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...]

Nintendo and Best Buy Team Up for Game Showcase Events

NintendoOn December 7, Nintendo and Best Buy will team up to provide hands-on game play featuring Captain Toad, Pikachu, and other iconic Nintendo characters. At select stores, shoppers can play four of Nintendo’s recent releases: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, for Wii U; Pokémon Art Academy, for Nintendo 3DS; and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. The four games are currently available in stores and in the Nintendo eShop.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time, and a full list of participating stores can be found at Best Buy’s web site. Visitors who play the demos become eligible to receive giveaways ranging from fun Pokémon items to in-store coupons, while supplies last. At the Best Buy store in Culver City, Calif., the Mario costumed character himself will pay a visit to take pictures with fans.

Nintendo Files U.S. Patent for Handheld Video Game Emulator

NintendoAs reported by The Wall Street Journal this past Tuesday, Nintendo has filed a patent with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that could pave the way for Nintendo to offer its games on smartphones or other mobile devices.

The patent, which was published last Thursday and filed by Nintendo in June, is described as a software emulator for emulating a handheld video game platform. However, analysts are skeptical that Nintendo is planning a move into video games on mobile devices. The patent, originally filed in 2000 and extended in 2003 and 2012, could also be used to fight piracy.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata previously said the company would stick to using its intellectual property, which includes Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, solely on its own game device.

Nintendo to Power Up Malls Across the U.S. This Holiday Season

NintendoFrom November 24 to December 21, Nintendo characters Mario, Luigi, and Pikachu will visit 16 malls across the country to offer holiday shoppers hands-on play time with new games for Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo 2DS. Visitors can also check out amiibo, Nintendo’s foray into the toys-to-life category.

Interactive spaces tailored for kids will feature a Mario Kart 8 tournament played on a large, high-definition display. Visitors can also play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The scheduled lineup of Wii U games also includes Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Super Mario 3D World, Skylanders: Trap Team, and Nintendo Land.

Meanwhile, Nintendo 3DS fans will be able to check out Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Pokémon Omega Ruby, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Tomodachi Life, Yoshi’s New Island, and more. [Read more...]

Clarity Ensues: Nintendo Introduces Crystal Red and Crystal Blue Nintendo 2DS Systems

Nintendo.Crystal2DSOn November 21, Nintendo will launch new Crystal Red and Crystal Blue Nintendo 2DS systems featuring a slick, semi-transparent design. The Crystal Red and Crystal Blue systems are launching alongside Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, and the Nintendo 2DS is compatible with the Nintendo 3DS’ library of more than 3,000 games, including Super Smash Bros.

The system maintains many of the same hardware and connected features as Nintendo 3DS such as touch-screen controls, StreetPass, Miiverse, and online multiplayer functionality. The Nintendo 2DS is also backward compatible with the library of Nintendo DS games, and offers the ability to download games from the Nintendo eShop.

Nintendo’s Super Mario Franchise Featured in Mercedes-Benz Commercial

NintendoThis past week, Mercedes-Benz Japan began airing the latest series of commercials for its GLA sports utility vehicle featuring characters from Nintendo’s Mario franchise.

The original TV ad began airing in May and featured only Mario, who rode the SUV in a two-dimensional 8-bit world. The digital Mario eventually morphed into an actor with a mustache wearing Mario’s signature dungarees.

The newest commercial, inspired by Mario’s agility and the way he can move around anywhere he wants, adds more characters from the Super Mario franchise.

Mercedes-Benz’s SUV appears in Nintendo’s Mario Kart game, making it the first real-world car to appear in the series.

Nintendo Reports Record Orders for Super Smash Bros. on Wii U

SuperSmashBros.WiiUAs reported by Bloomberg News today, advanced orders for Nintendo’s upcoming Super Smash Bros. are at a record and may lift sales of the company’s struggling Wii U console during the holidays.

Pre-sales of the fighting game for Wii U, which arrives at stores on November 21, surpassed Mario Kart 8, and interest in the game has generated optimism at Nintendo. Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, said in an interview on Tuesday that sell-through expectations for Super Smash Bros. are on par with Mario Kart 8, which could have a dramatic impact on hardware.

Mario Kart 8 has sold 3.49 million units, including 2.74 million outside Japan, and Wii U console sales more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.12 million devices in the six months ended September. So far this year, Nintendo has sold 2 million Wii U units, according to the site VGChartz. The Wii U posted its first consecutive quarterly sales gains in the June and September periods.

By comparison, Sony has sold 8.1 million PlayStation 4‘s, and Microsoft has tallied 3.3 million Xbox One sales, according to VGChartz.

Super Smash Bros. is the first Nintendo title that will also support amiibo, the company’s entry into the $1 billion interactive toy category, scheduled for release in time for the holidays.

Nintendo Partners with Loot Crate to Deliver amiibo to Fans

amiibo.largerversionThe online delivery service Loot Crate is helping fans receive select Nintendo amiibo figures after they launch on November 21. By signing up for the limited-time amiibo subscription service, subscribers will receive 10 pre-selected amiibo—including Mario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Fox, and Yoshi—separated into three special Loot Crate shipments throughout the holiday season.

By joining the subscription service, Loot Crate guarantees the 10 pre-selected amiibo, and allows subscribers to avoid the hassle of rushing to retailers to find certain characters. In addition to Mario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Fox, and Yoshi, the other five pre-selected characters will eventually be revealed through Loot Crate.

Nintendo and Loot Crate plan additional surprises for Super Smash Bros. and amiibo fans. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, and Hyrule Warriors will feature amiibo compatibility this year, with functionality for more titles coming in the future.

Wal-Mart’s Initial Holiday Offerings Include Discounts on Disney Frozen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and More

logo-walmartFor its first round of holiday promotions, Wal-Mart has expanded its digital shelves to include 7 million items, which is one million more than last holiday season. Shortly after midnight PT on November 3, deals typically reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will start on walmart.com, and will include discounts on toys and games, such as the Barbie Dreamhouse and Nintendo 2DS.

The retailer will also offer hundreds of weekly online specials on items that include toys and electronics, with same-day pickup at Wal-Mart stores available while supplies last at no additional charge, and free shipping to customers’ homes available for orders totaling $50 or more.

Wal-Mart has rolled out a new feature within its mobile app: Search My Store, through which customers can search for nearly any item carried in a Wal-Mart store and see that item’s availability, its aisle location, ratings, and reviews. Search My Store is available on Android devices and will expand to iPhones by mid-November. [Read more...]

Nintendo Shows Strength on New Games in Financial Results

NintendoAs reported by Bloomberg News on Wednesday, Nintendo posted second-quarter profits that beat analyst estimates, helped by a weaker yen that boosted the value of overseas sales and demand for new games, including the company’s Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. Net income was 24.2 billion yen, or $224 million, for the three months ended September 30, compared to an 8 billion yen loss a year earlier.

The company booked a 15.5 billion yen gain in the fiscal first half from the weaker Japanese currency. Second-quarter sales fell to 96.7 billion yen from 115 billion yen a year ago, but Nintendo left unchanged its forecast for full-year profit of 20 billion yen and sales of 590 billion yen. The company maintained its projection to sell 3.6 million Wii U consoles across the full year.

In a statement, Nintendo also maintained its full-year sales targets for the 3DS handheld player and software titles for both. The newest version of the 3DS, which features additional buttons and a faster processor, went on sale in Japan on October 11; and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, which was released in Japan on September 13, and in North America and Europe on October 3, sold 3.2 million units as of the end of the month. The company is also entering the multi-billion-dollar, collectible toy market with its amiibo figurines, which let players enter a Nintendo character into a game through the Wii U’s GamePad tablet.