Author: Phil Guie

TIA to Host Webinars on Toy Export Opportunities in Australia and Mexico

This fall, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host two webinars to help companies assess the benefits and challenges of expanding into the Australian or Mexican toy markets. The webinar, entitled “Expanding the Global Toy Marketplace: What U.S. Companies Should Know about Entering Australia,” will take place on September 30 at 2 p.m. A webinar addressing the Mexican market is scheduled for the following day, October 1, at 2 p.m. ET. Findings from international consultancy Kidz Global will analyze children’s routines and play preferences, gift-giving behavior, brand awareness, and implications for manufacturers, while business intelligence from Altios International will include demographics, economic data, toy market trends, and ideal target product categories, audiences, and retail channels. The webinars are free for TIA members and $49 for non-members, and registration can be completed online. Questions about these sessions may be directed to the TIA’s Anne...

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Legoland California Resort Spins Out New Ninjago Land

Next year, the Legoland California Resort will add a new Ninjago-themed land, which will include Ninjago: The Ride. Guests will enter the new Ninjago land through a giant archway behind the resort’s Imagination Zone, which is designed to lead them into a courtyard where they begin their ninja training. Legoland California made the announcement at a special event last Thursday. The new land will feature Lego building stations, games to test reflexes, spinners to test balance, Asian cuisine, and a shopping venue. Ninjago: The Ride, manufactured by Triotech, will enable guests to control the outcome of their adventure through hand gestures. Through 3-D imagery, sensors, and the use of hand motions, up to four riders per car will be able to blast animated fireballs, lightning, shockwaves, and ice—similar to the four main Ninjago characters. In addition, effects such as heat, smoke, and wind will be incorporated to give guests an interactive...

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TIF Launches Auction to Benefit Children in Need

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) launched its second annual auction in collaboration with Charitybuzz. It features both unique experiences and exclusive items, such as a meet-and-greet with Mark Cuban, a rare Karl Lagerfeld Barbie doll from Mattel, and a private lunch with Soren Torp Laursen, the president of Lego Systems Inc. Bids may be placed online through September 30, with proceeds helping fund TIF toy and grant distribution programs benefiting children in need. TIF’s Charitybuzz auction page shows all the lots available for bidding...

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University Teams with Schoolchildren on World’s Largest Meccano Build

With the help of Spin Master Corp., Queens University Belfast’s Civil Engineering Department completed The Big Bridge Build, which spans nearly 100 feet across Belfast’s Clarendon Dock. This past Saturday, officials from Guinness World Records confirmed the bridge is the world’s largest Meccano structure. Academics and students from the university’s School of Planning, Architecture, and Civil Engineering built the bridge with the help of local schoolchildren. The project is part of an outreach program to encourage more children to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At Saturday’s official opening for the bridge, which will remain on display as a temporary installation, the students celebrated their achievement by walking across it for the first time. “We are truly in awe of this remarkable achievement,” said Ben Varadi, executive vice president and chief creative officer, Spin Master Corp., which owns and producers Meccano. “Spin Master is incredibly proud that this timeless and iconic toy, invented over a 100 years ago, continues to inspire the world’s future architects and engineers.” Numbers for The Big Bridge Build, according to The Guinness World Record: Length of Bridge: 28.5 meters (96 feet) Longest Span of Bridge: 14 meters Height of Bridge: 6 meters (26 feet) Weight: 600 kilograms Pieces of Meccano: 11,000 Nuts, bolts, washers: 60,000 Total length of Meccano pieces (laid end to end): 3,835...

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Lost My Name Is Looking for One Lucky Child to Read a Storybook to—from Space

Lost My Name, which creates personalized storybooks, has teamed with Story Time from Space, NASA, and CASIS to send a copy of its new book up to the International Space Station, where it will be read to a child. Fittingly, the book is entitled, The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home, and is about a child lost in space who has to find their way back home. The book that is sent into space will be personalized for a particular child, and in order to find that child, Lost My Name is hosting a contest, accessible by visiting The winner will get to sit, snug in bed, and watch a video of a real-life astronaut in space reading the book, with the actual Earth spinning in the background. All entrants need to provide details about themselves and the child by 11:59 p.m. on September 23. In addition, children must be ages 4 to 8 to...

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Fisher-Price Enters Multi-Year Play Area Partnership with CBL and Playtime

Fisher-Price Inc. has entered into a five-year partnership with CBL & Associates Properties Inc. and Playtime LLC to design soft play area attractions at select CBL malls nationwide. Each play area will resemble a larger-than-life toy box featuring brands such as Thomas & Friends, Little People, and more. The first three attractions will open at the West Towne Mall in Madison, Wis.; the Asheville Mall in Asheville, N.C.; and the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pa., shortly before the holiday season. Three additional attractions will open early next year, and the partnership will extend to more than 18 malls across the U.S. over the next three...

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Young Toy Professionals Invited to Networking Cocktail Party in Dallas

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) Young Professionals Network (YPN) will host a networking cocktail party on October 7 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The event is free for all to attend, and will take place following the close of the second day of Fall Toy Preview. Toy industry professionals ages 35 and under are invited to the party, to be held from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Hilton Anatole Gossip Bar. Light bites will be served; drinks and additional food will be available for purchase. TIA member company representatives will receive one complimentary drink. Guests are encouraged to RSVP by October 1. Questions regarding TIA’s YPN may be directed to Bernadette Boyle, membership manager, at (646)...

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MGA Entertainment Launches Bratz App

Earlier this month, MGA Entertainment launched its Bratz App, which gives users the ability to create worlds in the digital space by customizing Bratz avatars, fashions, and the Bratz Create It Yourself (CIY) Shoppe. Follow the link to see hi-res screenshots....

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Barbie Honors Zendaya with One-of-a-Kind Doll for Upcoming Benefit Concert

Mattel‘s Barbie brand is honoring Zendaya with a one-of-a-kind doll to be presented at the Barbie Rock ‘N Royals Concert Experience on September 26 at the Hollywood Palladium. The doll commemorates the singer’s Vivienne Westwood look from the 2015 Oscars Red Carpet. Zendaya, who encourages girls to raise their voices, will host the Barbie Rock ‘N Royals concert this month, an experiential event benefiting the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The concert will include up-and-coming musical and dance acts, a meet and greet with Zendaya, and a rock star zone where kids can jam out on guitars, drums, trumpets, and more instructed by music teachers and high school music students from Duarte Unified School District, a VH1 Save The Music partner school...

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Toys “R” Us Reports Second Quarter Results, Announces Seasonal Hiring

This past Tuesday, Toys “R” Us Inc. reported financial results for the second quarter ended August 1. For the quarter, Adjusted EBITDA was $122 million, compared to $83 million in the prior year period. In addition, domestic operating performance improved significantly as domestic gross margin rate remained strong. Internationally, the company continued its positive comparable store net sales trend with particular strength in Canada, Central Europe, China, and Southeast Asia. Consolidated net sales were $2.3 billion, a decrease of $147 million compared to the prior year period. Excluding a $144 million negative impact of foreign currency translation, net sales declined $3 million. The relatively flat net sales resulted from an increase in international comparable store net sales, offset by a decrease in domestic comparable store net sales. International comparable store net sales were up 3.3 percent, primarily driven by increases in the learning, baby, and core toy categories, partially offset by a decrease in Toys “R” Us’ entertainment category. Domestic comparable store net sales were down 2.5 percent, primarily due to a planned decrease in promotional activity. With the holiday shopping season arriving, Toys “R” Us will hire 40,000 employees at its stores, distribution centers, and warehouses nationwide. Interviewing for seasonal positions begins this month at stores, with new hires starting work in October. Applications are being accepted at the company’s Holiday Hiring...

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