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.

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...]

40th Annual ICTI Meeting Starts Today in Tokyo

ICTILogo.pdfRepresentatives of national toy trade associations are convening in Tokyo today for the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) 40th annual general meeting. Hosted by the Japan Toy Association and scheduled for April 6 to 9 at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, the meeting will explore issues currently affecting the worldwide toy industry.
In preparation for the meeting, each participating country has submitted a state of the industry report to be discussed during the proceedings. The reports touch on topics such as toy safety, as well as issues of concern to the toy industry, including chemical and environmental impacts.

For more information, contact Molly Carroll at (202) 459-0355 or Tatsuya Kobayashi at 81-3-3829-2513.

Senators Introduce National Toy Week Resolution

Senator Mark Pryor

Senator Mark Pryor

As reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR) have sponsored a bi-partisan resolution to designate December 22 to 28 as National Toy Week in recognition of the value of toys and play. The resolution, introduced in the Senate this week, encourages people to observe by coming together to play with toys and games.

“Toys play an important role in a child’s growth and serve as a resource for teaching and development, while being fun,” Boozman said.

The resolution also recognizes the toy industry’s importance for the national economy, noting that it supports more than 600,000 full-time jobs and had an economic impact of more than $75 billion this past year. For the resolution to pass, it only needs approval from the Senate.

“The toy industry is a huge economic engine for our country,” Pryor said. “National Toy Week recognizes that toys enrich the lives of our kids and contribute to our nation’s economic growth.”

Update: On December 20, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan resolution, designating December 22 to 28, 2013, as National Toy Week in recognition of the value of toys and play.

Toy Industry Veteran Writes Thriller Novel

Book Cover PhotoThe Deadliest Game, Hal Ross’s new thriller novel published by Titletown Publising LLC, incorporates Ross’s 35 years of toy industry experience in this suspenseful crime narrative. In the frightening tale, protagonist Blair Mulligan must make a decision between saving the life of his own daughter and the lives of thousands of other children after a terrorist plot against U.S. toy consumers.

Readers will get an exclusive insider’s perspective of the competitive toy business in The Deadliest Game, which will be released on November 6. Ross has even teamed up with the advertising agency Creative Bube Tube to market the novel through social media, TV, and various contests with awards to range from a Kindle Fire, signed copies of the book, and an Amazon gift card.

WIT Accepts Nominations for 2014 Wonder Women Awards

WITAwardsWomen in Toys (WIT) is accepting nominations for the 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards. Winners will be announced at an awards dinner scheduled for February 17 during Toy Fair Week. The awards program recognizes and celebrates leaders, innovators, and other powerful women who have made lasting contributions to the toy and entertainment industries.

Industry stakeholders are invited to nominate a co-worker, client, associate, family member, or acquaintance for consideration in one or more of the following categories: designer/inventor, licensing and entertainment, manufacturer, rising star, marketing PR, and retailer. Nominations may be submitted online, and tickets are currently available for purchase at the WIT site.

The awards dinner will take place at Pier Sixty and The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

ASTRA Announces 2014 Marketplace & Academy Theme and Dates

ASTRA logoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association‘s (ASTRA) theme of its 2014 Marketplace & Academy is “Where play means business.” The event will take place in Phoenix from June 8 to 11.

“Our theme underscores that the specialty toy industry is serious about our business and serious about working together to maximize our success,” said Kathleen McHugh, president of ASTRA. “We are planning a fun and productive event that will help specialty toy and children’s products retailers have an extraordinary fourth quarter in 2014.”

With more than 1,400 members, ASTRA is the largest association for companies in the toy and children’s products arenas.

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.

The Strong, TIA Partner for Museum Installation

overview1The Strong and the Toy Industry Association (TIA) partnered to house TIA’s Toy Industry Hall of Fame alongside The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y. The two halls of fame—one recognizing classic toys and the other recognizing the individuals who designed, made, and sold them—will share a $4 million museum installation, 75 percent of which will be funded by TIA and the toy industry.

By fall 2015, The Strong’s existing 5,000-square-foot National Toy Hall of Fame gallery will be fully transformed and renovated to accommodate the new halls. The new gallery will feature a programmable 100-foot-long by 20-foot-high LED theatrical screen visible from the street through a circular glass wall. The screen will blend stop-motion animated effects, pulsating color, and sound to highlight messages about toys, invention, and play.

Additional gallery components will include a second, smaller LED theatrical screen, an orientation theater, and five highly interactive, artifact-rich play environments that feature distinct modes of play—imagine, create, build, move, and compete. Inductees will be recognized on individual etched glass panels mounted on two lit, 14-foot-high curvilinear glass walls. Artifacts, documents, touch-screen interactivity, and physical play will position the inductees of both halls in the broad cultural context of play and its impact on the social history of everyday life. [Read more...]