China Toy Fair


Famed Designer Gayle Middleton Debuts New Line of Plush Baby Monsters

BitemaresToy creator Gayle Middleton, who helped re-design My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop for Hasbro, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her latest designs. These include a Baby Undead Dragon and toe-nibbling little fur balls called Bitemares.

“After years of designing adorable pets for Hasbro, Disney and others, I started doodling these odd, ghostly white vampire babies drinking undead dragon bottled blood in 2006,” says Middleton. “Maybe I was suffering from, ‘Cute Overload,’ and this was my way of dealing with it. I wanted to create babies that were cute but mischievous, something surprisingly off-center and bizarre… Other breeds of creepy-yet-cute monster babies started appearing on my sketch pad, and after 3 years I had coined a name for them: Vamplets.” [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Role Play Toys Engage Kids in Superhero Action

It’s no secret that kids are extremely influenced by the characters they see in movies and on TV. Superheroes are particularly influential, with their mankind-saving tendencies and super-human abilities. The best thing about superheroes is that they appeal to kids and adults alike, since many of the iconic superheroes we know and love have been around for decades. Fisher-Price’s DC Super Friends line is geared toward kids as young as 3 years old, and Lego will introduce DC characters into its Duplo line for the first time this year. While play sets and building blocks are popular play patterns for kids and adding their favorite superheroes to the mix is a great way to get kids excited, the toys that make kids feel like they are becoming their favorite superhero are some of the most engaging toys on the market.

Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is now back on the block with new enemies. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in theaters Friday, May 2, and now kids can take home all of the web-slinging action, thanks to Hasbro’s intense line of role-play and action figure toys.

Marissa.May13.Hasbro.SPIDER-MAN-MOTORIZED-SPIDER-FORCE-WEB-BLASTERWith the wrist-mounted Motorized Spider Force Web Blaster, kids can fire foam discs featuring web embellishments up to 20 feet with rapid speed. Each Motorized Spider Force Web Blaster comes with 10 Nerf foam discs that can be stored in the storage compartment on the top of the toy so they won’t get lost. Don’t worry—the foam discs are harmless and don’t hurt if you get hit with them. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, kids can take on any villain with this fun role-play toy. I should also note—it’s unbelievably fun for adults, too (especially if you have kids around willing to scoop up the discs for you). Just don’t let the name fool you—there are no messy webs with this product, just soft, foam discs! [Read more...]

Cybertron Monday Kicks Off Transformers: Age of Extinction Toy Line

CybertronMonday.TransformerspanelToday isn’t just any old Monday, but Cybertron Monday, a global event tied to the upcoming blockbuster, Transformers: Age of Extinction from Paramount Pictures. Cybertron Monday marks the launch of an all-new action figure line from Hasbro Inc., as well as licensed products based on the feature film, through participating online retailers including Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, and Kmart. Fans can visit www.CybertronMonday.com for more information on where products will be available.

Hasbro’s Transformers Official Movie App, available now for download on iTunes and Google Play, features galleries stocked with movie and toy photography and videos, character bios, as well as the ability to engage in weekly app “missions.” Fans can also view exclusive Transformers: Age of Extinction cast interviews. As the film’s release date approaches, the app will be updated to include movie ticket purchasing, augmented reality features, new photography and videos, and the ability for users to build their own Transformers Construct-bot figure.

COMMENTARY: A Fresh Take on Traditional Outdoor Toys and Games

These days, it’s pretty crucial for toy companies to be as innovative as possible. But sometimes, providing kids with a new take on an old-school toy or game is just as effective. Sure, kids are ridiculously interested in tablets, iPhones, and computers, but when it comes to play the rules haven’t changed all that much. Although kids are now growing up in the “digital age,” they are always going to love running, jumping, laughing, and exerting energy in a physical way.

Toys such as pogo sticks, Skip-Its (my favorite), and sidewalk chalk were staples throughout my childhood, and contrary to those who believe kids are actually digital robots, they remain favorites for children growing up now, too.

Kidoozie Pogo JumperI never got around to mastering the pogo stick, but this bouncing device still remains a popular activity for kids of all ages. The Kidoozie Pogo Jumper from International Playthings offers kids a lot of hop, but enhances the fun by adding a built-in speaker that squeaks with every bounce. [Read more...]

Hasbro, generationOn, and Points of Light Honor Young Volunteers

This week, Hasbro Inc., along with the youth service movement generationOn and the volunteer service organization Points of Light, will honor six young service leaders as Hasbro Community Action Heroes. Each honoree has addressed challenging issues in their local and global communities in unique ways. The six will receive their awards during the annual generationOn Benefit on May 8 at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City.

The awardees include:

  • Ethan Cruikshank, age 15, of Mechanicsville, Va.: Cruikshank founded Music to My Ears, an all-volunteer-run organization led by middle and high school students who provide weekly music lessons to elementary school-aged children
  • Gabriele Eggerling, age 10, of Huntington Beach, Calif.: Eggerling founded Mission: HERO, which has donated more than 1,500 books to low-income kids in the United States and abroad.
  • Neha Gupta, age 17, of Yardley, Pa.: Gupta started Empower Orphans to help impoverished children in orphanages in northern India. [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...]

PlayCon 2014 Agenda Includes Speakers from The NPD Group, Google/YouTube, and More

A number of educational topics related to the toy industry will be explored at PlayCon, the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) International Conference of Play Professionals, scheduled to take place May 7 to 9 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The May 8 program includes a keynote address delivered by Doug Van Andel, executive creative director at global ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi; a case study presented by Michael Moynihan, vice president of marketing at Lego Systems Inc.; a two-part session by The NPD Group focused on the latest sales data; a presentation entitled “The Broader World of Play,” from Katie Rottier, head of U.S. industry, sports & toys, at Google/YouTube; and more. [Read more...]

Geocache Becomes First-Ever Fan-Voted Scrabble Word

The word “geocache” beat out 15 other nominees in last month’s Scrabble Word Showdown, and as a result, will be included in the fifth edition of Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, scheduled for release this August. This marks the dictionary’s first major update in nearly a decade, and the first time it has ever included a word voted on by fans.

Nominated by fans following a national call-for-entries on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page in March, “geocache” is a verb meaning to seek items by means of a GPS device as part of a game. It faced 15 other popular choices in an online showdown from April 2 to 10, besting such fan favorites as “bitcoin,” “cosplay,” and “ew.”

Geocache will be an eligible word right in time for National Scrabble Day on April 13. It will also be playable in the upcoming National School Scrabble Championship on April 26 to 27 and the National Scrabble Tournament in August.

COMMENTARY: Prepare for Upcoming Summer Blockbusters with These Toys

The beach, barbecues, and time off from school are some of the most beloved parts of summer vacation. However, we can’t forget about summer blockbusters. While we are still getting over winter weather here in New York City, I can’t help but get into the summer mood hearing all about the movies that are fast approaching. And to make it even better, this summer’s movies have inspired some awesome products. I was happily surprised to see some versatile items that both kids and adults can enjoy, and have compiled some of my favorites below:

Apr2.SpidermanThe Amazing Spider-Man 2 Mega Blaster Web Shooter with Glove by Hasbro can make a kid feel like his or her favorite superhero. The product comes with a glove just like Spider-Man’s and a wrist-mounted shooter that blasts either water from the refillable water cartridge or the Spidey Shot Web Fluid. Both units are included in the package and are triggered by the push of a small lever with two middle fingers. The Spidey Shot Web Fluid is essentially a type of aerosol string, like Silly String, that comes out in a continuous line that feels like foam. After a few minutes, the fluid dries out and is easily removable from any surface. Although I prefer the web fluid over the water, both methods of simulating Spider-Man make a great way for kids to spend time outside. Kids can definitely enjoy this toy all spring before the movie comes out in May. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Now Every Kid Can Be Captain America

Phil.04.03.Cap6inchLegendsThis weekend, everyone’s favorite re-animated World War II super-soldier returns in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, from Marvel Studios. (PLEASE NOTE: THIS OPENING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.) Having seen a preview of the movie, I won’t give too much away, but suffice it to say, it’s a good time, precisely because the captain faces conflicts that aren’t just fisticuffs. At a certain point, both he—and the other Marvel Comics-based heroes who appear—must decide whether to turn on their own government. Admittedly, it’s not that difficult a choice, since saying no means a terrorist organization descended from the Nazis gets the power to kill millions with the push of a button. But a moral quandary is, nevertheless, a moral quandary, and gives the movie a kind of complexity that isn’t always found in summer blockbusters. (END SPOILERS.)

It also results in a character that kids of all ages can—and should—aspire to become more like. (Did I mention that Captain America also learns to trust his friends? This film’s full of valuable lessons for young ones!) To that end, Hasbro has released an impressive line of Captain America: The Winter Soldier toys and accessories that allow for all kinds of pretend play. Since not every movie protagonist is a fit role model for kids, having found one with product support from the toy industry, I feel it is this column’s responsibility to highlight said product as much as possible. Cap, you’re welcome. [Read more...]