China Toy Fair


Disney Consumer Products, Marvel Entertainment Reveal Creativity Studio Stylus and App for iPad

MarvelAppDisney Consumer Products and Marvel Entertainment has launched the Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus and App, created by eKids, exclusively for iPad. The app delivers a creative space for kids to learn to draw, color, and animate their favorite Marvel Super Heroes and villains from Avengers AssembleThe Ultimate Spider-Man, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., while the stylus adds special and enhanced play value.

App and Stylus features include:

  • Professionally illustrated coloring pages, where you can add your own flare with  drawing tools and an extensive color pallet
  • Use of the stylus to unlock special tools including the “Reveal” tool to color the page like a pro
  • An interactive grid system that includes specialty drawing aids such as side-by-side drawing canvas, trace lines, and unique “Drawing Scope”
  • The abililty to build and animate action scenes with character stickers, sound effects, speech bubbles, and backgrounds
  • Create-your-own custom stickers and add them to animated scenes

In addition to the launch of the Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus and App, the Disney Creativity Studio app has received a content refresh with more drawing tools to use, so kids can now create drawings of other Disney characters including Disney Junior’s Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, as well as Monsters University and Disney Princess characters.

The Stylus, which includes unlimited access to all content and future updates, is available at mass retailers. A deluxe version with a limited-edition zippered carry case is available exclusively at Apple Retail Stores and from the Apple Online Store. The Marvel Creativity Studio app is free and may be found at www.appstore.com/MarvelCreativityStudio. The Disney Creativity Studio App is also free from the App Store or at www.AppStore.com/DisneyCreativityStudio.

COMMENTARY: Memory Games: I Can’t Remember When I’ve Had This Much Fun!

I’ll admit that my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Part of that might just be the hectic nature of modern life: With so much going on around us and so many things to keep track of, forgetting becomes all too easy. It’s also a totally natural consequence of aging, says that article that I read, in, uh… some web site or other. The point is, nowadays I write a lot of stuff down on a pad, or I email myself reminders. I’ve also started playing memory games, which even if they don’t re-forge my brain into a sharp instrument of information-retention, are at least a whole lot of fun.

This brings us to the board game Memory, which we’ve all played in one form or another. There’s a set of tiles placed face-down, and one or more players take turns flipping them, two at a time. If a player turns up a pair with of same face, they get a point and go again. The overall premise is simple, yet versatile enough that the game’s been tweaked in all sorts of ways. Meanwhile, the images requiring matching can be anything, which might explain why various intellectual properties have utilized Memory as part of a larger licensing plan. Below you’ll find some interesting versions of the classic game currently on the market, though it’s by no means an exhaustive list:

MonstersUniversityMonsters University Look-A-Likes Matching Game, from Spin Master: This licensed game, intended for kids ages 3 and up, definitely benefits from the distinct visual designs of Mike, Sulley, and the rest of the gang from this past summer’s Monsters University (on DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack October 29). The illustrations are clean and brightly colored, and thanks to how they’re juxtaposed against white backgrounds, they make a better impression on your memory during game play. Meanwhile, each half of a matching pair of tiles features a different colored border, making it possible to split the deck systematically to play a simpler version of the game. [Read more...]

Angry Birds Star Wars Licensed Products Provide a Boost to the Toy Industry

Hasbro Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Death Star PackageBased on data from The NPD Group, Angry Birds Star Wars is the best new toy license in the big five European toy markets so far this year. Sales of Angry Birds Star Wars during this period was £5.3 million, ahead of second place Skylanders at £4 million, and third place Monsters University at £2.9 million. Angry Birds Star Wars is even the No. 1 license in the board games category.

Over the first seven months, Angry Birds and Angry Birds Star Wars combined ranked as the 14th biggest license overall in the big five European markets and 12th biggest overall in the UK. Just one year ago, Angry Birds alone was ranked at a much lower 39th place in the big five markets in Europe.

The original Angry Birds sold £4.2 million worth of toys in the first seven months of last year across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The figure for the same seven-month period this year had almost doubled to £8.1 million. With the Angry Birds Star Wars sales performance of £5.3 million added in, in total, the Angry Birds license achieved combined sales of £13.4 million in the seven months through this July. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: The Best of Both Worlds

My fondest childhood memories always involve some sort of book. Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and the Baby-Sitters Club series played a huge role in my adolescence, and I still feel the pang of sweet nostalgia when I see these titles today. Part of my job is to round up toys, mobile apps, games, music, and books to feature in Toy Insider, but in recent months I find myself frantically searching for books to include while games, toys, and especially apps appear in abundance. I am a bit resistant to change, as I still prefer to hold a book in my hand to a Kindle or Nook, so the decline of printed books had me bogged down a bit. As I began searching for books to feature, I realized that reading is reading, and anything that brings a child to find his or her inner bibliophile is A-OK with me. There are so many new platforms for reading that don’t leave out books but take them to a new level, and we have to keep up!

8341295_0_9999_med_v1_m56577569853114439I am fascinated by the LeapReader Read & Write System by LeapFrog. This company is known for its kid-friendly tablets, but this new product has the coolest gadgets and gizmos that should make any child excited about story time. Starting with the very basics, the LeapReader Read & Write books will help your child learn to read and write by sounding out words and guiding letter strokes interactively. The set includes the LeapReader Reading and Writing System, an activity sampler book, one learning paper writing sheet, and free downloads of one audio book bundle, one music album, and one trivia fun pack. I think the coolest part is that interactive handwriting guidance helps children learn to write stroke-by-stroke on mess-free, no ink LeapFrog learning paper—which is also ecofriendly! There are more than 150 books and audiobooks available to add to the set, of which my personal favorite is Learn to Write Letters with Mr. Pencil. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: This Summer’s Cinema Gets Cuddly

With the release of The Smurfs 2, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University this summer, the movie theater will be a great destination for rainy days – and those days that are just too hot. With summer blockbusters come, of course, summer toys based on these movies to bring the movie worlds to life for fans. When it comes down to it, some of the best toys from these franchises are the simplest: plush toys. Plush toys allow kids to bring home new friends in cuddly, soft versions of their favorite characters. Bring the movie characters to life with these great plush products from your favorite summer movie:

54008Smurfs_Movie_Basic_Plush_SmurfetteJakks Pacific will introduce a line of 11-inch plush based on the characters from The Smurfs 2. With 12 characters to collect, kids can bring home their favorite friends from Smurfette to Grouchy to Papa Smurf. These Smurf plush toys aren’t just for fans of the new movie, but also for Smurf fans of all ages. [Read more...]

Monsters University Roars Into Retail

Spin Master's My Scare Pal Sulley

Spin Master’s My Scare Pal Sulley

Disney Consumer Products is rolling out a product collection inspired by Disney·Pixar’s newest film, Monsters University, starring Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan, “Sulley,” (voiced by John Goodman). The licensing program consists of more than 1,000 products from 125 licensees that celebrate the fun of Monsters University, which releases in theaters June 21. The product collection includes action figures, playsets, plush figures, apparel, accessories, home décor, publishing products, and more. An exclusive collection from Disney Store and DisneyStore.com is also available.

Products include role-play toys from Spin Master, playsets from Imaginext, T-shirts from Threadless, children’s footwear from etnies, a comforter set from Jay Franco, crib bedding from Kids Line, furniture from Delta Children, and themed Blue Raspberry Flavorz from Crunch Pak.

The line from the Disney Store and DisneyStore.com includes plush and pin collections, action figures, rolling luggage, books, and journals.

COMMENTARY: Disney’s Monsters U Sure to Scare Up Sales

Sulley Scare Mask

Disney is really good at a lot of things. One of those things is taking a beloved property and refreshing it, breathing new life into it, and turning it into a must-see movie or must-have property for a new audience of kids. They do it every year with Disney Princess (Last year was Cinderella, this year is The Little Mermaid). The film comes out of the vault, and the already incredible powerhouse that is Disney Princess (the No. 1 toy property ranked by annual 2012 dollar volume according to The NPD Group), launches an expanded program of licensed products focused on the Princess of the year.

However, Disney works some its best magic on the big screen, and Monsters University—due in theaters June 21—has success written all over it. Billed as a prequel to 2001′s Monsters Inc., the film follows fan favorites Sulley and Mike on their journey to becoming scaring professionals at Monsters University. (If you’re interested in attending, visit http://monstersuniversity.com/edu/.) [Read more...]

Disney Infinity Debuts Cars Playset

Disney Interactive has unveiled Cars as the fourth playset in Disney Infinity with a new set of images, screenshots, and a gameplay trailer from the playset. The Cars-inspired playset adds to the previously-announced playsets based on The Incredibles, Monsters University, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

The Cars playset allows gamers to take on the role of Lightning McQueen, Mater, Holley Shiftwell. and Francesco Bernoulli and enter the virtual world of Radiator Springs, where they will prepare the town for a big international racing event.

Disney Infinity Provides a Sneak Peek

Disney released new images from Disney Infinity, its most ambitious gaming initiative ever, during the American International Toy Fair, held in New York City at the Jacob K. Javits Center from Sunday, February 10 through Wednesday, February 13. Disney Infinity is an all-new gaming platform that combines Disney’s most popular franchises with one of today’s hottest trends in toys: interactive figures that come to life in video games. Players can place real-world toy versions of their favorite Disney characters onto a device called the Infinity Base and transport them into the virtual game worlds of Monsters University, the Incredibles, and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as into a giant Toy Box where they can create their own Disney experiences.