ASTRA Reveals 2017 Winners of Excellence Awards

astra_logo_smallThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced the 2017 winners of ASTRA’s Excellence Awards.

The winners were Co-Owners Erin Blanton and Susan Blanton of Pufferbellies Toys and Books for Children in Staunton, VA for Retailer of the Year; HABA in Skaneateles, NY for Manufacturer of the Year; Kimberly Leakas from 24/7 Sales in New York, NY for Sales Representative of the Year; and Elizabeth Royall of Toy Travelers International in High Point, NC for the Young Professional Rising Star of the Year.

COMMENTARY: This Year’s Dinosaur Toys Extend Beyond Jurassic World

Sand Glove Dinosaur, by HABA

There’s no denying that Jurassic World and its Indominus Rex roared into the North American International Toy Fair in a big way this year. There are figures and role play and plush (oh, my!) and so much more inspired by the upcoming film—and they’re all really exciting. But, as a big prehistoric fanatic myself, I was excited to see that dinosaurs themselves were quite trendy this year (Finally! The world is catching on!), even if they won’t be appearing in a major motion picture later this spring.
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COMMENTARY: Bathtime Toys Clean Up at Toy Fair 2015

Playmates.BathTubVehiclesThis year, bathtime and playtime will become one and the same. Kids will no longer take pride in going days without bathing or purposely “forgetting” to wash behind their ears. In fact, judging from all of the amazing bath toys seen at the North American International Toy Fair, I’m betting that kids everywhere will be cleaner than ever and the dreaded bathtime battle between kids and parents will be a thing of the past. So, check out these babies and get ready for them to hit store shelves throughout the year! (Thought you should know, they’re listed in no particular order.) [Read more...]

Haba Launches Its Take Time to Play Campaign

Haba,TakeTimetoPlayWhile manufacturers gear up to capture the attention of shoppers, Haba is reminding everyone to take time to play with its Take Time to Play campaign, which urges families to put away distracting mobile devices and electronics in favor of getting back to basics.

A family company established nearly 80 years ago, Haba creates toys and games that entertain all age groups. Play is shown to develop numerous cognitive and physical skills in children, including language, math, motor skills, problem solving, creativity, social interaction, and emotional growth. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Dolls for Boys Are a Sign of the Times

Fritzi, from Haba

For the most recent issue of The Toy Book, I had a chance to research trends in the doll industry, and one that stuck out is an increase in dolls with potential appeal for boys. Arklu, the creator of Lottie Dolls, is planning to introduce its first boy doll, Kite Flyer, this fall. Meanwhile, Haba will be introducing Fritzi, a doll that has no assigned gender—Fritzi can be a boy doll for boys, or a girl doll for girls. There’s also Grandmas2Share, which is marketing grandmother-themed dolls as playthings for children of both genders. [Read more...]

All the New Specialty Games and Puzzles Fit to Print, and Then Some

The Toy Book‘s July/August issue showcases new puzzles and games for mass and specialty retail. We received dozens of submissions fit to print, beyond what fit on our printed pages. Here’s a look at 10 more specialty games and puzzles after the jump.

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Toys Transform Toddlers into Little Learners

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Back-to-school season is just around the corner for millions of kids across the country … but there’s no need for younger siblings who are not yet in school to feel out of the learning loop. Thanks to toy innovation in the infant and pre-school categories, there are tons of great new playthings on the market that build cognitive and developmental skills at a young age.

“With increases in total U.S. births predicted for both 2012 and 2013, toymakers are rolling out a broad array of brand new toys and games to challenge and excite little ones, presenting them with more play options than ever before,” says Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Toys can help transform tots and toddlers into lifelong learners by helping them explore their interests and talents very early on.”

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Haba Lauded in Four Toy Contests

German toy company Haba won six prizes in four different spring toy competitions, the company announced this week. Five games and toys — a dump truck, a card game, a board game, building blocks, and beginner dominoes — won praise from reviewers, including judges from Parents’ Choice Foundation, Father’s Day 2012 Mr. Dad & Great Dad Recommends, Creative Child, and Tillywig.

Rhino Hero, a game for ages 5 and up, where players work together to build a tower of cards, earned lauds in the elementary school category in the Father’s Day 2012 Mr. Dad & Great Dad Recommends competition.

Haba’s Moover Dump Truck, for ages 1 and up, earned a Parents’ Choice Foundation Award.

Haba’s Tactile Domino Arranging Game, for ages 4 and up, won a 2012 Game of the Year award in the kids memory games category in the Creative Child Award competition. The game also earned a Best Family Fun Award in the Tillywig Awards.

The Haba Building Blocks Habaland Train, for ages 1 and up, won a Top Fun Award in the Tillywig Toy Awards.

The Haba Treetop Trouble Game, for ages 6 and up, won a Best Family Fun Award in the Tillywig Awards.

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This post was originally written by Loren Moreno and published by For more news, visit, 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.

Video: Kid Stuff PR Media Party at Toy Fair

Kid Stuff PR hosted a Media Party at Toy Fair New York to showcase products from companies such as Mandy and Pandy, Marshmallow Fun, Prime Time Toys, Kids Preferred, and more. Learn more: