COMMENTARY: Sibling Rivalries Exist in the Toy World, Too

FrozenproductsA real-life sibling rivalry exists between Disney’s Frozen Elsa and Anna products—with one sister clearly winning. According to a Wall Street Journal article published last month, Disney marketing executives expected the sisters to be equals in popularity. As such, they were caught off-guard by the overwhelming preference for Elsa, who outsells Anna in dolls, toys, costumes, and other items. Disney, in response, makes sure to keep Elsa items in-stock at stores: For example, about 10 percent more Elsa dolls are stocked than Anna ones at Wal-Mart, according to the same Wall Street Journal article.

To help combat the Frozen sibling rivalry, companies are selling dolls with both sisters, and sales data from last holiday season shows that girls want to play with dolls or role-play with costumes featuring both characters. In turn, companies such as Jakks Pacific, as well as retailers like Toys “R” Us, are making and selling products, respectively, that involve the two sisters. [Read more...]

USAopoly Celebrates 20 Years with 13 Days of Giving Games

USAopolyUSAopoly is currently giving away a themed gaming package each day for 13 days through December 20. With every game a fan wins, one will also be donated to Toys for Tots. For every day that there are over 500 entries, an additional winner will be chosen and will match the number of games given to fans to the Toys for Tots donation. Prize packages include The Walking Dead Day, Nintendo Day, My Little Pony Day, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Day.

Toys “R” Us to Celebrate 11 Days of Cyber Savings

toysrus.croppedToys “R” Us will be celebrating 11 days of savings at toysrus.com beginning Wednesday and continuing through December 6, the end of Cyber Week. Online shoppers will find daily deals, enhanced services, and free shipping offers during the period of gift shopping.

Toysrus.com will kick off Black Friday shopping on Wednesday night starting at 10 p.m. The website will also offer customers deals in the season’s most sought-after items throughout Cyber Week, with Cyber Monday sales beginning on Sunday, November 30 at 9 p.m.

In addition to daily deals, a three-day Big Brands sale will take place from December 2 through December 4, featuring brands such as Barbie, Fisher-Price, Frozen, Lego, Skylanders, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. Also, a two-day event from December 5 through December 6 will provide shoppers with bargains on big gift items like dollhouses and powered ride-ons.

Playmates Toys Adds Bebop and Rocksteady to TMNT Action Figure Line

BeBop_HI RockSteady_HINickelodeon and Playmates Toys have launched Bebop and Rocksteady action figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters. The figures will be available in mid-November exclusively at Wal-Mart.

The 5-inch action figures are fully articulated and sculpted to capture the personalities of the popular duo. Each figure is equipped with unique accessories and is compatible with most of the vehicles and play sets in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line. Bebop, a pig-headed mutant, features a bright purple Mohawk, X-ray glasses, and comes ready to battle with his weapon accessories. Rocksteady, a mutated rock-headed Rhino and the brains behind the duo, is ready to hunt down the Turtles with his hammer-and-sickle weapon accessories.

The villainous duo will make their return to TV this January as part of the third season of Nickelodeon’s CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

Out of the Blue Enterprises Acquires Colorforms

Out Of The Blue Enterprises.logoOut of the Blue Enterprises is planning an extensive new toy line, animated series, and digital apps based on its newly acquired legacy brand, Colorforms. New products in the line are expected to debut at retail next fall, based on popular brands including Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peter Rabbit, Pete the Cat, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Colorforms Brand LLC, the new division of Out of the Blue, is showcasing its new Colorforms toy line to retailers at the Fall Toy Preview in Dallas this week.

On the Hunt with Jordan Hembrough

When you step inside Hollywood Heroes in Westwood, N.J., you can literally smell the nostalgia (for those of you who are unfamiliar, nostalgia smells similar to dust-covered cardboard and childhood memories—but like, in a good way). In the collectible toy shop, bright lights beam down on glass cases displaying superhero relics with more than 40 years under their utility belts, making these toys anything but child’s play.

Owner of Hollywood Heroes and star of the reality TV show Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough poses with a plush version of himself.

Owner of the shop and star of the Travel Channel series Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough is an expert in the art of toy collecting, with more than 25 years of professional experience dealing toys. However, toys were always an integral part of Hembrough’s life. From schoolyard selling, Hembrough entered the big-time after college, when he secured a job as a buyer for StarLog, a chain of science-fiction-focused retail stores. Despite a lack of business background, Hembrough eventually went on to launch his own company, Hollywood Heroes. “I had the passion, and I think sometimes passion will drive you more than a business plan,” he says. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Can’t Get Enough Bubbles

I don’t know of anything more universally loved than bubbles. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was create bubbles—whether it was blowing into a straw while drinking something, blowing the water with my mouth in the pool, or using gel to make a bubble bath.

Since my early days, bubbles have evolved from the traditional solution and wand method, and the following new bubble blastin’ toys are definitely a modern way to enjoy something so simple.

Gazillion BubblesThe Gazillion Bubbles Typhoon 2.0 is true to its name. This product, from Funrise, creates a storm of bubbles with the push of a button. The magic is in the battery-powered machine, which produces over 5,000 bubbles per minute. The product comes with non-toxic Gazillion Bubbles solution and an auto feed cap to place onto the bottle, which can then be inserted into the machine to release the solution. Once you press the button to turn the machine on, you won’t be able to keep up with all of the bubbles being made! [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Pool Time Is the Best Time

Some of my fondest childhood memories were conceived on sunny days spent splashing around in the pool. Back in the day, it was tradition for my family to fight over the one noodle that wasn’t chewed up by my dog, or to constantly cheat during a riveting round of Marco Polo (The thing was, we were kind of bored and thoroughly enjoyed torturing each other). Today, lazily floating around on the water is my most anticipated summer activity, but the pool is still a prime spot for play.

As companies gear up for swimming season, here are some of the latest toys that keep kids engaged at the pool and earning those pruned fingers:

TMNT Water WeaponsLicensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Spewer Water Weapons, by Playmates, combine classic ninja moves with an impressive soaking effect. [Read more...]

Comic Images Launches Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Plush Line

Jan22.TMNTComic Images will launch a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plush line in advance of the animated film in development. The products include key chains featuring Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael; Back Pals 3D backpacks featuring Leonardo and Raphael; and Golf Club Head Covers featuring Raphael and Leonardo. The products will be available in major retailers this spring.

The TMNT products will be just a part of the wave of nostalgic properties made new again. This spring, Comic Images will also feature six Classic DC Comics characters key chains and Batman and Superman Back Buddies Backpacks in time for next year’s Batman-Superman film.

COMMENTARY: Big Rewards for a Little Bit of Cash

Sometimes kids deserve a special little treat—whether they refrain from crying at the dentist, got an extra star on their homework assignment, or behaved well on a long shopping trip, it’s nice to reward them for good behavior. Candy is a cheap, instant, and enjoyable treat, but we all know kids can do with a little less sugar (and, in turn, fewer painful dentist visits!).  There are some great inexpensive toys with lots of play value that will help reward kids for good behavior without breaking the bank or causing cavities.

ABSW Telepods Jedi vs Sith Multi-PacksAngry Birds Star Wars Telepods, from Hasbro, are sold in two-figure packs for less than $10. Kids can teleport the collectible figures right into the Angry Birds Star Wars II app, from Rovio Entertainment, on iOS and Android devices. Each figure has a unique QR code on the bottom, so kids can distinguish their characters from their friends’, even if they have the same ones. With more than 30 figures to collect, Hasbro also has compatible play sets at higher price points. With both virtual and physical play, Telepods is a great choice for a quick treat that will keep kids engaged for a long time. [Read more...]