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.

Hasbro Introduces New Angry Birds Go! Telepods and Jenga Gaming

angrybirdsgoHasbro Inc. has introduced the Angry Birds Go! Telepods and Jenga product lines, launching in support of Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds Go! mobile game. The Telepods platform allows more physical characters into the mobile gaming and allows players to teleport their physical Angry Birds Go! karts into the digital game using their mobile devices.

Hasbro’s Angry Birds Go! Jenga gaming line offers face-to-face play based on the mobile game. Kids can take on the pigs with kart racing, bird launching, and Jenga block toppling. Both product lines are available at major retail locations beginning on October 1 with the mobile game following later.

 

Zuru Creates Creepeez Wall Crawlers Toy Line with Marvel Super Heroes

imagesInnovative toymaker Zuru has announced that it will be creating Creepeez wall crawlers featuring Marvel’s characters from both Spider-Man and The Avengers. The official, Marvel Creepeez hit stores this month at Toys “R” Us and Dollar General stores across the country.

The line will feature fan favorites, including The Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America, all with creepy sticky feet and the ability to tumble down walls while performing stunts or racing against one another.

Musical Toys: An Inspiration to Pursue the Art

by Rachel Matthews, guest blogger

Not too long ago, the Kidz Bop kids found their way performing at venues in New York and New Jersey. Their collection of poppy, top 40 covers has allowed them to produce dozens of compilation albums, launch a U.S. star search, release books, video games, and toys.

The line-up of the group is in constant rotation as each member ages. Because of this rotation, many a child beg their parents for a singing lesson—especially in New York—after seeing a Kidz Bop performance. The chances of becoming a member is hard pressed as detailed by this young musician, but the combination of their U.S. talent search and brand gives hope to many children within the States.

Of course, aiming to sing for a band such as Kidz Bop is only part of what’s driving up sales in music -parents must by music-related toys to help further their children’s ambitions.

[Read more...]

Tickety Toc Announces Three New U.S. Partners

Studio.TicketyTocThree new licensees have signed on to the Tickety Toc brand to create new products this fall. BirthdayExpress.com has signed for branded products including plates, napkins, cups, invitations, thank you notes, table covers, placemats, centerpieces, and sticker sheets. Bakery Crafts has signed for branded cake and cupcake decorations, including cupcake rings and picks, and edible images for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candles, and candle holders. Lastly, InCharacter Costumes has signed for branded costumes for toddlers and preschoolers. The deals were brokered by Established Brands on behalf of Zodiak Kids.