Free Comic Book Day Scheduled for May 2

On May 2, Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) will be celebrated at comic book specialty shops across the U.S., Canada, and worldwide. More than 5.6 million comic books will be given away for free to anyone who goes to one of the 2,300 participating comic book shops.

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World Video Game Hall of Fame Reveals 15 Finalists

the strong, museumofplay logoThe Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York, today announced the 15 finalists for induction into the hall. They are: Angry Birds, Doom, FIFA, The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, The Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, Pokémon, Pong, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Invaders, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, and World of Warcraft.

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Q&A with Willie Wilkov, Chief Marketing Officer, Tomy International

Willie Wilkov CMO TOMYThe Toy Book (TTB): Which licenses do you anticipate will be key drivers in 2015?

Willie Wilkov (WW): 2015 is a big year on the license front for Tomy. We are proud to have the opportunity to work with Disney on two new Disney•Pixar movie properties–Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur– as well as the new Disney Junior TV show Miles from Tomorrowland. While we expect these new licenses to be key drivers for us in 2015, we have a portfolio of licensed properties that perform for us year after year, and we are anticipating growth in those brands as well. John Deere is an evergreen brand with a loyal following that is perennially one of our strongest selling lines company-wide. Our partners at Sega and The Pokémon Company International continue to bring new fans into their incredibly popular franchises, Sonic Boom and Pokémon, with fresh, engaging content, giving us so much to work with in our toy development. In the classic play arena, we see both Chuggington Wooden Railway and Chuggington StackTrack continuing to provide that first train experience for kids and growing with them through their love of train and construction play, while Lamaze maintains its stronghold as a leader in the infant developmental toy aisle. [Read more...]

Macy’s BalloonFest Shows Off Giant Inflated Versions of Popular Toys

BalloonLineupOn Saturday, kids product luminaries such as Eruptor from Activision’s Skylanders, Mattel’s Thomas the Tank Engine, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, and Pokemon International’s Pikachu crossed paths—though not literally—at Macy’s BalloonFest in Queens, N.Y. The event, which took place at Citi Field, featured a test flight of the newest giant character balloons that will premiere at the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A total of six new character balloons took flight for the first time, directed by Macy’s flight management team and handled by hundreds of volunteers. The newest balloons include Thomas the Tank Engine, the largest and heaviest balloon ever to be featured in the parade; the Weinstein Company’s Paddington, which at 77.5 feet is the longest balloon to date; and Eruptor, which features a paint job requiring more than 40 gallons of fluorescent paint and five barrels of glitter.

License to Build: Familiar Properties Fill Up the Shelves of the Construction Aisle

This article was originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of The Toy Book. To read the entire digital issue, click here.

The construction play pattern has always allowed kids to create buildable worlds and adventures straight from their imaginations. But with a recent surge of licensed toys entering the category, kids are able to build more and more familiar worlds based on their favorite existing properties. According to The NPD Group, dollar sales of licensed building sets grew by 6 percent from 2011 to 2013. As the world becomes more multi-media driven, licensed properties are deeply integrated into kids’ daily lives. Established building toy companies, as well as those looking to get their feet wet in the category, are jumping on the bandwagon with characters and environments that are already a staple among kids—and even collectors. [Read more...]

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...]

COMMENTARY: Animation Has Long Been a Promotional Vehicle for Toys

BrandonEngel1by Brandon Engel

You’ve likely heard about the massive success of The Lego Movie, and maybe you were even one of the millions worldwide who have gone to see it. Despite its financial success, some have blasted the film for essentially being a glorified, expensive commercial for Legos. I don’t think that anyone can deny that The Lego Movie is obviously commercially motivated, but does that make it wrong? Is it all that different from children’s movies selling toys based on the film?

BrandonEngel2Last Christmas, the Frozen Castle Playset and matching Barbie dolls from the Disney film Frozen were at the top of many children’s lists for Santa. Every time a commercial appeared for the movie or the toy, they advertised each other. Is The Lego Movie any different just because the toy existed before the movie? Here is the bigger question: In an age where almost no image is spared licensing of some form, where does the line get drawn between entertainment and commercial? [Read more...]

Spin Master Ltd. to Show Off New Innovations for Toy Fair

logo_spinmasterSpin Master Ltd. will showcase its portfolio for the upcoming year at American International Toy Fair in New York City, introducing a number of new innovations and brands including:

Flutterbye: A world of fairytale creatures comes twirling, dancing, spinning, and of course, flying into kids’ rooms. Driven by innovation, Flutterbye puts the control into girl’s hands, inviting them to unlock their fairies’ hidden potential and joy.

Ionix: These construction bricks shape-shift and change to become mini figures, action figures, weapons, gear, gadgets, and more. They also snap together with other leading construction systems.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 by Ionix: Kids can shape-shift and build their favorite dragons with new Ionix bricks, and recreate the incredible adventures of Toothless, Hiccup, and all of their friends as they battle against new foes and other threats to their homes on Berk.

Pokémon by Ionix: Ionix bricks bring favorite Pokémon characters like Pikachu, Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie, and more to life.

Maddy: Spin Master’s newest interactive doll, Maddy, is a talking, moving, “thinking” animated toy. Maddy’s glasses are a pair of high-resolution LED screens that function as her eyes, but will also play short animations, and can even be used to play mini games. Kids can download the free companion app to call and text their Maddy, play games with her, and discover some of her hidden features.

Paw Patrol: Based on a top-rated preschool series airing every weekday on Nickelodeon, this new toy line features lovable pups, cool vehicles, and magical transformations.

Zoomer Dino Boomer: This new guard dino runs around on two feet, chomping and whipping his tail. Kids can play with him in autonomous mode via the sensors in his nose, or pick up the control pod to send him on the attack. Dino also has a softer side, protecting his friends and sometimes even busting a dance move.

Google’s Zeitgeist Releases Top 10 Trending Toy Searches for 2013

Google has released its annual Zeitgeist—a “spirit of the times”—which gives us a chance to remember the people, places and topics that got us talking, and ultimately searching, before a new year begins. The list of top toy searches features new toys such as Minions and Palace Pets, but also old favorites, such as Play-Doh. Here are the top 10 trending toy searches this year:

  1. Pokémon
  2. Play-Doh
  3. Digimon Fusion
  4. Minecraft Toys
  5. Minions
  6. Palace Pets
  7. Paw Patrol
  8. Pacific Rim Toys
  9. My Little Pony
  10. Disney Planes

The 2013 Zeitgeist site provides more than 1000 top-10 lists of popular and trending searches from 72 countries, making it the most comprehensive and global list to date.

Nintendo World Hosts Launch Event for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y

imagesNintendo World in New York will host a Pokémon X and Pokémon Y launch event to celebrate the release of the two new games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems on October 11 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. These new installments in the famous Pokémon series will introduce a new generation of Pokémon, new Mega Evolutions, and a ton of new features.

At the event, fans will have the chance to play games, participate in activities, and be the first in the country to purchase the new games, which are also available on the new Nintendo 2DS system. Game sales will commence at midnight, but Nintendo World will remain open through the night. The event will also feature a Pokémon costume showcase, a live DJ, Pokémon trivia, a Pikachu costumed character appearance, and more. Attendees will also be able to participate in giveaways while supplies last.