division of Enesco, will offer these co-branded characters, including Wedgehead as Frankenstein, Ice-Bat as Dracula, Ox as Wolfman, Tray as Bride of Frankenstein, Big Toe as Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Babo as Mummy.

The first series of plush dolls will launch this fall and will be available at retailers nationwide. Gund previewed these collaborative plush characters at the ASTRA show and will show them at the upcoming summer Gift Shows.

Sanrio and Pretty Ugly Partner for Hello Kitty Uglydolls

1225Sanrio Inc., the global lifestyle brand best known for Hello Kitty, has partnered with Pretty Ugly LLC, owner of Uglydoll, to create global, co-branded collaboration with Hello Kitty and Uglydoll characters. Uglydoll’s unique aesthetic, defining “ugly” as distinctive and unique, will be combined with the iconic style of Hello Kitty to create a selection of limited-edition collectibles.    

The Hello Kitty Uglydoll collaboration will make its official debut at San Diego Comic-Con, held July 18 to 21. The collection will include a set of limited edition plush by Gund, featuring Hello Kitty dressed as Uglydoll’s popular characters—Ox, Trunko, Ice-Bat, and Wage—as well as a set of vinyl figures by Funko. Additional product exclusive to Comic-Con will include t-shirts by Mighty Fine, iPhone cases by Uncommon, and a collectible pin set by PinUSA. Specific items from the collection will also be shown at Licensing Expo, held June 18 to 20 in Las Vegas, and will be available later this summer at select Sanrio boutique stores, Sanrio.com, Uglydolls.com, and specialty retailers.