Author: Ali Mierzejewski

LEGO DC Super-Villains Launch Trailer Drops Ahead of Game Release

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, The LEGO Group, and DC Entertainment released a new trailer for LEGO DC Super-Villains ahead of its Oct. 16 launch, showcasing the chaos of a world without superheroes. For the first time in a LEGO video game, players will be given the opportunity to unleash their inner bad guy, creating their own fully customizable super-villain character complete with their own signature super power. In LEGO DC Super-Villains, the Justice League has disappeared, leaving Earth’s protection to a newcomer group of heroes from a parallel universe, proclaiming themselves as the Justice Syndicate. However, legendary...

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Flying High-Tech

Toy Drones Fly to New Heights Although it seems like they’re becoming commonplace in the R/C aisle, the concept of a flying R/C is actually still quite novel in the category. The progression from ground R/C to difficult-to-fly helicopters to slightly more stable quadcopters led us to where we are now: within constant search of how to make this still-challenging play pattern more fun. Truthfully, a company could add lots of bells and whistles into a drone, but that still doesn’t mean a consumer will pick it up off the shelf. Since flying an R/C tends to be more...

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TIA Announces Toy of the Year 2017 Winners

Last night, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 2017 Toy of the Year award winners at the 17th annual Toy of the Year Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony, hosted at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. Winners in each of the categories include: Toy of the Year LEGO Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster (LEGO Systems) People’s Choice Pop! Vinyl (Funko) Action Figure of the Year DC Super Hero Girls Action Figure Assortment (Mattel) Active/Outdoor Toy of the Year Bunch O Balloons (Zuru) Activity Toy of the Year Crayola Air Marker Sprayer (Crayola) Collectible of the Year Pop! Vinyl (Funko) Construction...

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Disney Unveils Elena of Avalor Product Line

Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media unveiled its new product line inspired by Disney Channel’s upcoming animated TV series Elena of Avalor, which debuts Friday, July 22. The Disney Store Michigan Ave. location in Chicago commemorated the launch of Elena of Avalor products in store by creating a custom window display with art from the series. Actress Jenna Ortega, who voices Elena’s younger sister, Isabel, and stars on Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle, was there to help unveil the new design to fans. The assortment includes fashion dolls, costumes, dress-up accessories, apparel, books, backpacks, and home décor that take inspiration from the adventurous, brave new princess and her kingdom of Avalor, a fairytale land inspired by Latin and Hispanic cultures and folklore. Elena of Avalor products are available now at Disney Store. Additional items will be available at mass retailers starting in July and rolling out through August from companies including Hasbro, Jakks, Amscan, Disguise, Studio Fun, Bendon, Phoenix International Publications, Inc, Franco Manufacturing, and Children’s Apparel Network. Highlights from the new product line include: Elena of Avalor My Time Singing Doll (Hasbro): Kids can sing along with Elena of Avalor as she embarks on magical adventures. Press Elena of Avalor’s gem necklace to hear her sing “My Time,” a powerful song featured in the series. The doll’s articulated arms will allow her to hold the included guitar as she sings this magical song....

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Game of Drones

Drones compete to be top dog in the R/C aisle by adding extra features, gaming, and more. Winter is coming—well, at least for the toy industry, which is constantly looking forward to Q4—and toy manufacturers are always competing to provide the best products at the best price. Last year, we saw an influx of drones hit the market. A lot of companies were jumping on the trend, from traditional R/C companies to newcomers to the game that were importing in unknown brands. Retail shelves and online retailers were flooded with a variety of drones, making it a bit of a struggle for consumers to sift through all the options to find the one that suited their needs. This year, the R/C toy category is seeing a bit of a change in the form of fewer players and more features. The drone category is becoming an even tougher category in which to compete—kids and experienced fliers alike are both looking for more than just a quadcopter with a camera. Not only are companies looking for new ways to innovate their drones, but they’re also looking to find ways to make the nuances and technicalities of drone-flying more accessible to a wider audience. A lot of the added features are making drones semi-autonomous, allowing younger and more novice fliers the chance to get in on the action. “We’re taking a different...

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K’NEX Launches Brave & Beautiful Mighty Makers Campaign

K’NEX Brands launched Brave & Beautiful, a video marketing campaign that coincides with their new Mighty Makers line that encourages and inspires girls to build big ideas and dream even bigger. The Mighty Makers line, which was introduced earlier this year, features STEM-themed engineering toys designed to empower girls through creative, story-based building sets. The Brave & Beautiful video features original music of the same name, written and performed by Jessica Owen. It starts with young girls talking about what they love to build and what they hope to be when they grow up. They also answer questions like “What do...

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Care Bears Want Fans to #ShareYourCare

In a new online campaign, the Care Bears are asking fans to share their care (via the hashtag, #ShareYourCare) and post videos telling the Care Bears how they make the world a better place by showing how they love, care, share, and help others every day. The #ShareYourCare contest will award winners with pre-paid Care Bears-branded Mastercards and themed merchandise. From May 4 to 31, participants can enter the challenge by uploading 15 to 30 second videos to www.carebearsshare.com, and using hashtag #ShareYourCare. Videos should identify how Care Bears fans share their care, based on four themes: Love, Care, Share, and Help. Here is an example of NYC sharing its care: Each week, one video will be chosen and the winner awarded a $500 pre-paid Care Bears-branded Mastercard and prize pack. Videos will be judged on the following criteria: Originality Best use of Care Bears brand Best use of Love, Care, Share, or Help theme Most charitable “Awwhhh factor” From June 1 to 7, fans will be able to vote on the four weekly winning videos to determine the video that will be selected as the grand prize winner. This winner will be announced on June 8 via social media and receive a $1,000 pre-paid Care Bears-branded MasterCard. In addition to viewing submissions on carebearsshare.com, fans can find highlights of the #ShareYourCare video challenge on all of the Care...

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

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. Zoomer Dino—Jester (Spin Master) The very popular—and TOTY Award-winning—Zoomer Dino gets a class clown makeover this year as Jester. Jester is a goofy, silly, brightly colored, and all around fun robotic pet that likes to play pranks, and—of course—make fart noises. He’s really super cute and perfect for kids looking for a prehistoric pet that isn’t quite as ferocious as the others out there on the market. And who wouldn’t want a dinosaur as a pet? Domesticated animals that aren’t currently extinct is SO ’90s. Sand Glove Dinosaur (HABA) Let the imaginative play begin! This flexible dinosaur skull toy is perfect for open-ended role play. It has a hinged jaw feature that allows it to double as a digging tool. Kids can take their dinos on fun excavation adventures, digging up fossils and more in the sand. Dig down into the sand, let the...

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

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: Play All Day Elmo (Playskool) Every year, Hasbro’s Playskool line introduces a new Elmo—and this year’s might be our favorite one yet! Play All Day Elmo...

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Cepia Announces Return of the ZhuZhu Pets Brand

At the North American International Toy Fair, Cepia announced the return of the ZhuZhu Pets brand this fall with new toys, including the magical Amazing Zhus. ZhuZhu Pets was such a must-have holiday hit in 2009 online that marketer Ebay created a heat map just to track the global phenomenon and TIME named it as one of the top 100 toys of all time. The new ZhuZhu Pets toys have embroidered eyes and chubby cheeks, but still have classic features such as birthmark symbols or silly personalities, just like the original ZhuZhu. The launch consists of eight furry friends, including some...

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