Scholastic Celebrates 20th Anniversary of I Spy

Scholastic Media is kicking off its 20th anniversary celebration of the I Spy franchise with the publication of I Spy Spectacular: A Book of Picture Riddles, due to be out next month. The books features riddles by Jean Marzollo and photographs by Walter Wick.  The year-long campaign will include a slate of new I Spy releases, including the I Spy Challenger for Leapster Explorer (releasing this summer), I Spy Castle for the Nintendo DS (releasing this fall), and five new titles from Briarpatch, Scholastic’s exclusive licensee for board games, puzzles, and card games.

Beginning April 11, the new products will be supported by the “I Spy a Celebration” campaign that invites audiences to participate in the largest game of I Spy online, My I Spy. Scholastic will also host a live I Spy event, “I Spy a Celebration! 20 Years; 20 Kids; 20 Riddles,” in Times Square on April 12, and Jean Marzollo will host at an event on April 9 in New York City featuring an I Spy scavenger hunt, raffle, and product demonstrations.

Disney Store Times Square Opens With Grand Celebration

Last week, Disney Store celebrated the grand opening of its Times Square location with appearances by celebrities, New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and more. The celebration kicked off with a colorful parade of Disney characters—including Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and Buzz Lightyear—as they arrived by horse-drawn carriages and classic cars and traveled down a trail of Pixie dust.

Hosted by Robin Roberts from ABC’s Good Morning America, other celebrity appearances included Melissa Joan Hart of ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey; Anika Noni Rose, voice of Princess Tiana from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog; ESPN’s Jesse Palmer; actress Brooke Shields; Bloomberg; Walt Disney Co. President and CEO Robert Iger; and more.

The two-level, 20,000-plus square foot Disney Store in Times Square boasts a 2,250-square-foot digital billboard, a two-story Disney Princess castle with a “talking” Magic Mirror, colorful Lucite trees throughout the store that showcase custom Disney content, and a 350-square-foot Disney Store Theatre that features a 12-foot screen, playing Disney film clips, videos, and more. Kids can also build a customized Disney·Pixar Cars-branded Ridemarkerz car or purchase exclusive New York City-inspired Disney merchandise.

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Photo: Disney Unveils Times Square Store’s Digital Sign

Photo: Mickey Mouse unveils Disney Store’s new state-of-the-art digital billboard in the heart of New York City’s Times Square, as the countdown begins for the grand store opening celebration on November 9. The two-story store will be Disney’s largest in North America and will feature exclusive merchandise plus N.Y.-themed products, and will boast Disney’s new concept design.

Credit: Disney Store North America

K.I.D.S. Hopes to Raise $100 million Through SMS

Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), Inc., unveiled its plan to project a 15-second PSA on a jumbotron in Times Square. Beginning August 15 and continuing until October 15, mobile phone users who text “HAPPYKIDS 25″ to 27138 will trigger a $25 donation to its cause.  According to K.I.D.S., each $25 donation will help distribute $250 worth of donated products to children and parents. The PSA will run in Times Square on the CBS Spectacular jumbotron facing the north side of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

As part of the organization’s 25th anniversary, K.I.D.S. also hopes to raise $100 million worth of products for distressed and underprivileged children, including basic necessities, toys, clothing, and other comforts.

For more information, visit K.I.D.S.’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Vikings Take Over Times Square!

This morning, instead of going directly to my office, I made a stop in Times Square, which was overrun by Vikings… could be a little scary… but they were all smiling, taking pictures and generally enjoying the fact that their big Viking Boat (40 ft) was grounded in the heart of NYC. (Since I’m a native New Yorker, I have to say it was grounded in the heart of America).

After taking a few pictures… trying to hear what actress America Ferrera (Ugly Betty and the voice of Astrid) was saying to the cameras, I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Walmart’s SVP and General Manager of Entertainment, Gary Severson.

So how does America’s giant retailer decide when and how much muscle to put behind a new movie launch/property, well, Gary gave me some insight.

There are a lot of great movies that come out every year, but not all translate into merchandise, specifically toys, very well. But the How to Train Your Dragon property has such appeal, especially to boys, that it was clear that this was something to look at. Dragons are a terrific play pattern, and there is a demand for this type of product. Compound this with the studio behind the movie, DreamWorks, and the first toy partner to see the potential—Spin Master—well Walmart knew that this could be something big.

This great partnership launches today in Walmarts around the country and in theaters this Friday. Will your kids love this movie? …the answer is yes! They will love the story about Hiccup, a Viking teenager who just doesn’t fit in and the dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to look at the world differently. And, they will love the array of products that will be available at Walmart exclusively, such as toys (helmets and swords of course… made of foam), snacks, apparel, and other products to keep the story alive. We’ll see the DVDs later in the year so be ready to add it to your holiday list!

–Laurie

The Toy Book’s Toy Report 01/13/10

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Catch up on last week’s news! Read The Toy Book Toy Report for 01/13/10.

To view click here.

Disney Store to Open in Times Square

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A new Disney store is slated to open in New York City’s Times Square in the fall. The retail space at 1540 Broadway, between 45th and 46th streets, will include an interactive Disney Princess castle, a children’s theater featuring the latest Disney entertainment, and special events such as celebrity appearances and children’s activities. Renovations will begin soon.

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