China Toy Fair


Lego Mixels Mix Things Up

Jan29.MixelsLego Mixels is a new series of buildable toys that create fun collectible characters that leverage the versatility and creativity of the Lego building system. Mixels are colorful creatures that belong to different tribes, each based around a unique element. Set to debut in stores on March 1, Lego Mixels are batched in tribes, such as Frosticons, Infernites, Stretchers, Cragsters, Electroids, and the Fang Gang. Kids will be able to mix and combine the Lego Mixels using the mysterious Cubits, resulting in new characters and further immersion in the Mixels universe.

The Mixels franchise will also debut on multiple screens and digital platforms next month.

Toys “R” Us Brings Lego Movie Anticipation to Life

Jan20.ToysRUsToys “R” Us has created nearly 20 movie-inspired products in anticipation for the first feature length Lego film. These new items, coming to Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and on toysrus.com/lego, will be available from January 30 through March. The products will be showcased in feature shops in Toys “R” Us stores, including play sets that replicate adventures from the movie, minifigures, and vehicles. Fans can join Emmet, an ordinary Lego minifigure, on his quest to stop an evil Lego tyrant from gluing the universe together.

Toys “R” Us will also host an in-store event and offer additional gifts with Lego product purchases. On February 8, stores nationwide will host an event from noon to 2 p.m., where participants can construct and take home Emmet’s car. Customers can also try out the new The Lego Movie Nintendo 2DS video game. There will also be two raffle contests at the event and the prizes will be a $10 Toys “R” Us Gift Card and the Lord Business’ Evil Lair construction set. In addition, beginning on February 2, customers who make a $50 or more Lego construction purchase in-store will receive a complementary ticket to see The Lego Movie in theaters.

The Lego Movie will be in theaters beginning February 7.

The Lego Group, FCP Launch The Simpsons-Branded Lego Set

Jan13.SimpsonsThe Lego Group has partnered with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products (FCP) to produce a construction set and licensed Lego minifigures inspired by the TV series The Simpsons. Fox will also air a special Lego episode of The Simpsons in May coinciding with the new products. The episode will feature the cast in Lego form.

The construction set will recreate the Simpsons’ family house, including the characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and Ned Flanders. It is set to launch in February in Lego stores and the Lego Shop at Home catalog and website. A separate line of 16 Lego The Simpsons minifigures will launch at mass toy retailers in May.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Unveils Worldwide Licensing Program for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

TheHobbit

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has teamed up with their global licensees to create an array of offerings inspired by the second film of The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM). Global licensees include partners across multiple categories, including toys, apparel, and publishing.

Co-master toy licensees The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will offer an assortment of detailed action figures, collector’s figures, and role play accessories that bring the films’ characters and epic quests to life. Also supporting the film are Lego with adventure-filled building sets, physical effects house Weta Workshop with replicas based off of those Weta created for the film, The Noble Collection with high-end collectibles, Ravensburger with puzzles, HarperCollins Publishers with detailed companion books, Bioworld with apparel for all ages, and Rubies Costume Co with costumes, accessories and dress-up clothes, among others. Products inspired by the film will be available at retailers worldwide, with select offerings also available at HobbitShop.com.

COMMENTARY: Lego Friends Video Game Appeals to Boys and Girls

Lego Friends box art.jpgRight in time for the holidays, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has released Lego Friends, a video game based on the construction toy line of the same name. While the game is all-ages-friendly, the target demographic appears to be young girls in particular: The box art features many of the characters that appear in the game—fresh-faced ladies of various hair colors, skin tones, and hobbies.

I first heard of Lego Friends, developed by TT Games and Hellbent Games for Nintendo 3DS and DS, months before, and even then I was interested in how it might differ from titles intended for more of a boys’ audience. Eventually, I got to demo it alongside Lego Marvel Super Heroes, a game that if not specifically for boys, is certainly a more testosterone-heavy affair. The art direction and color palette for Lego Friends are cuter and brighter, respectively. But do those factors alone—and that the main avatar and supporting characters are all female—qualify calling it a video game for girls? Could it still conceivably appeal to other audiences? [Read more...]

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]

Lego Marvel Super Heroes Launches with Massive Character Line-up, Lego Big Figures

Lego.MarvelLego Marvel Super Heroes has launched in North America for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Windows PC. Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril is also now available for the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita handheld systems.

In Lego Marvel Super Heroes, players take on the role of their favorite Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, as they assemble to battle some of the most menacing Marvel supervillains. More than 100 playable characters are unlockable, and players can also choose from bonus heroes, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Punisher, Squirrel Girl, and Deadpool.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes offers players a chance to show off their super skills by using weapons, such as Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer, or Hawkeye’s bow, during action sequences. Players will also be introduced to different character super abilities, such as Doctor Strange’s magic powers, Professor X or Jean Grey’s mind control, and more. Lego Marvel Super Heroes features some of the more legendary locations from the Marvel Universe, including Iron Man’s Stark Tower headquarters and the Daily Bugle. For the first time in a Lego game, players can clobber and smash bricks with super-sized Lego big figures, including Colossus, Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor, and the Thing.

The handheld Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril offers a different gameplay experience that includes challenging time-based missions, performing combo moves, and getting assistance from your superpowered tag team partner.

Toys “R” Us 2013 Holiday Strategy Highlights Education, Tablets, and More

toysrusToys “R” Us Inc. will enhance product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years, such as education, tablets, and construction, as part of their 2013 holiday strategy.

This season, a dedicated Imaginarium shop will set in-store, and each store will have a whole aisle dedicated to new educational products, such as microscopes and telescopes from Edu Science and language-learning programs from Little Pim. Meanwhile, capitalizing on the growing construction category, the company will install a “Shop within a Store” in approximately 300 locations, showcasing construction brands such as Lego and Mega Bloks. The company will also feature approximately 70 Lego exclusives this holiday season, including Legends of Chima The Croc Swap Hideout and Star Wars Jedi Defender Class Cruiser.

After experiencing increases in sales of tablets and tablet accessories, Toys “R” Us will add easy-to-navigate 32-foot shops that will showcase 25 tablets that can be tested and engaged with by kids and parents. These shops are expected to set in the majority of Toys “R” Us locations by October. The company also has exclusive tablet products, such as the Kurio 10s by Techno Source and its recently announced tabeo e2, and will be launching a dedicated online tablet guide.

Finally, online shoppers can now place a “Buy Online, Pickup In Store,” order on toysrus.com and it will be ready for pickup in under an hour, and “Ship to Store” orders will now be available for pickup in five to 10 days. Later this fall, stores will be equipped with a secondary in-store pickup location, and “Ready for Pickup” emails that are sent to customers once their order is available will include a map of where the pickup location is positioned within the store.

Lego Selects Texas Instruments to Power Mindstorms

LegoMindstormsLego has selected Sitara processors and Texas Instruments (TI) connectivity and analog solutions to power the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics platform.

Lego’s tool kit contains hardware and software to create customizable and programmable robots, and features a programmable brick computer powered by TI’s Sitara AM1808 ARM9 processor to control the motors, monitor sensors, and run Linux. The AM1808 processor also enables interactive touch screens, high-resolution displays, fast performance, and multiple, flexible integrated connectivity options—all while maintaining low design costs and power levels.

In addition, the brick computer contains TI’s CC2560 Bluetooth connectivity solution, which allows users to control their robot with a mobile device using an iOS or Android app. Lego Mindstorms EV3 is available in retail stores, and a special version of the platform, Lego Mindstorms EV3 Education, is available for classrooms through Lego Education.

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...]