PUBLISHER’S VIEWPOINT: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Feb.17.toybook.jsametby Jonathan Samet

On the December 21 episode of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, Seth Meyers delivered the following:

Toys ‘R’ Us announced this week that its stores will remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas. Not to be outdone, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.”

This was meant to be a joke to make us all laugh (and it was funny), but at the same time it needs to be taken seriously, as the Internet has certainly changed the way we conduct our lives. One key difference is that the time of day consumers can make purchases is no longer limited by “store hours.” With a simple click of the “enter” button, toys and other products can show up at our door—or go directly to the gift recipient—in as little as 48 hours, without having to leave the comfort of the couch or desk.

Therefore, no matter what part of the toy industry you participate in, you have to take this change seriously. We all have to continue to evaluate how to best reach and win over the end user 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—or as Seth Meyers put it, all the time, always, forever! I remember talking to many manufacturers, even within the last nine years since I became publisher here, who said that Internet sales were just a tiny fraction of their business and was of no concern. To quote Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changin’,” and to survive and succeed, we all better be a-changin’ with them.

Which takes me to my next topic for discussion—though it is one that has been addressed numerous times (including within this very column) over the last few years. The New York Times ran an article on December 23 titled “Babes in a Digital Toyland: Even 3-Year-Olds Get Gadgets.” The article discusses how the passion for playing with traditional toys and games seems to be diminishing at an earlier and earlier age. The topic of age compression and increased demand for tech toys is nothing new, but this article references a recent survey of 1,000 parents with children between the ages of 2 and 10, and a particular claim caught my attention:

“About two-thirds of those [parents surveyed], planned to give a tablet or smart-phone.”

From the referenced study, the claim of 66 percent was not as startling as the fact that the sample size began with parents of kids as young as 2 years old! Kids under age 5 possibly receiving tablets or smartphones? The times, they really are a-changin’.

So where do the above two topics leave you if you are in the business of either manufacturing traditional toys and games or owning a brick-and-mortar retail store? If you are saying to yourself, “it is time to fold up the tents,” that could be one option. The other is to continually adapt to the ever-changing marketplace and deliver a product or service your end user will demand. If you face obstacles, analyze and react to them, rather than resist or complain.

As much as the Internet, technology, and tablets and smartphones are changing our lives, it is important to remember that one of the single hottest products on the market last year was a simple plastic loom that kids wrapped rubber bands around to make colorful bracelets. There is probably no happier sight than walking into a store with the child in your life, buying him or her a product off the shelf, and seeing the instant smile and excitement on his or her   face. So, as much as the times are a-changin’, in other ways, many of the great things in life stay the same.

This column was published in the February issue of The Toy Book. Check back regularly for more toy industry commentary from Jonathan. 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!

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...]

TIA Partners with Adventure Publishing for Licensing Showcase Co-Located at Toy Fair

New York City is slated to become the next stop on the global licensing circuit as the Toy Industry Association (TIA) launches its new Brand & Entertainment Showcase in February. Co-located with the 109th American International Toy Fair, to be held February 12-15 in New York, the showcase offers an impactful and convenient content connection for entertainment licensors and brand owners alike. The event provides opportunities for exclusive access to top-tier media, marketing agencies, and an audience of 30,000+ tradeshow guests from more than 90 countries. Adventure Publishing Group is the exclusive media partner of the Brand & Entertainment Showcase.

The new Brand & Entertainment Showcase satisfies increased demands from the licensing community to collaborate in a formalized setting at the show. Content providers will be able to simply show up and show off in small, private meeting spaces or large, public theaters. Turnkey presentation solutions and an audience of marketers ensure that all participants’ needs will be met.

As the largest and most important gathering for youth entertainment in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair last year welcomed an unprecedented surge in entertainment executives (+31 percent) and licensors (+8 percent). In 2010, licensed toys represented 25 percent of total industry sales. In addition, the co-located Brand & Entertainment Showcase gives participants access to the important ancillary advertising, marketing, and promotion-oriented industries that are concentrated in and around the media epicenter of the world.

Adventure Publishing’s signature publications—The Licensing Book and The Toy

Book—and its online communities will be a primary conduit of information and updates about the showcase to the global community, and the key vehicles for brand advertisers during the event itself.

For more information about participating in TIA’s Brand and Entertainment Showcase, contact Jennifer Coleman, sales executive and producer (973.760.8181, jennifer@jcinc.biz); for information about advertising opportunities, please contact Jonathan Samet at Adventure Publishing (212.575.4510, jsamet@adventurepub.com).