According to the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association, China’s traditional toys—a category that includes dolls, educational toys, puzzles, electric trains, and toy musical instruments—saw a 1.7 percent year-over-year increase in exports, as well as a roughly 63.87 percent month-over-month increase for April. Exports totaled about $984.4 million, accounting for 64.4 percent of China’s total toy exports for the month.
This past Wednesday, the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library hosted a preview for its new exhibition, Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection. The showcase arrives right in time for the holidays, and includes a number of toys, toy trains, and scenic elements, some dating as far back as the 1850s.
At the museum’s Central Park West entrance, an abstract display shows the historical connection between the U.S. and the railroad, which opened up resources in the west to the east. Using American toys, including an electric train that will move through the entire tableau, it implies the consequences of progress and its effects on New York City.
Meanwhile, the adjacent Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History contains an expansive array of cases showing off antique toys of European and American origin. These go beyond oil-powered (not electrical) trains to the largest-known version of Gebrüder Bing’s Leviathan ocean liner; a zeppelin train of German origin; even a bridge accessory for a train set, designed by the architect Alexandre Gustave Eiffel and dating back to 1909.
This past Monday, Lionel opened its first retail store in Concord, N.C. The new location will serve as a central station for popular train sets, replicas, and collectibles, as well as store-exclusive gifts and keepsakes.
To celebrate the new store, which will also serve as the company’s new headquarters, Lionel President Howard Hitchcock drove festivities with J. Scott Padgett, the mayor of Concord, and Donna Carpenter, the CEO of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The store will become a terminal for field trips, new product testing, and company announcements. The 1,100-square-foot space will house one of Lionel’s fully decorated layouts, which will feature different trains throughout the year. Kids can control the layout with handheld remotes and test the newest trains.
Lionel has made numerous expansion efforts of late, including partnering with the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to debut its first life-sized trackless train ride, The Lionel Train Adventure, earlier this month. The company has also continued to add licenses for new train models through partnerships with DC Comics, Coca-Cola, Crayola, and other brands.
Jakks Pacific Inc. will launch a line of toys based on existing and upcoming Marvel characters and properties. The collection will include R/C vehicles, electric- and battery-operated train and track sets, and handheld 3D character flashlights based on Marvel animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. There will also be toys based on upcoming Marvel theatrical releases, including Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Marvel’s Ant-Man. These products are expected on retailers’ shelves nationwide next year.
Modular Construction Toys, the Israeli-based manufacturer of Modular Toys construction sets, is bringing its product line to U.S. specialty retailers with Modular Toys USA. More than 125 stores across the country are already stocking the company’s construction sets, and the expansion includes racetracks, as well as locomotive construction and building sets. These toys are suitable for kids age 4 to 8.
Modular Toys’ sets are designed to grow vertically through the use of included elevation pieces. No sorting needs to take place, since the innovative connector pieces let children mix and match different sets. This season’s new additions include the Mega Racetrack, which includes nine construction pieces, three cars, and a sturdy plastic storage bin for clean-up and organization; and the [Read more...]
Lionel has expanded its partnerships with Warner Bros., Coca-Cola, and Peanuts. As a result of these agreements, this year will see a number of new G-Gauge and Ready to Run O-Gauge train sets, including Frosty the Snowman, Coca-Cola Holiday, and Snoopy Railways. The model train maker also enjoys a new license with Crayola.
“Lionel Trains is bringing the nostalgia of iconic train sets to the hearts of fans of all ages,” said Howard Hitchcock, SVP/GM of Lionel. “By securing new licenses and expanding partnerships to grow our G-Gauge and Ready to Run O-Gauge platforms, we’re putting trains from familiar and beloved brands into the hands of children of all ages.”
Lionel Trains, the model train company, has unveiled Lionel Tracks, a digital destination for locomotive enthusiasts. Lionel Tracks aggregates train-related content across categories, from rail culture and history to modeling updates, making it a one-stop site for fans, hobbyists, and collectors of all ages.
It works using a content hub developed by RED Interactive Agency, which tags information, photos, and videos into categories such as culture, history, hobbies, locomotives, and tech. This newest effort allows families and even historians to find news about rail culture around the world.
Bigjigs Toys, an English-based manufacturer and distributor of wooden toys, is making its American debut. The company is bringing two of its most popular play set lines, Bigjigs Rail and Bigjigs Heritage, across the pond.
The Rail collection is a complete wooden railway play set. It includes track sets, train tables, and battery-operated engines, and is fully compatible with other rail sets as well. The Heritage play sets are complete play worlds in a box, and include figures, vehicles, or animals for hours of role-playing fun.
Bachmann Trains has signed a licensing agreement with HIT Entertainment that grants the toy train manufacturer rights to distribute Thomas & Friends HO scale products in China and Hong Kong. The agreement marks the first time that Thomas & Friends products will be available outside the U.S.
According to the New York Daily News, Lionel will debut its first solo store, scheduled to open November 1 through January 4. The pop-up store will be located in New York City, across from Radio City Music Hall. The shop will feature new kid-friendly trains and train products, such as the new 49-piece plastic train set by the company’s new kid line, Lionel Little Lines. The new store will also auction off trains autographed by celebrities, including part-owner Neil Young, with the proceeds going to charity.
More information on Lionel Little Lines can be found in the September/October issue of The Toy Book/Specialty Toys & Gifts.