Toy Industry Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America Treat Military Families to “Day of Play”

tif_logoThe Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and national partner Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Services treated 1,100 kids of military personnel stationed at Naval Station Mayport in Florida to brand-new toys and games this past Saturday. The “Day of Play” also included family games and activities, food, and entertainment. Every child in attendance was able to take home a toy. Barnes and Noble, Big Red Dog Patch, Imperial Toy, Lego, Lulu Jr., Mattel, and Yamie Chess donated the toys to TIF.

The event was held as part of the joint TIF/BGCA Play Comforts program, the first national toy distribution initiative to serve every branch of the U.S. military. Through Play Comforts, toys and games donated are delivered annually to families on U.S. military installations at home and abroad. Since the program’s launch in 2010, more then 1.7 million toys have been delivered to military families on over 152 U.S. military bases worldwide.

COMMENTARY: As Play Gets Smarter, More Toys Come to Life Digitally

It’s official: Smart toys are taking over the toy space.

Gone are the days in which kids are content with traditional methods of play. Books, activities, and games are all available for kids on mobile devices, and they expect their toys to be no different. But although the mediums that kids are interacting with daily are changing, the one thing that won’t ever change is that kids love play.

Angry Birds Stella Telepods

Angry Birds Stella Telepods

Smart toys integrate physical toys and technology—essentially giving digital life to toys. Manufacturers are starting to realize the added value in these products and how wildly popular they can be. More than 72 million kids say they want smart toys, according to market research firm Interpret in a GameByte study.

In addition, kids are using mobile devices more than ever before. Seventy-one percent of households with a child age 4 to 14 reported owning a smartphone in 2014, already up from 55 percent in 2012, according to The NPD Group. Also, kids who own tablets doubled from 2012 to 2014, growing from 21 percent to 43 percent, respectively. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: China Toy Expo Showcases Regional Toy Brands with Worldwide Potential

DreamBeyond2Toy trade shows are terrific places in which to catch a sneak peek of the next play product sure to take the marketplace by storm. Recently, I was covering China Toy Expo, sponsored by China Toy & Juvenile Products Association, which took place this past week at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Shanghai. While the show featured plenty of toy brands that would be familiar to Westerners—many of them imported by Chinese companies for domestic distribution—there were also lots of Chinese toy manufacturers on-hand, bearing properties that they hope will do well at home.

And of course, if a product does well in its native market, one assumes there’s a good chance it will gain an international partner that will help it take the next step. Think of Lego, which began selling in Europe during the 1940s before expanding to North America during the ’60s. Not every new toy brand can be Lego, of course; however, it’s always fun to speculate on new products and their potential to become the next big global star due to built-in appeal, compelling features, etc. Here are a few domestically-made items from China Toy Expo, which in this author’s opinion, have a shot at breaking out worldwide. [Read more...]

Lego Bionicle Fights New Evil in Latest Line of Figures

The Lego Group unveiled its newest line in the Lego Bionicle franchise at New York Comic Con. The new product information, principle graphic design, and video short released at the event are based on a new storyline launching next year.

The new plot takes place on the mythical island of Okoto, where the evil Makuta is overcome by the desire for the island’s three mythic masks that will cast the world into darkness. Six heroes called the Toa must embark on a quest to unlock their elemental powers and battle the forces of evil, defeat Makuta, and save Okoto.

Beginning next January, six new protector sets and six Toa sets will be available at major retailers.

Lego and Shell to Part Ways After Decades-Long Partnership

Lego.ShellOn Thursday morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that Lego is ending its co-branding relationship with Royal Dutch Shell. The move follows pressure from environmental group Greenpeace, which targeted the decades-long partnership in an online video and petition.

Since the 1960s, Lego has built play sets branded with the Shell logo, including Shell filling stations, tanker trucks, and Shell-sponsored racing cars. These have been sold at Shell gas stations and other retailers that carried Lego sets.

In July, Greenpeace circulated an online petition calling for Lego to sever ties with Shell, which it has accused of operating recklessly in exploring for oil in the Arctic. The group released an online video, Lego: Everything Is Not Awesome, which depicts an Arctic wonderland made of Lego bricks that is flooded with spilled oil, and asks viewers to sign the petition urging Lego to sever ties with Shell. According to Greenpeace, the video has garnered more than a million signatures to date. [Read more...]

Disney Consumer Products Launches Star Wars Rebels Products

Star_Wars_Rebels_The_Ghost_Disney Consumer Products has released a new product assortment in celebration of Star Wars Rebels, which debuts October 3 on Disney Channel and continues on October 13 on Disney XD. The show has inspired new lines of figures, spaceships and lightsabers, apparel and accessories, home décor, books, and more from licensees including Hasbro, Lego, Mad Engine, Rubies, and Jay Franco.

Disney Publishing Worldwide also supports the show with a new book program and series of mobile apps from Disney Lucasfilm Press that will expand upon the series. Star Wars Journeys, an episodic series of apps from Disney Publishing, will be updated this October to include the stories that lead up to the adventures in Star Wars Rebels. Star Wars Scene Maker will launch early next year and gives fans a storytelling experience that allows them to re-imagine and recreate scenes from the show. [Read more...]

FIRST Lego League Announces Seventh Youth Challenge

First.logoFor Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) has announced the topic of its seventh FIRST Lego League (FLL) task, asking students to explore the future of learning as part of the FLL World Class Challenge.

The challenge asks teams of 9- to 14-year-olds (9 to 16 outside North America) worldwide to research and present original ideas to enrich the current landscape of learning. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using Lego Mindstorms technology to solve a series of wisdom-gathering missions based on the theme.

More than 260,000 children in nearly 80 countries are expected to participate in the FLL event, with an additional 27,000 6- to 9-year-olds expected in the Junior FLL competition. Teams of up to 10 children, with two adult coaches, participate in the eight-week challenge, which culminates in high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Past challenges have included topics such as natural disasters, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, quality of life for handicapped and senior populations, and transportation. [Read more...]

Pley Plays with Experience

Ranan - Head Shot 1It can be hard to say no to a kid who consistently begs for a toy. But once they have that toy in their hands, parents are never sure how long the kid will play with it before they are ready to move on to something else.

Ranan Lachman had the same problem when his son was about five years old. Lachman realized that he had spent about $3,000 on toys, only for his son to play with each for only two to three hours. Lachman knew there had to be a more efficient way to provide toys for his son. Thus, he became the co-founder and CEO of Pley (yes, that’s spelled correctly), a company that allows its customers to rent as many Lego sets as they want for a monthly fee. [Read more...]

It’s Lego Technic for Your Coffee Table

Lego.TechniccoverLego takes on an entirely new form in No Starch Press’ latest book, Incredible LEGO Technic.

The San Francisco-based independent publisher worked with Lego master Paweł “Sariel” Kmieć to curate a collection of some of the world’s finest Lego Technic models.

The fan-created models of monster trucks, cement mixers, dragline excavators, bulldozers, power shovels, and more rival their real-life counterparts. Many of the more than 70 models include design notes and cutaway views, offering readers a close-up look at how the experts use differentials, suspensions, and complex gearing to build working models.

Thanks to The Lego Movie, Lego Is World’s Largest Toy Maker

LEGO_LogoAs reported by The Wall Street Journal today, Lego is currently the world’s largest toy maker.

Denmark’s Lego A/S said that revenue during the first six months rose 11 percent, boosted by The Lego Movie products. This makes Lego the biggest toy company in the world in terms of both revenue and profit, ahead of Mattel Inc. The jump also puts Lego slightly ahead of Mattel in sales for the first six months of the year.

A sequel to The Lego Movie, The Lego Movie 2, is scheduled for release in 2017, and Warner Bros. has already set the release for the Ninjago movie next year.

The licensing of the movies themselves isn’t a significant element of sales for Lego compared with the sales of movie-related boxes of bricks. Overall first-half sales for Lego rose to 11.5 billion Danish kroner ($2.03 billion) from 10.4 billion kroner in the same period last year, the company said. [Read more...]