Sweet Suite 2016

COMMENTARY: Positive Outlook for 2016

After attending the TIA’s Fall Toy Preview in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I feel confident that 2016 is going to be an even better year for the toy industry. While the show floor seemed quieter than in years past, the majority of companies I met with were upbeat and excited for holiday 2015 and the year ahead. A number of my meetings were cut short due to drop-ins by Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us buyers, which is always a good sign.

The industry is expected to be up approximately 6 percent this year, and I expect this success to carry over to 2016. I saw a higher than usual number of new lines, and interesting expansions of successful products, proving that manufacturers are riding high on the wings of rising sales, leaving them willing and able to take some risks. [Read more...]

Colorforms Signs on for Paw Patrol

ColorformsPawPatrolColorforms is launching its newest vinyl stick-on storytelling sets based on the preschool show Paw Patrol. The new sets feature glow-in-the-dark, glitter, magic reveals, and more, and will be available at Toys “R” Us.

PAW Patrol will be featured on Colorforms Take a Long, including four Colorforms sheets and a multi-fold, built-in backer card with re-closeable storage for Colorforms sheets, and Colorforms Create a Story, including an easel play area that folds out from the box, reusable box storage, six large Colorforms sheets, and four backgrounds in a closed box.

Toys “R” Us Reports Second Quarter Results, Announces Seasonal Hiring

ToysRUsLogo copyThis past Tuesday, Toys “R” Us Inc. reported financial results for the second quarter ended August 1. For the quarter, Adjusted EBITDA was $122 million, compared to $83 million in the prior year period. In addition, domestic operating performance improved significantly as domestic gross margin rate remained strong. Internationally, the company continued its positive comparable store net sales trend with particular strength in Canada, Central Europe, China, and Southeast Asia.

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COMMENTARY: The More Things Change with Star Wars Licensed Toys…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Kylo Ren 20-inch figure, from Jakks Pacific

A long weekend ago, in a toy store far, far more crowded than I had anticipated (Toys “R” Us Times Square, though I really should have known better at that point), I checked out Destination: Star Wars—The Exhibition, which showed off Star Wars toys past and present. It closed this past Monday, but photos of all the exhibits can still be found online. Besides the opportunity to see vintage Star Wars toys, it was worth visiting because located over in its own themed corner of the store were all the new toys launched in anticipation of the upcoming, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Toys “R” Us Inc. Lowers Free Shipping Minimum to $19 for Purchases

toysrusStarting today, Toys “R” Us Inc. will lower the free shipping minimum required for online orders at toysrus.com and babiesrus.com from $49 to $19. The new free shipping threshold is the lowest the company has offered in recent history (though surcharges may apply on large and heavy items).

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Revell Releases Snap-Together Vehicle Models Inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Revell Millennium FalconRevell has released an assortment of snap-together, interactive model kits inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, aimed at ages 6 and up. The first four kits consist of replicas of the Millennium Falcon, Poe’s X-Wing Fighter, the Resistance X-Wing Fighter, and the First Order Special Forces Tie Fighter.

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The Force Will Be Strong at Toys “R” Us Times Square on September 4

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Spaceship from Kenner (1979)

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Spaceship from Kenner (1979), on display as part of Destination: Star Wars—The Experience

When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on September 4, all Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. will open their doors, giving customers the opportunity to purchase hundreds of new Star Wars playthings, including a wide variety of merchandise not available anywhere else.

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DuneCraft Adds Character to Homes with Character Mini Domes

DuneCraft, CharacterMiniDomes1DuneCraft has introduced its new Character Mini Domes, which consist of character-themed gardens, such as Franki Fly Trap and Robert Radish. Each kit includes the dome top and bottom, soil, seeds, gravel, and instructions.

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Aterian Acquires Backyard Discovery

BackyardDiscoveryA private equity firm, Aterian Investment Partners, announced today that one of its affiliates has acquired Backyard Discovery, a designer, manufacturer, distributor, and installer of play sets in North America. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Pittsburg, Kan., Aterian designs and manufactures swing sets, playhouses, patio products, and more under brands such as Backyard Adventures and Leisure Time Products.

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COMMENTARY: In the Doll Category, Diversity Is Finding Common Ground

Journey Girls2Dolls are getting more diverse all the time, and that diversity extends beyond ethnicity. Peek online or at your local toy store, and you’ll see that the doll aisle offers a wider variety than ever before, including boy dolls, ones featuring characters with interests in science and computers, and models depicting disabilities. Truly, we are living in a Golden Age of doll play, given how many niches are represented. And that’s leading to something pretty interesting: that the different niches themselves are starting to blur together.

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