Author: Marissa DiBartolo

The New Flavor of Activity Toys

Mom was wrong: apparently, it’s more than OK to play with your food. Since the inception of Kenner Toys’ Easy-Bake Oven in 1963, kids have been expressing their creativity in the kitchen by baking up miniature sweet treats. And while the Easy-Bake Oven is one of the most iconic toys ever made, inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2006, new toys that let kids make and decorate real, edible foods are eating up shelf space like never before. Culinary Kids In the ’60s, the Easy-Bake Oven was largely marketed toward girls, but with male chefs like Bobby...

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Coloring Outside the Age Lines

Coloring books are integral to kids’ creative development, with thousands of titles featuring thick black outlines of cartoon characters, just waiting to be scribbled on, torn out, and hung on the refrigerator. But kids aren’t the only ones showing off their creativity with coloring books. Specialty retailers such as Michaels and Barnes and Noble are stocking the shelves with dozens of titles designed with adults in mind. Instead of simple images of Queen Elsa from Disney Frozen or snuggly puppies with lolling tongues, adult coloring books feature intricate geometric patterns, natural scenery, and even some characters based on mature...

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Fourth Annual HoliDAY of Play Lets Adults Be Kids Again

The Toy Insider, in partnership with Woman’s Day magazine, hosted the fourth annual HoliDAY of Play event on Friday, October 16, where more than 100 digital influencers and members of the press met face-to-face with some of the top companies in the toy industry to get hands-on experience with the best toys on the market. Guests were treated to a gourmet brunch while enjoying sweeping views of New York City during this exclusive 2.5-hour event. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht greeted guests with the one and only Darth Vader, reinforcing the strength of the Star Wars force this year. Schacht then gave guests a full presentation on the Toy Insider’s Hot 20, Top Tech 12, and STEM 10 picks, as well as the top toy trends of 2015, which include: Character Craze: Thanks to the upcoming launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, characters will play an even bigger role in the toy box than ever before, From interactive figures like Spin Master’s Legendary Yoda and Thinkway Toy’s 16-inch Darth Vader, toHasbro’s entire line of amazing role-play fun, these toys are easily the hottest of the year. Additional characters that will continue to be mega popular among kids are DisneyFrozen’s Elsa, the pups from Paw Patrol, and new adorable dinos from Disney•Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. #LifeGoals: There are lots of toys on the shelves that will inspire kids to decide what they want to be when they grow up. VTech’s new line of Flipsies dolls transform from...

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Judy Basis, Licensing Industry Force, Passes Away

Judy Basis passed away Saturday, August 22, 2015. She battled cancer for more than 30 years. Basis was a force in the licensing industry. She helped shape the way business takes place when she and her partner Harvey Stern launched The Licensing Book back in 1983 (Editor’s note: Both The Toy Book and The Licensing Book are owned by Adventure Publishing Group). Industry veterans will remember her as someone they could count on for sound advice (both business and personal), and as an essential partner in growing their businesses when the licensing business was still in its infancy. Donations...

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Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, and Mattel Unveil New All-Girl Superhero Franchise

This fall, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and Mattel will launch DC Super Hero Girls, a new universe of female-dominated superheroes and villains. The new franchise targets girls ages 6 to 12 and features DC Comics’ female characters as relatable teens, including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, and Katana. With a completely new artistic style and aesthetic, these female icons will make their unprecedented teenage introduction. Each character will have her own storyline, including discovering her unique abilities, nurturing her remarkable powers, and mastering the fundamentals of being a hero. The initial launch of DC Super Hero Girls will include an immersive digital experience, original digital content, and digital publishing—providing opportunities for girls to interact with characters, learn about the storylines, and engage in customizable play. TV specials, made-for-videos, toys, apparel, books, and other product categories will begin to roll out next year. As master toy licensee, Mattel is set to launch a toy line based on the new initiative next year, including new characters for the action figure category, and fashion dolls featuring strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses. As master publishing partner, the Random House Books for Young Readers imprint of Random House Children’s Books will launch books next spring, which will be complemented by a series of original graphic novels from DC Entertainment. The Lego Group has also signed on for...

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Toys “R” Us to Close Times Square Flagship Store

Toys “R” Us chose not to renew its lease at the 110,000-square-foot flagship store in the Times Square area, according to a report by the Commercial Observer (CO). “They have 21,000 square feet [on the ground floor]. There really is not a tenant that can rent that. The market has just escalated so,” Brad Mendelson of Cushman & Wakefield, who is marketing the Toys “R” Us space at 1514 Broadway between West 44 and West 45 Streets on behalf of landlord Charles Moss, tells the CO. According to Mendelson, the asking rent on the ground floor in the 150,000-square-foot building is $2,500 per square foot, $150 per foot on the lower level, and $350 a foot on the second floor. Toys “R” Us is paying about half that since commencing to rent at the location in 2000. Mendelson says the firm is looking for multiple tenants to fill the space. Toys “R” Us will vacate the space next February. The store has become a popular Times Square attraction, featuring a life-sized Jurassic Park-inspired T-Rex, a 60-foot indoor Ferris wheel featuring kids’ favorite cartoon characters, a 4,000-square-foot Barbie dollhouse, and—of course—thousands of toys. However, the toy retail giant may retain a presence in the hub of New York City. Rumors suggest Toys “R” Us may be moving to Vornado Realty Trust’s large retail space at the base of the Marriott Marquis at 1535...

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Disney Announces Sequel to Mega-Hit Frozen

Earlier today, the Walt Disney Co. announced plans to make a sequel to 2013’s Disney Frozen at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco. Since its release in November 2013, Disney Frozen has made nearly $1.3 billion globally at the box office and won the Academy Award for best animated feature. The largest grossing animated film ever, Frozen also inspired a robust line of consumer products, and was the No. 1 best-selling toy brand among girls in 2014, according to the NPD...

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COMMENTARY: At Toy Fair 2015, Classic, Low-Tech Play Is Alive and Well

Tech toys that make you feel cooler than Marty McFly were in abundance at the North American International Toy Fair this week, such as robots that imitate your movements and a Segway-like device that tracks your thoughts. But not all of the toys at the Jacob K. Javits Center were reminiscent of what Captain Kirk probably played with as a child. There were also some stellar construction sets, high-quality hand puppets, and wooden toys that make you say, “wow.” Classic play is not dead, and not all quality toys require a microchip. Some of the most innovative new products for kids...

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Cartoon Network Names Spin Master Global Toy Partner for The Powerpuff Girls

Spin Master Ltd. will serve as the global master toy partner for Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls, anchoring the licensing program for the global franchise launch in 2016. Spin Master will have rights to create a full line of products based on the brand, including plush; figures; play sets; dolls; role-play items; and select electronic, activity, remote-control toys, and novelty and impulse items. The product line will begin its global retail rollout in the fall of 2016. The new Powerpuff Girls animated series produced by Cartoon Network Studios and the full worldwide licensing program will introduce a new generation...

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On the Hunt with Jordan Hembrough

When you step inside Hollywood Heroes in Westwood, N.J., you can literally smell the nostalgia (for those of you who are unfamiliar, nostalgia smells similar to dust-covered cardboard and childhood memories—but like, in a good way). In the collectible toy shop, bright lights beam down on glass cases displaying superhero relics with more than 40 years under their utility belts, making these toys anything but child’s play. Owner of the shop and star of the Travel Channel series Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough is an expert in the art of toy collecting, with more than 25 years of professional experience dealing toys....

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