Licensed Toys: A Growing Phenomenon with Year-Round Appeal

Courtesy of Toy Industry Association

Character licenses based on blockbuster movies have the ability to propel products to stratospheric success, creating memories that last a lifetime for millions of fans. Recent sales for licensed toys reflect this growing phenomenon: last year, licensed toys and games were up 2 percent from 2010. For the first half of this year, those numbers have climbed further to 27 percent of total toy sales.

“Kids love bringing movies to life through play, whether they are re-enacting storylines, imagining new plot developments, or emulating their favorite superheroes and villains,” said Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Playthings related to the biggest blockbusters are sure to be on the wish lists of kids throughout the year and well into the holiday season.”

TIA has been tracking many of the family friendly movies that have toy and game tie-ins on its ToyInfo.org website. The following are a few examples from this year so far… and a sneak peak at what’s coming this fall:

The Avengers (May)
Toys and games related to The Avengers encourage kids to get into the spirit of the fast-paced movie. Considered by many to be the break-out movie and toy property of the year, strong toy sales are anticipated to continue during the holiday season following the Sept. 25 release of the DVD and Blu-Ray.

  • Bubble Blaster: The Avengers (Imperial Toy)
  • Game Strike Hulk (Hasbro)
  • 21-inch Avengers Skateboard (Bravo Sports)
  • Marvel Mini Basketball Hoop Set (Franklin Sports)
  • The Avengers Mini Muggs Action Figure two-pack (Hasbro)

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One Week Left for the TIF Summer Toy Drive

There is a little more than a week to go before the Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) 2012 Summer Toy Drive closes shop for another year. Toy companies that would like to be included are invited to submit a product donation form by August 31st.

Since opening on May 1, 35 children’s charities across 14 states have received toys from this year’s Summer Toy Drive, including:

  • The Dream Center in Los Angeles, Calif., one of 100 Dream Centers internationally, the LA Dream Center aids more than 40,000 people each month and works closely with Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to keep families unharmed.  Summer Toy Drive toys and games were distributed to children of families that the LA Dream Center supports.
  • Dolls for Daughters in Denver, Colo., distributes toys to Colorado families to help relieve the financial burdens of low-income families.  The charity lends a hand by taking the necessary steps to create a stable environment for children.
  • Kids Konnection in Washington, D.C., assists 1,500 children a week through summer camps, back-to-school sessions, Christmas events and more to try to bring about a safe and stable environment for DC’s youth. Toys donated by generous manufacturers to TIF were distributed during the Kids Konnection summer camp.

The Summer Toy Drive has also benefited children across 16 U.S. military bases through TIF’s Play Comforts program, and the Ronald McDonald House of NYC, where the Foundation threw a “Cowboy Hoedown” party for 100 pediatric cancer patients and their family members in July.

As part of TIF’s My Stuff Bags partnership, toys donated this summer will also be placed in duffel bags containing toiletries, blankets, and other comforting items to be distributed next month to Bronx kindergarten kids living in foster care.

A full list of charities that have been supported by the drive, as well as a complete list of summer donors, will be included on the Toy Industry Foundation website in September.

TIF’s Summer Toy Drive continues through August 31. Those interested in helping may make a product donation or contact Foundation Coordinator Melissa Kipp (646-520-4878) for more information.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

White Paper, Checklist for Children’s Online Privacy & Mobile Apps Now Available

The Toy Industry Association’s Responsible Marketing to Children (M2C) Committee has developed a White Paper, The Changing Privacy and Data Security Landscape: From Mobile Apps to OBA, and a corresponding Checklist for Mobile Apps and Promotions, to assist members of the industry in understanding an array of laws and regulations, policy initiatives, self-regulatory standards, and reports addressing various aspects of privacy and data security.

Members of the TIA M2C Committee have been working with outside counsel to monitor developing “hot button” issues in Europe, Washington, District of Columbia, and California related to privacy protections and non-privacy-related consumer deception and fairness issues linked to mobile app use. The committee also created a subcommittee on privacy, which seeks to develop a better understanding of current practices in these areas by reviewing existing regulations and self-regulatory guidelines to identify gaps.

The TIA members-only white paper, The Changing Privacy and Data Security Landscape: From Mobile Apps to OBA, provides background on the issues and a status report on significant U.S. and international laws and policy developments.  A Checklist for Mobile Apps and Promotions, which provides a framework that all toy companies can use to examine and evaluate the risks and opportunities related to their app initiatives, will also be available to TIA members only.

This post was originally written by Gigi Rubin and published by ToyBook.com For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

TIA to Host Toy Safety Training Sessions for Chinese Manufacturers

The Toy Industry Association will be hosting two toy safety information sessions Chinese manufacturers who manufacture toys and children’s products sold in the U.S. The first session will take place on August 1 in Dongguan and the second on August 3 in Shenzhen.

To emphasize the TIA’s commitment to safety awareness and education, several of the key topics will include U.S. toy safety standards and regulations, recent legislative changes and their impact on Chinese manufacturers and suppliers, the role of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, new toy safety testing and certification requirements, import surveillance initiatives, necessary elements of a factory quality program, emerging issues and hazards, and ways to ensure material safety.

TIA’s senior vice president of technical affairs, Al Kaufman, and Rebecca Mond, the director of federal government affairs, will present alongside a panel of U.S. and Chinese experts. Additional speakers will include Marty Chill, vice president of quality assurance and compliance for Hasbro; and Wonder Wong, quality assurance engineering director for Hasbro.

The training sessions are being organized by TIA with support from the State Administration for Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine of PRC (AQSIQ) and the China Toy Industrial Association (CTJPA), and in cooperation with the U.S. CPSC, Guangdong Dongguan and Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau of PRC, the Shenzhen Toys Industry Association (SZTIA), and the Shenzhen Import-Export Quarantine Association (SZIQA).

Interested participants may request additional registration details by contacting safety [at ]toyassociation.org. There is no fee for participation.

This post was originally written by Gigi Rubin and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Five Tips for Safe Summer Play from Toy Industry Association

To help assure that summer play is both safe and fun, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) offers parents five toy-related tips for a safe, active, and fun summer.

1. Pay close attention to the age appropriate guidelines on toy product packaging.

Age labeling is a safety precaution and is based on children’s developmental skills and ability at a given age, as well as the appropriateness of the toy for that age. Age labeling does not pertain to the intelligence of a child, so selecting toys marked with an age older than the child’s age is a mistake.

2. Make adult supervision a crucial element of outdoor play.

Children are quick and inquisitive. They should never be left alone near water sources (pools, inflatable “kiddie” pools, beaches, etc.) … not even for a moment. Water toys should be kept out of sight or out of reach when not being used so children aren’t tempted to play in or near the water alone.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a complete set of tips and information to help keep kids safe in and near the pool.

3. Buckle children up with helmets, knee pads, and other protective gear when playing with ride-on toys.

Most parents are aware that protective gear (helmets, knee pads, and arm pads) is crucial when riding a bicycle, but buckling up and wearing protective gear is equally important for other ride-on toys, including tricycles, scooters, skateboards, and skates.

4. Keep young bodies protected from the sun and heat.

Outdoor play areas should be covered to protect childrens’ sensitive skin from the sun’s intense rays. Children should wear hats, 100-percent UVA sunglasses, and a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) when playing outdoors.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children—regardless of their skin tone—wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and re-apply every two hours or after prolonged contact with water.  Studies show that children do not always experience thirst before dehydration, so it is important that they drink plenty of fluids during and after play, even when they do not feel thirsty.

5. Organize and store toys to prevent slips, trips, and falls.

Large, plastic bins with lids are perfect for organizing and storing smaller toys. Bins should be marked by name so that toys for children of differing ages can be easily separated.  An outdoor shed should be set up with designated “parking” spaces near the door for bicycles and other ride-on toys; smaller items like skateboards and skates should be hung off ground-level or stored on shelves to prevent slips, trips, and falls.

For additional information on safe play and tips on toy selection, visit www.ToyInfo.org.

This post was originally published by PR Newswire.

TIA Identifies Top Trends from Toy Fair 2012

After viewing tons of the 100,000-plus products that were on display during the 109th American International Toy Fair last week, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) found six new toy trends for this year. A presentation was made during a “Toy Trends Tea,” hosted by TIA.

The six top trends identified were: toys that work with smart devices and apps; toys that glow in the dark or light up; educational games and toys for infants, preschoolers, and children of all ages; toys that have multiple play patterns or customizable toys; higher-priced toys that pack a “wow” factor; and toys that teach music basics or allow older kids to emulate their favorite pop stars.

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TOTY Award Winners Announced

More than five hundred toy industry executives and guests from around the globe gathered in New York City on February 11 to honor their peers at the 12th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

A Toy Industry Association (TIA)-administered event in support of the Toy Industry Foundation, the  gala held in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center kicked off the 109th American International Toy Fair and paid tribute to today’s superstars, tomorrow’s bright up-and-comers, and illustrious toy industry icons.

Interspersed with the presentations of 12 TOTY Awards were two inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Arnie Rubin, Founder and CEO of Funrise Toy, and the late Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of FAO Schwarz. The new inductees join a distinguished roster of nearly 60 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since its establishment in 1985.

Award winners were selected with the input of consumers (on ToyAwards.org), retailers (mass and specialty), media, and members of the toy industry. The five ballots were weighted and used to determine the category winners as well as the overall “Toy of the Year” award.
LeapPad Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. received the coveted “Toy of the Year” title and was also awarded Educational Toy of the Year and Preschool Toy of the Year. The awards program included 77 finalists across the 11 categories.

And the winners are…

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Toy Fair NY to Feature Three-Meter Touch Screens of Exhibitor Information

This year’s American International Toy Fair, to be held in New York in a few weeks, will feature an interactive, digital wall called Fair Necessities. “Fair Necessities will be an interactive gateway to all things Toy Fair,” said Kimberly Carcone, senior director of trade show and event marketing at TIA, in a press release. “With the tap of a finger, multiple users will be able to simultaneously access floor plans, event schedules, exhibitor listings, photos, videos and news clips, apps, and more on the huge three-meter touch screens.” The LCD multi-touch display screen was designed by European IT firm Uma, and will be located in the main concourse of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center during the four days of the show.

For more information of Toy Fair, visit www.ToyFairNY.com.

This post was originally written by Elizabeth A. Reid and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

How to Pitch the Media Covering Toy Fair

Third in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event

by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

With Toy Fair less than a month away, how will you engage the media to ensure coverage for your toys or youth entertainment products? Here at Child’s Play, we’ve been working overtime to fine-tune our media lists and pitches on behalf of clients. This week’s post will include some of our tried and true strategies and tactics for pitching the press.

Think Like a Journalist

With less space for toy coverage and so many exhibitors to see—more than 1,000 at the Javits Center alone, as well as those in private showrooms across New York City—reporters are pressed for time. So, when choosing media channels to pitch, focus on the “why”/reason an outlet would be interested, to determine the “where”/ specific outlets to concentrate on.

Prior to Toy Fair, many journalists will do an online search, hunting for toys that are a match for the following themes, so post your press release on all company social media platforms incorporating the following key themes and key words.

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What Should Be in Your Toy Fair Media Tool Kit?

Second in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event


by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

As the adage goes, “information is power,” and that is exactly why the nuggets of facts, photos, video and other details contained in your Toy Fair media kit can directly impact the depth and breadth of coverage you get during the show. Start planning out your content by thinking through the writer’s “5 W’s”—the Who, What, Where, When, and Why—as it relates to your product. Ask for input from colleagues in the product development, sales, and marketing areas, as their perspective can provide tremendous insight, and descriptive language to tell the story. In my experience, this process can be time consuming; be prepared for multiple rounds of edits so that the end product is one that will draw attention and interest.

From seeing literally hundreds of press materials in my years in the children’s entertainment business and PR, the following elements when executed well contribute to a successful press kit:

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