Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

TIA Spotlights Value of Toys and Play in a Child’s Healthy Development in New Campaign

Toy Industry Association InfographicThe Toy Industry Association has launched an industry-wide campaign to stress the important role that toys and play have in the healthy development of children. The Genius of Play campaign includes awareness of facts: for example, pediatricians recommend children spend at least one hour a day engaged in open-ended play, and that children who have access to a variety of toys reach higher levels of intellectual development.

TIA members, industry professionals, academics, and play-focused organizations developed the campaign. The TIA also polled Millennial and Generation X parents about their lifestyles, views on play, spending habits, and purchasing decisions. In its findings, the survey said that 95 percent of parents agree that time spent playing together as a family enhances the child-parent relationship.

Parents, caregivers, teachers, and play professionals are encouraged to visit The Genius of Play website to learn more information about the value of play and share it across social media platforms. Watch the video made for the campaign below, featured on the website, that demonstrated the benefits of play.

TIA to Host Webinar on Technology’s Impact on Future Play Trends

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a webinar, From PDA to Pandora: A Decade of Technology Disruption and How it Affects the Family, on December 10. The one-hour webinar will provide an overview of trends in consumer electronics ownership among families—and how technology is expected to impact future play trends.

Russ Crupnick, consultant at The NPD Group and managing partner of MusicWatch Inc., will present the webinar, which will be moderated by Anne McConnell, TIA director of market research and data strategy. Crupnick will highlight key trends from NPD’s Kids & CE reports from the last 10 years, as well as provide a recap of his presentation at PlayCon last spring, which addressed the impact of technology in the toy market.

Webinar participants will learn key trends in consumer electronics ownership and usage; what influences families to purchase tech devices for children, how the products are used, and how adoption varies by age and gender; how technology fragments toy and play customers and impacts different segments of the customer base; and how technology changes shopping and discovery habits—and how marketers need to adapt.

The webinar is free for TIA members and $49 for non-members. Registration is required. Questions from participants may be submitted in advance to TIA’s Jackie Retzer at jretzer@toyassociation.org, and answers will be folded into the presentation when possible. The session will be recorded and available post-event for those who are unable to participate live.

Continuing Port Issues Leads to Record Retail Imports, Toy Industry Reaction

nrfImport cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to slow down this month following record levels seen in September and October, as retailers rushed to bring merchandise into the country ahead of a possible shutdown of West Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report is expected to total 1.4 million containers this month, down from 1.59 million each in September and October, a number that broke the previous monthly high of 1.52 million set in August. Cargo volume has been well above average each month since spring as retailers have imported merchandise early in case of any disruption on the docks.

The 1.59 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU, or 20-foot cargo container) handled in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, was up 5.2 percent from August and 10.9 percent from September 2013. October was estimated at 1.59 million TEU, within about 3,000 containers of September’s level and up 11 percent from the same month last year.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is inviting members to participate in a teleconference with Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, to learn about what is being done to alleviate back-ups and delays at the port. The discussion is scheduled for November 13 at 1 p.m. ET. TIA members can contact Rebecca Mond, director of federal governmental affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org for dial-in information.

TIE Assists Companies in Complying with EU Toy Safety Directive

As reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) has published a free resource to help toy manufacturers, importers, and distributors comply with the legal requirements in the European Union’s Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC.

The 35-page online guide, entitled Toy Safety in the EU, was published by TIE in cooperation with the European Commission as part of an education campaign financed by the EC. Available in English and French, the resource includes guidelines regarding technical documentation, safety and conformity assessments, EC declarations of conformity, European Conformity (CE) markings, packaging requirements, sample testing, and more. The document also includes tips, FAQs, definitions, and links to EC resources.

Questions from TIA member companies that export toys to Europe may be directed to Alan Kaufman, TIA senior vice president of technical affairs, at akaufman@toyassociation.org.

Toy Fair PR Bootcamp Webinar to be Held on December 11

Toy companies exhibiting at the North American International Toy Fair can participate in the Toy Industry Association (TIA)’s annual Toy Fair PR boot camp webinar, scheduled for December 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. ET.

The free webinar, entitled Tips for Developing Your TF’15 PR and Promotion Strategies, will review tools and techniques for attracting the attention of retail buyers and media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, Forbes, as well as trade magazines and bloggers that attend Toy Fair.

Webinar participants will learn how to develop a well-rounded media list; leverage social media to attract media attention; strategically present product, brands, and trend information to different media audiences; and more. The session will be presented by Adrienne Appell, TIA’s senior manager of public relations; Kimberly Carcone, TIA’s senior director of trade shows and event marketing; and Gina Espinosa from Virtual Press Office.

Registration for the webinar is now open and is free for all Toy Fair exhibitors. Questions may be submitted in advance to TIA’s Jackie Retzer at jretzer@toyassociation.org.

New Product Labeling Required for Toys Containing DINP for Sale in California

Under California’s Proposition 65, manufacturers of consumer products for sale in California will be required to include a warning label on items containing diisononyl phthalate (DINP). As reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the law does not include a “safe harbor” level for DINP, and as such, companies with products containing any amount of the substance are required to comply. The requirement goes into effect on December 20.

Last year, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added DINP to Proposition 65, which requires the labeling of products containing any one of the approximately 800 chemicals of concern identified by the state.

Under the federally mandated Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), DINP is restricted to maximum levels of 0.1 percent in mouthable toys and components and remains legal for use in non-mouthable toys and inaccessible components. TIA members and industry stakeholders that sell toys in California are advised to include the required warning label on all packaging of products that may contain any levels of DINP.

Any questions may be directed to TIA’s Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs, at akaufman@toyassociation.org.

Buyer, Trade Guest Registration Open for North American International Toy Fair

Oct22.ToyFairBuyer and trade guest registration has opened for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, according to the Toy Industry Association. Toy Fair 2014 is scheduled to take place February 14 to 17 in New York City.

The event, formerly the American International Toy Fair, was recently re-named the North American International Toy Fair, as part of a new affiliation agreement between TIA and the Canadian Toy Association. CTA and TIA will have a single toy fair, rather than single marketplace events in the U.S. and Canada.

Last year’s Toy Fair had a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibition space and welcomed an 11 percent increase in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in attendees.

TIA to Induct Two to Hall of Fame

TIAThe Toy Industry Association will induct Pat Feely, chairman of the Toy Industry Foundation and retired CEO of Radica Games Ltd., and the late Leslie Berger, founder of Cardinal Industries Inc., into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held on Feb. 13 in conjunction with the annual Toy of the Year Awards to kick off the 112th North American International Toy Fair.

Feely and Berger have been chosen in recognition of their contributions to the toy industry and the impact they have had on children through a commitment to toys and play, according to the TIA. They will join 67 others who have been inducted since it was established in 1984.

Feely has been in the toy industry for 37 years and engineered a turnaround and expansion of Radica Games and Tonka. He has been serving as chairman for the Toy Industry Foundation for the past eight years. In addition, he has served as chairman of the TIA for two years and was an advisor to the TIA Board of Directors for six years, where he helped form the TOTY Awards program and diversify the TIA Board.

The late Leslie Berger founded Cardinal Industries, one of the oldest privately owned toy businesses in the U.S. He served on the Toy Manufacturers of America, now called TIA, board for several years. He also secured the license to General Hospital from ABC in the early 80s.

TIA to Host Young Professionals Cocktail Party in Dallas

TIA.YoungProfessionalsNetworkThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) Young Professionals Network (YPN), which supports the growth, development, and retention of young professionals in the toy industry, will host a networking cocktail party on October 8 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The event will take place following the close of the second day of Fall Toy Preview.

All young toy industry professionals ages 35 and under are invited to attend the party, to be held at the Hilton Anatole Gossip Bar. Admission is free for both TIA members and non-members; TIA member company representatives will receive one complimentary drink.

RSVP for the cocktail party is requested by October 2. Questions and suggestions for expanding or improving upon the YPN—formerly known as Toy Industry Next Generation (TING)—may be directed to TIA’s Bernadette Boyle, membership manager, at (646) 454-5585.