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...]

Brick Fan Festival Comes to Philadelphia in September

Brick FestThe Philly Brick Fest Fan Festival is coming to The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center on September 12 to 14. Attendees can play with the hands-on building attractions and shop a variety of Lego-themed merchandise. Attractions include the Brick Fest Derby, where participants can build and race custom Lego derby cars; the Video Game Arena, an area to challenge others to play Lego video games; The Brick Zone, where builders are free to create anything they desire; and more.

Additional Brick Fest live dates and locations are at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Maryland from September 19 to 21, Duke Energy Convention Center in Ohio from October 17 to 19, and Palm Beach Convention Center in Florida from December 4 to 7.

License to Build: Familiar Properties Fill Up the Shelves of the Construction Aisle

This article was originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of The Toy Book. To read the entire digital issue, click here.

The construction play pattern has always allowed kids to create buildable worlds and adventures straight from their imaginations. But with a recent surge of licensed toys entering the category, kids are able to build more and more familiar worlds based on their favorite existing properties. According to The NPD Group, dollar sales of licensed building sets grew by 6 percent from 2011 to 2013. As the world becomes more multi-media driven, licensed properties are deeply integrated into kids’ daily lives. Established building toy companies, as well as those looking to get their feet wet in the category, are jumping on the bandwagon with characters and environments that are already a staple among kids—and even collectors. [Read more...]

The Orb Factory Launches Pixel Pops

pixel popsThe Orb Factory, a leader in the specialty craft industry, has just launched their newest brand, Pixel Pops. These 8-bit inspired crafts consist of mini Pixilated pets, each with their own accessory and special habitat.

To play, children use a stylus to pick up and stick small squishy cubes onto a base. Following the illustrated instructions, they layer colored squares to make a pixilated pet and charm. These kits are appeal to kids who like to build, create, and enjoy activities such as Lego and Minecraft.

Marvel Launches Collection Inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy

Sept5GuardiansMarvel Entertainment, in conjunction with Disney Consumer Products, has unveiled a product collection to celebrate the new film, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Licensees for the products include Hasbro, Lego, Disguise, Hot Wheels, Her Universe, Café Press, Mad Engine, Just Play, KidDesigns, Rubie’s, C-Life, Jay Franco, and the Disney Store. Products in the line include action figures, plush, play sets, role play, costumes, and ’80s nostalgia-inspired lifestyle products.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy products are available now at national retailers, specialty stores, Marvel.com, Disney store locations nationwide, and DisneyStore.com. The movie opens in theaters on August 1.