Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Antony Hicks Joins Leapfrog as Chief International Officer

LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES LOGOAntony Hicks has joined LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. as chief international officer. In this role, he will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and management to international operations as LeapFrog grows its current international businesses and extends its global reach through entering strategic new markets.

Hicks has extensive experience in developing businesses in Asia. Prior to joining LeapFrog, Mr. Hicks was chief executive officer, Indochina, at The Carlsberg Group where he was responsible for driving market share across the key countries in the region.

LeapFrog, Mia Hamm Partner to Get Kids Active with LeapBand

LFLOGOLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has named Mia Hamm the company’s official spokesperson for LeapBand. Hamm will help bring awareness to the benefits of getting children up and active every day. The LeapBand is LeapFrog’s new wearable activity tracker, designed for children to encourage active play and healthy habits as they nurture their personalized pet. The more active a child is, the more points they can earn for their virtual pet and unlock additional levels of play and rewards. Hamm has been honored more than any soccer player in history, including being a two-time women’s FIFA player of the year, five-time U.S. Soccer Player of the Year, two-time Olympic Gold medal winner, and two-time World Cup Champion. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Even More Smart Devices Are Available for Kids

Toy companies creating kid-friendly and parent-approved technology has been a trend for some time, with no signs of slowing down in sight. In the recent past, tablets such as the Kurio 7s and LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra dominated the kiddie-tech market with durable rubber casings, safe settings, and easy-to-set parental controls. Now, however, manufacturers are focusing on putting different devices in the hands and on the wrists of kids. [Read more...]

LeapFrog’s New LeapBand Is Available Now

LeapBandThe LeapBand, a wearable activity tracker from LeapFrog designed for kids ages 4 to 7, which encourages active play and healthy habits through interaction with a personalized virtual pet, is now available both online and at retail.

The LeapBand activity tracker gets kids moving and having fun with 50 different activities and challenges, tracking kids’ physical moves so the more active a kid is, the more points they earn with their virtual pets. As kids earn points through active play, they can unlock additional games, challenges, levels of play, and virtual rewards for their on-screen pet.

LeapBand has an aspirational fit-band style that is designed with kids in mind, and high-tech features including a built-in accelerometer, a high-resolution color screen, a rechargeable battery, and a water-resistant design. [Read more...]

WIT Restructures, Unveils New Committees

Women in Toys (WIT), which recognizes and promotes the achievements of outstanding female leaders within the toy industry, recently underwent an organizational change and restructuring. Along with appointing Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry Inc., as its new board president, WIT’s other board appointments are as follows: Stephanie Barone, vice president of product development for Innovative Designs, as treasurer; Caitlin Gutekunst, senior manager, content acquisition and business development at LeapFrog, as regional chapter chair; Jennifer Quattrock, independent design contractor, as design chair; and Mali Baum, CEO of Beezeebee, as chair of international chapters.

WIT also has a new committee-based structure to support the organization’s goals and mission. These committees will focus on such topics as community involvement, empowerment initiatives, public relations, scholarships, and more.

Anyone seeking information about WIT should contact Heidi Schwartz at hschwartz14@gmail.com, or visit the WIT homepage.

USPTO Issues Milestone Patent to LeapFrog

Jan27.LeapFrogOn March 26, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) commemorated its 700,000th design patent at a ceremony with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at Langdon Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

The patent for the ornamental design for a hand-held learning apparatus was issued to inventor and LeapFrog employee Jason Avery, and is currently assigned to LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. for its LeapsterGS.

“For nearly 20 years, LeapFrog has been a leader in life-changing educational entertainment experiences through innovation-forward solutions such as LeapsterGS, and we are honored to have our device issued the 700,000th design patent,” said John Barbour, chief executive officer at LeapFrog.

New LeapFrog LeapPad2 Custom Edition Lets Kids Personalize Their Tablets

LeapPad2CustomAlong with providing access to nearly 1,000 learning games and creativity apps courtesy of LeapFrog’s educational library, the new LeapPad2 Custom Edition from LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. lets kids create unique looks for their tablets.

Similar to the original LeapPad2, the LeapPad2 Custom Edition includes a tech-forward design with access to leveled reading experiences. It also has 10 sticker skins and 11 digital wallpaper designs for more than 100 different ways to personalize the tablet, as well as front and back cameras and video recorders and 4GB of memory. It also comes with nine free apps.

Suitable for kids ages 3 to 9, the LeapPad2 Custom Edition is available online and at major retail locations in the U.S.

LeapFrog Tops Children’s Tablets Sales, Unveils Learning Video Series

Jan27.LeapFrogThe LeapPad line of learning tablets from LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. was the top-selling children’s tablet brand in 2013, according to year-end sales data from The NPD Group. LeapFrog’s LeapPad family of tablets—including the LeapPad2, LeapPad2 Power, and the 7-inch touchscreen tablet LeapPad Ultra—outsold competitors’ learning tablets and Android-based kids’ tablets.

LeapFrog has also partnered with Lionsgate Home Entertainment to release the first in a series of full-length learning videos featuring the next generation of popular frog characters made famous in the original Letter Factory DVD collection. LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures: The Letter Machine Rescue Team includes problem solving and reading exercises, new songs, sing-a-long videos, and curriculum commentary for parents.

The video will be available for download from the LeapFrog App Center, on DVD, and digital HD beginning March 4.

Modarri Kickstarts a New Breed of Toy Car

ModarriThoughtFull Toys has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Modarri, a line that seeks to reinvent the toy car space. The company’s intent is to create toy cars that are sleek and durable, yet also drivable, buildable, and interchangeable.

Modarri cars can be disassembled and redesigned by changing their parts, leading to hands-on experimentation with real physical objects. In addition, kids can learn about the physics and mechanics of suspension and steering by driving the cars around, and feel the differences in performance by swapping out parts.

Suitable for kids ages 6 and up, Modarri cars are built using a combination of metal and high strength plastic, with no screws. The planned color prototypes of Modarri include the Street Car S1, Dirt Car X1, and Track Car T1; and each car includes chassis, hood/windshield, seat pan, seat, fenders and frame, hex tool, wheels, and front and rear suspension. [Read more...]