TIA to Host Webinar on Technology’s Impact on Future Play Trends

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a webinar, From PDA to Pandora: A Decade of Technology Disruption and How it Affects the Family, on December 10. The one-hour webinar will provide an overview of trends in consumer electronics ownership among families—and how technology is expected to impact future play trends.

Russ Crupnick, consultant at The NPD Group and managing partner of MusicWatch Inc., will present the webinar, which will be moderated by Anne McConnell, TIA director of market research and data strategy. Crupnick will highlight key trends from NPD’s Kids & CE reports from the last 10 years, as well as provide a recap of his presentation at PlayCon last spring, which addressed the impact of technology in the toy market.

Webinar participants will learn key trends in consumer electronics ownership and usage; what influences families to purchase tech devices for children, how the products are used, and how adoption varies by age and gender; how technology fragments toy and play customers and impacts different segments of the customer base; and how technology changes shopping and discovery habits—and how marketers need to adapt.

The webinar is free for TIA members and $49 for non-members. Registration is required. Questions from participants may be submitted in advance to TIA’s Jackie Retzer at jretzer@toyassociation.org, and answers will be folded into the presentation when possible. The session will be recorded and available post-event for those who are unable to participate live.

The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine Launch New Video Series

WomansDayVideoThe first entry in The Toy Insider‘s newest Fun with Kids video series launched this week at Woman’s Day. The latest video can be found on the Woman’s Day site’s front page, and the series will run for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, reaching the site’s 3.9 million unique monthly visitors (Note: The Toy Insider is published by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book).

In “Toys in Motion,” Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and Woman’s Day‘s Senior Editor Taryn Mohrman show off this season’s hottest toys that race, fly, and ride. Products shown in the video include: The Rockin’ Rider Patriot Rocking Horse, from Tek Nek Toys; the Air Storm Firetek Bow, from Zing; the Planes Fire and Rescue U-Command Dusty, from Thinkway Toys; the Hot Wheels Street Hawk, from Mattel; the Heli Beast, from Silverlit; the Sky Viper Camera Drone, from Skyrocket Toys; the Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy, from Toy State; the Extreme Beast, from Maisto; the Y Flicker Lift, from Yvolution; and the PowerRider 360, from Razor.

MSC Cruises and Lego Partner for Themed Cruises

MSC1419619_Life_on_board_ChildMSC Cruises and the Lego Group have partnered to bring children and families the ultimate Lego experience at sea, with Lego-designed playrooms and entertainment options.

As part of the partnership, MSC Cruises is implementing a special program across its fleet in which children, as well as adults, can compete in Lego-themed competitions and games on a designated day of sailing. Children who participate in the Lego Experience Day will receive an official Lego Junior Master Builder diploma. In addition, all guests will have the chance to meet and greet Sailor Walkabout—the Lego Sailor Mascot—who will be available during cruises for photos and entertainment.

The Lego Group is also designing new play areas on the MSC Armonia, which will re-enter service this November. All the Lego features will be available free of charge to guests, and will be replicated on two new ships of the MSC fleet, scheduled to be delivered in 2017.

American Girl to Open Shop-in-Shop Boutiques in Mexico

AmericanGirlAmerican Girl has partnered with El Palacio de Hierro, Mexico’s largest high-end retailer, to bring its line of products to Mexico, the company’s second international location.

Visitors to the new American Girl specialty boutiques will find a curated assortment of the company’s most popular products, including the My American Girl personalized, contemporary doll line and the annually-launched Girl of the Year dolls. They will also carry a selection of the company’s Dress Like Your Doll clothing for girls, as well as American Girl books, which will be translated into Spanish. In addition, there will be the signature Doll Hair Salon.

 The first two American Girl shop-in-shop boutiques will open next summer at El Palacio de Hierro’s Perisur and Interlomas locations in Mexico City, followed by a third boutique at the Polanco location in next fall.

Six-Year-Old from Ohio Creates Winning Outfit for Super Lottie

Oct9.LottieUK toymaker Arklu has announced the winning design for its Lottie doll superhero competition, which was part of a campaign launched to demonstrate that girls can be superheroes, too. The contest was independently judged by the Brave Girls Alliance.

The winning design was inspired by 6-year-old Lily from Ohio. As part of her entry, Lily was asked to define Super Lottie’s abilities. She said Lottie’s superpowers should include “the power to be anything, to do anything, and to make the world a better place. She is unique and special in her own way.”

The set marks the first time that a crowd-sourced design by a child has gone into commercial production.

Lottie dolls were created with a focus on maintaining wholesome characteristics. The dolls have a healthy, childlike body shape, wear childlike clothing (no make-up, high heels, or tattoos), and represent wholesome pastimes. This year, Arklu also introduced a range of dolls exploring gender-empowering, adventurous themes.

Lottie’s new outfit and a matching kids costume inspired by Lily’s design are available now.

Rilakumma Heads to the Big Apple’s Big Toy Store

RilakkumaNew York City toy store FAO Schwarz will host a Rilakkuma Day to celebrate the brand’s extension from Asia to North America.

Guests will be able to interact with a life-size Rilakkuma mascot and Kawaii girls, and will have a chance to win giveaway prizes. A Rilakkuma pop-up shop featuring plush, apparel, accessories, electronics, and stationery based on the brand will remain in FAO Schwarz’s Great Hall until the end of the month.

The free event will be held on October 11, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Giveaways will be distributed to guests while supplies last.

COMMENTARY: Comics’ Timeless Heroes (and Villains) Are Still Loved by Today’s Kids

Superman-First-Comic-Action-Comics-No-1-222x300Kids these days may not know that Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman (among many, many others) hailed from glorious comic books first published in the 1930s, costing someone 10 cents an issue on the stands. They also may not realize how well some have held their value, being that the very first Superman comic, Action Comics No. 1, supposedly goes for $3.2 million dollars—but let’s not get too sidetracked.

The real point here is that today, September 25, is National Comic Book Day, and it’s hard to imagine the toy aisles without the superheroes and villains who once upon a time, were neither action figures nor stars on the silver screen played by big-league actors and actresses; but instead, started out as hand-illustrated drawings on a comic strip. [Read more...]

License to Build: Familiar Properties Fill Up the Shelves of the Construction Aisle

This article was originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of The Toy Book. To read the entire digital issue, click here.

The construction play pattern has always allowed kids to create buildable worlds and adventures straight from their imaginations. But with a recent surge of licensed toys entering the category, kids are able to build more and more familiar worlds based on their favorite existing properties. According to The NPD Group, dollar sales of licensed building sets grew by 6 percent from 2011 to 2013. As the world becomes more multi-media driven, licensed properties are deeply integrated into kids’ daily lives. Established building toy companies, as well as those looking to get their feet wet in the category, are jumping on the bandwagon with characters and environments that are already a staple among kids—and even collectors. [Read more...]

Making a Case for Mass: Pitching Specialty Products to Mass Retailers

Amy Opheim HRby Amy Opheim, owner, C3 Marketing and Copywriting

It’s show time! The official start of the 2014 sales cycle is marked by Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. The show provides an opportunity for manufacturers to present product to mass market buyers, whose buying cycles are longer than that of specialty toy store owners.

While some product features make perfect sense in specialty—high price point, niche audience, not-so-self-explanatory—the mass market is the Holy Grail for many toy and game manufacturers. But with fewer mass market outlets than ever and thousands of products competing for a very limited amount of shelf space, how can specialty manufacturers catch the eye of mass market buyers? [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Even More Smart Devices Are Available for Kids

Toy companies creating kid-friendly and parent-approved technology has been a trend for some time, with no signs of slowing down in sight. In the recent past, tablets such as the Kurio 7s and LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra dominated the kiddie-tech market with durable rubber casings, safe settings, and easy-to-set parental controls. Now, however, manufacturers are focusing on putting different devices in the hands and on the wrists of kids. [Read more...]