Toys “R” Us Shows Support for Autism Awareness Month

toysrusAs part of its ongoing support of the special needs community and to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund has provided a $600,000 grant to Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy organization. The grant will support the charity’s research and advocacy efforts in the U.S. as it strives to provide resources for families affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Toys “R” Us will serve as the national sponsor of the organization’s Walk Now for Autism Speaks program, a year-long series of more than 100 walk events taking place in communities across North America that allows supporters to personally raise funds for Autism Speaks. In addition, Toys “R” Us and the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund have collaborated with Autism Speaks and the not-for-profit National Lekotek Center to identify toys that can help kids with autism develop language, creativity, and social skills while playing with siblings and friends.

The list of Ten Toys That Speak to Autism is a special subset of the company’s Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, and can be found in stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled.

Since 2007, Toys “R” Us Inc., the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund, and customer contributions together have provided Autism Speaks with nearly $19 million.

Discovery Communications, Fuzzy Frog Launch Augmented Reality Game

March19.SpiderAppDiscovery Communications, in partnership with app developer Fuzzy Frog, has created Real Scary Spiders, a game that allows users to interact with a pet spider through an augmented reality experience on an app. Players can collect, nurture, and raise spiders, and will eventually unlock new breeds and learn interesting facts through gameplay.

Users can transport their spiders onto a target image in the real world, such as the cover of a magazine or wall, which uses the app’s augmented reality feature. In addition, players can purchase the Animal Planet Web Blasting Tarantula exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide to activate an additional interconnected experience within the app.

The Animal Planet Real Scary Spiders app is available for free across all iOS and Android digital devices.

Famosa Introduces New Pinypon and Nenuco Products

PinyPonFamosa has created three new play sets for the spring season, all suitable for kids ages 3 and up. The Pinypon AquaPark Adventure features a working water slide, a jacuzzi that makes bubbles, and a lazy river ride with a wave maker and inner tubes. The set also comes with a rare curly haired PinyPon that changes color in the water. The AquaPark Adventure is available on amazon.com and in stores.

The Nenuco Bath Time play set includes a soft-bodied doll with fast dry material, specifically made for fun in the bathtub. It also comes with bath toys and an inner tube. The product is on sale nationwide, including at Toys “R” Us and amazon.com. The Nenuco Let’s Play School play set comes with a doll dressed in a school theme complete with lesson plans, a desk for the doll, and matching teacher and doll glasses. It is for sale at walmart.com, amazon.com, and both national chains and online.

Toys “R” Us Executives Outline TRU Transformation Strategy

toysrusToys “R” Us Inc. executives recently outlined a four-point strategy, entitled TRU Transformation, intended to improve the company’s operational performance. At presentations for investors, industry analysts, and the media this past Wednesday, Toys “R” Us chairman of the board and chief executive officer Antonio Urcelay and president Hank Mullany discussed priorities and actions intended to slow the company’s sales decline, stabilize cash flow, and improve EBITDA to effectively position the company to grow revenue and profits next year and beyond.

“As we look to the future, our strategy will establish a path to sustainable business growth, building upon the company’s unique strengths,” Urcelay said.

TRU Transformation will focus on four key priorities: [Read more...]

Jakks’ New Godzilla Makes a Big First Impression

Jakks.GodzillaJakks Pacific has released this image of its new, massive Godzilla figure measuring over 43 inches in length. Inspired by Warner Bros.‘ and Legendary Pictures’ upcoming Godzilla, the figure is now available at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide.

Radio Flyer Cyclone Provides Modern Take on Classic Kid-Powered Toy

Radio Flyer Inc., maker of the famous little red wagon and leading producer of wagons, tricycles, and three-wheel scooters in the U.S., has introduced the Cyclone for kids ages 3 to 7. It features giant 16-inch wheels that kids rotate with their arms to propel into 360-degree spins, quick forward sprints, and reverse rolls.

RADIO FLYER CYCLONEIn addition, the Radio Flyer Cyclone is enabled by a footrest, and features a sturdy rear caster wheel for added stability. It also has a steel frame, molded handgrips, and ergonomic seat. Check out the preview video below:

Available at Toys “R” Us, Cyclone can also be found on radioflyer.com.

Heidi Klum Hosts Baby Shower With Babies “R” Us, Operation Shower

Heidi Klum Hosts A Babies"R"Us Sponsored Operation Shower EventHeidi Klum, Babies “R” Us, and Operation Shower teamed up to shower 125 expectant military moms-to-be. The shower took place on March 4 at Universal Studios’ Globe Theatre in Los Angeles. The moms representing Navy and Marine bases throughout California received dozens of gifts including those from Klum’s Truly Scrumptious collection, which is available exclusively at Babies “R” Us and online. The attendees also participated in shower games and other activities.

Babies “R” Us will also partner with Operation Shower again this year to honor families of the U.S. armed forces to host baby showers for military wives. To kick off the third year of partnership, the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys “R” Us Inc, will provide a $100,000 grant to Operation Shower. 

Toy Fair 2014 Shows Increase in Attendees, Double-Digit Rise in International Visitors

Last week’s American International Toy Fair in New York City drew nearly 26,500 toy professionals from 94 countries, and boasted a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibit space. According to the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2014 also welcomed an 11 percent surge in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in overall attendees, bringing the total attendance to 26,493.

There was an estimated 1,153 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agents, and nearly 10,000 buyers from more than 5,000 retail outlets, including delegations from Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us. Members of top press outlets including Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and The New York Times scouted top toy trends.

Next year’s Toy Fair has been scheduled for February 14 to 17, and will once again take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Show information will be available in the coming months at www.ToyFairNY.com.

PUBLISHER’S VIEWPOINT: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Feb.17.toybook.jsametby Jonathan Samet

On the December 21 episode of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, Seth Meyers delivered the following:

Toys ‘R’ Us announced this week that its stores will remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas. Not to be outdone, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.”

This was meant to be a joke to make us all laugh (and it was funny), but at the same time it needs to be taken seriously, as the Internet has certainly changed the way we conduct our lives. One key difference is that the time of day consumers can make purchases is no longer limited by “store hours.” With a simple click of the “enter” button, toys and other products can show up at our door—or go directly to the gift recipient—in as little as 48 hours, without having to leave the comfort of the couch or desk.

Therefore, no matter what part of the toy industry you participate in, you have to take this change seriously. We all have to continue to evaluate how to best reach and win over the end user 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—or as Seth Meyers put it, all the time, always, forever! I remember talking to many manufacturers, even within the last nine years since I became publisher here, who said that Internet sales were just a tiny fraction of their business and was of no concern. To quote Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changin’,” and to survive and succeed, we all better be a-changin’ with them.

Which takes me to my next topic for discussion—though it is one that has been addressed numerous times (including within this very column) over the last few years. The New York Times ran an article on December 23 titled “Babes in a Digital Toyland: Even 3-Year-Olds Get Gadgets.” The article discusses how the passion for playing with traditional toys and games seems to be diminishing at an earlier and earlier age. The topic of age compression and increased demand for tech toys is nothing new, but this article references a recent survey of 1,000 parents with children between the ages of 2 and 10, and a particular claim caught my attention:

“About two-thirds of those [parents surveyed], planned to give a tablet or smart-phone.”

From the referenced study, the claim of 66 percent was not as startling as the fact that the sample size began with parents of kids as young as 2 years old! Kids under age 5 possibly receiving tablets or smartphones? The times, they really are a-changin’.

So where do the above two topics leave you if you are in the business of either manufacturing traditional toys and games or owning a brick-and-mortar retail store? If you are saying to yourself, “it is time to fold up the tents,” that could be one option. The other is to continually adapt to the ever-changing marketplace and deliver a product or service your end user will demand. If you face obstacles, analyze and react to them, rather than resist or complain.

As much as the Internet, technology, and tablets and smartphones are changing our lives, it is important to remember that one of the single hottest products on the market last year was a simple plastic loom that kids wrapped rubber bands around to make colorful bracelets. There is probably no happier sight than walking into a store with the child in your life, buying him or her a product off the shelf, and seeing the instant smile and excitement on his or her   face. So, as much as the times are a-changin’, in other ways, many of the great things in life stay the same.

This column was published in the February issue of The Toy Book. Check back regularly for more toy industry commentary from Jonathan. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

Yvolution Takes Kids Rides to the EXY Extreme

YVOLUTION EXY TRICKSTARTRAt this year’s American International Toy Fair, Yvolution is launching its new EXY Extreme Yvolution series. Offering kids a more extreme ride, the first two products in the line include the EXY Trickstartr, an entry-level stunt scooter with an innovative wheelie system, and the EXY Sharker, a three-wheeled skateboard made for urban street surfing.

The EXY Trickstartr is a stunt scooter for beginner riders who want to learn how to master basic tricks. It features a slick matte black/vibrant color design and comes with a special patent-pending device that allows riders to do a wheelie. Trickstartr also offers kids four ways to ride: 1) The Easy Way, 2) The Hard Way, 3) The Expert Way, and 4) The Pro Way. Once the stunt is mastered, the detachable device can be removed to improve speed and agility.

The EXY Sharker is a three-wheeled skateboard with a modern surfboard design. It is half-caster board and half-skateboard, with a front 360-degree caster wheel and traditional skateboard trucks in the back. Riders twist back and forth to get started, self-propel, carve, and pump. The quicker they pump the nose, the faster they’ll go. The Sharker also features a patented super strong ABS Tri-core grip deck and PU wheels with durable ABEC 7 bearings.

Both are suitable for kids ages 5 and up, available in green or purple, and for sale exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores and online.

Before hitting the skate park, kids can watch a series of EXY “learn to ride” videos online that help them get started with both the Trickstartr and Sharker.