Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Playmates Toys Adds Bebop and Rocksteady to TMNT Action Figure Line

BeBop_HI RockSteady_HINickelodeon and Playmates Toys have launched Bebop and Rocksteady action figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters. The figures will be available in mid-November exclusively at Wal-Mart.

The 5-inch action figures are fully articulated and sculpted to capture the personalities of the popular duo. Each figure is equipped with unique accessories and is compatible with most of the vehicles and play sets in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line. Bebop, a pig-headed mutant, features a bright purple Mohawk, X-ray glasses, and comes ready to battle with his weapon accessories. Rocksteady, a mutated rock-headed Rhino and the brains behind the duo, is ready to hunt down the Turtles with his hammer-and-sickle weapon accessories.

The villainous duo will make their return to TV this January as part of the third season of Nickelodeon’s CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Products Heading to Toys “R” Us

NickTMNTToys “R” Us will offer a new line of toys and accessories based on the third season of the Nickelodeon TV series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, beginning this month.

The selection from Playmates Toys includes exclusive action figures and play sets, vehicles, role-play items, and more, and is available in Toys “R” Us stores and on toysrus.com.

Toys “R” Us is also hosting a Turtles in Training Sweepstakes, through which a grand prize winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles, Calif., to record their voice for an upcoming episode of the CG-animated series.

COMMENTARY: Comics’ Timeless Heroes (and Villains) Are Still Loved by Today’s Kids

Superman-First-Comic-Action-Comics-No-1-222x300Kids these days may not know that Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman (among many, many others) hailed from glorious comic books first published in the 1930s, costing someone 10 cents an issue on the stands. They also may not realize how well some have held their value, being that the very first Superman comic, Action Comics No. 1, supposedly goes for $3.2 million dollars—but let’s not get too sidetracked.

The real point here is that today, September 25, is National Comic Book Day, and it’s hard to imagine the toy aisles without the superheroes and villains who once upon a time, were neither action figures nor stars on the silver screen played by big-league actors and actresses; but instead, started out as hand-illustrated drawings on a comic strip. [Read more...]

Playmates Toys to Introduce New Toy Line Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Summer Blockbuster

NickTMNTPlaymates Toys will introduce a new product line inspired by the upcoming summer blockbuster film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. The movie line of toys will include action figures, vehicles, and role-play gear.

The action figure collection will include basic action figures, 11-inch figures, and deluxe feature figures. They are detailed, fully articulated, and sculpted to reflect how the Turtles appear in the movie. Each figure will come with its own unique accessory. The vehicle, called the Turtle Assault Van, allows kids to drive the Turtles into their next battle and recreate scenes from the movie. It features a spring-powered Turtle torpedo, launching luge assault vehicle, pop top hatch, and side attack ramp. The control cabin is able to hold the basic action figures. With the new role-play gear, kids can transform themselves into one of their favorite heroes from the film. Each Ninja Combat Gear set includes the Turtles’ signature weapon and bandana.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will hit theatres August 8. Playmates Toys was also the force behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line over the past three decades.

Voting Opens for 2014 Toy Industry Hall of Fame Inductees

HallofFame2014logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) has opened its annual ballot to determine the next inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. The voting period will extend to September 13. This year’s candidates were chosen from a slate of 24 highly-qualified nominees submitted for consideration by members of the Hall of Fame (HOF) Committee. All of the nominees left notable marks on the North American toy industry.

Living candidates for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame included:

  •     Jill Barad, former CEO, Mattel
  •     Horst Brandstätter, president and sole owner, PLAYMOBIL/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG
  •     Thomas Chan, chairman and CEO, Playmates Toys Inc.
  •     Joel Glickman, founder, K’NEX Brands
  •     Bruce Raiffe, president, Gund, division of Enesco, LLC

Candidates for posthumous induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame included:

Responses are due by September 13. Designated points of contact at TIA member companies, former Hall of Fame inductees, and recent TIA Board members are invited to rank their choices in the living and posthumous categories.

The inductees will be honored during the Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards ceremony on February 15 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which officially launches Toy Fair Week in New York City.

COMMENTARY: Playmates Has Turtle Power

Those teenage “heroes in a half-shell” are back, and their pizza-slinging and sewer-crawling skills are better than ever. As a child of the late 80s and early 90s, I was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all their Southern California-inspired catch phrases—from “cowabunga” to “tubuloso.” Lucky for me, if I’m in need of a totally far out fight scene featuring Michelangelo and Shredder’s foot soldiers, I can flip to Nickelodeon’s re-vamp of the 1987 cartoon. Playmates Toys, which produced the toys for the original television series, is also back with fresh products featuring the new generation of Splinter’s ninja apprentices. Here are a few favorites from Playmates Toys’ TMNT lineup:

flingersactionfigures_group1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Flingers Deluxe Action Figures                       

With the ability to fling out projectiles to take out the enemy, the Flingers Deluxe Action Figures come fully equipped and ready for battle. Kids simply load the different projectiles into the backpacks of each figure, roll the figures across a hard surface and watch as the contents of their backpacks launch. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Dolls Aim to End Bullying, Teach Virtues

Bullying is often written off as a normal part of childhood—growing up as a boy with a girl’s name, I was an easy target for schoolyard taunts. But it might be fair to say that this current generation of kids has it harder than ever. Consider Lee Hirsch’s recent documentary Bully, the countless news stories about youth being victimized by their peers through social media, and the It Gets Better Project aimed at ending the alarming trend of kids senselessly taking their own lives.

myfriendhugglesAt Toy Fair, I was pulled aside by a man holding up a child-sized doll with an adorable face and yarn hair. I later learned the doll was part of the My Friend Huggles line, which is among a growing number of toys that have a larger message. My Friend Huggles seeks to teach kids virtues such as kindness, fairness, and generosity. Each doll features a satin ribbon with a poem about the doll’s virtue. In addition to the regular doll collection, the My Friend Huggles line also includes a brother-sister duo dressed as anti-bullying superheroes.

[Read more...]

PHOTO: The Toy Book Previews TMNT Line from Playmates Toys

Jackie Breyer and Laurie Schacht have some fun at Playmates ToysTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toy Fair Preview in New York last week. Aside from the fun role-play lineup, we also love the Mutagen Ooze Action Figures, and the Pop-Up Pizza Playset Anchovy Alley. The pizza box pops open into a subway scene that stands 18-inches tall. Ninja action features in the play set include a portable pizza oven that flings fresh pizzas, floor traps, a tricky sewer cover that throws the bad guys for a loop, and an abandoned subway tunnel. 

Toy Industry Foundation Brings Holiday Cheer to Families on Hawaii Military Bases

More than 3,000 boys and girls living with their parents on Hawaii’s Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter U.S. Army bases were treated to two days of toy giveaways on December 4 and 6,respectively. The events were hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services, who brought the spirit of the season to military families complete with gifts, holiday carolers, and the lighting of two of the largest Christmas trees in the country.   [Read more...]