COMMENTARY: Keeping Babies Busy

It seems that I have passed the stage in life that requires bridesmaid dresses galore and into the phase where diapers and pacifiers are abundant. There was a two-year period when it seemed I received that special “We’re engaged” phone call every weekend; now it’s the weekday “We’re having a baby!” I cry after every single announcement—I tell you, there is just something about a baby that brings forth the waterworks in me. Three particularly close friends just welcomed their first children into the world, and my cousin did as well. In the last three months, three very close friends called with the exciting news that they are expecting. Being across the country is difficult when there are new babies to hold in Alabama! I’m missing baby showers, delivery rooms, and those sweet babies.

The distance brought on the decision that I’m going to make sure to be the cool “aunt” that sends toys, books, games, etc. all the way from New York City. And after meeting these precious babies for the first time, I only want to send more. I did, however, want to give gifts that will set me apart from all of the other adoring friends and family members, and luckily, my job in the toy industry gives me the inside scoop on the neatest and newest play things for babies. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Help! Kids Should Know the Beatles Too

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The Fab Four: George, Ringo, Paul, and John

I was commuting to work yesterday, minding my own business, when I heard a teenager telling her friend that her strawberry-themed bracelet symbolized her favorite song “Strawberry Fields” by Twintapes. Now as a rule of thumb, I normally tune out every single thing that I hear on the subway, but this particular statement stopped me in my tracks. To say that I am an avid Beatles fan is like saying that the band was “a little popular.” I have obsessed over their music for as long as I can remember, and I will stop there because I could go on and on for days on the topic. The band changed my life and made me fall in love with rock ‘n roll at a very young age, and it breaks my heart to know that teenagers and kids are being robbed of the tunes that made me love music.

The Beatles Yellow Submarine, released in 1999

The Beatles Yellow Submarine, released in 1999

This Beatles-oblivious teenager could not possibly go on thinking that one of the greatest songs of all time was written and recorded by the Twintapes, and this problem should be addressed in the future—for all our sakes. Presently, I have seven girlfriends expecting babies and a brand-new nephew—I know, there is something in that Alabama water—so I feel that it’s my duty to make sure that they are brought up listening to “Come Together,” “Revolution,” “Hey Jude,” and “She Loves You.” I want them to recognize the phrase, “We all live in a yellow submarine,” and I want them to know who wrote “Strawberry Fields Forever.” I took it upon myself to find kid-appropriate methods of Beatles introduction. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Disney Princesses Evolve with the Modern Woman

Princess2Since Disney’s first princess, Snow White, made her debut in 1937, Disney’s “princess criteria” has continued to evolve with the conventions of each generation. The brand has received a lot of negative commentary on the overly feminine, submissive nature of all of its earliest princesses. I would argue, however, that Disney has done a phenomenal job of representing the women of each generation. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, when Snow White, Cinderella, and Princess Aurora reigned supreme, but still appeared—I will admit—a bit overly “damsel in distress,” this was the average woman of the early 1900s. Like it or not, many women of this time married for security or relied on men to do things that they did not realize they were capable of doing. In our day and age, Cinderella would take a trip to Century 21 and find something much trendier than that glass slipper, Aurora would wake up and smell the coffee, and Belle would text her dad to come pick her up from Beast’s castle.

You’ll notice that Disney did very little else with princesses after a few damsel films; then, in 1989, Ariel the underwater princess, was introduced. Since then, the princess craze has taken over a little at a time. I find that it’s because there’s a princess for every girl and every personality. While our generation has seen many women take a stand against oppression and inequality, Disney’s representation of women has changed as well. The brand presented its first women of color, Pocahantas, Mulan, and now Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. Today’s princess is a do-it-yourself girl like Merida, from Brave, who refuses to marry her betrothed and faces her fair share of adversity with, well, bravery. Jasmine stands up to her father and says she will only marry for love; Ariel goes after her man instead of waiting on him. Many parents fear that little girls are consumed with this idea of being a “royal highness,” but I think it’s healthy for children, especially now with the recent additions, to see this representation of bravery, courage, class, and elegance. And let’s be fair: every girl loves to play dress-up, whether it’s Snow White, Mulan, or Merida. [Read more...]

LIMA Webinar to Focus on Opportunities in Children’s Licensing

The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) will host its bi-monthly webinar on April 18 at noon EST. The webinar, titled “Insights on the Children’s Market,” will feature an overview of the kids’ licensing and products market, and will guide professionals in ensuring the success of their brand.

Kathleen Cella, director of the Kids Industry Data Service (KIDS) at The NPD Group, will lead the webinar and cover a range of kid-focused topics such as assessing licensing opportunities, understanding seasonal market fluctuations, gaining insight into the impact children have on household purchasing, and exploring available licenses.

LIMA webinars are free for all members and $99 per site for non-members. To register for this webinar or to learn more information, click here.

This post was originally written by Leah Rocketto 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.

Report: Toys Most Popular With Kids Ages 3 to 8 in Q4 2010

The NPD Group released the fourth quarter 2010 (October through December) results from its Kids Industry Data Service (KIDS), a monthly, syndicated tracking service that provides users with statistics about purchases made for kids—from birth through age 14.

According to the report, the categories that captured the most dollar share for kids during that period were apparel or accessories with 17 percent, toys or board games with 14 percent, and video game system hardware, and video games or PC game software, with 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Footwear rounded out the top five with 8 percent.

[Read more...]