Author: Marissa DiBartolo

Monster Jam Signs New Toy Licenses

Feld Motor Sports’ Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam, the touring monster truck property, which performs in front of 4 million spectators annually, has signed multiple new licensees, including two new toy partners. Ridemakerz, creator of the vehicle customizing experience, has partnered with Monster Jam to bring kids a new way to build, create, and play with customizable Monster Jam trucks. A line of interlocking Monster Jam Xtreme Customz construction vehicles will be available at retail this fall. Revell Inc. is launching a 1:25-scale model kit of one of the world’s most famous Monster Jam trucks, Grave Digger. The Grave Digger Snap-Tite Model Kit features authentic graphic decals and replica plastic parts that snap together for easy assembly. Monster Jam fans and hobbyists will have the opportunity to replicate the Grave Digger Monster Jam truck design. In addition, Rico Industries/Tag Express’ line of Monster Jam novelty and souvenir products are currently available at Walmart. Sky High will launch Monster Jam back-to-school products this summer, and CSS Industries will introduce Monster Jam Valentine and Easter products next...

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Fisher-Price Gives Personality to Little People

Sophie, Mia, Koby, Tessa, and Eddie made their debuts as the latest cast of Fisher Price’s Little People characters last week at Citi Pond at Bryant Park. Kids and parents gathered around as Parents’ Choice award-winning singer/songwriter, Genevieve Goings of Disney Jr.’s Choo Choo Soul took the stage. Under a light snowfall, kids danced along in puffy coats and animal hats as Goings sang original songs about each new Little People character’s personality. First up was Eddie, who likes to zoom, bounce, and jump. Next was Sophie, who loves art, which, according to Goings, “makes you smart.” Koby, who loves dinosaurs, is the silliest of the Little People characters, and Tessa loves to twirl about, but remember: “you don’t have to be a girl to twirl.” Kids were encouraged to zoom and bounce like Eddie, draw pictures in the sky with Sophie, get silly with Koby, and twirl and jump with Tessa. After the musical performance, kids and families were invited into Celsius for a meet-and-greet session with the new Little People characters while they sipped on hot chocolate. Parents were also given tickets to take their kids ice skating at Bryant Park after the event, and kids got to take home Fisher-Price T-shirts. The introduction of the Little People characters marks Fisher-Price’s shift from an evergreen toy brand to a lifestyle brand. A design makeover will be complemented...

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GoldieBlox Builds a Foundation for More Female Engineers

Debbie Sterling creates a construction toy designed with girls in mind What do Bob the Builder, Jimmy Neutron, and Bill Nye the Science Guy have in common? They all love engineering—and they are all male. Similarly, the construction aisles of toy stores are geared primarily toward boys, with blue and black boxes lining the shelves. Fear not, those of you with lady parts, GoldieBlox is here to inspire girls to tinker their way into the male-dominated world of engineering. Debbie Sterling, who earned her degree in engineering from Stanford University, decided to create Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine, a construction toy specifically designed for young girls, two years ago. At one of Sterling’s “idea brunches,” where she and friends would get together to share their ideas over breakfast, the wheels started turning for the CEO when a fellow female engineer explained how playing with her brothers’ hand-me-down Legos influenced her. Having grown up with only a sister, Sterling was never exposed to construction toys as her parents never thought to venture into the boys’ toy aisles. “That morning, it hit me like a lightening bolt. I was sitting in that room and realized this is my life calling, as corny as it sounds,” she says. Sterling began the process of rapid prototyping. Rather than investing money in expensive product samples, she created a prototype of Goldie Blox and...

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Ranger Rick Celebrates 50 Years with New App, Magazine

National Wildlife Federation (NWF), publisher of Ranger Rick children’s magazine, is releasing a new magazine and related app for a younger age group. Ranger Rick Jr. will feature specially designed content for children ages 4 to 7. The magazine is designed for beginning readers and is packed with intriguing animal facts and photography. A new character, Ricky Raccoon, will guide children through the 36-page magazine, with the first issue set to release in December. Every issue will feature Green Time, a page of activities aimed to get kids outside so they can experience wildlife in their own neighborhoods, and Ever Wonder, which will answer kids’ elusive questions about nature. Though the magazine focuses primarily on photos and activities rather than text-heavy articles, Ricky and Pals gives adults the chance to read fictional stories about Ricky Raccoon to children. A subscription to Ranger Rick Jr. will include 10 issues of the magazine. Ranger Rick Jr. will also be available for purchase on newsstands, and digital editions of the publication are available for the Nook at and Kindle at The app, Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures, is a storybook app designed for iPads. Kids can make their way through animal adventures using the explore, create, and play options. The first app in the series will focus on lions, as Ricky Raccoon appears with his pal Lars the Lion to take...

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Creatures of Delight Fuse Fangs and Fun

There is a softer side to all kinds of fictitious creatures: from Yetis, aliens, and trolls, to dragons, human-devouring plants, and purple dinosaurs. Tom Kopian, artist and creator behind Creatures of Delight, a line of specialty, handcrafted monster toys, works with a small team and his 11-year partner, Stewart Buffaloe, to make one-of-a-kind creatures using a variety of molds and his patented latex-fiber blend material. The creatures are a combination of creepy and cute and appeal to a broad demographic. Though the line is composed mostly of traditionally scary, fictional monsters, their vibrant color palettes and bright-white smiles make them appeal to girls as much as boys. “I think essentially the toys are gender neutral. They are rough and tough monsters, so it can be a boy thing, but girls like some of the cuter pieces like Snarl, Floyd, and the Grudges. It is not definitively a boy or girl thing,” Kopian explains. The Creatures of Delight are targeted primarily toward teens and young adults ages 12 to 17. “It’s not a toy for preschoolers or young kids. The designs are strong so consumers can appreciate them as they get older, but they aren’t like some of the licensed toys. An older kid can feel cool having it,” says Kopian. Growing up, Kopian dreamed of doing horror makeup and special effects, but instead, he turned an annual Halloween hobby into a...

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truth Reveals the Not-So-Sweet Side of Fruit-Flavored Tobacco Products

When the word “strawberry” comes to mind, rancid, puss-filled, and gunk-ridden are not typically close behind. truth, the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign, is trying to change that. Since February 2000, truth has been devising creative ways to educate teens on the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes. “Unsweetened truth,” the most recent campaign launched in March of last year, focuses on the 45 flavorings found in tobacco products. Though flavored cigarettes are illegal in the U.S., tobacco companies still use fruit flavoring such as strawberry, apple, and grape, to enhance other tobacco products. In August, truth released a mobile game, Flavor Monsters, as part of the campaign. Players work to defeat the Flavor Monsters, putrid, vilified versions of fruit. The creatures are supposed to represent the added flavorings in tobacco, and a field manual that contains data on the monsters and tobacco-related facts accompanies the game.   In addition to Flavor Monsters, truth is breaking into the toy industry with hand-painted sofubi vinyl toys by Luke Rook, creator of Grody Shogun. The collectible toys are based on the characters in the Flavor Monsters mobile game, including the mini-breed strawberry, the mini-breed wild apple, and the Honey Buzzer, the largest Flavor Monster of them all. Each monster comes in multiple colors. The figures are available for purchase at truth’s 45 Flavors interactive booth at select gaming conventions nationwide. The...

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Hasbro Reveals New Transformers Line at New York Comic Con

You know the Autobots. You know the Decepticons. But now, there’s a new breed of alien robot in town: the Predacons. Thursday afternoon, hundred of fans sat in a crowded conference room in the Jacob K. Javits Center at New York Comic Con 2012 as Hasbro rolled out the latest line of Transformers toys: The Beast Hunters. The Beast Hunters will be the touchstone for the Transformers brand next year, driven by Transformers Prime, the animated series produced by Hasbro Studios. The show airs on The Hub television network in the U.S. and is viewed by fans in more than 170 countries around the world. Though season two of Transformers Prime is currently airing, lucky Comic Con goers who attended the panel got to see an episode clip from season three, when the Predacons will be introduced. The new breed of alien robot is referred to as “the ultimate Autobot hunter” in the clip and was well received by the fans in the room. The Predacons are Cybertron’s version of dinosaurs. They make up Cybertron’s first ancient race that was destroyed in a great cataclysm. Once they’ve been reintroduced to Cybertron in the series, the transforming beasts will join the Decepticons in an effort to take down the Autobots. “We wanted to go beast. We didn’t want to do beast machines or beast wars. We wanted to do something...

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