Learning Express Toys Presents Vendor Awards

LearningExpressLogoLast month, Learning Express Toys (LE Toys) hosted a franchise-wide convention in San Antonio, Texas, that included store owners, store managers, home office employees, and vendors. During the event, LE Toys presented its vendors with awards.

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ASTRA Names 2015 Best Toys for Kids

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) unveiled its 2015 Best Toys for Kids award winners. This year’s list includes 18 winning toys in 14 categories.

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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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ThinkFun and MakerBot Launch Maker Studio Construction Sets Online at Thingiverse

ThinkFun,MakerStudioThanks to a partnership between MakerBot and ThinkFun, Maker Studio Construction Sets are available for free at MakerBot Thingiverse, a design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3-D printable things. Maker Studio Construction Sets allow ordinary household items to be transformed into engineering-inspired machines, sparking users’ imaginations and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects.

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COMMENTARY: Smart Technology Spans New Categories

by Reyne Rice, trend hunter, toy trend expert, industry analyst, and consultant

Resized,Reyne_RiceSmart tech for kids is no longer buzzword lingo. It has become a reality and has grown to encompass so much more than just technology added to toys to make them interesting or “tech-y.” Today, kids’ technology-enhanced products offer engaging and explorative play patterns that span a wide spectrum of categories. And while there are new technologies being used in these toys, the thrill is in the play experience, not in the technology itself. New technology enhances and extends play patterns way beyond how kids were playing in past decades. Plus, parents, older siblings, caregivers, and educators are all using new technology that companies are translating into toys and tech products for kids’ worldwide.

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Cwist Adds ThinkFun Games and Fat Brain Toys to Digital Library

CWIST LOGOcwist, Inc., a free, crowd-sourced, digital library of interactive learning challenges for kids, has entered partnerships with educational game manufacturer ThinkFun, Inc. and online retailer Fat Brain Toys.

cwist features a “wish engine” that helps kids ages 5 to 11 make the connection between the things they want and the effort it takes to get them, as they earn parent-approved rewards upon successful completion of a cwist challenge.

cwist will develop challenge content for its platform that enhances the learning experience with ThinkFun’s products and programs. cwist will also cross promote, support and create challenge content for ThinkFun’s events and programs such as Big Games and community game nights. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Learning Healthy Habits Has Never Been This Much Fun!

As adults, we’re always obsessing over chasing that elusive 10 pounds that we gained so easily after college, but still haven’t figured out how to lose. Going to the gym and eating organic foods are second nature to those who have adapted healthier lifestyles in an effort to be at their best. It’s difficult to make those changes—switching french fries for brussels sprouts and being active instead of sitting on the couch all day. Why, then, don’t we give our kids a head start in this crusade? We should be teaching these healthy habits as early as possible.

eggplantAt Toy Fair 2014, there was one booth that stuck out to me, mostly because there was a dancing carrot in superhero gear in front of the ss-logotable. Hey, whatever you have to do! But the premise of this company is just that—to put a fun, positive light on vegetables and to get the attention of kids. [Read more...]

TIF Contributes More Than $300,000 in Toys to TODAY Show Gift Drive

toyindustryMore than 30,000 children in need nationwide will receive brand new toys and games this holiday season, thanks to generous toy companies that partnered with the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) to participate in the TODAY Show Holiday Gift Drive.

TIF appeared on the TODAY Show’s November 26 episode to celebrate the toy industry’s contribution to the gift drive, benefiting dozens of charities across the country. The companies pitched in to donate more than $300,000 worth of toys for families facing financial hardships and children who are sick, living in domestic violence shelters, residing on military bases, or otherwise in need.

The Foundation thanked the following companies: Cartamundi USA, Children of America Dolls, Creations By You, Do-a-Dot Art, Green Toys,
Griddly Games, International Arrivals, International Playthings, Little Pim, McNeill Designs, Orb Factory, Safari Ltd., Savvi, Schleich USA, Smart Gear, Smart Toys and Games, ThinkFun, Ukloo Kids, VTech, WowWee USA, and Wyla, Inc.

TIF has participated in the TODAY Show Gift Drive for the past four years, providing a total of 88,000 toys (valued at more than $900,000).

Chicago Toy & Game Group Expands Events in the U.S. and Abroad

The Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG) expanded its toy industry networking events to cities around the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

ChiTAG Networking Events were recently held in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto with upcoming events planned for London on June 5, Chicago on June 11, and Nashville on June 18 during ASTRA Marketplace & Academy, as well as events slated for New York, Seattle, Boston, Indianapolis, Sarasota, Montreal, and more.

ChiTAG advocates toy and game inventors, and its Networking Events are one of the many ways the organization carries out its mission to bring the industry together to share information, foster collaborative opportunities, and promote the power of play and the toy industry as a whole.

Events attract professionals from all areas of the business including manufacturers, inventors, designers, sales reps, independent consultants, and more, who come together to share experiences and develop new business relationships.

Past and future events are co-sponsored and held in collaboration with companies including Spin Master, Mind Candy, ThinkFun, Mayfair Games, PlaSmart, Bananagrams, Endless Games, RoosterFin, DesignEdge, Patch Products, Educational Insights, Top Trumps, Joyce Johnson Designs, Peaceable Kingdom, Jukem Football, Dynamic Designworks/DDW Inc., OtherdoorEntertainment, Snakes & Lattes, and toy/game retailers across the country.

Admission to ChiTAG Networking Events is free, and RSVP’s are required. For more information on upcoming events, please visit www.chitag.com/us/networking-events or email the Chicago Toy & Game Group at info@chitag.com, or phone (847) 677-8277.

COMMENTARY: Keeping Kids’ Brains Active During the Summer

Now the school year is drawing to an end, parents surely want to keep their little ones mentally active during the summer months. There’s a whole slew of toys out there that are fun and educational, of course, so the trick is to really find the ones that work for you and your kids. However, we’ve got a bunch of toys in our office that’ll help kids of all ages flex those mental muscles, even when they aren’t sitting in a classroom.

Hello SunshineThinkFun‘s Hello Sunshine is a hide-and-seek game that uses a huggable plush toy. Parents of kids ages 18 months and up hid Sunshine according to a set of flash cards. In searching for the toy, kids will learn positional concepts such as in, on top, below, next to, and more. It’s also the perfect game for a rainy summer day that has to be spent inside. [Read more...]