Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Merchandise Launching at Retailers Everywhere

Marvel,Avengers,TheAgeofUltronWith less than one month until Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron arrives in theaters, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) and Marvel have released details about their merchandising program, which is arriving at retail now. Toy partners include Hasbro, Lego, Hot Wheels, Funko, Rubie’s Costumes, Disney Store, and more. The toys range from interactive electronic action figures with voice-activation to motorized 6V ride-on super cars that drive 2.5 miles per hour; to articulated, light-up repulsor FX gloves; and a disk-launching shield.

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Q&A with Mattel: Social Media, 3-D Printing, and More

logo_Mattel logoThe Toy Book (TTB): In what new ways are you using social media to correspond directly with consumers?

Mattel: We engage with consumers across all brand and corporate social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as retailer sites, like Wal-Mart and Kohl’s. At Mattel, we have a fully functioning reporting and engineering team dedicated to understanding what the consumer is saying and turning that data into actionable improvements for both our manufacturing and design process.

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GUEST COMMENTARY: Montreal Toy Maker Wooky Entertainment Roars onto the World Stage

by Simon Forsyth, Media Relations Advisor, Corporate Communications, Export Development Canada

WookyEntertainmentAs kids we needed toys. They spurred our imaginations, occupied our days, and generally brought joy to our then simple lives. But our love for them was fickle–we’d obsess over them one day, discard them the next, and soon beg for new ones.
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New Super Mario amiibo Sets Gold Standard

NOVEL_ura_0613On March 20, Nintendo will launch the Super Mario amiibo—Gold Edition, a gold-colored Mario figure that arrives on the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for the Wii U console. The new gold-colored Mario is compatible with multiple games that support the amiibo line of figures.

Mario Party 10 features a new amiibo Party mode that players can only access by tapping their compatible amiibo figures on the Wii U GamePad controller to bring them into the game as customizable board pieces. Players can also save items to their amiibo and use them strategically.

At launch, the Super Mario amiibo—Gold Edition will be sold exclusively at 3,000 Wal-Mart stores in the U.S.

Wal-Mart to Boost Pay of U.S. Workers

logo-walmartAs reported by The Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to boost the pay of all its U.S. employees to at least $9 an hour by April. This raise would top the federal minimum wage by 24 percent and take a bite out of the company’s profit this year. Wal-Mart has stated that the investment in higher wages and better training will cost the company.

The wage announcement came as Wal-Mart reported a relatively strong holiday season, with sales at its core U.S. business up 1.5 percent. For the quarter ended January 31, Wal-Mart reported earnings of $4.97 billion, up from $4.43 billion a year earlier, while revenue rose 1.4 percent to $131.6 billion.

Lincoln Logs Production Returns to the U.S. with 10 New Sets

LincolnLogsNext year’s entire line of Lincoln Logs, part of the K’NEX family of brands, will be manufactured in the U.S. by Pride Manufacturing in Burnham, Maine. Following industry trends, Lincoln Logs production was moved overseas during the mid-20th century. K’NEX, which licenses the brand from Hasbro, has been manufacturing Lincoln Logs since 1999.

Pride Manufacturing, the world’s leading supplier of wooden golf tees and related golf accessories, met K’NEX’s requirements for a wood manufacturing facility that could match the precision and detail required for Lincoln Logs. All sets come with a storage container for clean-up, are intended for kids ages 3 and up, and will be available next fall.

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Imports Dragon Grows Sales Team in Toronto

ImportsDragon.logoImports Dragon has added five new members to its Toronto sales team following the successful expansion of its Caillou and Johnny Test product lines in the U.S. market, as well as the continued success of its Shopkins, The Trash Pack, and The Zelfs product lines.

The new additions to the sales team will be working under the leadership of Renee Lochhead, director of sales, who has more than 16 years of experience and joined the Import Dragon team this past July. Other additions include Danny Machado, who has more than 13 years of experience working at Wal-Mart, and Blake Turvey, who has more than 14 years of managerial and corporate development experience.

Gail Benham, Jason Kiss, and Tyler Patriquin round out the new sales team that will be working out of the company’s Mississauga headquarters.

COMMENTARY: Sibling Rivalries Exist in the Toy World, Too

FrozenproductsA real-life sibling rivalry exists between Disney’s Frozen Elsa and Anna products—with one sister clearly winning. According to a Wall Street Journal article published last month, Disney marketing executives expected the sisters to be equals in popularity. As such, they were caught off-guard by the overwhelming preference for Elsa, who outsells Anna in dolls, toys, costumes, and other items. Disney, in response, makes sure to keep Elsa items in-stock at stores: For example, about 10 percent more Elsa dolls are stocked than Anna ones at Wal-Mart, according to the same Wall Street Journal article.

To help combat the Frozen sibling rivalry, companies are selling dolls with both sisters, and sales data from last holiday season shows that girls want to play with dolls or role-play with costumes featuring both characters. In turn, companies such as Jakks Pacific, as well as retailers like Toys “R” Us, are making and selling products, respectively, that involve the two sisters. [Read more...]

Toy Fair 2015 Sells Out of Exhibit Space

ToyFair15LogoAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), exhibit space for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, scheduled for February 14 to 17, has officially sold out. The show has already surpassed a record-breaking 419,000 net square feet of exhibit space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and going forward, prospective Toy Fair exhibitors will be placed on a wait list (under no financial obligation).

The expanded show floor, equivalent in size to more than seven football fields, will feature hundreds of thousands of innovative new toys, games, and youth entertainment products. The North American International Toy Fair draws buyers, licensors, entertainment executives, and other play professionals from 100 countries, who will be on-hand scouting toy trends, spotting unique product lines and brands, and writing orders for next year.

Major global retail outlets already registered to attend include Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, Apple, and Hobby Lobby.

Cyber Monday Marks a Personal Best for Wal-Mart

Walmart.com_Cyber_Monday_Home_PageAs reported by Wal-Mart this past Tuesday, Cyber Monday was the retailer’s biggest online day for orders in its history. Customers viewed more than 1.5 billion pages on walmart.com between Thanksgiving and December 1, aka Cyber Monday, with mobile accounting for approximately 70 percent of traffic to the site between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Walmart.com’s best-selling Cyber Monday items included the PlayStation 4 500 GB Console Bundle with Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and LittleBigPlanet 3; the Nintendo 3DS XL New Super Mario Bros 2 Limited Edition Handheld; the Xbox One Assassins Creed Unity Bundle; the Skywalker Trampolines 12-Foot Round Trampoline and Safety Enclosure with Blue Spring Pad; and the Lego Giant Creative Tower, with 1,600 pieces and storage box.

This year, more than 100 Cyber Monday specials were available for free same-day pickup at Wal-Mart stores, and orders with same-day pickups increased 70 percent over last year.