China Toy Fair


The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: #SantaCame!

Early Wednesday morning, the posts started. My Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with images of friends and family’s kids tearing into presents, digging through stockings, and excitedly displaying their treasures for the camera. As I scrolled through the photos, I noticed several items that showed up over and over again. Having dedicated the last few months to the hottest toys on the market, it was neat to see them finally end up under Christmas trees around the country.

leappadI’d say the most common recurring toy in my feed was the LeapPad Ultra. Each time it showed up, the caption described how the kid who received it loved it and wouldn’t put it down. The LeapPad Ultra is a great introduction to tablets for kids, and lets them fully utilize its contents safely. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Why I Love Elmo

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

bighugsI’ve loved Elmo for as long as I can remember … and I’m not alone! He spans generations of boys, girls, kids, and adults. And while one might be able to argue that Mickey Mouse has the same appeal (and in many ways he does), every year there’s a brand new Elmo for a brand new group of kids to bring home and to love. But be warned, not all Elmo’s are alike.

When my kids were toddlers Elmo came in the form of a simple stuffed animal. He was cherished by all my girls, but especially my oldest, now 23. Today, she still adores him. I’ve actually had my ups and downs with Elmo (though my true love for him never really falters) as he has engaged in the world of technology.

Every holiday season I’m asked, “What’s the new Tickle Me Elmo this year?” and I think to myself, “I hope there isn’t one.”  Yes, Tickle Me Elmo, from Fisher-Price, was a retailer’s and a manufacturer’s dream toy—a toy retailers couldn’t keep in stock because demand was so high, and at the time, no one had ever seen such innovation in plush. Add the Elmo factor and it was a solid hit (followed by a few more, such as the extreme version). But while it was sold out everywhere, sold for huge markups by individuals, and fought over in stores—and as cool as the innovation was—this was not my favorite Elmo. I could never watch Elmo laugh or roll over on the floor, pounding the floor and laughing, without full out laughing myself. The problem was that I was just watching. [Read more...]

K’nex Announces New Additions to Tinkertoy Building Set Line

knex_2K’nex Brands has unveiled four additions to its line of Tinkertoy building sets. Licensed by Hasbro and Playskool, the newly redesigned Tinkertoy pieces snap together and stay together for long-lasting play. The toy is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Additions include Tinkertoy: 65 Piece Essentials Building Set and the Tinkertoy 100 Piece Essential Building Set, featuring fan-favorite Tinkertoy parts, including spools, rods, flags, washers, end caps, and more. The Tinkertoy: Super Tink Building Set lets little builders create a skyscraper, fighter jet, getaway car, or imagine his or her own creation. The Tinkertoy: Big Top Set lets kids build a tent, animals, trapeze artists and more to recreate a day at the circus. The Tinkertoy: Pink Building Set lets kids create a castle, flower, cat, and more using the included guide of building ideas or their own ideas.

The new Tinkertoy building sets will be available on knex.com and at toy retailers nationwide.

Hasbro Wows with New Playskool Sesame Street Collection

Hasbro Inc.’s Playskool brand, in partnership with Sesame Workshop has introduced new items starring favorite Sesame Street characters including Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Ernie. This year’s lineup includes the Big Hugs Elmo plush that hugs preschoolers back, the Sesame Street P.A.L. app learning system that encourages tots to learn and explore in a digital environment, and the interactive world of Roads & Rails that combines two favorite playtime activities for preschoolers: cars and trains. [Read more...]

Hasbro Revs Up Its Licensing Programs

The Entertainment & Licensing (E&L) division of Hasbro, Inc. has announced a slate of licensing programs to support its brands, including Transformers, Nerf, Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony, Monopoly, and Playskool.

Hasbro, in association with DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, will debut Transformers 3 on July 1, 2011. The company’s licensees for the Transformers brand include comic books from IDW (U.S.), digital games from Activision (worldwide), and more.

Hasbro is also teaming up with Universal Pictures to bring Stretch Armstrong and Battleship to the big screen in summer 2012. Universal will also produce films based on Hasbro’s Monopoly, Candy Land, and Ouija. Theater release dates have not been announced.

Hasbro recently reached an agreement with The Sports Licensed Division of the adidas Group for a NERF-inspired apparel and footwear line (deal is still subject to the companies negotiating and has yet to be signed into a binding license agreement). Additionally, Electronic Arts has signed on for NERF digital gaming (worldwide), SDI Technologies has inked a deal for NERF electronics (U.S.), and Performance Design Products will create NERF digital gaming hardware accessories (worldwide).

[Read more...]