China Toy Fair


Archie Comics: Let’s Hear It for the Boy Next Door!

By Stuart Fischer

ArchieComicslogoWhen one thinks of the comic book character Archie, one envisions a bright-eyed teenager who has a constant smile on his face, as if he does not have a care in the world. That might be true of this wonderful fictional character, but the company behind him is a hard-working, innovative force: Archie Comic Publications.

Founded in 1939 by Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater, the name of the company was first MLJ Publications. It was changed a few years later to Archie Comic Publications as a salute to the character that became its greatest success.

MLJ began publishing various titles during the beginning of the comic book industry, most of them humor, although there were also a few adventure series. The company’s first comic was Blue Ribbon Comics, published in November 1939, followed shortly by Pep Comics, which began in January 1940 and introduced The Shield, a patriotic hero who resembled Marvel’s Captain America, who started appearing one year later.

In Pep Comics issue no. 22, published in December 1941, Archie Andrews made his first appearance. The world would never be the same. [Read more...]

Mattel and Warner Bros. Extend Strategic Relationship for DC Comics Universe

Batman EvergreenWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), with DC Entertainment, has extended its alliance with Mattel Inc. with a new multi-year agreement granting Mattel rights to continue as master toy licensee for the DC Comics universe of characters. Under these terms, Mattel is granted unprecedented access to the DC Comics vault of characters, which includes more than a thousand DC Comics superheroes and super-villains, such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and The Joker. The deal continues Mattel’s support of DC Comics across its entire portfolio of core brands, including Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Barbie, Mattel Games, and Fisher-Price.

In addition to existing characters and content, the extension includes Mattel’s rights to produce toys based on future DC Comics films, animation, and TV projects that are developed and produced during the term of the agreement. Mattel is set to develop toy lines for two of Warner Bros.’ most highly anticipated theatrical releases: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is set for a summer 2016 release, and the recently announced Justice League film to follow. [Read more...]

Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome Will Play at Cinemas for One Weekend in June

HotWheels.OriginofAwesomeOn June 7 and 8, at 11 a.m. local time, Fathom Events and Mattel will debut Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome in select movie theaters nationwide. The film tells the story of how series characters Gage, Rhett, Wyatt, and Brandon face off against a mysterious black car that begins transforming the sleepy town of Hilly Woodlands into a wild mess of orange track and outrageous obstacles.

Fans will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look, learning how Team Hot Wheels was created through interviews with Mattel officials, a first-hand look at early sketches and concept art, and a glimpse into how the characters were developed.

Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.fathomevents.com.

Richard Dickson Appointed Chief Brands Officer for Mattel

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. has created a new, unified marketing and creative division to span the company’s global portfolio of consumer brands. To lead this new global brand team, the company has tapped Richard Dickson to be its chief brands officer, with responsibility for growing and strengthening the company’s portfolio of beloved brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.

Dickson will oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution, product development, and content creation across Mattel’s legacy and new brands, and will be responsible for driving innovation throughout the portfolio. He will report directly to Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton and will serve as a member of the company’s executive leadership team. [Read more...]

Toy State Introduces New Road Rippers, Hot Wheels, and Cat Products

Road Rippers

Road Rippers

Toy State is adding new products in its spring line, including new offerings from its Road Rippers brand and Hot Wheels and Cat licensed products. The company is celebrating its 30th year by bringing new products for indoor and outdoor play.

For the Road Rippers line, suitable for kids ages 3 and up, Street Screamers feature stylized licensed vehicles with oversized low-profile wheels and special paint jobs. The VW Hatchback has a light-up rotating speaker bed with three unique designs and a different song for each. The Skidders Mini Countrymen WRC can slam on the brakes for a “fish-tail spinout” effect. Rev Up Monsters have a rev-up driving feature, while Maximum Boost has a rocket boost, as well as wheelie action. Street Beatz are custom-designed vehicles with high-impact speakers.

Hot Wheels licensed products, suitable for kids ages 3 and up, include [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Animation Has Long Been a Promotional Vehicle for Toys

BrandonEngel1by Brandon Engel

You’ve likely heard about the massive success of The Lego Movie, and maybe you were even one of the millions worldwide who have gone to see it. Despite its financial success, some have blasted the film for essentially being a glorified, expensive commercial for Legos. I don’t think that anyone can deny that The Lego Movie is obviously commercially motivated, but does that make it wrong? Is it all that different from children’s movies selling toys based on the film?

BrandonEngel2Last Christmas, the Frozen Castle Playset and matching Barbie dolls from the Disney film Frozen were at the top of many children’s lists for Santa. Every time a commercial appeared for the movie or the toy, they advertised each other. Is The Lego Movie any different just because the toy existed before the movie? Here is the bigger question: In an age where almost no image is spared licensing of some form, where does the line get drawn between entertainment and commercial? [Read more...]

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Brings Godzilla-Sized List of Licensees to Toy Fair

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) enters this year’s American International Toy Fair with an extensive lineup of global licensees in support of its entertainment properties, milestone anniversaries, and upcoming theatrical releases.

Bandai America Inc. and Jakks Pacific Inc. will each support Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, with new toy lines. Jakks’ line of Godzilla products will include an Ultimate Large Scale Godzilla Figure with 12 points of articulation and a length of over 43 inches, making it one of the largest toys in Godzilla history. Other worldwide partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., NECA, and Sideshow Collectibles.

WBCP’s toy partners will also release toys and collectibles based on The Hobbit Trilogy. The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will support the film series with new figures. Additional partners include Eaglemoss, Funko, Kosmos, and Ravensburger.

The Wizard of Oz will celebrate its 75th anniversary with Mattel‘s new line of dolls for The Wizard of Oz Barbie collection. Enesco, Tonner Doll, and Madame Alexander will each offer collectible figures. Warner Bros. will also continue its There’s No Place Like Home campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Gone with the Wind will also mark its 75th anniversary with new collectible figures from Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll. Mattel will offer an anniversary Barbie collection and Enesco will introduce a stone resin figure. [Read more...]

Mattel’s Fourth Annual 12 Days of Play Program Impacts More Than 100,000 Children

MattelChildrenFoundationMattel has started its fourth annual global Mattel 12 Days of Play program, a series of holiday-themed philanthropic events that will give the gift of play to more than 100,000 children in more than 30 countries. Mattel 12 Days of Play brings Mattel employees together to impact the lives of children at underserved schools, hospitals, food banks, orphanages, and other community organizations around the world with a variety of play, toys, and fun activities.

In the Los Angeles area alone, more than 2,000 volunteers are joining children at inner-city elementary schools and the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Working with its signature partner Playworks, as well as LA’s Best and other local organizations, Mattel will create a total of eight Winter Wonderlands. The play areas have approximately 400 tons of snow combined, where an estimate of 5,000 kids ages 6 to 11 can play.

These events feature real falling snow and activities such as sledding, ice skating, racing Hot Wheels cars down a 40-foot track, photo opportunities with real-life Barbie, a chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and plenty of toys. On December 5, Mattel’s global headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. was covered in more than 100 tons of snow and real flakes fell from the sky. Kids were also able to sled down three tracks and drive Power Wheels through an obstacle course. [Read more...]

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]

Walmart Matches Competitors’ Black Friday Deals One Week Early

logo-walmartHoliday shoppers don’t have to wait until Black Friday to start shopping for deals at Walmart. At of 8 a.m. on November 22, Walmart has started a pre-Black Friday savings event in stores and online, lowering the prices on popular toys and electronics, to match select Black Friday offers from Target, Toys “R” Us, and Best Buy one week early.

The retailer also extends its Christmas Ad Match to walmart.com customers. Customers who purchase an item on walmart.com, and find a lower price in a local competitor, can email christmasadmatch@walmart.com and receive the difference on a gift card. The same policy is in place for customers at Walmart stores for items purchased November 1 through December 24, excluding Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

Examples of toys and electronics that are part of Walmart’s pre-Black Friday saving event, while supplies last, include LeapPad 2, Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, Nerf Rebelle Crossbow, Monopoly Board Game, Hot Wheels Single Car, Skylanders and Disney Infinity Starter Packs, and select PS4 and Xbox One video games such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, NBA 2K14 and Battlefield 4. [Read more...]