COMMENTARY: Sibling Rivalries Exist in the Toy World, Too

FrozenproductsA real-life sibling rivalry exists between Disney’s Frozen Elsa and Anna products—with one sister clearly winning. According to a Wall Street Journal article published last month, Disney marketing executives expected the sisters to be equals in popularity. As such, they were caught off-guard by the overwhelming preference for Elsa, who outsells Anna in dolls, toys, costumes, and other items. Disney, in response, makes sure to keep Elsa items in-stock at stores: For example, about 10 percent more Elsa dolls are stocked than Anna ones at Wal-Mart, according to the same Wall Street Journal article.

To help combat the Frozen sibling rivalry, companies are selling dolls with both sisters, and sales data from last holiday season shows that girls want to play with dolls or role-play with costumes featuring both characters. In turn, companies such as Jakks Pacific, as well as retailers like Toys “R” Us, are making and selling products, respectively, that involve the two sisters. [Read more...]

Don’t Have a Cow, Man! Check Out These Vintage Simpsons Collectibles Instead

TheSimpsonsby Brandon Engel

The Simpsons began its 26th season in September, making it the longest running sitcom and the longest running scripted prime time TV show in American history. Since the program’s 1989 debut on Fox–which came after three seasons of being a sketch in the The Tracey Ullman Show–the cartoon series has become ingrained in American culture and has greatly influenced the adult animated TV show genre, which includes such programs as Family Guy, American Dad!, Daria, Beavis and Butthead, Ren & Stimpy, and Archer, to name a few. The series is still so popular that FXX hosted a marathon of every single episode this past August and still airs hours upon hours of reruns every week (Fans should check their local listings for FXX availability).

The show has garnered a huge fan base during its 26 seasons on the air, and even the show’s merchandise has a large cult following among collectors. So, in honor of the show’s latest season, we’re taking a look at some of the rarest and most unique pieces of merchandise and memorabilia, including two toy figures. [Read more...]

Children of Soldiers and Wounded Warriors Get New Toys from TIF and BGCA

toyindustryMore than 1,700 children of military personnel and Wounded Warriors were given brand-new toys and games on November 6 at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va. Hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services, the toy giveaway was held in celebration of Military Family Appreciation Month.

Every child in attendance got to take home a toy, choosing from a selection of skill-building, enriching, and comforting playthings donated by Barnes & Noble, Big Time Toys, Imperial Toy, Lego, Mattel, Patch Products, and Yamie Chess. The event was held as part of the joint TIF/BGCA Play Comforts program, in which toys and games are delivered on an annual basis to families on U.S. military installations at home and abroad.

The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine Launch New Video Series

WomansDayVideoThe first entry in The Toy Insider‘s newest Fun with Kids video series launched this week at Woman’s Day. The latest video can be found on the Woman’s Day site’s front page, and the series will run for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, reaching the site’s 3.9 million unique monthly visitors (Note: The Toy Insider is published by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book).

In “Toys in Motion,” Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and Woman’s Day‘s Senior Editor Taryn Mohrman show off this season’s hottest toys that race, fly, and ride. Products shown in the video include: The Rockin’ Rider Patriot Rocking Horse, from Tek Nek Toys; the Air Storm Firetek Bow, from Zing; the Planes Fire and Rescue U-Command Dusty, from Thinkway Toys; the Hot Wheels Street Hawk, from Mattel; the Heli Beast, from Silverlit; the Sky Viper Camera Drone, from Skyrocket Toys; the Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy, from Toy State; the Extreme Beast, from Maisto; the Y Flicker Lift, from Yvolution; and the PowerRider 360, from Razor.

Macy’s BalloonFest Shows Off Giant Inflated Versions of Popular Toys

BalloonLineupOn Saturday, kids product luminaries such as Eruptor from Activision’s Skylanders, Mattel’s Thomas the Tank Engine, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, and Pokemon International’s Pikachu crossed paths—though not literally—at Macy’s BalloonFest in Queens, N.Y. The event, which took place at Citi Field, featured a test flight of the newest giant character balloons that will premiere at the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A total of six new character balloons took flight for the first time, directed by Macy’s flight management team and handled by hundreds of volunteers. The newest balloons include Thomas the Tank Engine, the largest and heaviest balloon ever to be featured in the parade; the Weinstein Company’s Paddington, which at 77.5 feet is the longest balloon to date; and Eruptor, which features a paint job requiring more than 40 gallons of fluorescent paint and five barrels of glitter.

Fifth Harmony Barbie Dolls Now Available Nationwide

FifthHarmonyMattel has partnered with The X Factor-winning music group, Fifth Harmony, for a new Barbie Doll line to celebrate a year of girl empowerment. The five dolls reflect the personalities and signature styles of the five group members.

As part of their collaboration, the group recently released Barbie’s new brand anthem “Anything is Possible,” followed by a full-length music video. The dolls are available now at Justice stores nationwide and on www.shopjustice.com, with a worldwide release planned for next spring.

Neil Friedman to Serve as Next President and CEO of Alex Brands

AlexBrands.Copy Alex Brands has named toy industry veteran Neil Friedman as its president and CEO. Friedman, who joined Alex Brands’ board of directors earlier this year, was most recently president of the U.S. division at Toys “R” Us. He was also previously president at Mattel Brands, Fisher-Price Brands, Tyco Preschool, and MCA/Universal Merchandising. Friedman is a member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association’s Hall of Fame.

“This is a unique opportunity to work with some of the most iconic and highly recognizable brands in the industry,” says Friedman. “In the time that I have been associated with Alex Brands, I have been extremely impressed by the company’s accomplishments, vision, and growth plans. I am most looking forward to using my experience and expertise to help this company realize the incredible opportunities that lie before it.”

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.

Toy Safety Training Programs for Chinese Manufacturers Scheduled for November

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) will present two Toy Safety Training Programs for Chinese manufacturers this fall. TIA has partnered with Mattel in planning these events and Mattel will provide on-site logistical support. The programs will include up-to-date reviews of U.S. toy safety standards, testing, and conformance requirements to assist local manufacturers licensed to experts toys and children’s products. The programs will take place in Hong Kong on November 17 and Shenzhen on November 18.

The session in Hong Kong will be co-presented by the TIA, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the Hong Kong Toys Council. Speakers will be from Mattel and The Federation of Hong Kong Industries. The Shenzhen session held on the following day will be co-presented by the TIA, the State Administration for Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China, the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, and the CPSC. Speakers will be from Mattel and the China Toy and Juvenile Products Association. [Read more...]

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...]