The Toy Industry Foundation collected thousands of dollars worth of brand-new toys and games for children in need at the close of ToyFest West on March 11, according to the Toy Industry Association. This year marked the Foundation’s first time as the official partner for the Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association’s annual Las Vegas show.
Søren Torp Laursen (STL): We are thrilled that The Lego Movie captured the attention of so many people around the world last year, serving as an anthem for creative building that drove families to pull out their existing Lego collections or try one of the Lego sets that we had on shelf. While we do not have ambitions to become an entertainment company, we know that storytelling and content—be it film, TV, YouTube tutorials, or fan-generated animations—is an important way that we create relevance while inspiring new ideas for play time. The movie was a perfect validation of our belief in the power of stories, and we look forward to deeper relationships with our content partners to continue to enhance what we do best in delivering fun and creative building sets that inspire children to become their own storytellers.
Lego Systems Inc. announced that it would be maximizing opportunities for young children to play, make, and share by working in conjuncture with the White House Maker Faire on the Junior Maker program.
The program will celebrate the company’s recognition that children are born with an urge to explore and be playful, and will provide free activities and information directly to parents to help their children discover these natural tendencies. Lego will collaborate with the Association for Library Service to Children to provide experiences for children as young as four years of age.
Starting in July, librarians will be able to download a digital toolkit from Lego for details on how to host a Junior Maker session at their library, and parents will be able to download content for their children to play in their own home.
Lego Juniors, introduced this year, are construction sets to help children learn to build independently.
Lego Systems Inc. has unveiled Lego Fusion, a play experience that combines traditional Lego brick play with app-based mobile games for kids ages 7 and up. The Fusion collection will include four: Lego Fusion Town Master, Lego Fusion Battle Towers, Lego Fusion Create & Race, and Lego Fusion Resort Designer, featuring Lego Friends characters and themes.
Each Lego Fusion kit consists of a distinct set of Lego bricks, a corresponding free downloadable app, and a unique Fusion capture plate, which is a small brick-building plate featuring a printed design that enables a smartphone or tablet’s camera to identify the size, colors, and layout of the Lego bricks built onto the plate. The apps will prompt kids to build a 2-D façade of a building onto the capture plate any way they like. Then, kids can import the façade into the app and transform the creation into a full 3-D building on screen. Once a Lego brick creation has been imported into the game, a series of challenges and interactions will require kids to turn away from the screen and build another façade with their Lego bricks to progress in the game. Each game encourages this back-and-forth between physical and virtual worlds.
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has elected three new members to its Board of Directors and a new chairman of the organization during its Annual Business Meeting in February. John Gessert of American Plastic Toys will assume the position as chairman for a year, replacing retiring Board Chairman Soren Torp Laursen of The Lego Group.
The new members of the TIA Board are Drew Brazer, vice president of sales in North America for Lego Systems Inc.; D. Hugo Malan, senior vice president and president of sporting goods at Sears Holding Corp.; and William To, president of VTech Electronics in North America. Each elected member will serve for two-year terms, expiring at the 2016 TIA Annual Business Meeting. Laursen will become an advisor to the governance body.
The 2014 TIA Annual Business Meeting was held in conjunction with the 111th American International Toy Fair in New York City. The meeting also included accomplishment highlights from the first year of TIA’s 2013-2015 Strategic Plan and an announcement that the TIA had grown its financial reserves last year.
Lego Systems will release new Lego Star Wars products based on the new Star Wars Rebels animated TV series, which is scheduled to premiere on Disney Channel this fall before appearing regularly on Disney XD. The new building sets were unveiled at a Disney Consumer Products event on February 17 and will launch on August 1. They include the Lego Star Wars The Ghost building set, which is based on the Rebel heroes’ starship, The Ghost, and has dual cockpits, a 360-degree rotating turret, two spring-loaded shooters, ejecting escape pods, and several new minifigures. Consisting of a total of 929 pieces, it is suitable for kids ages 9 and up.
The second building set, Lego Star Wars Phantom, is an attack shuttle that works in conjunction with The Ghost set. The Phantom model features 234 pieces and includes folding wings, tools, and a detachable cockpit with cargo hold where pilot Ezra Bridger can store his cadet helmet and blaster. Ezra and his grumpy Droid companion Chopper are also brought to Lego minifigure form. The set is suitable for kids ages 7 and up.
The introduction of Lego Star Wars Rebels coincides with the 15th anniversary of Lego Star Wars, the first licensed property ever to come to life in Lego form.
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and national partner Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services distributed brand new toys to more than 2,000 children and families living on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. on December 2. During the base’s annual tree lighting ceremony, kids were treated to more than just entertainment and festive activities—they were also given a generous donation of toys, games, and stuffed animals.
With the holiday season just around the corner, TIF and BGCA are hopeful that the toys will ease the stresses and challenges children face with parents who are frequently deployed. This special donation was made possible through toy companies to TIF’s signature giving program, The Toy Bank.
This event was held as part of the TIF/BGCA Play Comforts program—the first national toy distribution initiative to serve dozens of U.S. military installations at home and abroad. The program has provided more than $3.8 million in toys for children and families over the four years it has been running.
TIF’s Toy Bank includes AbraKIDabra, Alex Toys, Barnes & Noble, Cardinal Industries, Cartamundi USA, Hohner, Inc., Green Toys, Innovation First, Lego Systems Inc., Mattel Inc., MindWare, Ohio Art, Patch Products, Safari Ltd., Wonder Forge, Wyla/Just Pretend Kids, and exhibitors at the TIA’s Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. For 10 years, The Toy Bank has provided toys to more than 11 million children in need worldwide.
Lego Systems has launched a constructable board game based on the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Players must build the game and the die, choose a character to search for the ten missing Dwarves, and help Bilbo Baggins on his trek. Players can choose from four micro figure characters, Gandalf, Dwalin, Kili, or Fili. The constructable board game is recommended for children ages 7 and up and is available at most retail, discount merchandise, and specialty stores nationwide.
Starting on October 8, Lego will host The Hobbit Roll to Win Giveaway on Lego’s Facebook page. Fans can roll a virtual dice for a chance to win different prizes. The grand prize includes the new board game, a Lego Games game play hosting kit, construction sets, and two movie tickets. The grand prizewinner will be announced on December 14 in conjunction with the film release.