Author: James Zahn

Cartoon Network Greenlights Ben 10 for Season Four

The world of Ben 10 is expanding. Cartoon Network issued a greenlight for a fourth season of the popular series in which Ben, his cousin Gwen, and Grandpa Max will venture to some of the world’s most popular destinations including Italy, Japan, and Mexico. The series is currently in its third season, with new episodes rolling out globally over the next few months. The new episodes feature new aliens, vehicles, and villains, including a new character named Kevin 11, who serves as Ben’s 11-year-old nemesis. Kevin 11 developed the Anti-trix, a custom version of Ben’s Omnitrix which he can...

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ASTRA to Host Meet, Visit, Play Events in Dallas

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will host a two-part ASTRA Meet, Visit, Play event in the Dallas Market Center this month. Both events will be on the 12th floor of the Market Center and are open to both member and nonmember retailers. “Today’s ASTRA is so much more than our annual Marketplace & Academy each year in June,” notes Kimberly Mosley, president of ASTRA. “We are increasing the number of opportunities we offer for independent toy retailers to get together and learn and play all year long.” Event Details: Thursday, Jan. 17 6 to 7 p.m.: Megan Philpott...

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SYBO Games Surfs Into New Licensing Deals, New Appointments

SYBO Games, the company behind Subway Surfers—the second most downloaded game of 2018—kicks off the new year with a host of announcements. New appointments include David Byrne, who joins the company as chief operating officer, and Naz Amarchi-Cuevas being promoted to chief commercial officer. The company has also signed more than 10 licensing agents to represent the brand’s consumer and lifestyle merchandising arm, SUBSURF, globally. Additionally, a surprise 11th episode of Subway Surfers: The Animated Series will hit YouTube this Friday. As SYBO Games chief operating officer, Byrne will head up strategy and operations for the studio, including the strengthening of...

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Learning Resources Debuts the Coding Critters

Coding continues to be a trend, and Learning Resources introduced its latest offering in the category, Coding Critters, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The Illinois-based educational toy company has been offering early screen-free coding products for the past three years, and the Coding Critters aim to teach those skills to kids as young as 4 years old. Available in June, the Coding Critters are interactive pets that introduce coding concepts using the included interactive storybooks. Coding Critters Details: The line features interactive pets—Code along with puppies Ranger & Zip, kitties Scamper & Sneaker, or dinos Rumble &...

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WWE Appoints Sarah Cummins Senior Vice President, Consumer Products

WWE appointed Sarah Cummins—named a 2017 “Game Changer” by SportsBusiness Journal—as senior vice president, consumer products. Cummins will oversee the implementation of WWE’s  global consumer products business, including licensing, e-commerce, venue sales, home entertainment, and publishing.  At retail, WWE is a $1 billion global brand annually, with partnerships for the creation of products including toys, video games, collectibles, and more. Cummins brings more than 25 years of marketing, licensing, media, and business development experience to WWE. She was head of business development amd strategic partnerships at New York Road Runners Inc., where she led the organization’s sponsorship, media distribution,...

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MGA Entertainment Introduces Baby Born Surprise

MGA Entertainment has a new “surprise” on the way. Following the continued success of its L.O.L. Surprise! collection, MGA introduces Baby Born Surprise this week, a new collectible line that offers kids and collectors more than 10 surprises in each package. The new collection presents miniature versions of the Baby Born dolls, each blind-packed and swaddled in a real fabric blanket, sewn in a surprise design such as a butterfly, flower, or unicorn. Water can be used to wake the baby and reveal their eye color and hairstyle. Additionally, the color of the included baby bottle will reveal if the baby...

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Retail Shipments Level Off Following Tariff Fears, Toy Industry Concern Still Looms

Following a months-long rush that saw retail shipments at major ports rise to record levels in an effort to beat increasing tariffs on goods from China, things have leveled off—for now. New data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates’ Global Port Tracker shows shipments normalizing with decreases expected in the months ahead. Still, concerns for the toy industry loom on the horizon. Steve Pasierb, President & Chief Executive of The Toy Association tells The Toy Book that there’s “not a huge issue for toys right now as our peak shipping seasons for toys on the ocean are yet...

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Sphero Releases Enhanced Specdrums

Last summer, Sphero acquired Colorado-based Specdrums, a music-based tech startup that made waves with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017. Sphero enhanced the product—which uses app-enabled rings to translate color into sound—with new features, relaunched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Available beginning Jan. 15, players of all ages can turn their world into sound by using the power of a simple tap with Specdrums. The Specdrums MIX app invites users to create and mix any sounds, beats, and loops that all play through a mobile device. The Specdrums Starter Pack is available with one or two rings,...

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SWAGTRON Rolls Into CES with Line of Electric Bikes for Kids and Adults

Once known for hoverboards, SWAGTRON rolled into the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with a full range of electric bikes this year. New offerings in the light electric vehicle (LEV) space feature different designs, such as retro. The company will continue to offer new products for younger riders, including bikes, scooters, and all-new 12-inch balance bikes. Select bikes previewed at CES include: SWAGTRON EB ELECTRIC BEACH CRUISERS (pictured top) These cruisers feature white-wall tires, fenders, luggage racks, and swept back handlebars. It also includes 250-watt hub motors and 7-speed Shimano gearing. Men’s and women’s designs will be available, ranging from 26-inch...

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UBTECH Introduces Alpha Mini and JIMU Robots at CES

UBTECH is following up its Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Robot from last year with the Alpha Mini companion robot and a series of JIMU Robot building kits for kids. The news comes alongside the debut of the company’s Walker (humanoid) and Cruzr (service robot) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Alpha Mini is an affectionate companion robot ready to befriend, entertain, teach, and communicate with kids in a wide variety of scenarios. The robot is portable and stands just under 10 inches tall. Alpha Mini features various interactions and expressions, including voice interaction, 4G LTE connectivity, face...

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