Toys “R” Us Stores Nationwide Remain Open 87 Continuous Hours Ahead of Christmas

toysrusToys “R” Us stores nationwide will remain open for 87 consecutive hours for last-minute shoppers. Beginning at 6 a.m. on December 21 and continuing through 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, gift-givers can shop day and night for toys, including those that can only be found at Toys “R” Us.

Bargain hunters can also take advantage of savings and deals, as well as the company’s Price Match Guarantee, every day leading up to Christmas. Select discounts available at Toys “R” Us from December 20 through December 21 include buy one, get one free deals on all Chuggington Engines and Totally Me! by Victoria Justice crafts; buy one, get one 50 percent off all FAO Schwarz toys; and more.

Meanwhile, beginning December 22 through December 24, select discounts include buy one, get one free deals on all K’NEX building sets; buy one, get one 40 percent off all Disney Pixar Cars and Disney Planes die cast vehicles, and play sets; discounts on Disney Infinity Starter Packs; and more.

COMMENTARY: Boo! Halloween Toys That Outlast the Season

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

zombieLast year was a pretty tough Halloween on the east coast. Just a few days before the holiday, Hurricane Sandy shut off our lights, devastated our coasts, and in my neck of the woods, pretty much canceled parties and trick-or-treating. So this year I hope to see all our favorite ghosts and goblins make a big comeback.   

Who will you be this year? The Marvel superheroes will be strong sellers. Lets face it: what kid doesn’t want to save the world—and what adult doesn’t want a few hours to be “that hot” at a grown up party dressed up as Iron Man or Wonder Woman!

For little girls, if you haven’t purchased their Doc McStuffins or Sofia the First costumes yet, good luck finding them. I’ve yet to meet a 4-year-old girl that hadn’t loved one or both of these new favorite characters. Boys are loving Jake and his Never Land Pirates, Skylanders, Trash Pack Kids, and Slugterra.

But it’s not just in the costume. There are some great additions to the two hottest video games with Halloween themes this year that I need to share. Skylanders Giants released their special Halloween edition called Eye-Brawl. It’s sports a pumpkin head and a skeleton head at his feet. Disney Infinity will let kids build their own Halloween town in Toy Box mode, with the Pumpkin King throwing pumpkins at other characters, including the newly released Jack Skellington. [Read more...]

K’NEX Introduces Four New K’NEX Education Building Sets

Ideal for classroom and home use, K’NEX Education sets offer hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning for kids ages 9 and up. The new K’NEX Education sets are designed for small groups of students (between three and four kids), and bacsoon_logoteach concepts through problem solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and critical thinking. As kids build, they will have to use each other as a resource for investigating, discussing, and evaluating each scientific and design principle in action. These four new sets include: Simple Machines, Solar Energy, Wind and Water Energy, and Force and Motion.

Simple and Compound Machines – Offering hands-on learning the K’NEX Education Simple and Compound Machines Building Set is designed to expand upon middle school students’ knowledge of simple machines concepts. Students will be able to investigate, explore, and experiment with the K’NEX simple machine models as they analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. The included teacher’s guide features student inquiry sheets and worksheets for the models highlighted, and asks questions and presents challenges that can be used to help students think more deeply about the concepts involved.  The set includes 332 K’NEX parts. [Read more...]

K’NEX Brands Grants Learning Resources Ltd. K’NEX Education Distribution Rights in China and Hong Kong

K’NEX Brands has signed an agreement with Learning Resources Ltd. of Hong Kong to distribute its K’NEX Education line and select retail products in the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong.

Learning Resources Ltd. has been named the authorized reseller of K’NEX Education products in the PRC. Learning Resources also has the non-exclusive rights to sell popular K’NEX retail sets including the 6 Foot Ferris Wheel, 6 Foot Double Ferris Wheel, Grandfather Clock, and the Son of Serpent Coaster. The agreement between K’NEX and Learning Resources runs through next year.

K’nex Holds Tinkertoy Win-in-a-Snap Game and Sweepstakes

K’nex has opened the Tinkertoy Win-in-a-Snap game and sweepstakes. It is a  six-week long promotion open to U.S. and Canadian residents ages 18 and up (for  U.S. participants), or the age of majority in their province of residence (for Canadian participants).

To play the Tinkertoy Win-in-a-Snap game, players must log on to Facebook and like the Tinkertoy Facebook page. Every day, players will have an opportunity to guess which Tinkertoy model is being built in 30 seconds or less for their chance to instantly win one of 100 Tinkertoy Building Sets. These prizes will be awarded randomly throughout the six-week period. By playing the game daily and sharing the page with friends, fans have an opportunity to earn bonus entries towards the Tinkertoy Win-in-a-Snap sweepstakes grand prize of $1000. The more times fans play the game and share the page, the more entries they can accumulate, increasing their chance to win the grand prize.

The Tinkertoy Win-in-a-Snap game and sweepstakes runs through October 20. Participants can play once per day.

COMMENTARY: Different Licensees Mean Different Toy Takes on Pac-Man

Quite a few companies are taking on Pac-Man, the character featured in the classic arcade game by Namco. It’s easy to see why, as Pac-Man is the most popular video game of all time, not to mention a global icon that inspired a slew of merchandise during the ’80s. One current toy licensee is Paladone, whose recent Pac-centric products have included the radio-controlled PAC-MAN Racers Set, a plush doll, a candy dispenser, and much more. These toys are based around the basic character design: a yellow spheroid with a missing wedge for a mouth. Other than having eyes (shaped like small Pac-Men) and a handy third dimension, he doesn’t look all that different from Pac-Man in the original game.

Paladone Pac-Man and Ghost

Pac-Man original game

I passed on the candy dispenser (it still being swimsuit season), but as for the Pac-Man Racer, it is great fun on smooth surfaces. You control Pac-Man using a remote cleverly styled like an arcade joystick. There is a bit of a learning curve: For example, in order to get Pac-Man to turn, you have to move him forward or backward, and then bank hard left or right after he picks up some speed. Meanwhile, moving him out of certain tight spaces is not so dissimilar from parallel parking with a car (which is potentially good news for adults who need the practice). [Read more...]

K’nex Brands Welcomes Mario Kart 7

K’nex welcomes Mario Kart 7 to its line of officially licensed Nintendo building sets. Mario Kart 7 will join the Mario Kart Wii Building Set line in the construction aisle this fall.

The new sets are designed for young Nintendo fans ages 6 and up, bringing the fun of Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart Wii to a new generation, and expanding its appeal through a rewarding, age-appropriate K’nex building experience. In addition, the interchangeable track system rods, bricks, and connectors used in these building sets are American made.

kartassortmentMario Kart 7: Kart Assortment Series No. 1

Kids can build and race their favorite characters in karts from Mario Kart 7. Choose from fan favorites Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, or Princess Peach in this Kart Assortment. Once built, the kart’s pull-back motor and accessories from the game add to the fun. Each sold separately. [Read more...]

K’nex Announces New Additions to Tinkertoy Building Set Line

knex_2K’nex Brands has unveiled four additions to its line of Tinkertoy building sets. Licensed by Hasbro and Playskool, the newly redesigned Tinkertoy pieces snap together and stay together for long-lasting play. The toy is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Additions include Tinkertoy: 65 Piece Essentials Building Set and the Tinkertoy 100 Piece Essential Building Set, featuring fan-favorite Tinkertoy parts, including spools, rods, flags, washers, end caps, and more. The Tinkertoy: Super Tink Building Set lets little builders create a skyscraper, fighter jet, getaway car, or imagine his or her own creation. The Tinkertoy: Big Top Set lets kids build a tent, animals, trapeze artists and more to recreate a day at the circus. The Tinkertoy: Pink Building Set lets kids create a castle, flower, cat, and more using the included guide of building ideas or their own ideas.

The new Tinkertoy building sets will be available on knex.com and at toy retailers nationwide.

K’nex Launches New and Improved K’nexpert Search

knexK’nex announced exciting changes for its 14th annual K’nexpert Search, which launched on May 29. The K’nexpert Search challenges young builders to design and submit a creative, original model made entirely from K’nex parts. The models are judged on creativity, uniqueness, and detail.

For the first time since its launch in 2001, the contest will have four grand-prize winners from four different age groups. Age groups include: 5 to 6 years, 7 to 8 years, 9 to 11 years, and 12 to 14 years (a new category this year). The four imaginative children who win will each receive a prize package valued at $3,650. This year, grand prize winners will receive the coolest K’nexpert prize package yet: $2,500, an iPad Mini, a $250 gift card to Toys “R” Us, and a $500 K’nex credit code good toward a shopping spree at knex.com. An additional eight finalists will each receive a $250 K’nex credit code, a $100 Toys “R” Us gift card, and a K’nex T-shirt. [Read more...]

Reshoring Toys

By Howard N. Aronson, Managing Partner, Lackenbach Siegel LLP

Like the proverbial child who runs away from home only to return before nightfall, an American toymaker is bringing most of its manufacturing back to the U.S.—after more than a decade of outsourcing in Asia. The decision of K’NEX Brands, a family-owned maker of plastic building toys, to boost manufacturing at The Rodon Group, its Hatfield, Pa. plant, is only one example of a major trend. Persuasive factors leading to the ultimate decision included quality control, overall costs, timeliness of deliveries, and intellectual property issues. Many are following the lead of K’NEX and rediscovering that home sweet home is the best place to make and distribute products after all.

Manufacturing in the U.S. created many advantages for K’NEX:
• Greater ability to react to shifts in consumer demands for toys because it’s much quicker and easier to retool–thus creating additional sales;
• Delivery times are quicker–as are changes in delivery schedules, for example, to take advantage of unexpected increases in sales at some stores;
• There’s more control over quality–including avoiding toy safety product recalls;
• There’s more control over materials–again, especially important where safety is an issue, as it is with many toys;
• Overseas labor costs are increasing, whereas using robotics in its U.S. plant is boosting productivity–thus lowering per unit labor costs;
• Transportation costs are rising;
• Time zone differences make communication between manufacturers and suppliers difficult. [Read more...]