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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COMMENTARY: This Year’s Dinosaur Toys Extend Beyond Jurassic World

Sand Glove Dinosaur, by HABA

There’s no denying that Jurassic World and its Indominus Rex roared into the North American International Toy Fair in a big way this year. There are figures and role play and plush (oh, my!) and so much more inspired by the upcoming film—and they’re all really exciting. But, as a big prehistoric fanatic myself, I was excited to see that dinosaurs themselves were quite trendy this year (Finally! The world is catching on!), even if they won’t be appearing in a major motion picture later this spring.
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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...]

GUEST COMMENTARY: International CES Explodes with Family-Friendly Tech

by Reyne Rice, toy trends analyst and consultant

Meccanoid G15 KS, from Spin Master

During the first week of January, International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 unveiled the latest consumer electronics innovations. Kids, families, and educators were among the target audiences for this new world of technology, which extended across all exhibitor areas. Here are some of the family tech-focused highlights from the show: [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...]

Genius Brands Names Stone Newman President, Global Consumer Products

StoneNewmanGenius Brands International Inc. (GBI) has appointed Stone Newman to the newly created post of president, Global Consumer Products. In this new role, Newman will work with retailers and licensees to build comprehensive consumer products programs for each of the company’s brands, including Baby Genius, Secret Millionaires Club, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7, and others. He will also appoint and oversee a team of licensing agencies from around the world to operate as sub agents.

Newman will continue to manage licensing programs represented by his former company, Art + Science International, including WowWee brands, ElectroKidz, MiP, and Archie Comics.  These brands will now be managed under GBI’s wholly owned subsidiary, A Squared Entertainment LLC.

COMMENTARY: Celebrating Canada Day—Toy Style!

In case you didn’t know, this past Tuesday was the national day of Canada! Here at The Toy Book, we’re lucky enough to work with tons of awesome Canadian toy companies, and to show both our support and Canada pride, here are some of our favorite toys from great Canadian toy manufacturers:

WowWee.MipWowWee

From WowWee, we always know to expect something innovative and hi-tech, such as last year’s 32-inch-long Roboraptor. In keeping up with the robo-trend, WowWee recently rolled out MiP, a unique, dual-wheel balancing interactive robot that utilizes GestureSense technology. With MiP, kids can control the robot through a Bluetooth link to any smart device using a free app. There are fun games to play with MiP, and kids can even make it dance to songs from their iTunes library. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: It’s All About the Robots

Earlier this week, Senior Editor Marissa DiBartolo wrote about how the floor of the American International Toy Fair 2014 was lacking in the realm of appcessories, and that many companies were heading back to the classic play patterns, especially in the activities category. I also noticed an emerging trend that does not heavily rely on app technology, but does not veer from the idea of incorporating tech into playtime: robots.

As I walked the floor, I saw a bunch of different robotic products that really displayed where the category is heading—and a lot of that was not app-reliant. Of course, most of these robots can be controlled with or used with smart devices, but gone are the days where “and it has an app!” was a suitable enough novelty to convince consumers to purchase the toy.

Ali.Feb27First, let me introduce you to MiP. MiP, which is short for Mobile Inverted Pendulum, is WowWee’s latest innovation in association with the University of California at San Diego’s Coordinated Robots Lab. MiP has unique dual wheel balancing (thanks to that inverted pendulum science!) and is a fully interactive robot. MiP is able to navigate his surroundings while being controlled by hand gestures or through a Bluetooth link to a smart device. MiP also has a personality that is communicated through motion, sounds, and his LED eyes. [Read more...]

TIF Contributes More Than $300,000 in Toys to TODAY Show Gift Drive

toyindustryMore than 30,000 children in need nationwide will receive brand new toys and games this holiday season, thanks to generous toy companies that partnered with the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) to participate in the TODAY Show Holiday Gift Drive.

TIF appeared on the TODAY Show’s November 26 episode to celebrate the toy industry’s contribution to the gift drive, benefiting dozens of charities across the country. The companies pitched in to donate more than $300,000 worth of toys for families facing financial hardships and children who are sick, living in domestic violence shelters, residing on military bases, or otherwise in need.

The Foundation thanked the following companies: Cartamundi USA, Children of America Dolls, Creations By You, Do-a-Dot Art, Green Toys,
Griddly Games, International Arrivals, International Playthings, Little Pim, McNeill Designs, Orb Factory, Safari Ltd., Savvi, Schleich USA, Smart Gear, Smart Toys and Games, ThinkFun, Ukloo Kids, VTech, WowWee USA, and Wyla, Inc.

TIF has participated in the TODAY Show Gift Drive for the past four years, providing a total of 88,000 toys (valued at more than $900,000).