China Toy Fair


Interview with Lego President Soren Torp Laursen

The Toy Book spoke with Soren Torp Laursen, president of the Lego Group, about the state of the construction toys category and how Lego is adapting to trends.

The Toy Book: Building sets saw a 23 percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012, according to the NPD Group. And the category is the strongest toy category right now. Why has the construction category taken off over the past couple of years?

LEGO_LogoSoren Torp Laursen: Building is the best and most versatile play experience available to children, and it is our DNA. Our single brand status has given us the focus and discipline to offer the best quality material and grow our business—and the category along with it. Our momentum has been strong over the last eight years, which furthers our ability to invest in expanding the brand to invite new users and drive continued growth. Parents and children alike recognize the lasting value and versatility of a Lego building experience, which is why we strive to meet their evolving needs with Lego solutions. We don’t see that different play patterns need to be discreet experiences, and fortunately, our brand’s versatility allows us to adapt compelling play patterns to the building sets category, such as action figures, dolls and play sets, vehicles, and gaming. By changing the way we approach what constitutes a building experience, without fundamentally changing what makes it a Lego experience, we continue to deliver relevant, yet familiar, Lego products that are driving industry growth.  

TB: What are some of the biggest trends you’ve noticed in the construction category recently?

STL: Perhaps the biggest trend in building sets at the moment is licensing, which seems to be increasing as other players seek to establish or grow their businesses. Building sets is an incredibly tough toy category to enter, establish, and sustain, therefore it is not for dabblers. Being a player requires costly complexities in molding and supply chain operations, plus research and development to be relevant and broad enough to attract a sustainable fan base, which we have found comes not only from single event-based properties, but from a wide variety of original and licensed themes that appeal to any child of any age. [Read more...]

Warner Bros. and TT Games Unveil The Lego Movie Video Game

LEGO_LogoWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games announce that The Lego Movie Videogame will be available next year, alongside The Lego Movie, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, and a toy collection of The Lego Movie building sets.

In a scenario drawn from the film, The Lego Movie Videogame puts Lego kids into the role of Emmet, an average Lego minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. Players guide him as he is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on a quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

Players will also be able to collect and use Lego instruction pages to build construction sets or harness the power of the Master Builders to virtually build extraordinary Lego creations along the way. With more than 90 characters inspired by the film and 15 levels, kids can build and adventure like never before.

COMMENTARY: Legends of Chima: More Than Just a Toy

locLego’s Legends of Chima was first introduced as a series of play sets featuring classic Lego designs similar to Lego’s Ninjago. However, the toy has branched out beyond action figures with a new TV series bearing the same name. Cartoon Network has started airing weekly episodes of the series, and before the show is ruled out as just another form of advertising for Lego toys, it’s worth a closer look.

Prior to actually watching, I was a little wary. I was never really a big fan of Lego toys, and the cartoons were even less appealing to me. My justification was that the hands on their characters were shaped like a “c.” I always found myself asking, “Where are their fingers?” Needless to say, I was skeptical when the 6-year-old I babysit insisted we watch the premiere. I was expecting another feel-good show with a few laughs here and there, and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw.

The show is an animated series made in the same vein as most children’s cartoons, with a charismatic hero. Legends of Chima, however, follows a group of animals at war in the land of Chima, and the hero at the center of it all is a lion name Laval. Laval is the prince of the Lion Tribe, who suddenly finds himself and his tribe at war with his best-friend-turned-enemy, Cragger, and his Crocodile Tribe.laval

The plot sounds simple enough, but the show also explores heavy themes such as conspiracy, emotional manipulation, and prejudice. These are, of course, introduced at an age-appropriate level, but teach a message nonetheless. At the end of each episode, kids are taught important lessons, such as being altruistic, compassionate, honest, and merciful.

The issue between Cragger and Laval stems from Cragger’s misuse of Chi. Chi is an energy source that randomly appeared in the distant past. Different groups of animals drank from the mystical pool of Chi and evolved to be smarter forms of their predecessors, and now walk on two feet. A caveat however is that an animal from each tribe did not drink from the pool, and therefore remained “pure.” It is said that these legendary animals will return to Chima one day when they are needed.

Every tribe is given Chi, even if the lions who guard the Chi don’t agree with their views (another important lesson). In spite of this, rather than waiting until his coming of age ceremony to get his Chi, Cragger tricks Laval into showing him the Chi pool, and proceeds to use it, even though he’s not ready. This leads to negative consequences, and ultimately war between the lions and crocodiles and their allies.

Besides the interesting storyline, Legends of Chima also offers laughs characteristic of any clever children’s show. Laval doesn’t just defeat his foes, but does so with witty banter that even adults can appreciate. The show is aesthetically pleasing, and well crafted, making way for beautifully designed toys kids will no doubt want to play with.

cragger

For more commentary from Abby, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

Petition Launched For Female Lego Set

A petition asking Lego to release a set of female scientist figures is garnering a substantial amount of attention. The driving force behind this petition is Melissa Wardy, a mom from Wisconsin who discovered after toy shopping with her 7-year-old daughter that female characters make up only 16 percent of the mini figures toy sets offered by Lego.

Melissa also learned that Lego held a public contest earlier this year, and an all-female figure set was entered representing “smart, adventurous, and strong women in STEM jobs—such as paleontology, astronomy, chemistry, and firefighting.” The series submission has gained the 10,000 votes needed for Lego to consider producing it.

Melissa launched the petition as an effort to urge Lego to not just only consider creating the set, but to actually bring the female scientist set to stores. If this petition sparks an interest in you, you can check out it out here: https://www.change.org/legowomen.

Melissa Wardy’s daughter, Amelia, talks about how disappointed she was after her trip down the toy aisle:

Disney Rides into Retail with The Lone Ranger Merchandise

The-Lone-Ranger-Movie-Poster-2013-WallpaperDisney Consumer Products has rounded up an assortment of products based on the Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ The Lone Ranger, releasing in theaters today. Designed for Western fans of all ages, the new product line includes apparel, construction sets, detailed action figures, role-play items, designer accessories, and hand-crafted leather goods that capture the action and adventure of the film and its iconic characters, including the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

Toy and role-play partners include Lego (construction sets), NECA (7-inch action figures and prop replica Lone Ranger mask), and Disney Store (the Lone Ranger Hat). The Lone Ranger collection of products is available now at Disney Store locations nationwide, as well as boutiques, national retailers, and at DisneyStore.com.

COMMENTARY: Here We Go A-Travelin’

Summer time means vacations, trips to Grandma’s, sleepovers with friends, and plenty of other activities that keep parents and their kids on the  move. On long car trips, plane rides, or any sort of day away from home, it’s good to have toys to bring along to keep kids entertained. It’s important to have toys that kids can play with en route, as well as upon arriving at the destination, without overpacking the car.

Avoid constant complaints of “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” with a few of these fun on-the-go toys.

3artsee_studio_mainThe ArtSee Studio, from WowWee, turns an iPad into a creation station. Kids can turn simple drawings and paintings into animated games, activities, and more. Using the interactive tools, kids can quickly make a blank canvas explode with color, sound, and movement. The studio allows kids to explore creativity while dabbling in technology all at the same time. The ArtSee Studio is for kids ages 3 and up.

aquadoodle_travel_doodleWith the Aquadoodle Travel Doodle, from Spin Master, kids can turn a road trip into creative fun. By simply adding water, little artists can create fun-filled, no-mess drawings on the go. The Aquadoodle Travel Doodle pen draws in red or blue ink, never makes a mess, and never runs out. Bumpy car rides can be hazardous with other drawing tools, but the Travel Doodle leaves no trace behind. This soft, portable drawing toy allows kids to create on the go. [Read more...]

The UK’s Top 10 Best-Selling Toys to Date

The UK’s Top 10 best-selling Toys year to date (April 2013)

  1. Vivid ImaginationsMoshi Monsters Moshling Figures
  2. Lego‘s Lego Minifigures
  3. Leapfrog‘s Leappad Explorer Tablet
  4. Hasbro‘s Furby Hot and Cool
  5. Vivid ImaginationsMoshi Monsters Blind Bag
  6. Mattel‘s Monster High Doll
  7. Leapfrog‘s Leapfrog Explorer Game
  8. VTech‘s Innotab Learning Tablet
  9. Mattel‘s Cars 2 Character Clipstrip
  10. Flair‘s TMNT Basic Figures

Source: The NPD Group

Lego Group Unveils Lego Star Wars Model in Times Square

image001The Lego Group unveiled the world’s largest Lego model, a 1:1 replica of the Lego Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter, in New York’s Times Square today. To celebrate the upcoming premiere of The Yoda Chronicles on Cartoon Network on May 29 at 8:00 p.m., the massive replica took 32 master builders, five million Lego bricks and over 17,000 hours to complete. The model weighs nearly 46,000 pounds, stands 11 feet tall and 43 feet long, with a wingspan of 44 feet. The model will “take off” for a summer landing at Legoland California Resort where it will be installed through the remainder of the year.

Lego Star Wars is the original licensed product collection from The Lego Group and remains among the best-selling global toy lines. The theme appeals to fans across generations with a steady introduction of digital content such as The Yoda Chronicles to compliment the building experience.

[Read more...]

Lego Mindstorms and SparkTruck Team Up for a Play-Maker Summer Tour

LEGO MINDSTORMS GUITARLego Mindstorms EV3 and SparkTruck have teamed up to create the ultimate maker mobile that will tour this summer to invigorate the maker spirit of children across the country. Mindstorms EV3, the new consumer platform designed to introduce a younger generation to the excitement of robotics, partners with SparkTruck, the mobile prototyping truck that began at the Stanford d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford) and was created using the principles of design thinking, to engage children with experiences and tools that can help them fulfill their greatest creative potential in an unexpected, innovative, and fun environment.

At Maker Faire Bay Area, May 18-19, the grad student-run SparkTruck will demonstrate representative workshop activities for its summer tour while the Lego Mindstorms EV3 team will unveil the first three bonus models designed by Mindstorms community members. The Mindstorms team will introduce nine additional bonus models throughout the summer and building instructions for the 12 bonus models and the original five “hero” models will be available when the platform reaches store shelves this fall. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: New Book Constructs Lego Cities

barronseduc_2260_1095264Never in my wildest tinkering with construction toys would I come up with building New York City’s Central Park, London’s Olympic Stadium (complete with a parachuting Queen Elizabeth), or Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral out of Lego bricks. Lego lovers prepare to be wowed. Warren Elsmore’s new book Brick City (Barron’s, 2013) blew my mind with page after page of realistic global landmarks constructed completely out of Legos. The book is a veritable trip around the world for fans of the popular building bricks.

Elsmore, a professional plastic model builder, begins by giving a brief overview of the tools you’ll need to pull off some of the fascinating feats accomplished within the pages of Brick City. Computer-Aided Design software, such as Lego Digital Designer, can help in creating a complete blueprint for any ambitious building project. Elsmore gives tips on finding bricks, customizing minifigures, and other preparations and tips you’ll need to embark on your Brick City journey.

Elaborate landmarks, such as the neo-Gothic Chicago Tribune building, often take some 27,000 or more bricks. London’s Olympic Stadium takes 120,000 bricks! Not all landmarks in the book come with directions. You won’t find a step-by-step guide to building, say, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial or a grand version of Westminster Abbey, but you will get guidance for smaller projects. Build a Brooklyn Brownstone building, Buckingham Palace, the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, or a tiny version of Westminster—all super cool. Readers will also get two glossy posters that feature Lego landmarks.

Brick City is available this month from booksellers and specialty retailers.

For more commentary from Loren, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!