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).

COMMENTARY: Boo! Halloween Toys That Outlast the Season

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

zombieLast year was a pretty tough Halloween on the east coast. Just a few days before the holiday, Hurricane Sandy shut off our lights, devastated our coasts, and in my neck of the woods, pretty much canceled parties and trick-or-treating. So this year I hope to see all our favorite ghosts and goblins make a big comeback.   

Who will you be this year? The Marvel superheroes will be strong sellers. Lets face it: what kid doesn’t want to save the world—and what adult doesn’t want a few hours to be “that hot” at a grown up party dressed up as Iron Man or Wonder Woman!

For little girls, if you haven’t purchased their Doc McStuffins or Sofia the First costumes yet, good luck finding them. I’ve yet to meet a 4-year-old girl that hadn’t loved one or both of these new favorite characters. Boys are loving Jake and his Never Land Pirates, Skylanders, Trash Pack Kids, and Slugterra.

But it’s not just in the costume. There are some great additions to the two hottest video games with Halloween themes this year that I need to share. Skylanders Giants released their special Halloween edition called Eye-Brawl. It’s sports a pumpkin head and a skeleton head at his feet. Disney Infinity will let kids build their own Halloween town in Toy Box mode, with the Pumpkin King throwing pumpkins at other characters, including the newly released Jack Skellington. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Here We Go A-Travelin’

Summer time means vacations, trips to Grandma’s, sleepovers with friends, and plenty of other activities that keep parents and their kids on the  move. On long car trips, plane rides, or any sort of day away from home, it’s good to have toys to bring along to keep kids entertained. It’s important to have toys that kids can play with en route, as well as upon arriving at the destination, without overpacking the car.

Avoid constant complaints of “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” with a few of these fun on-the-go toys.

3artsee_studio_mainThe ArtSee Studio, from WowWee, turns an iPad into a creation station. Kids can turn simple drawings and paintings into animated games, activities, and more. Using the interactive tools, kids can quickly make a blank canvas explode with color, sound, and movement. The studio allows kids to explore creativity while dabbling in technology all at the same time. The ArtSee Studio is for kids ages 3 and up.

aquadoodle_travel_doodleWith the Aquadoodle Travel Doodle, from Spin Master, kids can turn a road trip into creative fun. By simply adding water, little artists can create fun-filled, no-mess drawings on the go. The Aquadoodle Travel Doodle pen draws in red or blue ink, never makes a mess, and never runs out. Bumpy car rides can be hazardous with other drawing tools, but the Travel Doodle leaves no trace behind. This soft, portable drawing toy allows kids to create on the go. [Read more...]

WowWee Group Aquires Once Upon A Zombie License

The Toon Studio of Beverly Hills has completed a licensing deal with WowWee Group Ltd., to bring the Once Upon A Zombie property, featuring Snow White, Cinderella, Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty, among other characters, to the world of traditional and digitally interactive dolls with mobile applications.

Once Upon A Zombie tells the story of how these classical princesses took a turn in time and became Zombies living on forever.

WowWee, best known for Robosapien in 2004 and Paper Jamz two years ago, is a manufacturer of imaginative toys featuring a touch of technology.

The Toon Studio will soon launch a Once Upon A Zombie children’s book and is licensing the property to consumer product companies worldwide.

WowWee plans to incorporate technologies similar to its AppGear product line into next year’s product launch of Once Upon A Zombie. WowWee’s AppGear will be available in a number of channels and retailers—from AT&T and Verizon to Target, Toys R US, WalMart and Walgreens.

This post was originally written by Loren Moreno and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Toy Industry Veteran Forms New Company

Scott Bachrach, an American businessman, entrepreneur, and toy industry veteran, has formed a new company, The Wish Factory Limited, which specializes in unique,
on-trend products in the toy licensing, entertainment, and consumer products industry.

The first release from The Wish Factory Limited, a girls’ fashion accessory line called PopGrrl, is set to launch in this year’s fourth quarter, just in time for the holidays.

Bachrach began his career in the toy industry in 1995. founding the Fun-4-All Corporation, serving as owner and CEO until 2004. In 2006, Bachrach founded Think Tank Toys, a New York-based company that manufactured and marketed toys and other novelties. In 2008, Think Tank Toys was sold to WowWee, USA, Inc. Dan Lesnick, a toy industry sales, marketing, and manufacturing veteran, is a partner in the new company.

GMA-Discovered Lexi St. George Stars In WowWee Commercial

Lexi St. George, the teen singer discovered by Good Morning America‘s “One Week To Hit It Big: Pop Star” series, has landed her first commercial deal with WowWee’s Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone. The commercial will feature Lexi’s debut single and video, “Dancing To The Rhythm.”

The Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone lets kids of all ages discover their inner pop star. Tunes can be downloaded from the user’s own music files onto the microphone. Using the built-in controls, kids can add in a “perfect pitch,” a chorus, a harmony, vibrato, and other vocal effects. The Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone has a suggested retail price of $29.99 and is now available at Walmart. It will also be arriving at retailers such as Toys “R” Us, K-Mart, and Target later this month.

New WowWee Line Teams with Disney XD and More

Recently launched from WowWee, Paper Jamz has teamed with Disney XD this month to sponsor the network’s Next X series. The month-long sponsorship includes co-branded commercials, billboards, and, later this month, the two will partner for a new episode of XD’s I’m In The Band.

Additionally, Paper Jamz is sponsoring the American Idol Live Tour this year, in partnership with Clear Channel and the Creative Arts Agency (CAA), and will embark on a Simon mall tour, visiting 20 city malls across the country.

Paper Jamz allows kids to become an instant rockstar with the line of toy guitars, drums, and amplifiers. The instruments are made with “Active Graphics Technology,” which allows the paper strumming surface to be embedded with circuits, and there is no need to plug them into a computer or television. Each product includes three licensed songs and four modes of play. Series 2 of Paper Jamz and additional instruments will launch in 2011.