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Toy Fair 2014 to Be Biggest U.S. Toy Fair Yet

The American International Toy Fair in February is expected to be the largest toy trade show ever held in North America. Though registration has been open for just a few weeks, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) reports that the show has already surpassed a record-breaking 400,000 net square feet of exhibit space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

The 2013 event—which hosted the largest exhibit area since 2000—covered just over 366,000 net square feet at the Javits Center. As of press time, total registration for the 2014 American International Toy Fair is up 10 percent over the same period last year, while buyer registration is up 6 percent year-to-date, and international buyer attendance has surged 18 percent over last year’s point-in-time figures.

Approximately 30,000 visitors are expected to attend, exploring products on display by more than 1,000 exhibiting toy companies.

BookExpo America, American Booksellers Association Partners with American International Toy Fair, TIA

bookexpo americaThe line between books and toys is officially being crossed as BookExpo America (BEA) and the American Booksellers Association have teamed up with the American International Toy Fair and the Toy Industry Association (TIA). This newly formed relationship hopes to benefit all attendees of the upcoming Toy Fair and the BookExpo by expanding market sectors.

Toy Fair and BEA officials agree that although each of their core focuses, toys and books, are different, the facts that bookstores often carry lines of toys and games, just as toy stores  are known to carry selections of children’s books, should be capitalized on. With this new mutual relationship, a cross-promotional effort will broaden the reach of exhibitors at each show.

Vote for Your Favorite 2014 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Finalist

toty14-logoThe toy industry has its 84 toy, game, and property finalists for the 2014 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY), according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The annual TOTY awards program is sponsored by the toy industry to recognize the top toys available across 12 categories—from e-connected to activity to educational and outdoor toys.

The 2014 finalists represent 68 unique products or properties from 41 companies, and were selected from more than 520 nominees submitted for consideration by 153 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.

Through January 13, toy lovers of all ages can visit ToyAwards.org to vote for their favorite playthings. Each vote is a chance to win one of twelve TOTY prize packages filled with the toys and games featured in each category.

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Safari Ltd. Swaps Facebook Likes for Toys in New Promotion

safariSafari Ltd. is donating five toys for every new Facebook like it receives during the month of November to the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF), the philanthropic arm of the Toy Industry Association. Dubbed “You Like, We Give,” the promotion specifically supports TIF’s signature program, The Toy Bank, benefitting children in need this holiday season. Safari Ltd. has committed to donating up to 2,500 toys.

Over the past 10 years, The Toy Bank has delivered $85 million worth of toys to children who are sick, impoverished, rescued from abusive homes, living through natural disasters, enduring life on a military base or otherwise in need. Safari Ltd. is a third-generation, educational toy company whose mission is to teach children the importance of nature and its conservation through the joy of play.

TIA Seeks Input from Members on Proposed Health Canada Lead Limits

tia_logo[1]Health Canada might expand its requirement limiting total lead content in toys sold or imported to Canada. Currently, the 90 parts-per-million (ppm) lead limit is applicable to toys produced for kids ages 3 and under. The expanded requirement would apply to toys produced for kids up to age 14.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has issued a short survey to learn how this potential requirement might impact the operations of TIA members. The survey asks if the proposed lead content limit would have no impact on companies, and why; would increase testing costs, and by how much on an annual basis; force them to stop selling toys in Canada; or reduce the number of toys sold in Canada.

The survey is available online. Responses are due by October 7. Any questions may be directed to TIA’s Rebecca Mond at (202) 459-0352.

TIA Hosts Fall Toy Preview Networking Philanthropy Events

tia_logo[1]With the Fall Toy Preview comes 750 long-lead buyers from around the world and 345 innovative toymakers all there to gain insight into emerging industry trends and of course be among the first to scoop up new product lines slated for release next year. The amount of business opportunity is a major draw, but the Toy Industry Association (TIA) is reminding all Fall Toy Preview attendees of networking and philanthropic events that will also be taking place the week of the show:

  • Opening Night Party: Benefiting the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF), Fall Toy Preview’s Opening Night Party will take place on October 1 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Dallas Market Center. Food and drink will be served at this annual event which gives buyers, exhibitors, and other trade show guests the opportunity to connect, network, and spend time with colleagues. Each exhibitor will receive two complimentary tickets to the party; additional tickets can be purchased on-site at the Fall Toy Preview registration desk (or during the show registration process). All proceeds benefit the philanthropic activities of the TIF.

  • Toy Industry Next Generation (TING) Cocktail Party:Immediately following the Opening Night Party, TING will hold a networking event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hilton Anatole Gossip Bar. The party is designed to foster relationships and business opportunities for young professionals working within the toy industry; the first-ever TING event was held at Toy Fair 2013. One complimentary drink per guest will be served; additional drinks and food will be available for purchase. Admission is free for TIA members. Guests may RSVP online.
  • Women in Toys (WIT) 4th Annual Breakfast of Champions
: WIT is hosting its 4th annual networking breakfast on October 2 from 7:30 to 9 a.m.  The breakfast will take place in Room D15 at the Market Center. Tickets can be purchased in advance online.

  • End-of-Show Toy Collection:TIF will once again hold its annual Toy Bank collection at the close of the show on October 3. The collected toys, games, and youth entertainment products will benefit Dallas-area children in need. Companies that would like to participate are encouraged to email TIF and state their interest in making a contribution. Volunteer staff will circulate the show floor on Thursday afternoon to collect the donated products. 

TIA’s Fall Toy Preview is an annual go-to-market event that attracts mass market retailers from around the world to preview the hottest toys and games slated for release in Q4 the following year. Fall Toy Preview 2013 will take place October 1 to 3 in Dallas.

Bipartisan Congressional Toy Caucus Launched on Capitol Hill

caucusAccording to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), a bipartisan Congressional Toy Caucus was formed and launched on Capitol Hill at TIA’s 6th Annual Washington, D.C. Fly-In. Co-chaired by Congressman Ron Kind and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, the Toy Caucus was created to engage lawmakers in a constructive dialogue about issues currently facing the U.S. toy industry and the important role that toy businesses have in the development and education of children worldwide. Members of Congress who have toy companies in their districts and/or have an interest in the toy industry have been invited to participate in the Caucus.

Last year, the U.S. toy industry sold 3 billion toys and directly employs approximately 320,000 individuals with small businesses creating more than 30 percent of that number. Throughout the week, toy companies are meeting with federal policymakers to underscore the impact that their policy decisions have on real people and real companies.

TIA Opens Nominations for 2014 TOTY Awards, Board of Directors

toty14-logoThe Toy Industry Association Inc. (TIA) is accepting toy, game, and property submissions across 12 categories for the 2014 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards. The nomination period will close at 5 p.m. PST on October 11. Finalists will be unveiled on November 25; winners will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony in February 2014.

Toy companies, inventors, retailers, and others are invited to nominate contenders; all submissions should include a brief, 50-word description plus a statement—up to 300 words—explaining why the product or property is deserving of recognition on the TOTY Awards ballot. Products must have been introduced to the marketplace within the past two years and must be available at retail in the U.S. on or before November 25 of this year. Each submission is $75 for TIA members and $125 for non-members. For more information, visit the TOTY website or email toty@toyassociation.org.

TIA also invites all members to submit candidates for seats on its Board of Directors. The board is responsible for the management and control of the activities, property, and affairs of TIA, including the strategic direction of the association, the annual budget, and the scope of responsibilities of the board and its committees.

The criteria that will be considered by the nominating committee for each nominee includes commitment to attend regularly scheduled board meetings each year and, as appropriate, other relevant TIA-sponsored events; and professional skills and experience (e.g., finance, law, marketing, etc.) that may be of value to the board.

All nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. on October 11. More information, including criteria and where to submit nominations, can be found through TIA’s website.

Voting Opens for 2014 Toy Industry Hall of Fame Inductees

HallofFame2014logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) has opened its annual ballot to determine the next inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. The voting period will extend to September 13. This year’s candidates were chosen from a slate of 24 highly-qualified nominees submitted for consideration by members of the Hall of Fame (HOF) Committee. All of the nominees left notable marks on the North American toy industry.

Living candidates for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame included:

  •     Jill Barad, former CEO, Mattel
  •     Horst Brandstätter, president and sole owner, PLAYMOBIL/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG
  •     Thomas Chan, chairman and CEO, Playmates Toys Inc.
  •     Joel Glickman, founder, K’NEX Brands
  •     Bruce Raiffe, president, Gund, division of Enesco, LLC

Candidates for posthumous induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame included:

Responses are due by September 13. Designated points of contact at TIA member companies, former Hall of Fame inductees, and recent TIA Board members are invited to rank their choices in the living and posthumous categories.

The inductees will be honored during the Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards ceremony on February 15 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which officially launches Toy Fair Week in New York City.

American International Toy Fair to Host Digital Kids Conference

digitalkidsThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) and media company Engage Digital have announced that the eighth annual Digital Kids Conference will co-locate with the American International Toy Fair in February at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Taking place February 18 to 19, the Digital Kids Conference will address new strategies, tools, and marketplace insight that will enable youth-focused media professionals to create digital toys, games, and media services for kids. The partnership between the two shows will provide Toy Fair attendees with access to the Digital Kids Conference, and TIA members will receive reduced rates to attend the sessions. Digital Kids attendees will gain access to the Toy Fair show floor, where they will be among the first to view 150,000 new toys and games on display by more than 1,000 toy companies.

Toy Fair 2014 will be held from February 16 to 19. Toy Fair will showcase the year’s new products and also include an educational program designed to help toy inventors and designers, licensors, independent and specialty retailers, and many more constituents grow their businesses, comply with new safety requirements, identify the biggest toy trends of the year, and more.