HoliDAY of Play 2015

COMMENTARY: 1996: The Best Christmas Ever

1996. It was the year of the New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the year of Jerry Maguire and the Macarena. It was the year of Bill Clinton’s reelection. But most importantly, 1996 marked the best Christmas ever, with toy companies cranking out some of kids’ favorite toys of all time.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime KidWho could forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls, from Mattel? Those pudgy-faced, yarn-haired little cuties each had a motorized mouth, and kids could feed their doll a french fry, a pretzel stick, a banana, and other yummy snacks. This was one of the toys my mom admits to pushing other moms out of the way for at Toys “R” Us on Black Friday morning. The food, which the dolls realistically chewed when kids inserted it into their mouths, fell into a backpack on the doll’s back, so kids could feed them over and over again. Of course, this beacon of glory was shortly recalled after the holiday season, as kids were getting their hair, skin, and fingers stuck in the doll’s mouth (as you can imagine, this resulted in many unhappy parents and kids with bald spots). While I made sure my hair was secured tightly in a ponytail while playing, my Snacktime Kid remained one of my favorite toys through ’97.

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Fisher-Price Launches Share the Joy! Campaign

Laugh & LearnFisher-Price has launched a new holiday digital advertising campaign called, “Share the Joy,” which stems away from traditional product features to original video vignette-ads. The three videos each have its own distinct story line and feature a holiday carol including, “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Carol of the Bells” with re-written lyrics from a child’s point of view.

The brands and products highlighted in the videos include Laugh & Learn, Little People, and Imaginext. You can watch them and find sharable coupons on

The Mensch on a Bench is a New Hanukkah Tradition for the Whole Family

MosheThe Mensch on a Bench was created by Neal and Erin Hoffman, who were inspired to create an alternative to the Elf on a Shelf for their 4-year-old son Jacob.  After a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Mensch on a Bench makes its debut this holiday season.

The Mensch on a Bench book tells the story of Moshe the Mensch who was in temple with the Maccabees after they won the war against the Greeks. There was only enough oil for one night, so Moshe volunteered to sit on the bench and watch over the Menorah while the rest slept. Each night, Moshe incorporates a different Jewish tradition into the story.

In addition to the hardcover book, families receive their very own 12-inch plush Mensch to watch over their own Menorah. The Mensch loves to play dreidel, eat Latkes, sing songs, and be with family.

The Mensch on a Bench is available in limited quantities and available exclusively at

The Beatrix Girls Sign New Licensees

The Beatrix GirlsWith an official launch still to come this year, The Beatrix Girls brand has already announced nine new licensing agreements after its successful introduction at the International Licensing Show. The new line of collectible pop-star dolls has expanded since its promotional agreement with Peavey Electronics to add new brand partners in the teen/tween market. Licensing deals, including apparel, bags and backpacks, accessories, back-to-school, bedding, stationery, footwear, headwear, and more, were brokered by the licensing firm AALMG.

The U.S. licensees The Beatrix Girls have recently signed include Children’s Apparel Network for branded tops, bottoms, sets, dress, and outerwear; Berkshire Fashions for branded baseball caps, fashion headwear, fleece hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, head bands, ear muffs, leg and arm warmers, socks, slipper socks, rain slickers, ponchos, and umbrellas; Hanover Group for branded necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, anklets, charms, headbands, barrettes, ponytail holders, hair clips, hair scarves, lanyards, coin purses, purses, zipper pulls, flashlights, key chains, backpack clips, shoelaces, novelty headbands, tiaras, wands, eye masks, brushes, sunglasses, and gift sets; Skyhigh International LLC for branded back-to-school stationery, including notebooks, memo books, portfolios, binders, planners, journals, address books, list pads, book covers, stationery sets, stickers, pens, and pencils; Jay Franco & Sons for branded bedding, bath, room décor, beach towels, beach blankets, and beach backpacks; AME for branded girls sleepwear; Playa Vista Designs for branded footwear; and Fast Forward for branded handbags, backpacks, totes, sports bags, small leather goods, cell phone cases, luggage, lunch juts, and beverage bottles.

The Beatrix Girls band members—Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal—produce real music that kids can collect. Each pop-star has her own developed personality, making it not only possible for her to live and interact in the human world, but for kids to vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop-star through play.

Little Tikes Big Holiday Offering

Little Tikes is introducing new products for the holidays. These products range from ages as early as 6 months up to 5 years. These toys allow kids to interact with art, funny characters, and animals. They all support early development, including learning to crawl. These products include:
  • Lil’ Blabberz: Oolie is a funny, crazy character in the shape of a soft, fuzzy ball for kids ages 3 and up.
  • Activity Garden: The garden incorporates a variety of baby toys and activities to develop motor skills and cognitive ability. This activity gym can be configured in different ways to keep play exciting from kids ages 6 months to 3 years.
  • GiddyUp ‘N Go Pony: A toy pony named Thunder that allows kids ages 3 to 5 to develop coordination and balance.
  • I’m an Artist Station: This product allows toddlers ages 3 and up to be creative in art. The paper spins, kids add paint, and make creations.
  • Wiggimals: This toy sheep can assist babies in learning to crawl with its movement. Wiggimals is suitable for babies ages 6 months and up.

Toys “R” Us 2013 Holiday Strategy Highlights Education, Tablets, and More

toysrusToys “R” Us Inc. will enhance product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years, such as education, tablets, and construction, as part of their 2013 holiday strategy.

This season, a dedicated Imaginarium shop will set in-store, and each store will have a whole aisle dedicated to new educational products, such as microscopes and telescopes from Edu Science and language-learning programs from Little Pim. Meanwhile, capitalizing on the growing construction category, the company will install a “Shop within a Store” in approximately 300 locations, showcasing construction brands such as Lego and Mega Bloks. The company will also feature approximately 70 Lego exclusives this holiday season, including Legends of Chima The Croc Swap Hideout and Star Wars Jedi Defender Class Cruiser.

After experiencing increases in sales of tablets and tablet accessories, Toys “R” Us will add easy-to-navigate 32-foot shops that will showcase 25 tablets that can be tested and engaged with by kids and parents. These shops are expected to set in the majority of Toys “R” Us locations by October. The company also has exclusive tablet products, such as the Kurio 10s by Techno Source and its recently announced tabeo e2, and will be launching a dedicated online tablet guide.

Finally, online shoppers can now place a “Buy Online, Pickup In Store,” order on and it will be ready for pickup in under an hour, and “Ship to Store” orders will now be available for pickup in five to 10 days. Later this fall, stores will be equipped with a secondary in-store pickup location, and “Ready for Pickup” emails that are sent to customers once their order is available will include a map of where the pickup location is positioned within the store. Reveals Hottest Kids Holiday Trends, the leading safe social networking site for children 13 and under, has the inside scoop on this year’s hottest kids holiday trends. Featuring the most up-to-date data sourced from kids themselves, Everloop showcases the top gift wish-list picks, favorite holiday treats, and biggest holiday topics this season.

When it comes to this year’s top gift picks, 22 percent of Everloop members are hoping for some type of electronic device, such as a Kindle Fire, an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Twelve percent would like clothes; 10 percent asked Santa for toys like Lego Friends, Furby, and Monster High Dolls; and 100 percent want “something cool.”

To learn more, visit

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Offers Toy Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Courtesy of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital

The holiday season is upon us, which makes it prime time for toy buying. In fact, more than half of the three billion toys and games sold in the U.S. each year are purchased at Christmas time. While the majority of toys are safe, thanks in part to stronger federal rules and higher standards from toy makers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that last year alone more than 193,200 U.S. children were treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

“Toys have changed over the years and the assortment can be astounding, particularly to those who haven’t shopped for kids in a while,” says Bevin Maynard, a child advocate at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. “Child safety, however, never goes out of style. It is something parents and family members should always keep in mind when selecting gifts for youngsters.” [Read more...]

Playmobil Pirates from Gameloft Launch on iOS Devices

Gameloft’s Playmobil Pirates is now available from the App Store. This free-to-play title, which will be released subsequently on Android devices, takes place in a fun-filled environment based on the Playmobil line of pirate-themed toys.

Playmobil Pirates is currently available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPad Touch, and the Android version will hit the Google Play store soon.

Safari Ltd Supports Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Holiday Toy Drive

Safari Ltd., a worldwide distributor of quality, hand-painted animal replicas, donated more than 2,000 of its toys to Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation’s annual Holiday Toy Drive last week.

The Holiday Toy Drive benefits children spending their holidays in the hospital. On Christmas morning, patients will wake up to a surprise toy package from “Santa Claus” containing a variety of donations. Other children visiting one of Miami Children’s Hospital’s nine outpatient centers will receive similar gifts. This is the first year Safari Ltd., has participated in this toy drive, and the company plans to make this an annual tradition.