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...]

Q&A with Carter Keithley, President and CEO, Toy Industry Association

TIA.CarterKeithleyThe Toy Book: What challenges are currently facing the toy industry and how is the Toy Industry Association (TIA) addressing them?

Carter Keithley: Over the past several years, our industry has done a tremendous amount of work to maintain and strengthen our robust safety standards. Nonetheless, the toy industry continues to be confronted with spurious allegations about the safety of toys and non-toy children’s products. Of course, these misleading allegations often emerge around the holiday season, and they have the potential to damage our industry’s reputation and unnecessarily worry toy givers. This is especially frustrating given the many proven developmental benefits of toys and play. [Read more...]

Fisher-Price Launches Best Possible Start Campaign with Parents from Around the World

This past Friday, Fisher-Price Inc. released a short film entitled Wishes for Baby, marking the official launch of its Best Possible Start marketing campaign. Directed by Patrick Creadon, and filmed with real parents from around the world on New Year’s Day and during the final days of December of last year, the short film is intended to capture the love and hopes all parents share for their children during their first moments.

The production involved more than 50 crew members around the world, in seven countries over five continents and in 10 hospitals, shooting the births of 27 babies and the first wishes of 26 families. More than 15 hours of raw footage was scoured through and edited within 24 hours in order to produce the 90-second film.


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ASTRA’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day Supports Increased Sales for Retailers

ASTRAlogoAccording to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), nearly two-thirds of ASTRA stores participating in Neighborhood Toy Store Day on Saturday, November 8, reported an increase in their year-over-year same store sales. An estimated 25 percent posted growth of 20 percent or more.

ASTRA retailers reached out to several hundred media outlets around the country and across multiple platforms, including print, radio, broadcast, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Of the ASTRA retailers who reached out to the media in their markets, 82 percent reported that they were successful in using the event to secure local media and blogger coverage.

ASTRA supports participation of its retailer members in Neighborhood Toy Store Day by offering free planning guides, templates for media outreach, Best Toys for Kids award program flyers, and more.

Mega Brands Partners with UP&L for Despicable Me Building Sets

DespicableMe.MegaBloksOn Tuesday, Mega Brands Inc. entered a multi-year international licensing partnership with Universal Partnerships & Licensing (UP&L) to develop a new kids construction line based on the Despicable Me franchise from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment.

Due in stores this December, the Mega Bloks Despicable Me construction sets will offer fully buildable characters, locations, and vehicles inspired by Despicable Me 2. The line’s customizable construction sets will include mix-and-match features, such as interchangeable accessories. In addition, each set will feature buildable Minions that are unique to the set, for a variety of Minions to collect, build, and play with.

To launch the line, seven fans will participate in the #MinionMontage Challenge on social media. Fans can visit the Mega Bloks Facebook page to see highlights.

Bazooka Candy Brands and Hasbro Cross-Promoting for Digital and Retail

Hasbro logoHasbro and Bazooka Candy Brands are joining forces for a cross-promotion launching this month. Favorite childhood games and tasty, classic candies such as Juicy Drop, Baby Bottle Pop, and Jumbo Push Pop will be co-mingling.

The promotion will feature a campaign with retail, digital, and social elements:

Retail: The strong in-store presence will include shippers with $3 off any one Hasbro game coupons. Family prize opportunities sponsored by Topps will include chances to win a Carnival cruise or one of 100 Hasbro game and Bazooka Candy Brand prize packs.

Digital: Bazooka Candy Brands’ site, candymania.com, will be re-branded and skinned to feature Hasbro game themes. Along with the redesign, the site will host an interactive online promotion sponsored by Topps, featuring an instant win game where fans can play for a chance to win game and candy prize packs, which include Hasbro games such as Monopoly and Twister and Bazooka candy.

Social: There will be cross promotions on both Bazooka Candy Brands’ and Hasbro’s social media platforms.

“C’mon, Let’s Play” Campaign from Toys “R” Us Encourages Imaginative Play

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.39.59 AMToys “R” Us has announced the, “C’mon, Let’s Play,” campaign to encourage kids to do exactly that: get out and play.

Designed in partnership with advertising agency The Escape Pod and YouTube sensation Daniel Hashimoto, the campaign was inspired by Hashimoto’s son, James, who was filmed playing with a lightsaber in his local Toys “R” Us store. Hashimoto edited the video, bringing James’ play adventure to life through animation. “C’mon, Let’s Play” is intended to teach children the value of playing and imagination.

The first television advertisements for, “C’mon, Let’s Play,” will begin airing August 3, and will encourage fans to promote on social media using the hashtag #letsplay.

Nenuco Introduces New Soft-Body Baby Dolls

Nenuco & Her Little Sister

Nenuco & Her Little Sister

Nenuco, a European doll manufacturer, has crafted a line of soft-body baby dolls for little girls to feed, bathe, dress, and more. The line is available in three different personalities: My Little Nenuco, My First Nenuco Kisses, and a two-doll set, Nenuco & Her Little Sister.

  • My Little Nenuco, suitable for ages 2 and up, measures 14 inches long, smells sweet, and has a soft body. It arrives dressed in an animal design onesie, hat, shoes, and attached pacifier.
  • My First Nenuco Kisses, suitable for ages 2 and up, measures 16.5 inches long, and comes dressed in a pink and white striped top with pink-dotted pajama bottoms complete with matching striped footsies. [Read more...]

MGA Introduces New Fashion Doll Line, Lalaloopsy Girls

LalaloopsyGirls.art1.lowresThe Lalaloopsy doll brand, from MGA Entertainment, will make its first foray into fashion dolls with Lalaloopsy Girls. The brand’s storyline centers on 10 characters who attend a special magic academy for girls, Lalaloopsy Academy for Learning Arts, aka L.A.L.A. Prep. There they take magic classes on topics such as cloud-sculpting, and share dorm rooms, secrets, and humorous life moments.

Lalaloopsy Girls will feature vibrantly-colored, 11-inch dolls with different fashions, and each doll will have lanyard hair that magically colors when streaked with cold water. In addition, each doll will come packaged with an extra outfit consisting of a personal, two-piece pajama fashion set, as well as two hair clips and a pet.

The original Lalaloopsy brand debuted four years ago with a suggested age range of 4 and up. According to Rachel Moshe, brand manager at MGA Entertainment, the new line is intended for the oldest girls in that age group.

“If you fell in love with the brand in 2010 and were four years old, that would now make you 8, so you’d probably be going into fashion dolls,” says Moshe. “So we thought it would be appropriate to launch a fashion doll line-up that keeps girls into the brand a little bit longer. This is really to add a doll line-up for the older girl–still not much older than the current Lalaloopsy consumer, but a little bit older than what we’d been targeting before.” [Read more...]

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association Launches New Consumer Website

BabySafetyZoneThe Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has launched its online consumer safety resource, Baby Safety Zone (BSZ), an innovative community format that provides both the public and consumers with education and information that assist in the safe selection and use of juvenile products.

Through the website and its social media outlets, BSZ provides followers with safety videos, tips, information and resources from its partners and JPMA manufacturers. Visitors can create their own safe nursery by registering for JPMA-certified products, share pictures of their children and nurseries, communicate with other parents and caregivers, and obtain immediate recall information and updates.