China Toy Fair


Kids’ Usage of Smartphones and Tablets Outpaces Other Electronics, Says NPD

NPDGrouplogoAccording to Kids and CE: 2014, the latest report from The NPD Group, kids’ usage of smartphones and media tablets outpaces their usage of all other consumer electronic devices in U.S. households.

Seventy-one percent of households with a child ages 4 to 14 reported owning a smartphone this year, up from 55 percent two years ago. Furthermore, incidence of ownership of media tablets doubled between 2012 and this year, growing from 21 percent to 43 percent, respectively. Among those with kids in the household, 35 percent said that their child uses a smartphone, up from 21 percent two years ago. For media tablets, the figure was 31 percent, up from 13 percent two years ago.

As far as personal ownership of consumer electronic devices among children ages 4 to 14, portable devices were the only device group to exhibit steady increases in ownership among the children themselves. Incidence of personal ownership of cell phones—including traditional cell phones and smartphones—held steady at 19 percent this year. [Read more...]

Sphero Releases Fast-Driving, App-Driven Ollie

OllieSphero will launch its next-generation, app-controlled robot, Ollie, which features the same technology as the company’s Sphero 2.0. Featuring a tubular design, Ollie has the ability to drive up to 14 mph; and execute tricks including spin, drift, jump, and flip. Through apps, it can provide automatic feedback and points based on the difficulty of the maneuvers and tricks performed.

Programming apps will also be available, and users can customize Ollie with a collection of accessories and parts, which will launch for the holiday season. Accessories include nubby tires, turbo tires, and ultra tires that give users a completely different driving experience. [Read more...]

PUBLISHER’S VIEWPOINT: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Feb.17.toybook.jsametby Jonathan Samet

On the December 21 episode of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, Seth Meyers delivered the following:

Toys ‘R’ Us announced this week that its stores will remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas. Not to be outdone, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.”

This was meant to be a joke to make us all laugh (and it was funny), but at the same time it needs to be taken seriously, as the Internet has certainly changed the way we conduct our lives. One key difference is that the time of day consumers can make purchases is no longer limited by “store hours.” With a simple click of the “enter” button, toys and other products can show up at our door—or go directly to the gift recipient—in as little as 48 hours, without having to leave the comfort of the couch or desk.

Therefore, no matter what part of the toy industry you participate in, you have to take this change seriously. We all have to continue to evaluate how to best reach and win over the end user 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—or as Seth Meyers put it, all the time, always, forever! I remember talking to many manufacturers, even within the last nine years since I became publisher here, who said that Internet sales were just a tiny fraction of their business and was of no concern. To quote Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changin’,” and to survive and succeed, we all better be a-changin’ with them. [Read more...]

Tokidoki and Sanrio Collaborate on Holiday Collection

sanriotokidoki has partnered with Sanrio, the global lifestyle brand best known for the pop icon Hello Kitty, on a limited edition tokidoki x Sanrio Characters holiday collection.

The new collection features bright and colorful co-branded products with favorite tokidoki and Sanrio characters, including Adios, Ciao Ciao, Stellina, Hello Kitty, Keroppi, Badtz-Maru, and more. The broad product assortment consists of charms, ornaments, women’s tees, bags, smartphone, tablet, and computer cases, plush, toys, and luggage.

The tokidoki x Sanrio Characters holiday collection is available at the tokidoki flagship store in Los Angeles, Calif., as well as Sanrio boutiques across the country, and www.tokidoki.it and www.sanrio.com.

Zact Introduces Smartphone for Kids Featuring Disney Mobile Entertainment

ZactDisney.smartphoneZact Mobile brings kid-friendly smartphone service with preloaded Disney apps and content to families across the U.S. The Zact Mobile service will come preloaded with the hit Disney apps, Toy Story: Smash It!, and, Disney Infinity: Action! It will also feature access to family-friendly content such as Disney Video, Disney Music, and Disney’s Spanish-language destination, Disney ¡Ajá!

Zact also lets parents manage their kid’s smartphone use, and helps parents remotely control when their child uses the phone, which apps they can use, and who they can contact. Parents can either use a Zact-enabled phone to control their kids phone or they can download a free app, Zact Control, from iTunes or Google Play.

The Disney-themed Zact phone is available on the ZTE Awe, an Android 4.1 device with a 4-inch display and 5.0 megapixel camera. A free 4-month child starter plan is included with purchase.

COMMENTARY: Not Your Average R/C Toys

Give a child a R/C controller, and he or she will be occupied for hours, steering or flying whatever device it is around the room or outside. Give a child an iPhone and chances are your contacts will end up being deleted, you’ll be left with 350 pictures of the inside of your little boy or girl’s mouth, and your phone will soon self destruct—but, that’s about to change.

There’s no denying that it’s now essentially encrypted in children’s nature to be intrigued by new technology at increasingly younger ages—and let’s face it, most of the time they get the hang of it a lot quicker than adults. But instead of parents discouraging their children from toying around with iPhones, iPads, and tablets (because they’re of course not toys, they’re high-tech adult equipment that are soo not used for playing Candy Crush), they can instead support a productive way to use such devices with these awesome toys.

I was first introduced to Orbotix’s Sphero 2.0 when someone in the office put it on my desk and said, “Here, play with this.” I looked at the box a little confused wondering what it was, and as I starSP0SPHERO003ted to read the instructions (very helpful to figuring out how toys work), I realized that this was, hands down, one of the coolest toys I’ve ever played with. It’s simply a ball, not a fancy monster truck with huge wheels and the ability to smash into the wall, crumble into pieces, and put itself back together all while singing jingle bells—or something like that. But, it’s a robotic ball with an engine and it’s really, really fast and controlled by your phone. You just download the Sphero app on your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or android device and using a Bluetooth connection your device transforms into a control that propels Sphero at speeds up to seven feet per second across the room and off ramps. The driving accuracy really impressed me because I do tend to be a little spazzy with toys like these, but it was actually easy to maneuver the toy around bends and turns and what not. Sphero 2.0 also lights up in a variety of neon colors which looks as spectacular as it is to play. There are also a ton of other apps available to engage Sphero in a variety of games. [Read more...]