Toys “R” Us Expands Education Product Selection, Introduces Imaginarium Brand

Toys R Us EducationalToys “R” Us will expand its year-round education product selection in stores nationwide and online at toysrus.com. Filled with a broad collection of items, kids from preschool to fifth grade, parents, and teachers can now find the essentials they need to make learning easy and fun throughout the entire year.

Toys “R” Us is also debuting a new line of exclusive education products under its Imaginarium brand, the company’s largest range of specialty and learning toys. Imaginarium Learning offers shoppers dozens of back-to-basics, as well as inventive products, which promote early learning skills in little ones ages 18 months and up.

Under Imaginarium Learning, kids can discover the universe with the Lift a Flap Solar System and Lift a Flap World Puzzle, or learn their ABCs and 123s with the assistance of Touch & Learn Alphabet Fish and ABC & 123 Monkey. Additionally, magnetic tablets, like Magnetab Numbers and Magnetab ABCs Lower Case, teach small hands to trace and write, while double-sided write and erase cards and take-along boards provide activities that reinforce writing skills. [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!

Mega Brands Launches Tours at North America’s Largest Toy Factory

Mega Brands launched its North America’s Largest Toy Factory Tour Program at its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. The Mega Brands team welcomed the local Hochelaga Community Center Day Camp at its Mega Bloks toy factory for a day of building, learning, and fun. More than 120 children visited the Mega Bloks Toy Factory and enjoyed a variety of building activities alongside Santa Claus and his elves.

The Mega Bloks Factory Tours showcase the facilities to young builders through activities specifically customized for each age group. The tours highlight how-it’s-made processes, visits to areas where Mega Bloks are created from start to finish, and future professions visitors can aspire to.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with Mega Bloks toy experts and ask any and all questions they have about the toy industry. The Mega Bloks Factory Tours are a great way for students to learn about a local global business as well as the stages in the “life of a toy”.

Tours are only available to schools, camps, daycares, and non-profit organizations to children. Although the tours are free, a donation of $5 per visitor in benefit of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation must be made (not applicable to non-profit organizations). Tours are limited to a maximum of 30 children at a time and it is recommended that classes be separated into groups of 8 to 10 to facilitate activities. Organizations are responsible for travel arrangements and all visitors must be dressed comfortably with closed shoes.

COMMENTARY: Construction Toys Capitalize on Upcoming Blockbusters

Lego Metropolis Showdown, based on Man of Steel film

Lego Metropolis Showdown, based on the upcoming Man of Steel film

I’m a huge sucker for blockbuster films. I also love construction toys. So you can image my excitement at the American International Toy Fair last month when I discovered that many of this year’s big films will also make their way to the construction toy aisle.

Construction is one of the healthiest categories in the toy industry right now. According to the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, building sets saw a 23 percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012. The next closest category of growth (and it’s not even that close) was arts and crafts with 8 percent. A lot of this, of course, had to do with the success of Lego Friends last year. I think it’s safe to say we can expect Lego’s competitors—Mega Brands and Hasbro—to attempt to capitalize on this new boon.

Here are a few of the construction toys I’m excited about that are based on or capitalizing on upcoming films:

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Kre-O G.I. Joe Ninja Temple Battle Construction Set

Kre-O G.I. Joe Ninja Temple Battle

In theaters tomorrow, G.I. Joe: Retaliation finds the G.I. Joes framed as enemy traitors and fighting for their survival against a shadow U.S. President. Channing Tatum (Duke) and Byung-hun Lee (Storm Shadow) are reprising their roles from the first film, while new cast members such as Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson (Roadblock) and Bruce Willis (Gen. Colton) will add some extra star power. Hasbro’s Kre-O brand last month launched a whole line of G.I. Joe construction sets and micro-figures based on Hasbro’s own G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero property. While not based on the new film, it’s particularly well-timed. The Kre-O G.I. Joe Cobra Armored Assault Construction Set features a buildable tank and a 4×4 vehicle along with three Cobra figures. I’m a big Storm Shadow fan, so I’m also stoked about the Kre-O G.I. Joe Ninja Temple Battle Construction Set.

The Smurfs 2

Smurfette's House

Smurfette’s House

Set for release this summer, The Smurfs 2 will introduce several new characters including some not-so-nice Smurf-like creatures known as the Naughties. The little blue guys find Smurfette has been kidnapped in a plot to turn the evil Naughties into real Smurfs. Christina Ricci lends her voice as Vexy, one of the Naughties. And Katy Perry (yes, that Katy Perry) reprises her role as Smurfette. Mega Brands will release building sets and adorable figures based on the classic The Smurfs property this spring. While not based on the film, these toys seem well-timed. Smurfette’s House is a fully buildable mushroom house playset. The pink and violet two-story mushroom house includes a buildable bed, a makeup table with mirror, and a living room set. I’m stoked on the Racin’ Smurfs set, which includes two buildable racing cars, two Smurfs, obstacles, and a winner’s podium.

The Lone Ranger

Lego Lone Ranger Stagecoach Escape

Lego Lone Ranger Stagecoach Escape

While Lego has some great DC Universe building sets just in time for the upcoming Man of Steel film, I’m more excited about Lego’s The Lone Ranger sets tied to the new Disney film, The Lone Ranger. Johnny Depp will play the Native American warrior Tonto, and Lego nails it with its Tonto micro-figure—it has Johnny Depp smeared all over it. The Lego Lone Ranger Stagecoach Escape features a buildable Western stagecoach with horses and micro-figures (yes, Tonto is included). Word among the Lego folks at Toy Fair was that Disney loved the Lego stagecoach designs so much that they wrote a stagecoach chase into the film just so the item could be part of the line. It’s that awesome.

For more commentary from Loren, check back each Wednesday afternoon. 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!

Zeptolab Reveals Expanded Licensing Program at Toy Fair

ZeptoLab, the entertainment and gaming company behind the global mobile phenomenon Cut the Rope, is bringing even more ways for fans to interact with the lovable monster, Om Nom. Debuting at this year’s American International Toy Fair is Om Nom: Candy Flick, a new augmented reality game.

Om Nom: Candy Flick, available on Apple’s App Store, is unlocked via a special tag that can be found on a variety of Om Nom plush toys from toy partner, Round 5. Once downloaded, fans can bring Om Nom to life by positioning their smartphone or tablet’s camera on the tags and watch as he virtually pops out of the tag ready to devour his favorite treat: candy. [Read more...]

Mega Brands Reports Third Quarter 2012 Results

Mega Brands Inc. has announced its financial results for the third quarter ended September 30.

Consolidated net sales in the third quarter increased 5 percent to $140.1 million compared to $133.4 million in the corresponding 2011 period. [Read more...]

Mega Brands Creates a Bridge Between Arts, Crafts, and Toys With Scraps and Goo Hu

Mega Brands, Inc., is expanding the focus of its RoseArt brand through the introduction of two all-new children’s product lines: Scraps and Goo Hu. These two RoseArt product lines represent a strategic business decision to create a bridge between arts, crafts, and toys, offering products with extensive post-creation playability.

Expanding the interactivity of traditional plush animals, Scraps is a unique new line of 12 original, interchangeable plush characters that kids create by looping and buttoning together multiple pieces and parts onto pom-pom bodies. All Scraps parts can be mixed, matched, and reattached, so kids can collect their favorite characters and even create their own new characters for extended creative play.

Mega Brands has also developed a proprietary product that is part science experiment, part bouncing toy, with the launch of RoseArt’s Goo Hu. Goo Hu features two silicone-based modeling compounds that, when kept apart, remain gooey forever, but once combined create magical matter that turns into a rubbery, bouncy, and flexible form that won’t shrink, crack, break, or lose its bounce.  Goo Hu combines crafting with chemistry, allowing children to use their imagination to create unique toy shapes and forms.

Both products are available at Target, Kmart, and Toys “R” Us. More information about Scraps is available at www.TheOriginalScraps.com. More information about Goo Hu is available at www.MyGooHu.com.

3-D Puzzle Breakthrough from Mega Brands

Mega Puzzles 3D Breakthrough

Fun for anyone who enjoys arts & crafts, creative projects, or family activities, Mega Brand’s new 3D Breakthrough puzzles provide a new puzzling experience. The traditional jigsaw puzzle gets rejuvenated as the flat jigsaw puzzle pieces use real 3-D technology to make the art pop out.

Puzzlers first put together the 2-D jigsaw puzzle background and then use specially designed clips to construct cardboard pieces into 3-D components. The completed piece becomes a work of art that can be displayed on a wall, mantel, or tabletop for an enhanced 3-D effect.

The 3D Breakthrough Puzzle line is for kids and adults ages 6 and up and comes in easy, moderate, and advanced levels. The puzzles will be available online this fall and in retail stores.

Mega Nabs Warcraft, Starcraft Licenses

Mega Brands and Blizzard Entertainment have announced a licensing partnership to create Warcraft- and Starcraft-themed construction sets that will be available next summer. The gaming hit World of Warcraft remains the most popular online multi-player, role-playing game in the world, while the second installment in the Starcraft series (Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty) is the fastest selling, real-time strategy game of all time. The first construction toy sets from this deal will be based on iconic locations, characters, and vehicles from the two games.

Mega to Develop Generator Rex Construction Toys

Mega Brands has signed on to develop construction toys based on the new boys action series, Generator Rex. The full line of toys will be distributed to international markets as part of the three-year deal. The construction toy line will launch in the U.S. next fall (2011) and then will roll out in additional territories. The global deal marks the first time Mega has partnered with Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE).

Generator Rex follows Rex, a 15-year-old typical teenager with abnormal powers, as he uses his superhuman abilities to help fight mutant creatures known as EVOs. The series airs Fridays on Cartoon Network at 8:30 p.m ET/PT.