Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

China Toy Expo Highlights Sustainability, Safety, and Education as Popular Trends in China

Despite being half a world away, the concerns and demands of toy consumers in China are not all that different from their U.S. counterparts, according to China Toy Expo.

The first day of the trade fair, along with China Kids Expo and China Licensing Expo—all hosted by China Toy & Juvenile Products Association—kicked off this past Tuesday in sprawling fashion at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Shanghai. Across three days, 1,364 global brands were on display, and roughly 80,000 visitors were expected to participate.

CTE 1

The China Toy Expo took place at the Shanghai International Expo Center in Shanghai from Oct. 14-16.

Recent news shows reasons to be optimistic about the Chinese toy market’s future, including the country’s overtaking of the U.S. in terms of purchasing power. Yet based on the flow of crowds at the show, many of the types of toys that Chinese consumers are especially interested in are ones promoting sustainability, safety, and educational development. [Read more...]

Innovation First Partners with Tony Hawk for New Circuit Boards Brand and Products

Innovation First International, the creator of Hexbug, is launching a new Tony Hawk Circuit Boards brand and product line, due to hit shelves across Europe and North America this fall.

Kids can choose between two ways to play: traditional fingerboard style, or slapping on the power axle and utilizing the I/R remote control. Users can build the ultimate skatepark and grind the rails, pull off a rock to fakie, or master their own series of tricks with their favorite Birdhouse deck. The initial product assortment available at launch will include 24 Birdhouse and Tony Hawk authentic decks to customize and collect, along with a variety of ramp sets and skateparks.

Hexbug will showcase the new product line by appointment at TIA Fall Toy Preview in October at the Dallas Market Center.

Hexbug Havoc Available on App Store

HexbugHavocInnovation First International, in cooperation with developer Behaviour Interactive, has launched the Hexbug Havoc game on the Apple App Store. The app allows users to choose their own Nano V2 to play each mission on a race track that is filled with horizontal tracks and vertical tubes filled with collectibles, power-ups, obstacles, and enemy Hexbugs.

The game features swipe, tap, and jump controls; battle missions; and a range of different tracks and Nano V2 elements unlockable through game play. The game can also be accessed through Game Center, where players can challenge friends and post their scores to Facebook and Twitter.

COMMENTARY: It’s Alive! Cool Tech Brings Animal Toys to Life

Kids are always begging for pets, especially around the holidays. “Can I have a puppy?” “I want a pony!” I’m sure you’re hearing it all. But if you’re not ready to make that huge commitment to a pet and a messy house (and perhaps all of the dog-walking responsibilities), new technology that’s available is truly bringing animal toys to life.

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

The Hexbug line, from Innovation First, has used new tech to make robotic Hexbug critters that crawl on battery power. Two of the company’s newest lines expand upon this technology to make it even better. The Hexbug Nano V2 critters are gravity-defying bugs that can climb vertically through tubes. The Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole play set, the Nano V2 bugs can climb vertically, horizontally, and around corners. Kids can unleash their creativity by customizing the design and layout of the three-story set. The play set also comes with special accessories including a spiral tube and a black funnel.

The Hexbugs Aquabot line features robotic fish that really swim in water. The micro-robotic creatures have Smart Fish technology that allows it to swim, dive, and change directions. You don’t have to worry about feeding it or cleaning its tank. Aqua bots are available in five translucent colors and designed for kids ages 3 and up. [Read more...]

Hexbug Launches #theycanclimb Coloring Contest

theycanclimbHexbug has launched the Hexbug Nano V2 #theycanclimb coloring contest, giving Hexbug fans a chance to flex their creative muscles.

Hexbug hired an eccentric, internationally-renowned artist (and Hexbug enthusiast) to create eight colorful drawings crawling with the gravity-defying Nano V2 bugs. The artist received a last-minute, once in a lifetime opportunity to climb Mount Everest’s Khumbu Icefall that left him unable to color in his original black and white outlines. Now Hexbug is asking for the fans help to color in these drawings.

To enter the contest, fans can choose an outline, color it, and send it in to the Hexbug review team. The contest will run through through 11:59:59 p.m. CST on September 22.

Every entrant will receive a $5 promo code for their next purchase on Hexbug.com, and every week, some of the best submissions will be featured at Nanov2.com. Entrants will be judged in two separate categories: ages 6 and under, and ages 7 to 12. At the end of the contest, first, second, and third place winners in each category will be announced and awarded prizes.

Innovation First Announces Two New Hexbug Product Lines

hexbug_nano_3Innovation First International (IFI) has announced that its two new Hexbug micro robotic product lines, Nano V2 and Aquabot, are now available at specialty and mass retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Target, Toys “R” Us, and RadioShack.

This month also marks the launch of company’s “They Can Climb” marketing campaign, playing off the Nano V2 feature, with a mix of TV advertising across all children’s TV networks, a series of consumer-generated online and social media contests, and an experiential marketing integration event that it hosted at the X Games X Fest Los Angeles. IFI’s comprehensive fall TV public relations and advertising schedule will also include the Aquabot as well as some of the Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures.

Hexbug is using social media tools like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Vine for its “They Can Climb” video contest. To participate, entrants need a Vine, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account and to include the “#theycanclimb” along with a capture of something that incorporates Hexbugs. Every entrant will receive a $5 promo code off his or her next purchase on www.hexbug.com. Weekly winners will also be chosen to receive a Nano V2 Black Hole set and will also be featured on www.nanov2.com.

Meet Hexapillar: Target’s Robotic Gift Card

Innovation First and Target teamed up to create the Hexapillar gift card. The newest addition to Target’s 2,000-plus gift card archive, the Hexapillar gift card is a robotic caterpillar that flies. The gift card/bug is a collaboration between the design teams at Target and Hexbug, which specializes in micro robotic creatures.

Derived from the Hexbug Nano—the  autonomous robotic critter that behaves like a real bug—the Hexapillar features a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly. The gift card launched in stores last week and can be found in the stationery, toys, and electronics departments until the end of the year.

This post was originally written by Ali Mierzejewski 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.

Innovation First Labs Unveils New Hexbug Back-to-School and Holiday Products

Innovation First Labs, Inc., creator of Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures, unveiled its new back-to-school and holiday line up. Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures are expandable and customizable robotic bugs.

Hexbug Larva is the new addition to the Hexbug family. The robotic bug slithers forward on smooth surfaces, mimicking real larva. The bug also reacts to its environment and can instinctively change direction when it senses an obstacle in its way.

The Nano Hive Habitat Set is the first transportable environment that allows Hexbug Nano architects to customize their design within a Habitat Set system. The set features a ramp, multiple levels, and a floor that has attachment points so children can pop in their choice of accessories.

The updated Nano Habitat Set features the Construct System, including modular parts and accessories. The floor of each Hex Cell has attachment pegs so children can personalize it to their liking. The Hex Cell also features removable walls so cells can be connected to one another to create different environments.

The company is also releasing limited-edition, holiday-themed Hexbug Nanos. For Halloween, the zombie Nano is decked out with coffin-shaped packaging and a glow-in-the-dark exoskeleton. For Christmas, the Holiday Ornament Nano comes with reindeer antlers and is packaged as an ornament.

Photo Credit: Kmart.com

Innovation First Files Intellectual Property Infringement Lawsuit

Innovation First, Inc. has filed an intellectual property infringement lawsuit against Urban Trend, LLC and two of its principals, Robert G. Kushner and Michael Stoll, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  The lawsuit alleges that the defendants committed trade dress infringement, violations of the Lanham Act, and other wrongful conduct in offering knock-offs of the Hexbug Nano micro robotic toys designed and sold by Innovation First.

The knock-offs, says Innovation First, copy the look and feel of the products, mirroring, among other aspects, their design, color scheme, and naming conventions.  The company also alleges that the defendants lifted both form and content from Innovation First’s sales materials for use in their advertising. Innovation First premiered the Hexbug Nano Micro Robotic Creature toy line in 2009.

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