Author: James Zahn

ASTRA Offers Customer Service Workshop at Marketplace & Academy

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will host a special professional development session for sales representatives at its annual Marketplace & Academy. Participants will complete the customer service component required for ASTRA’s Certified Master Sales Representative (CMSR) certification and will have access to the remainder of the CMSR modules online to be fully credentialed. The credential is just one component of ASTRA’s program to promote a stronger toy industry by increasing professionals’ knowledge about business, finance, customer relations, promotion, technology, and the importance of play. “With so many of our valued sales representatives joining us in Pittsburgh, we are...

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LEGO Ideas’ Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willie Sets Sail

LEGO has gone black and white. The brickmaker celebrates Mickey Mouse‘s 90th anniversary with the LEGO Ideas Steamboat Willie building set. Paying tribute to the 1928 animated short film in which Mickey Mouse made his debut (also the first Disney film to feature synchronized sound), the LEGO brick version of the S.S. Willie features paddle wheels that rotate while the boat is pushed along and steam pipes that move up and down. A minifigure can take the wheel in the boat’s bridge, while additional nautical details include a life buoy and bell. A working crane can lift figures or cargo onto the...

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FAO Schwarz Returns to Chicago with Midway Airport Grand Opening

FAO Schwarz is back in the Windy City. The famed toy retailer opened its second airport location inside Midway International Airport on Chicago’s south side. FAO Schwarz Senior Experience Manager Anthony DiAmbrosio was on hand for the grand opening, leading a tour through the 1,000 square-foot location. In addition to a wide range of classic FAO-branded toys such as the piano mat, spinning tops, and signature plush, the Chicago location carries items from Melissa & Doug, Jazwares, GUND, and others. High-end toys, life-sized stuffed animals and interactive experiences have landed at Midway. Join us for a tour of FAO...

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Hasbro’s UglyDolls Toys Hit Retail; STX Looks for Fan Creations

Hasbro‘s first-ever collection of UglyDolls toys has arrived. Previewed at Toy Fair New York, the UglyDolls movie collection officially launched at mass retail on March 15. Hasbro brings UglyDolls into the toy aisles as figures and play sets, in addition to a refreshed line of plush — the format that started it all for creators David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim back in 2001. In support of the forthcoming UglyDolls animated feature, STXfilms also launched the UglyDolls Factory, an online tool for fans to design their own UglyDoll characters. The interface presents users with dozens of customization options to create a “perfectly imperfect”...

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KB Toys Relaunch? Strategic Marks is Still Seeking Funding

It was one year ago today that Toys “R” Us announced that it would liquidate and shutter its entire U.S. operation. As shockwaves moved through the toy industry, three days later Toys “R” Us was countered by another surprise announcement — KB Toys was plotting a comeback. Specifically, Ellia Kassoff, CEO of Leaf Brands and head of Strategic Marks LLC, picked up the KB Toys trademark in 2016 and was ready to bring the fallen toy retailer back into action. The plan, which Kassoff described to Global Toy Experts’ Richard Gottlieb on stage at the Toy Association’s PlayCon last...

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VTech Named Walmart Toy Supplier of the Year

Walmart named VTech Supplier of the Year in the toy category. The award was presented to the developer of electronic learning products at Walmart’s Supplier Growth Forum, held last month in Rogers, Arkansas. The Supplier of the Year Awards are presented to the leading supplier in each major product category within Walmart. This is the first year that VTech received the Toy Supplier of the Year award. VTech and Walmart are frequent partners for exclusive product launches, most recently with Catch Me Casey. The electronic monkey, which dances, skates, and introduces kids to letters, numbers, and shapes, made its debut as a Walmart...

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Topps, Nickelodeon Team Up for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trading Card Relaunch

The Topps Company and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) are back together again. As part of a newly-inked deal between Topps and Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products, TMNT returns to the company that first featured the famed sewer-dwelling brothers on trading cards released in 1989. The first release under the new partnership is a TMNT limited edition set featuring comic book artwork, including new art from famous illustrators from the franchise. Fans can expect Topps The Art of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trading cards to release later this summer. Additionally, the new set will include sketch cards from a number of top tier artists....

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Mattel Brings ‘Thomas & Friends: Adventures!’ to iOS, Android

Mattel Inc. launched a new mobile game based on Thomas & Friends for iOS and Android this week. In Thomas & Friends: Adventures!, kids can learn about different cultures from around the world as they build their own train tracks and race around each country. China, India, Australia, Tanzania, and Sodor are among the countries that players will visit and learn problem solving skills from Thomas and his friends. The game is designed to foster learning and imagination. Next year, Mattel will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Thomas & Friends, which made its literary debut in 1945 as The Three...

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Swagtron Unveils Two New Kick Scooters for Kids

Swagtron rolls into spring with two new kick scooters for kids. While the brand is known for its light electric vehicles (LEV) such as e-bikes, the new scooters are kid powered. The new models are three-wheel scooters designed for kids ages three and up, and toddlers aged two to five, respectively. The K5 (pictured top) features a three-wheel “tadpole” design, which places two wheels in the front, paired with a pivot-style steering mechanism that allows young riders to intuitively lean and carve turns like a skateboard. It also features four adjustable height settings, a rear heel brake, and LED wheels that...

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Cyber Group Studios’ ‘Gigantosaurus’ Makes Disney Junior Debut

Following two months of regular airings on Disney Channel, Cyber Group Studios’ preschool series Gigantosaurus will make its Disney Junior debut on Friday, March 15 at 7:35 p.m. Based on Jonny Duddle‘s children’s book, the series follows the exciting everyday adventures of four dinosaur pals — Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu. Gigantosaurus will then air on Disney Junior at 10 a.m. on weekends and at 5:30 p.m and 8:30 p.m. on weekdays. Additionally, it will continue to air weekdays on Disney Channel at 9 a.m., with new episodes rolling out on Fridays. Beyond the series, Cyber Group Studios recently partnered with...

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