HoliDAY of Play 2015

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 and 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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Toys “R” Us Partners with Save the Children to Promote Disaster Preparedness

Toys-R-Us-Logo copyWith this month marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Toys “R” Us is once again partnering with Save the Children to promote disaster preparedness and offer customers an opportunity to help families across the country in times of crisis. Toys “R” Us stores nationwide are offering an exclusive reusable tote bag featuring a young child’s artwork, from which $1 from the purchase of each bag benefits Save the Children’s Domestic Emergency Fund, which provides a safe environment for children and families when disasters strike.

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The Lowdown on Doll Hunting: Doll Collecting in the Age of Social Media

This article first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of The Toy Book.

MelissaHunterHeadShotDoll collecting may be as old as the industry itself, but the newest generation of collectors is armed with video cameras, vlogs, and thousands of YouTube subscribers. They call themselves doll hunters.

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