Author: James Zahn

ASTRA Wants Members to be Media-Ready this Holiday Season

With the holiday season just around the corner, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) wants independent toy stores to be “media-ready” for their season in the spotlight. On Sept. 16, ASTRA will present an exclusive webinar meant to help toy store owners secure media coverage and to be better prepared on what to say when press comes calling. Toys “R” Us, Tariffs, and Neighborhood Toy Store Day: Get Ready for Your Next Media Moment, will take place at 10 a.m. CST, with a recording set to be archived on ASTRA Academy for ASTRA members to reference throughout the upcoming season....

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Spielwarenmesse Toy Business Forum to Showcase New Perspectives

The 71st Spielwarenmesse international toy fair will take place from Jan. 29-Feb. 2 at Germany’s Nuremberg Exhibition Centre, and the programming is already taking shape. The Toy Business Forum will take place in the TrendGallery (Hall 3A) with new perspectives on industry topics presented daily. The free talks are simultaneously interpreted into English or German, and will focus on five key topics — trend, change, digital, retail, marketing — with one presented daily from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Trade fairs are forums for new products, knowledge transfer, and communication. For many years, trade visitors have valued the Toy Business Forum...

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‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Live on Stage Returns this Holiday Season

The Peanuts gang is hitting the road again. A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage will tour North America this fall with two separate touring groups to reach more cities throughout November and December. Produced by Gershwin Entertainment, A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage is “a fresh take on the timeless classic that gives the audience a completely new way of experiencing the story as portrayed by real actors who maintain the integrity and spirit of each Peanuts character.” The stage adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’ classic holiday tale is based on the television special by Bill Melendez and...

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Farmers Insurance Joins Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

There’s some familiar characters popping up alongside J.K. Simmons in the latest batch of Farmers Insurance‘s “We Know From Experience” commercials. Bert and Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Count von Count are among the Sesame Street Muppets featured in a trio of new spots airing now, as Farmers Insurance joins Sesame Workshop to celebrate 50 years of Sesame Street. Two of the spots feature Farmers claims reenacted by the furry faces of Sesame Street. “For over 90 years, education has been a key component of Farmers efforts to help make a positive impact in our communities. The opportunity to...

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Hasbro Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs, Inventors with Ms. Monopoly

When it comes to board games, perhaps none has been reinvented more times than Monopoly. The subject of countless new editions and revamps, Monopoly always stays fresh, but the latest update flips the script to become “the first game where women make more than men.” Hasbro‘s Ms. Monopoly is a celebration of female entrepreneurs and inventors that swaps property trading with inventions that wouldn’t exist without women — and at the start of the game, women get a higher payout and more money when passing Go. MEET MS. MONOPOLY! Mr. Monopoly's niece, a self-made investment guru, is here to...

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Geomagworld Expands Magicube Range, Offers Play Space to Independent Toy Stores

Geomagworld SA is expanding its Magicube junior construction range with the new Magicube Transport, Magicube Insects, and Magicube People sets. With the Swiss-made Magicube range, kids can build with patented magnetic cubes that can attach on all six sides for a nearly infinite amount of construction possibilities. The new themed sets include blocks with images that kids can mix and match to create cars, rockets, ships, butterflies, ladybugs, and people. Magicube sets are available for several age groups of early builders. To accompany its latest entries into the junior construction category, the company is offering specialty retailers and independent toy stores...

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Regional Retailer Fred’s Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; All Stores to Close

The rapid decline for Fred’s Inc. is coming to an end. The Tennessee-based discount retailer and pharmacy filed for voluntary relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and will liquidate all stores. The move comes following several waves of closures this year. In January, Fred’s operated 568 stores mostly in the southeastern U.S., but by July that number shrank to around 80. Now, the plug is being pulled. “Despite our team’s best efforts, we were not able to avoid this outcome,” says Joe Anto, chief executive officer at Fred’s....

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VTech Expands Kidi Line of Electronics

VTech‘s Kidi line of kid-friendly electronics is expanding this fall with the debut of three new products: Kidi Star Dance, KidiGo Walkie Talkies, and Kidizoom Pixi. The new offerings join an extensive line of age-appropriate electronics, including cameras, smart devices, and wearables. With Kidi Star Dance, kids wear motion-activated bands and learn 20 dance moves step-by-step by following the animated dance instructor on the device. Included music lets kids dance along with color-changing lights that flash to the beat of the songs. Includes four motion games and a freestyle option that lets kids create their own music by movement with...

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Horizon Group USA Debuts Vendees Surprise DIY Dispensers

The unboxing trend continues to evolve, and the next extension is leaning toward vending machines for dolls and collectibles. Now the trend is hitting the arts and crafts aisles. Horizon Group USA officially launched Vendees this week — surprise DIY dispensers that tap into the appeal of mystery toys while adding interactive creative activities to the mix. Each Vendees package includes a curated assortment of contents across four primary themes: Vendees Holo Unicorn, in which kids can customize their own unicorn figurine with paints and sparkling embellishments; the nail-focused Vendees Go Wild!; Vendees Sweet Treat, which allows kids to make “dessert-like”...

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Kilburn Live to Debut The Dr. Seuss Experience

Kilburn Live and Dr. Seuss Enterprises are taking the magic of Dr. Seuss on the road. Launching Oct. 26 in Toronto, The Dr. Seuss Experience is a 15,000 square foot touring experience designed for all ages. Described as a “Seuss-tacular sensory spectacle, “the Experience will bring to life the stories, characters, and locations from tales including The Cat In The Hat, Horton Hears A Who!, and The Lorax, among others. The centerpiece of the attraction is an interconnected maze inspired by Oh The Places You’ll Go!, featuring thousands of suspended balloons. “We are extremely fortunate to have been given the...

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