Exclusive Pics from 2014 Licensing Expo

Licensing Expo, the annual meeting place for the global licensing industry, occurred last week in Las Vegas. The exhibitors included a number of the top toy companies, which were on-hand showing off upcoming play products and making announcements about new licensing deals.

Check out this exclusive gallery, which features lots of the licensed toys that we’re all sure to be excited about in the months ahead. [Read more...]

The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: 1996: The Best Christmas Ever

1996. It was the year of the New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the year of Jerry Maguire and the Macarena. It was the year of Bill Clinton’s reelection. But most importantly, 1996 marked the best Christmas ever, with toy companies cranking out some of kids’ favorite toys of all time.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime KidWho could forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls, from Mattel? Those pudgy-faced, yarn-haired little cuties each had a motorized mouth, and kids could feed their doll a french fry, a pretzel stick, a banana, and other yummy snacks. This was one of the toys my mom admits to pushing other moms out of the way for at Toys “R” Us on Black Friday morning. The food, which the dolls realistically chewed when kids inserted it into their mouths, fell into a backpack on the doll’s back, so kids could feed them over and over again. Of course, this beacon of glory was shortly recalled after the holiday season, as kids were getting their hair, skin, and fingers stuck in the doll’s mouth (as you can imagine, this resulted in many unhappy parents and kids with bald spots). While I made sure my hair was secured tightly in a ponytail while playing, my Snacktime Kid remained one of my favorite toys through ’97.

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Wide Range of Disney’s Planes Toys Ready to Take Off

PlanesToyRangeCoinciding with the release of Disney’s Planes in theaters, My Baby Excels and Thinkway Toys have launched an interactive range of high-quality toys and plush of the movie characters including Dusty, Ripslinger, and El Chupacabra. All toys are suitable for kids ages 4 and up.

U-Command Super Charged Dusty: This deluxe infrared remote-controlled Dusty has interactive features including Dusty’s original film voice and phrases, sound effects, and moving eyes and mouth. Kids can control Dusty with joysticks or by pressing the wireless remote to make him talk, move, and turn in more than 1,000 action combinations.

Dusty Bubbles Plane: Thanks to the bubble attachment on his wings, bubbles come out when Dusty is launched into the air. The package includes bubble solution and dipping trays.

Rubber Band Sky Gliders: A combination slingshot sky glider and rubber band launcher. Kids can race their favorite plane among Dusty, Bravo, and Ripslinger, each made from light, soft, harmless materials.

Plush Toys: Kids can cuddle up to their favorite Planes character with 10-inch plush figures of Dusty and Skipper.

The interactive Disney’s Planes toy range is available across leading stores and e-commerce websites.

MBE Releases Despicable Me 2 Toys in India

Despicable Me 2 Toy RangeMy Baby Excels (MBE), along with Thinkway Toys, released a new line of toys in India, based on the characters of Despicable Me 2. The toy range includes interactive figures like Gru, Agnes, and the yellow minions Stuart and Dave. All the toys are suitable for kids ages 4 and up, and are available at leading retail stores like Hamley’s, Landmark, Shopper Stop, Lifestyle among others as well as on the leading E-commerce websites like Flipkart.com

COMMENTARY: Despicable Me 2: An Instant Feel-Good Favorite

DM2 LogoDespicable Me 2 explores all kinds of love: Father-daughter love, admiration for a co-worker, new love, puppy love, motherly love, male camaraderie, and, of course, Minion love. A fun flick for the whole family, the sequel to the 2010 hit is a heart-warming 98 minutes full of life lessons, slapstick, and downright adorableness.

Former super-villian Gru (Steve Carell) has given up the good (bad) life for his three little girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). Moving on from his evil days, he decides to explore the wonders of jam and jelly making and small business. However, his evil roots catch up to him soon enough and he is enlisted by the Anti Villian League (AVL). Together with his AVL partner, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), Gru goes undercover to apprehend a dangerous transmutation formula, which the AVL fears has fallen into the wrong hands. With a few likely suspects easily identified, Gru and Lucy embark on their mission to save the world.

Growing from the first film, Gru is now faced with all of the joys of fatherhood, including dressing up like a Fairy Princess, aiding in performance rehearsals, and steering love-sick boys away from his daughter’s direction. Though, he may appear to have become a bit love-sick himself. No longer orphans, the girls have clearly acclimated to their life with Gru as their dad, but they are eager for Gru to find love, and simultaneously, a mother figure. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: This Summer’s Cinema Gets Cuddly

With the release of The Smurfs 2, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University this summer, the movie theater will be a great destination for rainy days – and those days that are just too hot. With summer blockbusters come, of course, summer toys based on these movies to bring the movie worlds to life for fans. When it comes down to it, some of the best toys from these franchises are the simplest: plush toys. Plush toys allow kids to bring home new friends in cuddly, soft versions of their favorite characters. Bring the movie characters to life with these great plush products from your favorite summer movie:

54008Smurfs_Movie_Basic_Plush_SmurfetteJakks Pacific will introduce a line of 11-inch plush based on the characters from The Smurfs 2. With 12 characters to collect, kids can bring home their favorite friends from Smurfette to Grouchy to Papa Smurf. These Smurf plush toys aren’t just for fans of the new movie, but also for Smurf fans of all ages. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Becomes Ultimate Despicable Me 2 Destination

2012-12-10 125Toys inspired by the highly anticipated 3-D, CG-animated, comedy-adventure film Despicable Me 2from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, have made their debut at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com. Through May, Toys “R” Us is the only U.S. retailer to offer an all-new line of toys based on the movie, making it the ultimate Despicable Me 2 destination. Fans eager to get their hands on action and interactive figures, plush, games and more, can find them all at Toys “R” Us.

The movie, which arrives in theaters on July 3, is the sequel to the 2010 Despicable Me, which became the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. Despicable Me 2 sees the return of super-villain Gru and his arsenal of gadgets and gizmos, his adorable girls, and the unpredictably hilarious Minions.

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Warner Bros. Consumer Products Debuts Worldwide Man of Steel Toy Program

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) zooms into this year’s American International Toy Fair season with a roster of global licensees ready to support the studio’s portfolio, led by this summer’s tentpole film release Man of Steel, which will be supported by DC Comics master toy licensee Mattel, as well as many other toy partners.  [Read more...]