TIA Releases Details on PlayCon 2014 Sessions

Digital experts from Google/YouTube, Amazon, RocketHub, and Tongal will present their insights on connecting with 21st century kids and moms, crowdsourcing, and crowdfunding at PlayCon 2014, the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) International Conference of Play Professionals. The event is scheduled to take place from May 7 to 9 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Growing Up Digital: Creating, Consuming, Connecting” will feature Katie Rottier, head of U.S. industry, sports & toys, at Google/YouTube. “Amazon: Key Customer, Marketing Partner, Platform for Customer Engagement, or All Three,” will be presented by Eva Lorenz, category leader for Amazon’s Toys & Games store. For “Get Out of the Box—Get Into the Crowd!” Brian Meece, CEO of RocketHub, and Caleb Light-Wills, senior vice president of product at Tongal, will provide an in-depth look at crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

Full agenda details, as well as hotel and registration information, can be found at the TIA website.

PlayCon 2014 Agenda Includes Speakers from The NPD Group, Google/YouTube, and More

A number of educational topics related to the toy industry will be explored at PlayCon, the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) International Conference of Play Professionals, scheduled to take place May 7 to 9 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The May 8 program includes a keynote address delivered by Doug Van Andel, executive creative director at global ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi; a case study presented by Michael Moynihan, vice president of marketing at Lego Systems Inc.; a two-part session by The NPD Group focused on the latest sales data; a presentation entitled “The Broader World of Play,” from Katie Rottier, head of U.S. industry, sports & toys, at Google/YouTube; and more. [Read more...]

U.S. CPSC Now Accepting Comments on Third-Party Testing Costs

Last Thursday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hosted a day-long public workshop to gather technical information and evidence that could help to reduce third party testing costs for manufacturers of toys and children’s products sold in the U.S.

Held at the CPSC’s National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Md., the workshop featured presentations of technical data by representatives of industry, consumer groups, and academic institutions. Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA), and Rebecca Mond, TIA director of federal government affairs, were both on-hand on behalf of the toy industry.

The technical data will assist the CPSC in determining which material types do not contain any of the six banned phthalates, lead, and/or heavy metals listed in the ASTM F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, and therefore do not need to be routinely tested. [Read more...]

Safe Kids Day 2014 Planned for Los Angeles, New York City

tia_logo[1]The Toy Industry Association (TIA) will sponsor Safe Kids Day 2014, hosted by Safe Kids Worldwide. The events for the nationwide initiative will take place on April 5th in Los Angeles and April 12th in New York City. The TIA will provide attendees with free tips, tools, and guidelines for choosing age-appropriate products to play with that will keep kids safe while they play. 

The bicoastal events will feature games, activities, guest appearances, and an opportunity for families to learn how to stay safe from preventable injuries.

TIA Calls for Toy Company Support to Prevent Legislation in Two States

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoAccording to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), bills moving through the legislative process could have a damaging impact on toy companies with business operations in Vermont and Connecticut.

TIA referred specifically to Vermont Senate Bill 239 and Connecticut House Bill 5354 and Senate Bill 126, which would result in lists of products containing certain “chemicals of concern” and additional testing costs for toy companies. The companies would have to report and publicly list any products containing the identified chemicals.

TIA is calling for toy companies and their employees to file pre-formatted letters (which can be found here for Vermont, and here for Connecticut) to their state representatives and senators to support TIA lobbying efforts. Companies must submit their contact information and edit the second paragraph of each letter to provide company-specific information. For more information, contact Andy Hackman at (202) 570-8526 or ahackman@serlinhaley.com.

State Officials on the Agenda at Fourth Annual California Toy Day

A series of legislative updates and round table discussions with state officials have been confirmed for the 4th Annual California Toy Day, taking place at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento on March 19, according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA).

Sessions covering policy issues currently affecting toy companies with business operations in the state are scheduled. Green Chemistry: California’s Safer Consumer Product Regulations will allow toy companies impacted by California’s new consumer products regulations to hear directly from Karl Palmer, chief of the Department of Toxic Substances Control. Meanwhile, Environmental Policy Discussions, featuring assembly members Tom Daly of the 69th District and Luis Alejo of the 30th District, will cover environmental policies that affect the day-to-day operations of toy companies, including extended producer responsibility, Proposition 65, and packaging laws.

Registration for California Toy Day is now open, and all toy manufacturers, toy importers, and toy distributors may participate in this free event. Questions or comments may be directed to the TIA’s Molly Carroll at 202.459.0355.

Potential West Coast Port Shutdown Looms Over Toy Industry

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is encouraging members to develop contingency plans for shipments scheduled to arrive through ports on the West Coast. Upcoming labor negotiations between dockworkers and maritime employers could become contentious, resulting in a possible port shutdown or strike throughout the coast that would have a negative impact on the toy industry during the busy pre-holiday shipping season, according to the TIA.

Contract talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which are expected to begin in May, center on an estimated $150 million in excise taxes owed under the Affordable Health Care Act for the health care plans of ILWU workers. If negotiations extend beyond the July 1 expiration date of the current contract, a shutdown or strike could occur on the West Coast, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion each day.

Disruptions may be partially avoided by conducting a thorough review of supply chains and diverting cargo through alternate ports in Mexico or the East and Gulf Coast ports of the U.S. Any questions may be directed to Rebecca Mond, TIA director of federal government affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org.

TIA Elects New Leadership at 2014 Annual Business Meeting

March5.TIAThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) has elected three new members to its Board of Directors and a new chairman of the organization during its Annual Business Meeting in February. John Gessert of American Plastic Toys will assume the position as chairman for a year, replacing retiring Board Chairman Soren Torp Laursen of The Lego Group

The new members of the TIA Board are Drew Brazer, vice president of sales in North America for Lego Systems Inc.; D. Hugo Malan, senior vice president and president of sporting goods at Sears Holding Corp.; and William To, president of VTech Electronics in North America. Each elected member will serve for two-year terms, expiring at the 2016 TIA Annual Business Meeting. Laursen will become an advisor to the governance body.

The 2014 TIA Annual Business Meeting was held in conjunction with the 111th American International Toy Fair in New York City. The meeting also included accomplishment highlights from the first year of TIA’s 2013-2015 Strategic Plan and an announcement that the TIA had grown its financial reserves last year.

Toy Fair 2014 Shows Increase in Attendees, Double-Digit Rise in International Visitors

Last week’s American International Toy Fair in New York City drew nearly 26,500 toy professionals from 94 countries, and boasted a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibit space. According to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2014 also welcomed an 11 percent surge in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in overall attendees, bringing the total attendance to 26,493.

There was an estimated 1,153 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agents, and nearly 10,000 buyers from more than 5,000 retail outlets, including delegations from Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us. Members of top press outlets including Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and The New York Times scouted top toy trends.

Next year’s Toy Fair has been scheduled for February 14 to 17, and will once again take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Show information will be available in the coming months at www.ToyFairNY.com.

The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]