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...]

Jakks Pacific, Saban Renew Licensing Agreement

Jakks Pacific has renewed its licensing agreement with Saban Brands to produce Power Rangers Halloween costumes and accessories for kids and adults. In addition, the agreement has expanded to produce Hero Portal, a next generation system. Power Rangers Super Megaforce costumes and the Hero Portal system will hit the shelves nationwide this fall.

Mattel to Acquire Mega Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. and Mega Brands Inc. have signed a definitive agreement for Mattel’s acquisition, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., of Mega Brands for $460 million.

The acquisition advances Mattel’s global growth strategy of building upon its world-class portfolio of brands by expanding into two of the fastest-growing toy categories. Mega Brands is the No. 2 player in the $4 billion construction building sets category with its Mega Bloks brand, as well as a competitor in the $2 billion arts and crafts category.

mega brands logoMattel’s portfolio of brands will complement Mega Brands’ flagship Mega Bloks brand and existing licensed brands, including Halo, Skylanders, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The acquisition will give Mattel the opportunity to broaden its relationship with its entertainment partners.

Mega Brands ranks among the top 15 toy companies globally in terms of sales, according to statistics published by The NPD Group last year. Additionally, the company achieved record sales of preschool construction toys. [Read more...]

Nickelodeon Suites Resort Hosts Power Rangers Weekends in February

PowerRangersSuperMegaforceNickelodeon Suites Resort will host Power Rangers weekends with two Power Rangers Super Megaforce-themed celebrations on February 14 to 17 and February 21 to 23. These weekends include activities for guests such as a super-charged Power Rangers lunch, featuring training sessions with all five Power Rangers; up close and personal meet and greets; Power Rangers-themed activities and crafts; and a sneak peek screening of an all-new episode of Power Rangers Super Megaforce.

In addition to the Power Rangers, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be on-hand to celebrate these weekends with meet and greets, live shows, games, and prizes.

Guests can book a Power Rangers Super Megaforce weekend stay by visiting NickHotel.com/Power-Rangers.

Saban Brands’ Power Rangers Celebrate 20 Rangers for 20 Years

PowerRangers.20Rangersfor20YearsA pop-up art exhibit will open this weekend to celebrate Saban BrandsPower Rangers’ 20th anniversary. The exhibition, 20 Rangers for 20 Years, was curated by Sweet Streets and will appear at the Toy Art Gallery in Los Angeles on December 7 to 8.

Artists and designers from around the world created the painted, 31-inch Ranger statues that were provided by Saban’s partner, Jakks Pacific. Each customized Ranger statue will be available for purchase on-site or online at shop.toyartgallery.com during the event.

Music by Iheartcomix DJs Franki Chan and $u$pect will be featured, and a percentage of artwork proceeds will benefit the Challengers Boys & Girls Club. Jakks Pacific will also make a donation to the Challengers Boys & Girls Club as well. Bandai America Inc., Power Rangers’ master toy partner, will provide Super Megaforce toys.

The gallery will also host a Power Rangers pop-up shop that will feature products for purchase from Mishka, Buckle Down, Acme Archives, and more.

Power Rangers Megaforce Halloween Line-Up Includes New Costumes, Safety Video, and More

Power.RangerSaban’s Power Rangers Megaforce celebrates this Halloween season with a variety of Power Rangers activities throughout October, including a Halloween safety campaign that highlights safety tips for kids to use while trick-or-treating. The video can be viewed either at the Power Rangers YouTube site or below.

Power Rangers costumes, including all-new Power Rangers Megaforce costumes, are available at Spirit Halloween locations nationwide and online. The Power Rangers have also joined forces with Spirit Halloween for a second annual Power Rangers Spirit of Children Week, in which the Power Rangers Megaforce will visit 16 hospitals across the country to entertain young patients, bringing the Halloween spirit to life. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Power Rangers Toys Power Up for 20th Anniversary

When I was a kid, I was in love with the Power Rangers, from Saban Brands. I was a huge fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series in the ’90s and I was even The Red Ranger one year for Halloween (They were all out of The Pink Ranger costumes and Kimberly was my favorite, so I had to compromise). I recently re-watched some episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when the series was on Netflix, and you know what? I still thought it was great in all of its ’90s glory.

However, the lucky kids of today get to obsess over two Power Rangers series of their own—Power Rangers Super Samurai and Power Rangers Megaforce. Power Rangers Super Samurai, which began airing in 2011, is about a new generation of Power Rangers that must master the mystical and ancient Samurai Symbols of Power, which allow them to control the elements of Fire, Water, Sky, Forest, and Earth. Aided by their devoted animal Zords and guided by an all-knowing mentor, these Power Rangers battle the dark forces of the Netherworld and a mysterious Warrior out to destroy.

Power Rangers Megaforce is the 20th season of Power Rangers, coinciding with the series’ 20th anniversary. This season features Gosei, a supernatural being who has protected the earth for centuries with his robotic assistant Tensou. When evil Warstar aliens begin a massive invasion, the Gosei calls upon the Power Rangers Megaforce to form the ultimate team. When morphed into the Power Rangers, the five teenagers gain superhuman strength and mastery over martial arts.

In light of the recent news of Saban extending its agreements with both Nickelodeon and Bandai America to keep the Power Rangers franchise alive, here are some great licensed toys from Bandai America that celebrates this new season of the Power Rangers series, as well as the brand’s 20th anniversary: [Read more...]

Saban Brands Extend Partnerships for Power Rangers with Nickelodeon and Bandai America

image003Saban Brands has extended agreements with Nickelodeon and Bandai America Inc. through 2016 for its Power Rangers franchise. Nickelodeon and Saban Brands initiated their strategic partnership when Saban re-acquired the Power Rangers brand in 2010 and re-launched the TV series with Power Rangers Samurai in 2011. The extension confirms additional seasons of original Power Rangers programming on Nickelodeon through 2016. Bandai will continue to act as the global master toy licensee for the Power Rangers franchise.

Saban’s Power Rangers Megaforce, the 20th anniversary season, currently airs on Nickelodeon on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. (ET/PT). The upcoming installment of the TV series, Power Rangers Super Megaforce, will premiere early next year.

COMMENTARY: Kids Getting Older Younger—Or Younger Older?

Everyone always talks about how kids are getting older younger. Kids as young as 8 years old are swapping their Barbie dolls and Transformers for iPods and tablets—but this isn’t the case for everyone. There are big kids everywhere, and toys have a funny little habit of bringing an adult’s inner-child giggling wildly to the surface.

Nostalgia is a huge trend in toys today—classic properties such as The Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pac-Man have resurfaced and are engaging a whole new generation. Traditional toys, such as Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven, Kahootz’s Spirograph, and POOF-Slinky’s Slinky, all still appeal to young kids the same way they did decades ago. However, adults and older kids will find just as much fun in new products primarily targeted toward youngsters, too.

RainbowLoom.Butterfly Blossom braceletThis weekend, I was loomed. A family friend’s daughter, Karli, had her wrist covered in the colorful rubber bracelets that are a product of Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Designs. A huge craze among kids, I was enamored by the bracelets and begged her to teach me how to make one. She did, and of course, hers came out better. I’ve been staring at it on my wrist every day since she made it for me, and I was extremely tempted to purchase my own loom when I went into a Michael’s craft store and saw the enormous display (but I thought to myself: “You’re 23 years old, Marissa! Taking home product samples is one thing, but you cannot justify BUYING a toy!”).

[Read more...]

Saban Brands Announces New Episodes of Power Rangers Megaforce and Digimon Fusion

rangers Saban Brands and Nickelodeon have announced that Saban’s Power Rangers Megaforce will return with all-new episodes on September 7 at 1 p.m. (EST/PST), followed by the season premiere of the all-new Digimon Fusion at 1:30 p.m. (EST/PST) on Nickelodeon. The back-to-back episodes team up to create a power hour packed with action, excitement, humor and entertainment.

digimonThe return of new episodes of Power Rangers Megaforce continues the celebration of the franchise’s 20th Anniversary, with August 28 marking 20 years since the original series, Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, first aired on television in 1993. Power Rangers Megaforce picks up when a shadow-stealing monster attacks, and the Megaforce Rangers must teach Robo Knight the power of teamwork in order to defeat him.

This past Wednesday, when the Power Rangers turned 20, Saban Brands celebrated by releasing Power Rangers Dubstep 2.0 with the Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Rangers video on MyVortexx.

Digimon Fusion marks the sixth installment of the Digimon franchise, which Saban Brands re-acquired last year. The all-new Digimon Fusion series follows Mikey, a human boy, who is transported into the digital realm and must team up with his new Digimon, or Digital Monster, friends before their world is deleted once and for all. New fusion powers allow Digimon to combine and fuse their abilities to create endless battle possibilities. Unleashing countless Digimon combinations, Digimon Fusion takes today’s tech-savvy kids inside an adventure-packed digital world, where the heroes’ courage is matched only by the fusion of their teamwork, loyalty and humor.