China Toy Fair


On the Hunt with Jordan Hembrough

When you step inside Hollywood Heroes in Westwood, N.J., you can literally smell the nostalgia (for those of you who are unfamiliar, nostalgia smells similar to dust-covered cardboard and childhood memories—but like, in a good way). In the collectible toy shop, bright lights beam down on glass cases displaying superhero relics with more than 40 years under their utility belts, making these toys anything but child’s play.

Owner of Hollywood Heroes and star of the reality TV show Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough poses with a plush version of himself.

Owner of the shop and star of the Travel Channel series Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough is an expert in the art of toy collecting, with more than 25 years of professional experience dealing toys. However, toys were always an integral part of Hembrough’s life. From schoolyard selling, Hembrough entered the big-time after college, when he secured a job as a buyer for StarLog, a chain of science-fiction-focused retail stores. Despite a lack of business background, Hembrough eventually went on to launch his own company, Hollywood Heroes. “I had the passion, and I think sometimes passion will drive you more than a business plan,” he says. [Read more...]

CBME China in Shanghai Features More than 2,400 Participating Brands

The 14th Shanghai International Children Baby Maternity Industry Expo (CBME China) welcomes local and international suppliers to showcase their latest products through Thursday at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.

The event features 2,428 brands from 1,751 exhibitors across 166,680 square meters of exhibition space. Participating brands include Chicco, Hallmark Babies, Mattel, OXO, Teletubbies, and more. The range of maternity products covered extends beyond toys and accessories, to strollers, healthcare, and more.

This year’s CBME China offers private meetings to help buyer meet one-on-one with top suppliers, as well as leading chain stores and online retailers for children, baby, and maternity products. In addition, there will be presentations from government representatives to discuss the latest guidelines and laws covering milk importation, social media marketing, and retail store development strategy, among other topics.

Mattel Launches New Direct-to-Consumer Strategy for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway

Thomas_Hero_CGI_ApprovedMattel is bringing a new shopping experience to Thomas & Friends fans nationwide, through a cross-company collaboration that began this month. Anchored by the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, the new experience includes the first ever Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway direct-to-consumer catalogue, e-commerce website, and partnerships with 20 independent specialty retail stores, which will serve as official Thomas & Friends Specialty Stations in the U.S.

Thomas & Friends will also introduce a limited-release wooden engine, Logan, a Shunter that works at the coal plant, and is only available in the U.S. through the new catalogue, e-commerce website, and official specialty stations. Logan will also be the first of a series of limited-release engines to be introduced by the new program annually.

The e-commerce website, thomaswoodenrailway.com, launches in August, and the Logan wooden engine will be available through December 31 of next year.

In addition, moving forward, Toys “R” Us will become the exclusive national chain retailer of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.

Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue Line Is Ready to Soar

Planes_fire_rescue_posterWith the hype of summer blockbuster Disney’s Planes: Fire & RescueDisney Consumer Products has released a line of products to celebrate.

The sequel has inspired a vast line of toys, including remote control and interactive toys, accessories, and books. The new products include an infrared deluxe R/C helicopter, the U-Command Fire & Rescue Blade Ranger by Thinkway, which propels itself with help from a wireless remote joystick. The sounds and effects of the new line allow kids to imagine, play, and recreate iconic film moments.

Other licensees for the new line include Mattel, Mobo Cruiser, Huffy, and more. These toys are available in stores as well as online at the Disney Store.

Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue is set to hit theaters on July 18.

Mattel and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Partner Up to Share the Play

logo_Mattel logoMattel and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) have entered into a toy and game donation program to provide children with greater access to play. Called Share the Play, for every online order placed by consumers at Mattel’s online toy stores, Mattel will donate a toy to BGCA. Through the program, up to 250,000 toys will be distributed to BGCA’s nationwide network of 4,100 Clubs.

From now through December 31, every qualifying order made online at mattelshop.com and fisher-pricestore.com will result in a toy donation to BGCA. Mattel will donate a minimum of 200,000 toys to BGCA through the program, with a goal of 250,000 toy donations to the organization.

The donation program builds on a successful multi-year partnership between Mattel and BGCA.

Archie Comics: Let’s Hear It for the Boy Next Door!

By Stuart Fischer

ArchieComicslogoWhen one thinks of the comic book character Archie, one envisions a bright-eyed teenager who has a constant smile on his face, as if he does not have a care in the world. That might be true of this wonderful fictional character, but the company behind him is a hard-working, innovative force: Archie Comic Publications.

Founded in 1939 by Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater, the name of the company was first MLJ Publications. It was changed a few years later to Archie Comic Publications as a salute to the character that became its greatest success.

MLJ began publishing various titles during the beginning of the comic book industry, most of them humor, although there were also a few adventure series. The company’s first comic was Blue Ribbon Comics, published in November 1939, followed shortly by Pep Comics, which began in January 1940 and introduced The Shield, a patriotic hero who resembled Marvel’s Captain America, who started appearing one year later.

In Pep Comics issue no. 22, published in December 1941, Archie Andrews made his first appearance. The world would never be the same. [Read more...]

Exclusive Pics from 2014 Licensing Expo

Licensing Expo, the annual meeting place for the global licensing industry, occurred last week in Las Vegas. The exhibitors included a number of the top toy companies, which were on-hand showing off upcoming play products and making announcements about new licensing deals.

Check out this exclusive gallery, which features lots of the licensed toys that we’re all sure to be excited about in the months ahead. [Read more...]

Mattel Launches Entrepreneur Barbie to Inspire Girls Everywhere

EntrepreneurBarbieMattel has launched Entrepreneur Barbie, coinciding with real-life female entrepreneurs gracing the cover of Time‘s Most Influential People issue and leading one-in-five start-ups. To celebrate her newest career, Barbie has partnered with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs, including the founders of Girls Who CodeRent the RunwayOne Kings LanePlum AlleyGenuine InsightsSugarfina, and The TomKat Studio.

Girls and parents can explore inspirational tips, career-themed games, and activities at www.barbie.com, and purchase career dolls available at retailers nationwide.

HIT Entertainment Will Produce First Little People Series

imageHIT Entertainment, in collaboration with Fisher-Price, has announced that a new CG-animated series, Little Peopleis now in pre-production and is set to launch late next year. The new series is based on Fisher-Price’s Little People brand, and is being produced out of HIT’s UK content hub.

This is the first collaboration between HIT and Fisher-Price since Mattel acquired HIT in 2012.

The Little People line encourages open-ended, imaginative play among preschoolers, with environments built around familiar people and favorite places such as the zoo and farm. The Little People brand has been the No. 1 property in preschool playsets in the U.S. for the past two years, according to NPD Group data.

Mattel’s Ever After High to Be Netflix Original Series

Netflix and Mattel announce seriesNetflix Inc. and Mattel Inc. will launch an original animated series for kids of all ages based on the popular Mattel franchise, Ever After High. The new series will premiere in all Netflix territories early next year.

“Today’s kids want to watch their favorite characters anywhere and everywhere they are. Netflix is the perfect home for developing and expanding the already enchanting world of Ever After High,” said Michael Riley, vice president franchise development and content distribution at Mattel. “We’re excited to be working with Netflix and for the show to be a part of its growing portfolio of original kids programming.”

The Netflix original series will be preceded by a movie, Ever After High Spring Unsprung, in early 2015. The 12 episodes of the Ever After High series will follow.