COMMENTARY: Smart Technology Spans New Categories

by Reyne Rice, trend hunter, toy trend expert, industry analyst, and consultant

Resized,Reyne_RiceSmart tech for kids is no longer buzzword lingo. It has become a reality and has grown to encompass so much more than just technology added to toys to make them interesting or “tech-y.” Today, kids’ technology-enhanced products offer engaging and explorative play patterns that span a wide spectrum of categories. And while there are new technologies being used in these toys, the thrill is in the play experience, not in the technology itself. New technology enhances and extends play patterns way beyond how kids were playing in past decades. Plus, parents, older siblings, caregivers, and educators are all using new technology that companies are translating into toys and tech products for kids’ worldwide.

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TIF, National CASA Team Up to Help Kids in Southern California

pyp2015-250x167Nearly 150 volunteers from the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (CASA) gave gift packages to 7,000 foster children in need throughout Southern California as part of the TIF’s annual Play Your Part event. Forty-one companies from the toy industry participated in the event, including Funrise Toy Corp., Jakks Pacific, Mattel, Patch Products, Tomy International, and VTech Electronics North America, as Big Heart and Specialty level event sponsors.

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VTech Reports Full Year Annual Results

VTech-LogoIn its financial results for the year ended March 31, VTech Holdings Ltd. reported a decline in revenue and profit. Group revenue for the year ended March 31 declined by 1 percent to $1,879.8 million. The decrease was mainly due to lower revenue in North America, which offset higher revenue in Europe, Asia Pacific, and other regions.

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COMMENTARY: Toy Fair 2015 Shows Off Toymakers’ Tech-Savvy Side

The Meccanoid G15 KS, from Spin Master

We all know that kids are more tech-savvy at the age of 2 than most of us will ever be. Living in the digital age comes instinctively for kids, and the fact that they have the ability to understand and use technology so early on lets toy manufacturers create some really, really cool tech toys for kids of all ages. Below is a roundup of favorite tech-y playthings from North American International Toy Fair, in no particular order:
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TOTY Awards Recognize the Most Outstanding Toys and Games of the Year

TOTY2015logoHundreds of global toy executives and guests gathered in New York City this past Saturday to pay tribute to the toy industry’s best and brightest toys, games and individuals at the 15th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Zoomer Dino, from Spin Master, took home the overall Toy of the Year award prize and was named Boy Toy of the Year. Spin Master’s pet dinosaur lets kids train it to sit, speak, and react to commands. Crayola‘s Paint Maker, a customizable arts and crafts kit, earned the People’s Choice award and was also named Activity Toy of the Year. [Read more...]

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.