Author: Justin McCraw

Record a Story Allows Readers to Become the Narrator

It may be difficult falling asleep when parents and guardians aren’t around to read bedtime stories. Publications International, Ltd., however, has a solution in its new Record a Story line of books, available nationwide this fall. The storybooks feature seven pages that can be individually narrated, with children and adults able to re-record stories as often as they like. The first line of books features classics such as Twas the Night Before Christmas, as well as the contemporary Guess How Much I Miss You. Publications International is also debuting the program “Operation Record a Story” this November and December. Under the program, which works in tandem with the United Through Reading Military Program hosted by the USO,  military personnel read Record a Story books while being filmed, and both the recorded DVD and the narrated book are shipped to children back...

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THQ Unveils Graphic Tablet for Nintendo Wii

THQ has revealed its latest peripheral, a graphic tablet for the Nintendo Wii. Dubbed uDraw, the tablet borrows heavily from the Wacom products often used by professional graphic artists. The tablet includes a painting game that offers various brushes and color palettes, as well as locals for inspiration, such as a study or mountaintop. These creations can then be saved to an SD memory card and shared on a computer. During its 2010 holiday preview, THQ brought me behind closed doors to witness the tablet for the first time. They demonstrated the two announced games, Pictionary and Dood’s Big Adventure, and demonstrated a few levels of each. Pictionary is a re-imagining of the classic board game. In the game, one player draw images using the tablet while the others try to guess a keyword. Enhancements to the board game include the ability to select different brush and fill types, as well as use color. The countdown timer may also be adjusted. Dood’s Big Adventure offers a colorful platformer. Players customize their Dood by drawing his face and painting his body. Dood’s world, such as the floating balloon animals, can also be colored to unlock special features and to bring creatures and objects to life. Players compete through a series of challenges using the uDraw tablet as a controller. Both Pictionary and Dood’s Big Adventure will retail for $29.99, while...

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K.I.D.S. Hopes to Raise $100 million Through SMS

Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), Inc., unveiled its plan to project a 15-second PSA on a jumbotron in Times Square. Beginning August 15 and continuing until October 15, mobile phone users who text “HAPPYKIDS 25” to 27138 will trigger a $25 donation to its cause.  According to K.I.D.S., each $25 donation will help distribute $250 worth of donated products to children and parents. The PSA will run in Times Square on the CBS Spectacular jumbotron facing the north side of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. As part of the organization’s 25th anniversary, K.I.D.S. also hopes to raise $100 million worth of products for distressed and underprivileged children, including basic necessities, toys, clothing, and other comforts. For more information, visit K.I.D.S.’s Facebook and Twitter...

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November 13th Named Neighborhood Toy Store Day

The American Specialty Retailers Association (ASTRA) has announced plans to make the second Saturday in November an annual and nationwide celebration of local toy stores. During this year’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day (NTSD), ASTRA will announce the winners of its 2010 Best Toys for Kids awards. ASTRA is also providing its member retailers with ready-to-go press releases and a step-by-step retailer guidebook filled with tips on how to use the event to attract new customers. For more information on NTSD, visit ASTRA’s...

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She-Ra Celebrates 25th Anniversary With New Products

In honor of She-Ra‘s 25th anniversary, Classic Media has announced new DVDs and collectible products. Mattel will release commemorative collectibles on, including a She-Ra action figure. Additionally, the first season of She-Ra: Princess of Power (20 episodes) will be released on DVD, iTunes, and Hulu. A collector’s edition box set, She-Ra: The Complete Series 25th Anniversary Edition, featuring all 93 episodes will also be released and will include collectible stickers, episode guides, and an iron-on decal. She-Ra: Princess of Power was an animated series that began airing in September...

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Wilson & Ditch Gets Second Season

The Jim Henson Company announced yesterday that PBS Kids Go series Wilson & Ditch: Digging America will get a second season. The web show follows two gopher brothers as they travel across America learning about geography in their eco-friendly van. In the new season, the brothers will explore locations such as Seattle, Wash.; Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; and Chicago, Ill. The PBS Kids Go website will also feature five new songs from the brothers as well as two new games to play. Additionally, Wilson’s blog and highlights from past locations will be featured. According to The Jim Henson Company, PBS’ children’s websites, including, receive nine million unique visitors per month and its videos are streamed approximately 50 million times. The brother’s next stop is the Grand Canyon (September...

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Travel Back to the Future With Looney Labs’ New Card Game

Looney Labs, creator of card game Fluxx, announced a partnership with Universal Partnerships & Licensing that will yield a new card game based on the Back to the Future franchise. The card game features scenarios from all three Back to the Future movies and has players working to un-invent the time travel. Players use a quarter of the cards to construct a timeline of movie-related events. From there, players assume the role of the movie’s future descendants as they make sure key events occur. The game is set to release September 3, several weeks before the movie trilogy appears for the first time on Blu-ray in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first film. The anniversary edition of the films comes out October...

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Chicago Toy and Game Fair Announced

The eighth annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) is coming to Chicago’s Navy Pier this November. ChiTAG is the largest public toy and game fair in the country and features new toy and game announcements as well as talks by up-and-coming toy makers. This year’s event features guest appearances by Jenga inventor Leslie Scott, TMX Elmo inventor Bruce Lund, and inventor and author Peggy Brown, among others. ChiTAG also features a Star Wars breakfast, Monopoly tournaments, chess tournaments, the Mascot Madness toy drive, the Mommy Blogger Brunch, an Illinois Accredited Educator Conference for teachers, and more to be announced. The third annual Toy and Game Inventor Awards Dinner will also take place November 19. Those wishing to attend should contact Mary Couzin at 847-677-8277. The event runs from November 20 – 21 starting at 10 a.m. Admission is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Children under 3, Scouts in uniform, military in uniform, librarians, and teachers are admitted free of charge. Parking discounts are...

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P. Graham Dunn Voluntary Rattle Recall

P. Graham Dunn and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have announced a voluntary recall for the company’s wooden toy rattles. If the wooden dowel on the toy is installed incorrectly, the metal rattle can become exposed, causing a potential choking hazard. Four reports of this exposure have been confirmed, although no incidents of harm occurred in any of the cases. The recalled toy rattle is light brown and contains eight wooden dowels and a gold-colored metal rattle inside. The toy rattle is circular in shape, measuring 2 3/4 inches by 2 inches. Approximately 500 of the recalled rattles were sold in gift stores and book retailers in June and July for around $6. Consumers should stop using the product and contact P. Graham Dunn for a refund. Contact information is available after the jump. Photo Credit: P. Graham Dunn P. Graham Dunn’s Recall Hotline: 800-828-5260 Consumer Product Safety Commission Recall Hotline:...

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THQ Announces Costume Quest for XBLA, PSN

THQ has teamed with developer Double Fine Productions, Inc. for a new video game, Costume Quest. The game puts players in the role of a brother and sister who move to a new town just before Halloween. Players take control of one avatar as other members of the party follow behind a la Grandia and Evolution. As players visit houses to trick-or-treat, they collect candy corn, costume pieces, and special cards to be used later in the game. The version I saw last month featured several costumes for each of the four characters. One costume was a robot that (when activated during the game’s turn-based RPG-style battles) transforms the player into a robot warrior much like the mecha (the giant robots) from Robotech. A THQ spokesperson said gamers can expect to spend six to seven hours on the main mission when the game is released this fall, around two weeks before Halloween. The game will be available for download via Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade, as well as the PlayStation Network. Pricing for the XBLA edition was at a tentative 1,200 Microsoft Points, or around $14. The development team for Costume Quest is headed by Tim Schafer, creator of  Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. Tasha Harris is the game’s lead...

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