COMMENTARY: Everybody’s Game at ASTRA Game Night

A version of this commentary first appeared in the July/August issue of The Toy Book.

ASTRA Game Night Pic 1

ASTRA Game Night took place in Ballroom CD of the Charlotte Convention Center.

Game nights are a terrific way to unwind, and the one hosted by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) during its Marketplace & Academy in Charlotte, N.C., this past June was no exception.

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Barnes & Noble Throws the Book at Toy Retail

This article first appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of The Toy Book.

Science CenterThe great American bookstore has made room for a great American toy store.

Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookseller in the U.S., with nearly 650 stores nationwide, as well as a thriving web presence. But in recent years, the bookstore chain has also been expanding its non-book offerings, balancing out shelves of New York Times bestsellers with educational toys, games, and collectibles.

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Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Barnes & Noble Launches Educational Toys & Games Science Center in Select Stores and Online

Barnes & Noble Inc. has launched an Educational Toys & Games Science Center in select stores nationwide and online at www.bn.com/science-center. They feature science-focused toys and games from brands such as Thames & Kosmos, Educational Insights, Scientific Explorer, Elenco, and more.

The new Barnes & Noble Educational Toys & Games Science Center is intended to inform children across grades K to 8th about circuitry, solar power, chemistry, dinosaur fossils and dinosaur digs, and other topics.

“Barnes & Noble is pioneering the way in educational toys and games, and we are thrilled to partner with them and to be at the forefront in offering our science-based products to children and families in such a comprehensive way this holiday season,” says Jane Stephens-Smith at Elenco.

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...]