NPD Reports Star Wars, Disney Princess among Top-Selling Toy Properties in Six Countries

npd_group_logoThe NPD Group recently released lists of the top five toy properties by country, ranked by value sales for January to June. Across the U.S., the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Australia, Star Wars is the one property that ranks among the top five properties for each country. In the U.S., the top toy properties are Disney Princess, Barbie, Nerf, Little Tikes, and Star Wars.

Lego ranks in the top five toys for the UK, Australia, and Germany, with both Lego City and Lego Duplo on the short list for Germany. Disney Princess, meanwhile, ranks among the five top-selling toy properties in the U.S., the UK, and Australia.

“The unique cultures of a country lend themselves to unique preferences, and the toy industry is no different,” says Frédérique Tutt, global toy industry analyst with The NPD Group. “However, there are clearly messages and styles of play that resonate with a child, regardless of geography.”

Legoland Florida Theme Park Adds Duplo Valley Expansion

LegoLandThe Legoland Florida theme park has officially opened its latest expansion, Duplo Valley. The new extension brings the Lego Duplo line of preschool building toys to live with new farm-themed attractions, an air-conditioned indoor play area, and a water play area for toddlers ages 2 to 5.

Duplo Valley was designed to be an environment where parents can play and relax with their toddlers.  New outdoor attractions include Duplo Train, Duplo Tractor, and a Duplo Splash & Play area. The barn-themed play area includes private nursing and changing stations, rocking chairs, microwaves, bottle warmers, high chairs and cell phone charging stations.

Guests can also purchase the all-new Preschool Pass, which includes weekday admission to Legoland Florida and standard parking for one child under five and one adult for a full year.

COMMENTARY: Role Play Toys Engage Kids in Superhero Action

It’s no secret that kids are extremely influenced by the characters they see in movies and on TV. Superheroes are particularly influential, with their mankind-saving tendencies and super-human abilities. The best thing about superheroes is that they appeal to kids and adults alike, since many of the iconic superheroes we know and love have been around for decades. Fisher-Price’s DC Super Friends line is geared toward kids as young as 3 years old, and Lego will introduce DC characters into its Duplo line for the first time this year. While play sets and building blocks are popular play patterns for kids and adding their favorite superheroes to the mix is a great way to get kids excited, the toys that make kids feel like they are becoming their favorite superhero are some of the most engaging toys on the market.

Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is now back on the block with new enemies. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in theaters Friday, May 2, and now kids can take home all of the web-slinging action, thanks to Hasbro’s intense line of role-play and action figure toys.

Marissa.May13.Hasbro.SPIDER-MAN-MOTORIZED-SPIDER-FORCE-WEB-BLASTERWith the wrist-mounted Motorized Spider Force Web Blaster, kids can fire foam discs featuring web embellishments up to 20 feet with rapid speed. Each Motorized Spider Force Web Blaster comes with 10 Nerf foam discs that can be stored in the storage compartment on the top of the toy so they won’t get lost. Don’t worry—the foam discs are harmless and don’t hurt if you get hit with them. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, kids can take on any villain with this fun role-play toy. I should also note—it’s unbelievably fun for adults, too (especially if you have kids around willing to scoop up the discs for you). Just don’t let the name fool you—there are no messy webs with this product, just soft, foam discs! [Read more...]

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Brings Godzilla-Sized List of Licensees to Toy Fair

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) enters this year’s American International Toy Fair with an extensive lineup of global licensees in support of its entertainment properties, milestone anniversaries, and upcoming theatrical releases.

Bandai America Inc. and Jakks Pacific Inc. will each support Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, with new toy lines. Jakks’ line of Godzilla products will include an Ultimate Large Scale Godzilla Figure with 12 points of articulation and a length of over 43 inches, making it one of the largest toys in Godzilla history. Other worldwide partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., NECA, and Sideshow Collectibles.

WBCP’s toy partners will also release toys and collectibles based on The Hobbit Trilogy. The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will support the film series with new figures. Additional partners include Eaglemoss, Funko, Kosmos, and Ravensburger.

The Wizard of Oz will celebrate its 75th anniversary with Mattel‘s new line of dolls for The Wizard of Oz Barbie collection. Enesco, Tonner Doll, and Madame Alexander will each offer collectible figures. Warner Bros. will also continue its There’s No Place Like Home campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Gone with the Wind will also mark its 75th anniversary with new collectible figures from Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll. Mattel will offer an anniversary Barbie collection and Enesco will introduce a stone resin figure. [Read more...]

Lego Duplo Announces Play Phone Hotline for Grandparents

In honor of National Grandparents Day, Lego Duplo has launched a Play Phone Line for grandparents. Designed to be a resource that offers tips, suggestions, and inspiration to grandparents of kids ages 1 to 5, the live and free line encourages grandparents and parents to call when they’re in need of clever playtime ideas.

Whether the question is how to manage play with multiple grandchildren of different age groups, or simple ways to introduce building play for the first time, grandparents can call 1-800-835-4386 and mention “grandparents” to be connected to creative ideas and information to make playtime even more special. Other tools available include an activity guide that can be mailed or emailed to grandparents; Lego’s YouTube channel, which has a series of inspirational play videos featuring Dan Steininger, a Lego Master Builder and new grandfather; and Lego’s Facebook page. Grandparents and parents can also email their own ideas to grandparents@LEGO.com or share them on Facebook. [Read more...]

Experience the Lego Travel Adventure of the National Museum of Play

SailorwebFly, drive, or float anywhere your imagination can take you at Lego Travel Adventure at the National Museum of Play at The Strong through Sunday, May 12. The exhibit invites guests to pose for pictures among colorful backdrops, invent extraordinary vehicles at kid-friendly Lego brick stations, and be inspired by eye-popping Lego brick sculptures built by Lego Master Builders.

Among the many hands-on activities:

  • Kids and families can invent their own vehicles at building stations brimming with Lego bricks and Lego Duplo bricks, car bodies, tracks, and other accessories.
  • Preschoolers can race their creations along two downhill tracks with lanes sized especially for Lego Duplo cars.
  • Kids can pretend to fly above the clouds in the cockpit of a giant Travel Adventure Vehicle or hit the road in a child-sized race car made entirely out of Lego Duplo bricks.
  • Families can photograph their vehicles against destination backdrops and email the photos to themselves or to family and friends. Guests can also build their own virtual Lego vehicle on a customized computer program.
  • Museum guests can see models and dioramas built by Lego Master Builders. Display cases capture key moments in travel history—the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, Henry Ford’s automobile factory and Model T, the first giant steamship, and the first continental railroad.
  • Additional displays feature Lego brick vehicles set against travel destination landmarks including the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Paris Arc de Triomphe, Hawaiian Island, and Cape Canaveral. The Travel Adventure Vehicle (T.A.V.), an imaginary, multi-use vehicle, carries minifigure families on journeys through the clouds, under rivers, and up mountain roads.

Lego Travel Adventure Lands at the National Museum of Play in January

Where will you travel? How will you get there? The Lego Travel Adventure exhibit lands at the National Museum of Play at The Strong on January 19. The newest Lego exhibit is filled with colorful backdrops, kid-friendly building activities, and eye-popping Lego brick sculptures built by Lego Master Builders.

In Lego Travel Adventure, museum guests are invited to fly, drive, or float anywhere their imaginations take them by creating extraordinary vehicles out of Lego bricks. Hands-on activities will include: [Read more...]

Toys Transform Toddlers into Little Learners

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Back-to-school season is just around the corner for millions of kids across the country … but there’s no need for younger siblings who are not yet in school to feel out of the learning loop. Thanks to toy innovation in the infant and pre-school categories, there are tons of great new playthings on the market that build cognitive and developmental skills at a young age.

“With increases in total U.S. births predicted for both 2012 and 2013, toymakers are rolling out a broad array of brand new toys and games to challenge and excite little ones, presenting them with more play options than ever before,” says Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Toys can help transform tots and toddlers into lifelong learners by helping them explore their interests and talents very early on.”

[Read more...]