COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [Read more...]

Douglas Company Adds Nine Animals to Plush Line

FarmThe Douglas Company has added nine true-to-life farm animal breeds to their line of plush. The new animals include Pauline the Large Spotted Pig (as well as a small version),Harriet the Cow, Little Bit the Lamb, Zeb the Mini Longhorn, Tex the Armadillo, Roma the Black Horse, MacClay the Clydesdale, and Canyon the Painted Pony.

The products are sold at specialty gift and toy stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

COMMENTARY: Taking Plush to the Next Level

Gone are the days when plush was simply a category of stagnant stuffed toys. Kids today can enjoy plush items that sing, dance, play music, light up, talk, and more. With technology moving ever forward, the plush category is seeing new ways to integrate interactive elements into soft products. While mechanized toys aren’t a brand new concept, many companies are producing new items that utilize today’s technologies in ways never seen before.

I’ll be honest—I wasn’t much for animated plush when I was a kid. Maybe it was the fact that interactive items didn’t really do anything cool enough to warrant sacrificing the softness and squeezability of a traditional stuffed animal. Or maybe I didn’t like the fact that you have to change the batteries. Whatever my reasons, I think I would have felt differently about interactive plush if I’d had some of the toys available today.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.50.19 PMPeek-A-Boo Elmo, a licensed Sesame Street item from Gund, holds a cozy blue blanket to play peek-a-boo with kids ages 18 months and up. When kids press Elmo’s foot, he lifts his blanket over his face while saying phrases such as, “Where are you?” and “There you are!” One of the nicest things about Peek-A-Boo Elmo for parents is that by pressing his foot again, he turns off. I also love that he moves his arms up and down fairly quickly, enhancing the surprise factor for little ones. Elmo’s mouth also moves consistently with what he’s saying. Peek-A-Boo Elmo is programmed to say 13 phrases. [Read more...]

Moulin Roty Launches Spring Collection

March19.PlushMoulin Roty’s newest toy line, Les Cousins, features soft plush, wooden toys, and activity toys with French vintage details. The collection includes farm animals such as Madame Pivoine (Hen), Monsieur Potiron (Donkey), and Mademoiselle Paquerette (Cow), as well as a Duck Ring Rattle and Wooden Stacking Hen.

The new line is available in specialty toy shops nationwide and on Magicforest.com.

Ganz Recalls Grumpy Cat Stuffed Toys Due to Choking Hazard

Ganz.GrumpyCatThree styles of Plush Grumpy Cat stuffed animal toys from Ganz are being recalled. The stuffed animals’ eyes can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. No injuries have been reported, although Ganz has received six reports of eyes detaching from the toys.

The style of toys include an 8-inch Grumpy Cat in laying position, a [Read more...]

Barbie Is Back in Barbie The Pearl Princess

Barbie the Pearl PrincessBarbie The Pearl Princess, is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD. In her 28th movie to-date, Barbie stars as Lumina, a mermaid with magical powers who dreams of becoming a princess. With the help of her friends, she begins a quest of self-discovery, unlocking her destiny and realizing that anything is possible with the power of friendship. Along with the new film, a line of Barbie The Pearl Princess-themed dolls and toys is currently available at major retailers.

Jazwares’ Gravity Falls Toys to Arrive This Fall

Jazwares.GravityFallsJazwares has created a new Gravity Falls toy line based on the popular Disney TV series. The line-up will include figures, plush, role-play, and play-set toys, and the first wave will see release this fall at retailers across the U.S.

The initial retail focus of the toy line will be in specialty stores nationwide. Currently, Gravity Falls is a top-rated show on Disney Channel among kids ages 2 to 11 and 6 to 11, and tweens ages 9 to 14. It follows the adventures of Dipper and Mabel Pines, twins spending the summer with their eccentric great-uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where things are never as they seem.

COMMENTARY: Plush With a Purpose

Last week at Toy Fair, I was incredibly moved and encouraged to see so many toy companies giving from their compassionate hearts. When I was younger, I wanted to write about cancer research or world hunger. This week, Toy Fair reminded me that the toy business is an incredible outlet to make a huge difference, and these toy makers are using the toy industry to teach kids the importance of giving, love, and compassion. I’ve fallen in love with a handful of toy makers who are using their platform to make a real difference. Toys may seem trivial, but aren’t kids the ones in whom we delegate our future? [Read more...]

Mattel, WWE Extend Partnership Until 2019

WWEMattel Inc. and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will be extending their global master toy licensing agreement through 2019.

Since 2009, Mattel and WWE have developed a diverse portfolio of toys currently available in more than 50 global markets around the world. WWE has ranked as the No. 1 action figure property in the U.S., ranging from FlexForce figures that incorporate signature WWE Superstar moves to plush Brawlin’ Buddies.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with WWE as they expand their global footprint and leverage our global scale to deliver WWE toys to kids around the world,” said Doug Wadleigh, Senior Vice President, Global Brands Marketing, Boys and Entertainment for Mattel.

Jazwares Signs On for Peppa Pig, Flick-To-Stick Bungees

peppa_pigJazwares Inc. has entered a pair of licensing partnerships, including one for the top-ranked program on Nick Jr. for kids ages 2 to 5.

Thanks to a deal with Entertainment One Licensing, the company will serve as the new master toy partner for Peppa Pig. Jazwares will produce products for preschoolers across multiple categories, including plush, plastic figures, dolls, play sets, role-play toys, musical and talking toys, toy vehicles, and bath toys. The first Peppa Pig toy collection is scheduled to launch in mass and specialty retailers nationwide in spring of next year.

Airing seven days a week on Nick Jr., Peppa Pig follows the adventures of Peppa, a loveable, exuberant little piggy who lives with her brother George, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig. Globally, the show airs in 180 countries around the world and is translated into 40 languages.

Jazwares is also launching Flick-To-Stick Bungees, a competitive strategy game featuring 96 collectible action figures. Players aim their Bungees at scoring targets and flick their fingers to compete, collect, and potentially win. The action figure line will be enhanced by a Bungee Battleground arena, disk launcher, playing cards, and scoring disks. Flick-To-Stick Bungees, originally created by Barcelona, Spain-based Magic Box Int., will debut this fall.