Amazon.com Launches STEM Toys & Games Store

Amazon.com today launched its STEM Toys & Games Store, a single destination for discovering products that are meant to help children of all ages develop science, technology, engineering, and math-related skills.

STEM was the second most-visited category, as well as the second highest in terms of sales volume for Amazon during the most recent holiday season.

Q&A with Tony Norman, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Innovation First International

Hexbug.TonyNormanThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you use 3-D printing in your R&D? Do you plan to incorporate 3-D printing into your consumer offerings in the future?

Tony Norman (TN): We have three commercial-grade 3-D printers at Hexbug headquarters that run pretty much continuously. Design is iterative, and our 3-D printers enable us to engage in rapid prototyping. This rapid prototyping allows us to get real working samples out to focus groups quickly and frequently, so as to gather feedback and make the necessary changes prior to starting production. This highly accelerated production process significantly reduces our time to market and sets us apart from other toy companies.
[Read more...]

Spielwarenmesse Kicks Off with Widest Offering Ever

SpielwarenmesseegThis year, Spielwarenmesse will kick off in Nuremberg with 2,857 exhibitors. The number represents 67 countries and the widest offering ever seen at the event, scheduled to take place from January 28 to February 2. Spielwarenmesse eG is expecting an estimated 75,000 trade visitors from more than 100 countries. [Read more...]

Spin Master Launches Interactive Meccanoid G15 KS

spin masterThis year, Spin Master Ltd. is working with Meccano—known as Erector in the U.S.—on Meccanoid G15 KS, a personal robot built with the latest Meccano parts. It is an advanced, yet easy-to-use open source Robotic Building platform, accessible to builders covering a broad range of ages and skill sets. Four feet tall and programmable, the robot is comprised of 550 parts and comes with a companion app, whereby owners can save animations and share them with friends. [Read more...]

New Brackitz Establishes a Base for STEM Learning

BrackitzBrackitz is a new construction toy that promotes STEM learning, using blocks to lay the foundation for higher-level cognitive thinking, reasoning, and problem solving. Sets come in 50, 100, and 200 pieces. Standard sets include interlocking 4-inch wooden planks and 90-degree and 120-degree angle connectors, which can be pieced together to form various models and architectural structures.

Brackitz’ connectors can interlock at different angles and directions, allowing kids to build circles, corners, and bendable structures. Brackitz is suitable for kids ages 3 and up.

GoldieBlox Takes Down “Big Sister,” Introduces New Action Figure, in Mold-Breaking Ad

GoldieGoldieBlox, a company set out to get girls building by giving them a role model in the STEM fields, introduced a brand new commercial for its newest product: a Goldie action figure. The commercial shows the company’s alternative to the fashion doll industry. Set to Metric’s “Help, I’m Alive,” the slightly creepy, but very empowering GoldieBlox ad encourages girls to break the mold.

As AdWeek points out, the commercial has the same idea as Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. Girls all dolled up like—well—dolls line up to grab perfect dolls off an assembly line that are dressed just like them. Meanwhile, Big Sister robotically drones repeatedly, “You are beauty and beauty is perfection,” until one Goldie-inspired little girl in overalls and red Chucks steps out of line and smashes the machine with a hammer.

The result? A brand new Goldie action figure for girls.

GoldieBlox’s past commercials have garnered a lot of attention, including one that earned a spot during last year’s Super Bowl.

National STEM Video Game Challenge Invites Students to Design Their Own Video Games

The National STEM Video Game Challenge—presented by E-Line Media, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, and the Smithsonian—is accepting student submissions of original video games and game designs. The Challenge motivates youths’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning by tapping into their passion for playing and creating video games.

The Challenge is accepting entries from U.S. students in the middle and high school categories: The middle school category is open to students in grades 5 to 8, while the high school category is open to students in grades 9 to 12. Both invite entries for individuals and teams of up to four students, and entries can be created using any game creation platform such as Gamestar Mechanic, Unity, GameMaker, and Scratch or a written game design concept document.

Judges will select winners for each game creation platform in both categories, with each winner receiving a cash prize of $1,000, as well as game design and educational software. Each winner’s sponsoring organization will receive a cash prize of $2000.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is accepting entries through February 25, 2015. Complete guidelines and details on how to enter are available at www.stemchallenge.org.

Roominate Creators Jump into the Shark Tank on September 26

Roominate.logoThe founders of the toy line, Roominate, will pitch their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-inspired product line on this Friday’s season premiere of ABC’s Shark Tank.

Roominate is a line of wired building systems designed for young girls to promote creativity while designing their own structures with circuits, modular pieces, and universal joints.

COMMENTARY: Back to School Goes Full STEAM Ahead

The back-to-school season usually means the smell of newly sharpened pencils, a new wardrobe, and denial that the precious summer months have come to a close. You’ve probably heard the acronym STEAM being thrown around here and there, but this movement is making a bigger impact on the toy industry than ever before.

STEAM puts an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art, and math, and these concepts have definitely made their way to back-to-school gear. But companies are doing a lot more than just making educational toys. They’re creating products that have value added to them—something kids appreciate without even knowing, and parents love for all of the extra benefits. [Read more...]

Chicago Toy & Game Group’s Mary Couzin Selected to Judge DevelopHer Challenge

ChicagoMary Couzin, the founder and CEO of the Chicago Toy & Game Group, has been selected to sit on an eight-person panel of judges for the 2014 DevelopHer Toy & Game Challenge, which charges individuals and companies to create new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-based toys for young children, particularly girls.

Joining Couzin will be actresses and activists Geena Davis and Maria Bello, as well as Clare Munn, the CEO and founder of the social impact media company The Communication Group. Couzin and her fellow judges will critique games designed to challenge girls from the ages of three to 12.

Any individuals or companies with a valid prototype are eligible for entry to the DevelopHer Toy & Game Challenge.