China Toy Expo Shows the Dynamism of the Toy Industry in China

Resized.EMILIALSINAby Emili Alsina

Over 50,000 professionals of the toy, baby, and licensing industries visited the trade shows organized by the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association (CTJPA) in Shanghai from October 14 to 16: China Toy Expo, China Kids Expo, and China Licensing Expo. This attendance represents a 26 percent increase compared to the previous year. Alsina, editor of the Spanish magazine Juguetes B2B (specializing in the toy industry in Spain) and member of the International Toy Magazine Association (ITMA), attended these three trade shows to witness the latest trends and developments of the industry in China.

The toy market is very dynamic in China, and has a consumer (the parents) increasingly interested in products that provide educational value to their children. The kids, in turn, are increasingly interested in licensed products. China Toy Fair, which has been held for the last 12 years–and is the largest international toy fair in mainland China and the third largest worldwide–was celebrated simultaneously with the China Kids Expo (childcare sector) and the China Licensing Expo (licensing sector).

Resized.LEGOJuguetes B2B, a professional communication magazine specializing in the toy industry in Spain, attended the three trade shows to give informational coverage of the latest trends in the industry that will shape the Chinese market next year. The strategy of holding the three exhibitions simultaneously makes perfect sense, given the synergies that occur between the three different sectors. For instance, the licensing business has a large influence in the toy industry, with licenses for baby care products as well. Therefore, celebrating the events at the same time is an interesting opportunity for the professionals. [Read more...]

Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Announces Thanksgiving Weekend Doorbusters, Special Deals for Rewards “R” Us Members

toysrusOn Thanksgiving weekend, Toys “R” Us will offer more than $8,000 in potential toy savings to holiday shoppers. Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will open at 5 p.m. on November 27, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., 4-hour doorbuster deals will include discounts on Disney Infinity Starter Packs and figures; Skylanders Trap Team Starter Packs, figures, and Traps; the V-Tech InnoTab 3S Connect; Frozen Jumbo Olaf Plush, from Just Play; and more.

Meanwhile, selected deals available on November 28 from 7 a.m. through November 29, as well as online at toysrus.com, include buy one, get one for 40 percent off on Disney Infinity and Skylanders Trap Team items, certain Disney Frozen toys, and more.

Toys “R” Us will also provide exclusive, early access to Black Friday deals on more than 100 items, both in-store and online, to Rewards “R” Us members beginning November 23. Not only can Rewards “R” Us members accumulate points on their purchases, those points can be applied to Toys “R” Us shopping into the new year.

In addition, throughout November and December, “R”Us credit cardholders are eligible to receive discounts off Toys “R” Us purchases when using their “R”Us credit card in-store on Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. Through December 20, existing cardholders can also save 10 percent every Saturday when they use their “R”Us credit card in-store.

Finally, the majority of Toys “R” Us Thanksgiving Weekend deals will be available starting on November 26 at 10 p.m. ET at toysrus.com/blackfriday.

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch Available in Exclusive New Colors

VTech Smart Watch New ColorsThe Kidizoom Smartwatch from VTech is now available in vivid violet and sky blue in limited quantities exclusively on vtechkids.com. The smartwatch also comes in its original colors: blue, pink, green, and white.

The Kidizoom Smartwatch lets kids tell time, take photos, add photo effects, record videos, and play built-in games. The 1.4-inch color touch screen device also has a rechargeable battery, alarm clock, timer, stopwatch, voice recorder, and parental game controls. It also features a durable design to withstand drops and is splash and sweat proof.

VTech’s Smartwatch Sweepstakes Lets Parents Show Off their Kids’ Coolness

VtechWatchVTech‘s Smartwatch Sweepstakes asks parents to share their children’s giant personalities for a chance to win a VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch. The sweepstakes, which is running through November 11, asks parents to submit photos and videos that capture their child’s personality, character, and antics.

At the end of each week, five Smartwatch Sweepstakes entries will be selected at random to receive a Kidizoom Smartwatch and will be highlighted as VTech’s Smartwatch Kids of the Week. To enter the sweepstakes, parents can visit www.vtechkids.com/smartwatchsweeps to submit a photo or video showcasing their child’s character and personality. They can also submit through Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #smartwatchsweeps.

The Kidizoom Smartwatch lets kids capture photos, add photo effects, record videos, and play built-in games on its 1.4-inch color touch screen. It is PC and MAC compatible for uploading photos, videos, and recorded voice files, and offers access to VTech’s Learning Lodge app store, where parents can download more games and displays. It is recommended for ages 4 and up.

VTech to Add STEAM Curriculum to Learning Lodge Content for InnoTab

VTech-LogoVTech will continue to grow its Learning Lodge app store with the addition of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)-based content for its InnoTab children’s learning tablets. VTech will be adding these subjects later this year.

The Learning Lodge features a language arts and reading, math, science, social studies, problem solving, and creativity titles to download. VTech’s Expert Panel, made up of top educators from key knowledge areas, has reviewed the apps. Content on the Learning Lodge is available for the whole VTech InnoTab range.

VTech’s InnoTab MAX, with Android Content, Is Available Now

InnoTabMAXVTech has introduced the InnoTab MAX children’s learning tablet, featuring a dual-core CPU and a high-resolution 7-inch multi-touch screen, and supported by VTech’s library of cartridges, software, and apps.

InnoTab MAX also features an enhanced second-generation version of Premium VTech Kid Connect, allowing children and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings, and stickers in real time between the tablet and a smartphone. In addition, Premium VTech Kid Connect includes parent-controlled family group chat, a multi-player game that lets kids play with approved contacts on their Kid Connect list, a Family Bulletin, and more.

The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps, and kids will be able to choose one free Toca Boca app—either Toca Lab or Toca Pet Doctor, after registering their InnoTab MAX on the Learning Lodge—as well as two more additional free downloadable apps.

InnoTab MAX is an electronic learning aid that grows with a child from ages 3 to 9 and beyond, bridging the gap for parents considering a children’s learning tablet, but also looking for in-depth Android content. As a child grows, the protective cover can be removed for a more grown-up feel, while the progressive learning content adapts to a child’s age.

As part of the InnoTab line, the InnoTab MAX is designed to withstand physical wear and tear from kids.

VTech Go! Go! Smart Friends Line Available Exclusively at Toys “R” Us

VTech.GoGoSmartFriendsBusySoundsVTech has launched Go! Go! Smart Friends, available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at toysrus.com.

The Go! Go! Smart Friends line features colorful play sets and characters that infuse traditional role-play with modern technology. MagicPoint locations bring the characters and play sets to life with lights, sounds, and music.

The Go! Go! Smart Friends Busy Sounds Discovery Home is an interactive house featuring nine MagicPoint locations that encourage imaginative play and emphasize cause and effect relationships. Additionally, it includes VTech’s new MagicChat feature, which allows two figures to chat and sing songs together.

The Go! Go! Smart Friends Spin-Around Sounds Carnival features five MagicPoint locations and five play pieces that can be used together to encourage creative play. [Read more...]

VTech to Offer Toca Boca Content on InnoTab MAX Tablet

VTech-LogoVTech has entered a content distribution deal with the leading digital play studio Toca Boca. InnoTab MAX, VTech’s first children’s learning tablet with Android 1 learning content, will include one free Toca Boca app available for download. Consumers can choose between Toca Lab and Toca Pet Doctor after registering InnoTab MAX on VTech’s Learning Lodge app store.

Toca Lab lets children explore the world of science by experimenting with all 118 elements of the periodic table—each with its own unique personality. Toca Pet Doctor allows kids to care for, love, and help 15 different sick or injured animal friends, including a dog, turtle, bird, and more. All of Toca Boca’s apps are gender-neutral and non-competitive with no external advertising or in-app purchases.

InnoTab MAX, a 7-inch tablet featuring access to educator-approved VTech and Android apps, as well as VTech’s library of cartridges, will be available in October.

COMMENTARY: Back to School Goes Full STEAM Ahead

The back-to-school season usually means the smell of newly sharpened pencils, a new wardrobe, and denial that the precious summer months have come to a close. You’ve probably heard the acronym STEAM being thrown around here and there, but this movement is making a bigger impact on the toy industry than ever before.

STEAM puts an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art, and math, and these concepts have definitely made their way to back-to-school gear. But companies are doing a lot more than just making educational toys. They’re creating products that have value added to them—something kids appreciate without even knowing, and parents love for all of the extra benefits. [Read more...]