The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Brings Godzilla-Sized List of Licensees to Toy Fair

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) enters this year’s American International Toy Fair with an extensive lineup of global licensees in support of its entertainment properties, milestone anniversaries, and upcoming theatrical releases.

Bandai America Inc. and Jakks Pacific Inc. will each support Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, with new toy lines. Jakks’ line of Godzilla products will include an Ultimate Large Scale Godzilla Figure with 12 points of articulation and a length of over 43 inches, making it one of the largest toys in Godzilla history. Other worldwide partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., NECA, and Sideshow Collectibles.

WBCP’s toy partners will also release toys and collectibles based on The Hobbit Trilogy. The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will support the film series with new figures. Additional partners include Eaglemoss, Funko, Kosmos, and Ravensburger.

The Wizard of Oz will celebrate its 75th anniversary with Mattel‘s new line of dolls for The Wizard of Oz Barbie collection. Enesco, Tonner Doll, and Madame Alexander will each offer collectible figures. Warner Bros. will also continue its There’s No Place Like Home campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Gone with the Wind will also mark its 75th anniversary with new collectible figures from Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll. Mattel will offer an anniversary Barbie collection and Enesco will introduce a stone resin figure. [Read more...]

Cardinal Industries Turns 70

cardinalIn 1944, a young Les Berger, the founder of Cardinal Industries, started the company in Brooklyn. With his knowledge of plastics, Berger began manufacturing dominoes poker chip racks, hula hoops, and Mah Jongg sets.

Seventy years later, Cardinal has grown to become one of America’s top signature board game and puzzle companies offering more than 400 items including traditional games such as dominoes, checkers, and poker sets, as well as an extensive line of licensed games and lenticular, wood, and basic puzzles. With a worldwide reach Cardinal products can be found throughout North America, Europe, and Austraila. Cardinal has excelled in the licensed puzzle and game arena working with Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon, Sanrio, Twentieth Century Fox, NBS, Warner Bros, Sesame Street, HIT Entertainment, Lucas, Mattel, and Hasbro, among others.

Universal Studios Brings Monster High: Frights Camera Action to Life

monsterhighWhen Monster High‘s Draculaura is led to believe she’s the rightful heir to the vampire throne, she and her best ghoulfriends are whisked away to Transylvania for a royal coronation to die for. But they soon discover the hunt for the queen is not over yet. The Ghouls must locate an ancient artifact known as the Vampire’s Heart in order to discover the identity of the true Vampire Queen. Mattel‘s new line of Monster High: Frights, Camera Action! dolls features Hauntlywood versions of favorite glam ghouls ready for their Black Carpet debut. The dolls feature “gore-geous” accessories.

The film is an adventure that will lead them from the Tower of Londoom, to a haunted river boat in New Goreleans and finally to the glamorous boo-vie lots of Hauntlywood. Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action! comes to Blu-ray Combo Pack including Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet on March 25, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Barbie Goes Mermaid in Upcoming Video Release

Barbie.ThePearlPrincessThe latest movie featuring Barbie is set for home video release next March. In Barbie: The Pearl Princess, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, the famous fashion doll from Mattel stars as Lumina, a mermaid who dreams of being a princess.

As long as Lumina can remember, she’s had the magical power to make pearls dance and glow. Along with her best friend Kuda, a pink seahorse, she embarks on an adventure to a mer-kingdom, where Lumina uses her powers to help her friends prepare for the Royal Ball—and to unlock her true destiny.

Barbie: The Pearl Princess will be released on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on March 11.

COMMENTARY: Monkeez (and Others) Help Kids Make A Difference

monkeezIt’s the season of toys and giving, as the holidays are quickly approaching. December’s cheerful spirit is evident throughout the city, on social media, and in toy stores worldwide. Christmas lights are hanging everywhere, department stores are adorned with pops of red and green, and children are on their best behavior, hoping to fall on the right side of the naughty-or-nice list. Santa is taking last-minute requests from children who will surely receive their prizes for being good girls and boys all year long.

When I was a kid, my parents always took part in Operation Christmas Child, an organization that collects shoeboxes full of toys and non-perishable items to be given to children who wouldn’t otherwise have a Christmas gift to open, during this time of year. I loved getting to help put toys together to send to kids around the world, though I didn’t really understand exactly what it meant. Now, I see kids crying in department stores wanting their toys now, and I see lists of toys growing longer and longer. I’m all for it—‘tis the season—but I think it’s important that kids learn to receive with a grateful attitude, rather than an expectant one.

The older I get, the more bittersweet the holidays become. The music, ice-skating, tacky sweater parties, and family time are wonderful, but the receiving of gifts isn’t as satisfying as it was when Barbie dolls and Polly Pockets filled my Christmas wish list. It’s now apparent to me that so many kids spend Christmas without basic necessities, and certainly without gifts to open. I started researching major toy companies and realized that there are so many that donate to this cause in various ways. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Disney’s Frozen Toys Will Melt Your Heart

The thing that I like most about Disney’s Frozen was that it played with the idea of a typical Disney Princess movie. It touches on the idea of falling in love and being engaged within hours of meeting each other and changes the way the audience thinks about typical princesses and princes. There is, of course, a curse that’s lifted by “an act of true love,” but this act comes from (spoiler alert!) one of sisterly love rather than romantic love. A lot of the plot is focuses on the two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa, and the animation is so spectacular as it brings this truly magical story to life.

To go along with this great movie, Mattel has introduced an entire line of toys that capture the lively, magical spirit of Frozen. With quirky characters (Olaf!), Frozen quickly becomes a new Disney favorite, and the toys are sure to have the same effect on any toy box.

MusicalDollsOne of my favorite toys from this line is the Disney Frozen Musical Magic Elsa and Anna Dolls. These dolls feature glittery and glamorous gowns, but I think also do a fantastic job of capturing the familial bonds that are so important to the movie’s story. When kids hold the dolls hands, the dolls hold each other’s hands, OR you create a circle of humans and dolls holding hands, Anna and Elsa magically light up and play enchanting music. [Read more...]

Mattel’s Fourth Annual 12 Days of Play Program Impacts More Than 100,000 Children

MattelChildrenFoundationMattel has started its fourth annual global Mattel 12 Days of Play program, a series of holiday-themed philanthropic events that will give the gift of play to more than 100,000 children in more than 30 countries. Mattel 12 Days of Play brings Mattel employees together to impact the lives of children at underserved schools, hospitals, food banks, orphanages, and other community organizations around the world with a variety of play, toys, and fun activities.

In the Los Angeles area alone, more than 2,000 volunteers are joining children at inner-city elementary schools and the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Working with its signature partner Playworks, as well as LA’s Best and other local organizations, Mattel will create a total of eight Winter Wonderlands. The play areas have approximately 400 tons of snow combined, where an estimate of 5,000 kids ages 6 to 11 can play.

These events feature real falling snow and activities such as sledding, ice skating, racing Hot Wheels cars down a 40-foot track, photo opportunities with real-life Barbie, a chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and plenty of toys. On December 5, Mattel’s global headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. was covered in more than 100 tons of snow and real flakes fell from the sky. Kids were also able to sled down three tracks and drive Power Wheels through an obstacle course. [Read more...]

TIF Distributes New Toys to More than 2,000 Kids on North Carolina Air Force Base

TIF/BGCAThe Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and national partner Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services distributed brand new toys to more than 2,000 children and families living on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. on December 2. During the base’s annual tree lighting ceremony, kids were treated to more than just entertainment and festive activities—they were also given a generous donation of toys, games, and stuffed animals.

With the holiday season just around the corner, TIF and BGCA are hopeful that the toys will ease the stresses and challenges children face with parents who are frequently deployed. This special donation was made possible through toy companies to TIF’s signature giving program, The Toy Bank.

This event was held as part of the TIF/BGCA Play Comforts program—the first national toy distribution initiative to serve dozens of U.S. military installations at home and abroad. The program has provided more than $3.8 million in toys for children and families over the four years it has been running.

TIF’s Toy Bank includes AbraKIDabra, Alex Toys, Barnes & Noble, Cardinal Industries, Cartamundi USA, Hohner, Inc., Green Toys, Innovation First, Lego Systems Inc., Mattel Inc., MindWare, Ohio Art, Patch Products, Safari Ltd., Wonder Forge, Wyla/Just Pretend Kids, and exhibitors at the TIA’s Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. For 10 years, The Toy Bank has provided toys to more than 11 million children in need worldwide.

COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

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The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]