COMMENTARY: Kids Can Safely Get Behind the Wheel with New Ride-Ons

It’s difficult to recall when I first began dreaming about getting my driver’s license. Sure, there was that one time I accidentally shifted my parents’ car into neutral and rolled it out of the driveway (sorry again, Mom), but even at a young age, I had a desire to drive.Barbie Jeep

The first ride-on I instantly became obsessed with was my friend’s Power Wheels Barbie Jeep, circa 1990-something. It was love at first sight and I just had to have it. It was battery-operated, so I could just push down the pedal and go. It even had a roomy passenger seat, which was perfect for driving around my younger brothers and sister–and I probably tried to get my cat in it with me, too. [Read more...]

Mega Brands Returns as Presenting Sponsor of Walk Now for Autism Speaks

Light it Up Blue was launched by Autism Speaks in 2010 in support of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), which takes place on April 2. Mega Bloks Lights It Up Blue in celebration of World Autism Awareness Day and encourages others to do the same in showing their support!

Light it Up Blue was launched by Autism Speaks in 2010 in support of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), which takes place on April 2. Mega Bloks Lights It Up Blue in celebration of World Autism Awareness Day and encourages others to do the same in showing their support!

Mega Brands Inc. has partnered with Autism Speaks Canada, Toys “R” Us Canada, and local autistic groups to launch three exciting initiatives in support of the cause. For the fourth consecutive year, Mega Bloks returns as the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Walk Now for Autism Speaks event, scheduled for May 25 at the McGill University Tomlinson Fieldhouse in Montreal.

Meanwhile, as a fundraising measure, Mega Bloks has joined forces with Toys “R” Us Canada, pledging to donate $1 of every Mega Bloks toy sold in-store and online in Canada throughout the month of April to Autism Speaks Canada. In addition, Mega Bloks has invited local autistic organizations to tour its Montreal headquarters every Friday during April to learn more about the therapeutic benefits of Mega Bloks toys.

More information about the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event can be found at the organization’s website.

COMMENTARY: Inside the Mega Bloks Factory, Where Innovation Is Their Building Block

March19.MegaBloksFactoryThere’s been a trend of late among North American toy manufacturers to either move manufacturing back home or to stay put entirely. Recently, I had a chance to visit the Mega Bloks factory in Montreal, where Mega Bloks—the signature toys of Mega Brands Inc.—are produced, and it only strengthens the argument not to export toy-making abroad. Jean-Francois Albert, vice president of manufacturing for the company, offered a guided tour that showed off the facility’s various innovations, which keep it cost-effective, even compared to China and other countries that traditionally offer cheap labor. [Read more...]

Mattel to Acquire Mega Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. and Mega Brands Inc. have signed a definitive agreement for Mattel’s acquisition, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., of Mega Brands for $460 million.

The acquisition advances Mattel’s global growth strategy of building upon its world-class portfolio of brands by expanding into two of the fastest-growing toy categories. Mega Brands is the No. 2 player in the $4 billion construction building sets category with its Mega Bloks brand, as well as a competitor in the $2 billion arts and crafts category.

mega brands logoMattel’s portfolio of brands will complement Mega Brands’ flagship Mega Bloks brand and existing licensed brands, including Halo, Skylanders, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The acquisition will give Mattel the opportunity to broaden its relationship with its entertainment partners.

Mega Brands ranks among the top 15 toy companies globally in terms of sales, according to statistics published by The NPD Group last year. Additionally, the company achieved record sales of preschool construction toys. [Read more...]

Mega Bloks Brings the Holiday Spirit to Quebec

LudovicaMinilandMega Brands, which is based in Montreal, Quebec, is celebrating the start of the holiday season with a number of local events.

The company is kicking off the holidays on November 23 at this year’s Destination Centre-ville Santa Claus Parade with a giant, 48-foot float with a full Winter Wonderland theme. The Mega Bloks team will be on-hand greeting spectators and handing out gifts to kids throughout the event, which will feature Mega Bloks Halo, Mega Bloks Hot Wheels, and Mega Bloks Barbie. In addition, Mega Bloks’ all-new mascot, MEGA Man, will be making his first appearance.

Mega Bloks will also sponsor Ludovica Miniland, a compilation of more than 600 reproductions of buildings and iconic monumental structures from around the globe, completely built out of Mega Bloks. Ludovica Miniland is on display from November 22 to next January, at the Grand Marché de Wickham in Quebec.

Finally, as part of its yearly mid-December tradition, Mega Bloks has extended invitations to groups of children from the Sun Youth Organization, as well as the Generations Foundation, to come meet Santa Claus, visit the Mega Bloks factory, and personally receive a special Mega Bloks gift from Santa himself.

Mega Bloks, Activision Introduce New Call of Duty Collector Construction Sets

MegaBloks.CallofDutyMega Brands Inc. and Activision Publishing Inc. have introduced a new premium line of Mega Bloks Collector Construction Sets, based on the Call of Duty franchise. The new line brings a level of sophistication and detail never before seen in the highly collectible construction category.

Call of Duty Collector Construction Sets are part of a multi-year, global license with Activision that expands upon the two companies’ development of innovative, creative, and entertaining construction collectibles. The sets offer a range that includes buildable vehicles, themed locations, and collectible micro action figures. The action figures feature a level of articulation that includes unique joint design and poseability.

Musical Toys: An Inspiration to Pursue the Art

by Rachel Matthews, guest blogger

Not too long ago, the Kidz Bop kids found their way performing at venues in New York and New Jersey. Their collection of poppy, top 40 covers has allowed them to produce dozens of compilation albums, launch a U.S. star search, release books, video games, and toys.

The line-up of the group is in constant rotation as each member ages. Because of this rotation, many a child beg their parents for a singing lesson—especially in New York—after seeing a Kidz Bop performance. The chances of becoming a member is hard pressed as detailed by this young musician, but the combination of their U.S. talent search and brand gives hope to many children within the States.

Of course, aiming to sing for a band such as Kidz Bop is only part of what’s driving up sales in music -parents must by music-related toys to help further their children’s ambitions.

[Read more...]

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.

COMMENTARY: Be a Rock Star—Through Play!

From the ages of 9 to about—oh I don’t know—now, few things got me more excited than hearing a Spice Girls song. I remember the days of standing in front of my mirror with a hair brush belting out all of Britney Spears‘ greatest hits. Everyone—whether you have an extreme case of stage fright or, like myself, were a diva-beyond-compare since the age of 5—loves the fantasy of being a rock star. It takes a lot of guts and gall—and boy does it seem glamorous.

We all know from reading the news that not all roads to rock stardom are as shiny, bright, and full of great shoes as we all hope for them to be. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still love the fantasy. With the upgrade of technology being incorporated into toys, kids’ fantasies of being a rock star are becoming truly, well, spectacular. Here are some great toys that will get kids—and kids at heart—up in front of that mirror belting into a hairbrush.

superstarThe Barbie Build ‘n Play Super Star Stage, from Mega Bloks, allows girls ages 5 and up to build their own two-story stage that features real lights and sounds that move to the music. The set comes with approximately 290 pieces, including sparkling blocks for a touch of extra glimmer. The Super Star Stage has three songs that will get kids up and dancing. Super Star Barbie, Raquelle, and Teresa figures are included with tons of fabulous accessories to make their rock show glam, including microphones, guitars, a DJ booth, a keyboard, and an elevator with a spinning feature. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Billy’s Got the Toddler Beat

As a 24 year-old, one would hope that it would take a fairly fascinating toy to really pique my interest. While it does take probably less than you would imagine (I am admittedly a kid at heart), there is one toddler plaything that I simply can’t get enough of—Billy Beats Dancing Piano. This musical DJ, from Mega Bloks, does it all. Billy is a too-cute-to-handle, dancing piano that is the culmination of all things enjoyed by toddlers. I know that if Billy had been around in my toddler hay-day, his batteries would have needed very frequent changing. My short attention span made it difficult to entertain me, and Billy Beats is four sources of entertainment in one—singing, music playing, dancing, and block building. Win, win, win, and win!

billybeatsHe has eight classic preschool songs in his repertoire, and he knows them all in three styles—with standard piano sounds, barnyard animal sounds, and a funky DJ-style. Kids can mix-and-match the sounds in the “Discover Music” mode. The “Dance Along” option makes Billy dance along as the song plays. The keys light up and Billy shakes his little piano booty. I think my favorite is the “Teach Me” setting. Billy Beats’ keys will light up in the order of the notes in the song. Toddler musicians can follow along, playing the song. If they make a mistake, Billy Beats lets out an adorable little giggle; if they get it right, he plays the song back for them—and of course adds a little jig.

Staying true to the Mega Bloks First Builders brand, Billy Beats is a construction toy that is fully compatible with all Mega Bloks First Builders blocks. They can be stored in the space under his red cap, and built up over his keys and on top of his head. Along with the included blocks, Billy Beats comes with stickers of sheet music that kids can play on his light-up keyboard.

For more commentary from Kara, 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!