COMMENTARY: Bath Time Is Play Time in My House

I’m a lucky mom (for many reasons), but in the context of this post I’m lucky because my kids love taking baths. It’s one less thing to fight about. However, the reason they don’t mind cleaning up is that it’s fun. It’s not the getting clean part they enjoy (Lena has tried to make me forget about that portion of the experience many times), but the playing. Entertaining a 4-year-old in the tub is very different from distracting an 8-month-old, but bath toys have come a long way since I was a kid (plastic cup and Dawn dish soap, anyone?), and I’ve got a whole array of toys to get the job done. [Read more...]

EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT: Reaching Consumers at Home

photoConsumers want to shop local. They want to support their communities and their neighbors’ businesses. Moms and dads truly want to keep their hard-earned dollars in their hometowns whenever possible. Small Business Saturday has 3.3 million likes on Facebook. At the very least, people like the concept of supporting their local retailers.

“Sure, Jackie, easy for you to say. Show me the business.” Of course there are obstacles. If you’re not seeing the sales levels you’d like, ask yourself why. I believe one of the main reasons has to do with awareness and remaining top of mind with your community. Even if you are doing the mailings, coupon booklets, and Penny Saver ads, that may not be enough. You need to reach moms where they are spending their precious free moments of the day and, for many, that place is online, on social media.

My community has a group for local moms on Facebook (dads are welcome, but remain in the minority). It has more than 5,000 members who live in my town and actively seek advice from the group on everything from parenting to what to do with kids locally to where to eat and shop for various things. I’ve noticed that when the topic turns to toys, the first place group members recommend is Fun Stuff Toys, a local toy retailer in Seaford, N.Y. that caters to the community. If your community has a group like this, I urge you to join—not to constantly promote your shop (no one will appreciate that), but to be an active member of your community and a trusted source of information when the conversation naturally (and no doubt frequently) turns to “What toy should I buy for a child’s birthday party?” and “What should I do with my kids this Saturday?” You will remain top of mind for busy parents who may just need that frequent reminder that you are the best source for toys in your community. Once you have their support and awareness, loyalty to your store and all that you offer should come easy.

This column was published in the February issue of The Toy Book. Check back regularly for more toy industry commentary from Jackie. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

COMMENTARY: Keeping It Fresh for Kids Sends Them Running to the Store

So many toys and video games are introduced each year. Many of them succeed at selling in and selling through, others flop, but manufacturers who have the wherewithal to get involved with their customers have the opportunity to draw in more customers, and to get their currently satisfied customers talking about their purchase and even send them running back to buy more.

disney-infinity-figurines-300x229One company that I’ve recently noticed to be doing an excellent job at this is Disney Interactive, with its Disney Infinity lineup. Disney Infinity, in case you’re somehow unaware, is a video game with a physical toy component. The toys are figures of favorite Disney characters. When a gamer owns a character’s figure, they can transport that character into their game, unlocking new worlds and ways to play.

Kids love collecting, so they are going to want to collect all the figures, and at $13.99 for one figure or $30.99 for a three pack, it’s not unreasonable for gift givers to purchase them as a birthday or holiday gift. What’s brilliant, however, is letting kids have some ownership. The tagline “Play in Their Worlds or Create Your Own” might sound a bit intimidating to the average adult. “Create my own world? I don’t know anything about video game coding!” To a kid, it sounds like magic, and it kind of is. Kids can easily create their own world—called a Toy Box—and then show their friends, who can bring over their own figures and they can play together in this newly created Toy Box. Even more amazing, they can share their new Toy Box with players all over the world. A bit heady for a kid, no?

Fantastic, but here’s the really brilliant part. Disney Interactive issues challenges to players to create their own Toy Boxes with a certain theme, for example, the recent Contraption Challenge, where players were tasked to create “crazy, unique and exciting contraptions that perform simple tasks.” The top five submissions were showcased on a Disney Infinity Toy Box Top Five Countdown webisode and will no doubt be downloaded by thousands of kids around the world. Now that’s exciting.

Each Thursday a new challenge is issued, so gamers are continuously being engaged and made to feel like part of a community. Parents are happy because their child is not only making their purchase worthwhile by continuing to play with it, but they are being creative while doing so. That in turn, yields more sales. Because when kids then ask for more figures to enhance their game play experience, parents are more likely to buy.

Check back regularly for more toy industry commentary from Jackie. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

 

COMMENTARY: Preparing for Baby… Let’s Go Shopping!

As I prepare for the arrival of Baby Boy Breyer (due in July!), I’ve taken a special interest in toys and other juvenile products for infants. While I’ve saved a good deal of baby items from my daughter, now 3, it’s always nice to have new stuff for a new baby. Plus, since he is a boy, many of the pink, girly things I’d saved just won’t do. Time to shop! Here are some of the cool, sweet, and innovative new baby items I’ve recently uncovered:

Baby Snug w Activity TrayThe Mamas & Papas never fail to come through with modern, fashionable, and functional items. The Baby Snug with Activity Tray is designed for ages 3 months and up. Once a baby can support his own head, he can try out this comfy seat. It’s lightweight, can be used indoors or out, and grows with the child so it has a longer lifespan than some similar items. The removable tray can be easily wiped clean, so it can be used for meal time, or to hold toys for play time. The removable tray comes with a beaded loop, spinning lion, bendy stalk, rattle flower, and more that can be moved around to continually interest baby.

TheShadeSince I’m having a baby in July, I’ll have options I didn’t have with my daughter, who was a fall to winter baby, such as going for walks and sitting outdoors. The challenge, of course, will be protecting my little one from insects, the sun, etc. The Shade, the very first product from Imagine Baby, is the ultimate accessory for car seats and strollers and protects babies from the sun, wind, bugs, and other annoyances. It is available in four sleek colors and is compatible with just about every stroller and car seat on the market, according to the company. It offers a breathable design, and UPF 50+ Protection from UVA/UVB rays.

swaddle.mickeyAll new moms are familiar with swaddling. It takes some getting used to, and it doesn’t work for all babies, but some babies really seem to be comforted when they’re swaddled up in a soft cozy blanket. SwaddleDesigns offers an array of patterns and styles in soft cotton flannel fabric. Swaddling instructions are sewn into the blanket so new parents can swaddle successfully on the first shot. I love the Mickey and Minnie Mouse patterns, as well as the elephants & chickies.

Check back regularly for more baby product reviews from Jackie. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

PHOTO: The Toy Book Previews TMNT Line from Playmates Toys

Jackie Breyer and Laurie Schacht have some fun at Playmates ToysTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toy Fair Preview in New York last week. Aside from the fun role-play lineup, we also love the Mutagen Ooze Action Figures, and the Pop-Up Pizza Playset Anchovy Alley. The pizza box pops open into a subway scene that stands 18-inches tall. Ninja action features in the play set include a portable pizza oven that flings fresh pizzas, floor traps, a tricky sewer cover that throws the bad guys for a loop, and an abandoned subway tunnel. 

The Toy Insider Announces List of HOT 20 Toys for Holiday 2012

The Toy Insider, the leading holiday gift guide for toys and gifts, announces its list of the HOT 20 toys for the holidays. This year’s list features My Magical Wand Cinderella, Monster High’s High School, and the Batman Bat-Pod, among many others, providing gift-givers with the inside scoop on the best toys and gifts for this holiday season.

The HOT 20 is the kick-off section of the Toy Insider holiday gift guide, which will appear in the November issue of Womans Day magazine, as well as www.theToyInsider.com . Now in its seventh year, this year’s Toy Insider guide is the biggest ever, filled with a list of 116 toys and gifts from more than 80 manufacturers. The Toy Insider offers toy and gift ideas for all ages and both genders, broken down by age group (0-2 years old, 3-5 years old, 6-8 years old and 9+ years old) with an in-depth description of the developmental needs and interests for each specific age group. A unique toy skill key provides consumers even greater convenience to help them pick not only the hottest toy, but also the right toy for the special child in their lives.

In addition to Laurie Schacht, the panel of toy experts includes Jonathan Samet, Publisher of The Toy Book, the leading trade publication in the toy industry, Jackie Breyer, Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book and Reyne Rice, a leading toy trend expert.

This years HOT 20 are:

0-2 Years
Bright Starts Having a Ball 5-in-1 Sports Zone – Kids II
Cruise & Groove Ballapalooza – Fisher-Price
Lil’ Princess 3 Story Enchanted Castle – Mega Brands
Rocktivity Sit to Stand Music Skool – Playskool [Read more...]

Women in Toys Honors ‘Wonder Women’ in the Industry

On the opening night of the 109th American International Toy Fair, more than 50 of the most influential and impactful women business leaders in toys, licensing, and children’s entertainment were honored at the 8th Annual Wonder Women of Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards Dinner in New York City. More than 300 industry executives attended the newly revamped event, hosted by Women in Toys (WIT), as they honored the 2012 Wonder Woman Award winners, including Adventure Publishing Group’s own Jackie Breyer and Laurie Schacht.

[Read more...]

Adorable Teddy Bear from Me To You!

Roger Murphy, CEO of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd. in the UK, loved our coverage of their Me To You brand in our March/April issue so much, he sent me an adorable Tatty Teddy Bear! Isn’t it just the cutest, hippest little bear on the block? Tatty Teddy is headed to the U.S. in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. Thanks, Bryan Joiner, for writing such a great story about the humble beginnings of Tatty Teddy and the evolution of Me To You!

–Jackie

Kids Wrapped Up in Another Silly Craze

Jackie Breyer gives her perspective on the Silly Bandz Craze in this NY Times Blog.

N.Y./Region
The Local – Maplewood: Kids Wrapped Up in Another Silly Craze
By TARA GEORGE
Published: April 16, 2010
If Sparkhouse Kids is like other toy stores throughout the region, 16 cases of silly bandz expected to arrive soon will sell out soon after they land on shelves.