China Toy Fair


Mattel Launches New Direct-to-Consumer Strategy for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway

Thomas_Hero_CGI_ApprovedMattel is bringing a new shopping experience to Thomas & Friends fans nationwide, through a cross-company collaboration that began this month. Anchored by the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, the new experience includes the first ever Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway direct-to-consumer catalogue, e-commerce website, and partnerships with 20 independent specialty retail stores, which will serve as official Thomas & Friends Specialty Stations in the U.S.

Thomas & Friends will also introduce a limited-release wooden engine, Logan, a Shunter that works at the coal plant, and is only available in the U.S. through the new catalogue, e-commerce website, and official specialty stations. Logan will also be the first of a series of limited-release engines to be introduced by the new program annually.

The e-commerce website, thomaswoodenrailway.com, launches in August, and the Logan wooden engine will be available through December 31 of next year.

In addition, moving forward, Toys “R” Us will become the exclusive national chain retailer of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.

All Aboard for Thomas Land in North America

Thomas Pop-Up CardA full-scale Thomas & Friends attraction is set to debut in South Carver, MA next summer. This marks the largest permanent Thomas & Friends attraction in North America.

This family amusement park – which is currently in development with HIT Entertainment, a division of Fisher-Price – will be conveniently located within Edaville USA, near the greater Boston and Providence areas.

Thomas Land will cover 11.5 acres and feature 14 rides based on the Thomas & Friends Island of Sodor. The rides will feature iconic characters Thomas, Diesel, Toby, Cranky the Crane, and Harold the Helicopter.

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails Traveling Exhibit Debuts at Minnesota Children’s Museum

image003The world’s most popular blue engine is rolling out on a 10-year North American traveling exhibit tour, which emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is an interactive exhibit created by Minnesota Children’s Museum that is inspired by the children’s series on PBS Kids. The tour will be in St. Paul beginning on June 14 for three months.

The STEM-focused exhibit was designed to engage children and families in foundation skills that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems, thinking creatively, and reflecting on actions and results. Visitors to the 1,500 square foot exhibit will enter iconic Thomas & Friends locations. Children will help Thomas and his friends solve challenges to test their abilities.

The museum was created in partnership with HIT Entertainment and 5-year national tour sponsorship with 3M.

Richard Dickson Appointed Chief Brands Officer for Mattel

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. has created a new, unified marketing and creative division to span the company’s global portfolio of consumer brands. To lead this new global brand team, the company has tapped Richard Dickson to be its chief brands officer, with responsibility for growing and strengthening the company’s portfolio of beloved brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.

Dickson will oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution, product development, and content creation across Mattel’s legacy and new brands, and will be responsible for driving innovation throughout the portfolio. He will report directly to Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton and will serve as a member of the company’s executive leadership team. [Read more...]

Fisher-Price, Neat-Oh! Partner for Thomas & Friends ZipBin Products

Neat-Oh! Entertainment International LLC has signed an agreement with Fisher-Price Inc. to develop Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway storage products for Neat-Oh!’s ZipBin line. Characters from the Thomas and Friends show will join the ZipBin family—a new play, stow, and go line of products. ZipBin products transform from storage container to themed play-mat in a few zips, and are designed to be stackable and portable. When zipped up, the bin is decorated to look like Thomas, but when the bin is unzipped, a play mat is revealed. Children can use their Wooden Railway engines and accessories to play on the mat, which features scenes, destinations, and friends from the TV show.

Thomas & Friends ZipBin products by Fisher-Price are expected to arrive in stores next year.

COMMENTARY: Toys Are More Fun Than Candy

Mattel’s North American team recently kicked off an Easter program called Save the Bunny, which launched with a clever celebrity PSA. The concept is to promote giving toys, rather than copious amounts of candy, for Easter. As part of the promotion, consumers who visit www.savechocolatebunnies.com will have a chance to win a Mattel toy every day this month, download exclusive coupons on toys from Mattel brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends, and win grand prize money.

As a parent and someone who loves toys, I whole-hardheartedly agree with this idea. Not only does my 3 year old not need a giant chocolate bunny, gallons of jelly beans, and piles of fluffy marshmallow chicks (OK, I’ll admit this is making me hungry), but I know from experience that I won’t actually let her eat it all, and I’ll end up eating it, which isn’t exactly part of my summer bikini plan (though I’m pregnant, so what’s the difference, right?). Anyway, she will have a lot more fun if I limit the candy to a few of her favorites, and fill that basket—er, strongly suggest the Easter Bunny fill that basket—with toys!

For retailers, signage suggesting spring/summer toys to fill Easter baskets should already be up, but it’s not too late! Many consumers wait until the last-minute to shop, especially with the holiday coming earlier this year. A special display of spring-like, small, basket-sized items makes shopping easy and promotes quick sales. The pharmacies already do this, toy stores should too! [Read more...]

Thomas the Tank Engine Ice Sculpture and Toys “R” Us Enjoy a Playdate

Sir Topham Hatt poses with the Thomas the Tank Engine Ice Sculpture in Times Square and reads a Thomas & Friends story to the kids at Toys “R” Us Times Square on Friday, February 8 to celebrate the launch of the Thomas Wooden Railway Line and the 110th American International Toy Fair.

Fisher-Price Debuts First Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Line

Kids can explore the Gold Mine with Thomas and Salty, two of their favorite Thomas and Friends characters, with the Wooden Railway Gold Mine Mountain playset. This 34-piece playset features a Gold Mine Mountain, Cranky the Crane, Troublesome Truck, Salty, and a gold dust-decorated Thomas engine. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up.

HIT Entertainment and Fisher-Price have announced that Thomas & Friends embarks on a new adventure as Fisher-Price launches its new Thomas Wooden Railway line at toy retailers. The new product line marks a return to Fisher-Price’s heritage in wooden toys.

The Thomas Wooden Railway debuts with 108 SKUs launching in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Italy. Additional products will be released in the fall. [Read more...]

HIT Entertainment, Discovery Bay Games Announce Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station App, Accessory for iPad

HIT Entertainment and Discovery Bay Games have announced a new game and accessory for iPad: Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station. This Thomas & Friends-branded Duo accessory is compatible with the new Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App, available now on the App Store.

Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station gets kids jumping, skipping, and racing with all of their engine friends. The app comes with three games: Steam Engine Relay, Sodor Spot-It, and Seek & Find Adventure. Six engine cards, including Thomas, Percy, and James, along with other engine favorites, interact with Steam Team Station.

Designed for children ages 3 and up, the Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station accessory is now available at Apple Stores and Apple.com, Amazon, Target, and Toys”R”Us. The Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App is available for free from the App Store.

Thomas & Friends Pillow Pets to Launch This Year

Hit Entertainment has signed a licensing deal with Ontel Products Corporation and CJ Products, LLC to create Thomas the Tank Engine-inspired Pillow Pets, the first property that Ontel Products Corporation and CJ Products have taken on for My Pillow Pets.

The Thomas & Friends Pillow Pets will be available this year at mass and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada. The product will feature a strap that closes underneath to transform Thomas from his engine form to a pillow.