TIA Discusses Industry Priorities at Annual Strategy Meeting

TIALast week, Toy Industry Association (TIA) members attended TIA’s Annual External Affairs Strategy Meeting held in Los Angeles to discuss key priorities for next year, and to strategize on new and emerging topics projected to impact the toy industry next year and beyond.

On December 3, there was an update and forecast of the industry’s short-term priority policy areas, including chemical regulation, product safety, environmental sustainability, marketing to children, and international trade. On December 4, TIA staff and member representatives participated in a full-day series of brainstorming sessions to discuss how TIA’s efforts on behalf of the toy industry could be enhanced, both domestically and abroad. [Read more...]

TIA Analysis Challenges PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland Reports

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) recently conducted an in-depth review of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Trouble in Toyland reports issued between 2008 and 2013. The TIA’s analysis found that PIRG’s reports were based on improper testing methods that are not approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and fail to support PIRG’s allegations that the identified toys present any danger to children at play.

Under federal legislation passed in 2008, toys sold at retail must be tested by a CPSC-accredited third-party testing lab, in order to prove compliance with more than 100 safety standard requirements. TIA’s examination, however, found that U.S. PIRG’s toy hazard claims and testing procedures over the past six years were not approved by the CPSC, and did not follow the same procedures that toy companies are required to follow by law.

Chiefly, none of the alleged safety issues named in PIRG’s reports were based on testing conducted by a CPSC-accredited lab; and out of the 88 products identified in PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland reports over the last six years, the CPSC has not recalled any toys as a result of PIRG’s allegations. In addition, 20 percent of the products named in PIRG’s reports between 2008 and 2013 are not classified as toys, and therefore are not governed by the same safety standards as children’s toys.

A copy of the complete TIA analysis of the 2008 to 2013 reports is available at the TIA website.

Southard Communications Adds to Its Roster

Southard Communications has landed several major accounts and relocated its New York office to the downtown area. New account wins include School Zone Publishing, for which the agency will launch a new Little Scholar kids tablet; eCarrot, a Reno-based kids technology and software company; and Maverix USA, which is launching a line of electric skateboards in the U.S.

Meanwhile, after almost two decades in the flatiron district, Southard has expanded its New York headquarters with new space at 111 John Street.

Along with toys, other industries of expertise for Southard include juvenile and baby products, consumer electronics and technology, digital applications and software, fitness, and more.

New Affiliation Between TIA and CTA Now in Effect

A new affiliate agreement between the U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA) and the Canadian Toy Association (CTA) went into effect on July 1. As previously reported by TIA, the partnership was formed to help strengthen the products, services, and events both organizations offer their collective members and industry stakeholders throughout North America.

Under the terms of the initial three-year partnership agreement, any TIA member with operations in Canada will be eligible to become a member of the CTA with one membership fee, while current CTA members will pay a single set of dues to access the benefits of CTA and TIA membership. A representative of each organization will sit on the leadership committee of the other body, and CTA will maintain its Canadian incorporation, mission, and bylaws.

Every CTA member is now in the TIA membership database and has unrestricted, members only access to TIA’s online products and services, including free educational webinars, proprietary reports on market research and industry practices, legislative bulletins on industry issues, and more. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Inc. Names Michael J. Short Chief Financial Officer

Toys “R” Us Inc. has named Michael J. Short executive vice president and chief financial officer, Toys “R” Us Inc., effective June 23. Short was most recently executive vice president and chief financial officer of AutoNation for seven years. He will serve as a member of the company’s global executive committee and report to Antonio Urcelay, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Toys “R” Us Inc.

Prior to his role at AutoNation, Short was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Universal Orlando, where he served in a variety of finance roles earlier in his career.

TIA to Host Webinar on U.S. Customs and Border Protection Enforcement

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a webinar on June 26 to provide toy industry stakeholders with a behind-the-scenes view of U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement and trade facilitation. It will also provide insight into how to streamline the importation of products during the upcoming peak shipping season.

The webinar, Beyond the Ports: Customs and Border Protection Enforcement, will take place from 3 to 4pm. Registration is now open and free for TIA members. More information is available at the TIA website’s Education page.

ASTRA Takes Up New Strategic Goals

The board of directors for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has adopted four key goals to guide the organization’s work over the next few years. They include:

  • Building the viability of the specialty toy industry by developing a plan to increase and stabilize the number of independent toy stores over the next three to five years
  • Promoting stronger cooperation and collaboration among ASTRA’s manufacturers, retailers, and sales reps to increase information flow, innovation, and efficiency among member segments
  • Increasing the professionalism of the specialty toy industry by developing new educational and certification programs that address technology, marketing, child development, healthy play, and other issues that contribute to the success of specialty toy businesses
  • Providing tools that can help ASTRA members adopt technology to strengthen their businesses

Members of the ASTRA board of directors evaluated the emerging needs of all segments of the specialty toy industry. They will present the key goals to the full ASTRA membership during the annual ASTRA business meeting on Monday, June 9, at its Marketplace & Academy in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lund and Company Wins First TOYPAC Raffle; Second Fundraiser Kicks Off This Week

Lund and Company Invention LLC was selected as the winner of the Toy Political Action Committee (TOYPAC) Phase I raffle drawing, which was held this past Monday. The company will receive a Toy Fair 2015 prize package, including free booth space, accommodations, and travel.

Every Toy Industry Association (TIA) member company that submitted a Prior Approval Form—which allows TOYPAC to contact company personnel to ask for financial contributions—was entered into the raffle. “TOYPAC enables TIA to collect voluntary personal donations from the Association’s members, combine those funds into a more substantial amount, and direct those contributions to support key legislators on both sides of the aisle through a transparent process,” said Ed Desmond, TIA’s executive vice president of external affairs. [Read more...]

World Congress Promises Comprehensive Look at the Play Industry

Members of all play-related industries are invited to attend the 2014 World Congress of Play, presented by Global Toy Experts and Creativity Inc. The objective is to foster new relationships, ideas, and businesses, and to engage in conversations about the rapidly changing play market.

The Congress will feature a cast of global speakers who touch on all aspects of play, including video games, traditional toys, digital play, board games, music, entertainment, theme parks, and more. There will also be out-of-the-box discussions on where the business of play might be headed.

The event is scheduled to take place from September 8 to 10 at the Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco in Union Square. Registration can be found online.

WIT Restructures, Unveils New Committees

Women in Toys (WIT), which recognizes and promotes the achievements of outstanding female leaders within the toy industry, recently underwent an organizational change and restructuring. Along with appointing Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry Inc., as its new board president, WIT’s other board appointments are as follows: Stephanie Barone, vice president of product development for Innovative Designs, as treasurer; Caitlin Gutekunst, senior manager, content acquisition and business development at LeapFrog, as regional chapter chair; Jennifer Quattrock, independent design contractor, as design chair; and Mali Baum, CEO of Beezeebee, as chair of international chapters.

WIT also has a new committee-based structure to support the organization’s goals and mission. These committees will focus on such topics as community involvement, empowerment initiatives, public relations, scholarships, and more.

Anyone seeking information about WIT should contact Heidi Schwartz at hschwartz14@gmail.com, or visit the WIT homepage.