China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

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The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]

Tegu Kicks Off Holidays with New Gift Options

TeguThis holiday season Tegu offers gift options that bring back unscripted play for kids through a variety of construction sets and accessories. Tegu is putting a spin on its Toy of the Year-nominated magnetic, wooden,“click-clacking” blocks that will offer children new building possibilities using safe and durable materials.

Tegu’s designs encourage learning and imaginative play that’s considered to be one of the best forms of learning by childhood development experts. Tegu also plans to spread holiday cheer by giving back to people in need with the Tegu Holiday Elf. From now until December 20, via #TeguElf on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, the Tegu Holiday Elf will randomly grant “wishes” by offering consumers items such as gift cards to local restaurants or coffee shops, and by helping people to “pay it forward” by making donations to local charities.

Holiday shoppers can visit Tegu’s Facebook for #TeguElf holiday promotions, giveaways, and discounts. The Tegu Elf also will  be randomly sneaking in extra Tegu Products and surprises to orders fulfilled by Tegu now through Christmas.

 

 

The Toy Book Chats with Sherry Gunther-Shugarman, CEO, Popstar Club

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Sherry Gunther-Shugarman, CEO of Popstar Club, which is the manufacturer of the fresh, new doll line, The Beatrix Girls. Sherry gave me an overview of what makes her doll line so unique, and why girls are going to be clamoring for them this holiday season.

SherryGunther.BeatrixCEO

 

Where did you get the idea for Beatrix Girls?

The Beatrix Girls came out of the idea of tying music and dolls together. Ultimately the approach to this was to create a multiplatform brand that really reaches kids everywhere that they are, recognizing that kids are not just watching TV and they’re not just playing with dolls or toys, they’re not just online playing games or being social, they’re doing all of the above. A forward-thinking property really needed to have presence in all of those mediums and to have an integration between all of those formats ingrained in its DNA.

The webisodes are done in a very unique way. How did you come about using that style?

It’s interesting because the natural for me was to go with animation as I spent over 20 years in animation, but there were a lot of things that attracted me to doing it this way, creating webisodes that have the dolls featured interacting in real life. It comes out of the fact that the concept itself has the girls as real. So they’re real and they interact in our world. They’re a real pop star band, we9’re creating real music, not composed music like we would for a toy property or an animated show, but real, credible, pop music written by a platinum-winning writer/producer, mixed by a Grammy-winning engineer, so this is really relevant, today, great music and so we really want to sell them as true pop stars.

Animation oftentimes, especially when doing them based on a product or especially dolls, skews a little bit younger, and we really wanted to have the cool factor and have these be edgier. The medium that we used felt so much more current and fresh and innovative and YouTube generation-like and it felt much more fitting to the brand itself. It gives the dolls the credibility of being real in our world. They have a real human manager, they perform in real venues, so it allows us to play up that real factor for them. And then the scale gives us a lot of humor opportunities for 12-inch dolls interacting in a life-size world.

The really nice side effect that we found is that girls are really responding to the fact that they can relate to the way it was done because it was shot on purpose with hands showing and manipulating the dolls. The idea was that kids could really relate to it and feel like I can do that, I can get four dolls and with my friends create a scene and a scenario.

 

For some reason it reminds me of Mr. Bill, the old SNL skit.

That’s kind of what we were going for. We were going for rather than just sort of just straight, weak, almost too young-skewing animation. We wanted it to be edgier and quirky and fun and hilarious and this medium allowed us to do that, to have that feel to it.

[Read more...]

Spin Master Launches Tenkai Knights by Ionix Toy Line

Tenkai WorldSpin Master Ltd. has launched the Tenkai Knights toy line. Tenkai Knights is the first franchise to launch under the Ionix construction brand, a revolutionary new construction system featuring shape-shifting building bricks. Ionix bricks are fully compatible with other construction sets, which allows kids to build whatever their imagination can create. Tenkai Knights by Ionix is available at Toys “R” Us and Target, and will be available at Walmart on December 1.

Kids of all ages will be able to bring the Tenkai Knight’s world to life by unleashing the Tenkai power inside each unique construction brick. The building bricks are packed with surprises and infused with a special kind of shape-shifting Ionix magic that will allow kids worldwide to experience classic construction play in a brand new way. The toys bring the characters and the world of the Tenkai Knights animated TV series to life.

The Tenkai Knights TV Show, which airs Saturday mornings on Cartoon Network, is a U.S. and Japanese co-production.  The Spin Master entertainment team worked with production company, Shogakukan-Shueisha (ShoPro), to create the series.  Tenkai Knights has a unique style, mixing traditional 2-D animation with CGI, creating a distinct look that separates Tenkai Knights from other series.

COMMENTARY: Tech Toys That Extend Beyond the Screen

TT12This year, for the first time ever, the Toy Insider released a list of top tech toys for the holiday season in its gift guide called the Top Tech 12. This list promotes the belief that we have here about a “well-balanced toy box.” In a world that has new technology each day—and tons of digital, innovative toys for kids—it’s easy to get caught up in buying the newest, most glamorous toys out there without really knowing if it’s the right toy for your kid. The Toy Insider’s goal with this list is to help shoppers sift through all of the options out there for forward-thinking and impressive tech-based toys that incorporate the latest in digital play, creativity, and innovation.

Shameless self-promotion aside, tech toys are becoming harder and harder to sift through, so finding the perfect one for every kid can be difficult.  Of course, many in the industry, wandering the shopping aisles, and generally existing around toys know about Skylanders Swap Force and Disney Infinity, two new innovative video game platforms that mix digital and physical play, but they aren’t the only toys out there with exciting new technology. All of the toys on our Top Tech 12 list are great, but I picked a few favorites that are not only great technology innovations, but they also give kids other options of physical play—so they aren’t glued to a screen all day.

robodog_dalmatian_p9_go_pee_copy (1)Zoomer, from Spin Master, is a trainable robotic dog that is the perfect option for kids that want a pet and parents that want a clean house. Zoomer can be trained to respond to a bunch of different commands and tricks in three different languages (English, Spanish, and French). Zoomer learns kids’ voices and how to respond to these commands. He is adorably cute and lifelike. Left to his own devices, he’ll wander around the room, just like a real puppy. Zoomer’s LED lights blink and react making him seem more alive than your typical robots. [Read more...]

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.

COMMENTARY: Power Rangers Toys Power Up for 20th Anniversary

When I was a kid, I was in love with the Power Rangers, from Saban Brands. I was a huge fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series in the ’90s and I was even The Red Ranger one year for Halloween (They were all out of The Pink Ranger costumes and Kimberly was my favorite, so I had to compromise). I recently re-watched some episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when the series was on Netflix, and you know what? I still thought it was great in all of its ’90s glory.

However, the lucky kids of today get to obsess over two Power Rangers series of their own—Power Rangers Super Samurai and Power Rangers Megaforce. Power Rangers Super Samurai, which began airing in 2011, is about a new generation of Power Rangers that must master the mystical and ancient Samurai Symbols of Power, which allow them to control the elements of Fire, Water, Sky, Forest, and Earth. Aided by their devoted animal Zords and guided by an all-knowing mentor, these Power Rangers battle the dark forces of the Netherworld and a mysterious Warrior out to destroy.

Power Rangers Megaforce is the 20th season of Power Rangers, coinciding with the series’ 20th anniversary. This season features Gosei, a supernatural being who has protected the earth for centuries with his robotic assistant Tensou. When evil Warstar aliens begin a massive invasion, the Gosei calls upon the Power Rangers Megaforce to form the ultimate team. When morphed into the Power Rangers, the five teenagers gain superhuman strength and mastery over martial arts.

In light of the recent news of Saban extending its agreements with both Nickelodeon and Bandai America to keep the Power Rangers franchise alive, here are some great licensed toys from Bandai America that celebrates this new season of the Power Rangers series, as well as the brand’s 20th anniversary: [Read more...]

Monster High Releases New Monster High: 13 Wishes DVD

MonsterHighMonster High: 13 Wishes was released on October 8, in partnership with Universal Pictures. This third feature-length film from Monster High introduces a new ghoul, Gigi Grant, who comes to Monster High to grant the ghouls 13 wishes. There will be a line of themed dolls, toys, and a video game available at retailers nationwide. Monster High: 13 Wishes is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

Disney Celebrates The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Blu-ray with New Product Collection

Ariel

Under the Sea Ariel, from Jakks Pacific

Disney Consumer Products has released a line of new products celebrating Disney Princess Ariel available now at national retailers timed with The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Blu-ray release. The new collection features items for kids and collectors from dolls and role play to beauty and fashion.

The new line is featuring all new dolls, role play, apparel, accessories, beauty products, and home décor. It is available now at department and specialty retailers nationwide and at Disney Store locations and DisneyStore.com. [Read more...]

Amav Introduces Sweet Art

image002Kids can now make their art, and eat it too, with Amav’s Sweet Art. The soft dough modeling kits allow children to make and decorate their own unique creations using rolling utensils and other crafting tools designed for small hands. The sugar dough is safe to eat (FDA-approved) and comes in several colors and flavors like strawberry, lemon, and chocolate.

The Ice Cream Maker allows kids to create their own Sweet Art ice cream shop complete with a serving station, and the Party Pack comes with an array of shaping utensils ideal for birthdays and family get-togethers. Other smaller kits feature themes such as animals, popsicles, and other treats. Intended for kids ages 6 an up, this new edible toy can be purchased at Toys “R” Us, amazon.com, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Kmart.