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Disney, Lucasfilm Reveal Title and Product Packaging for Episode IX

At Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm and Disney revealed the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie. The trailer also officially revealed the movie’s title: The Rise of Skywalker. Although we won’t see product for this movie until Oct. 4 (aka Triple Force Friday), the companies also released a first look at the product packaging. The empty box has a black, red, and yellow motif, with the character Kylo Ren pictured the top right corner. The inside of the box is all yellow, featuring the symbol for The First Order, a military dictatorship led by Kylo Ren in the Star Wars...

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2019 Toy of the Year Award Finalists Announced

The Toy Association unveiled 123 finalists for its 2019 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards. The TOTY Awards program recognizes the top toy, game, and licenses in the industry, and supports children in need as a fundraiser for The Toy Foundation. TOTY Ambassadors announced the finalists this morning. Between now and January 6, families can visit www.ToyAwards.org to vote for their favorite in each of the 17 categories. Nineteen judges chose the finalists from more than 550 nominees submitted by over 200 companies of all sizes. The judges included toy and play experts, retailers, academics, and journalists who reviewed and ranked the...

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Singing Machine Partners with Audrey Nethery to Launch Campaign

YouTube star Audrey Nethery partnered with the karaoke company Singing Machine to raise money for Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA) research. The company will also donate 15 percent of all online sales to the DBA Foundation through June. Nethery, the 9-year-old Internet sensation and a patient of DBA herself, will release a video on Friday morning to invite her followers to join the charity campaign, #ShineTheLight. The personal invitation features an energetic cover of a song by Meghan Trainor. To participate in the campaign, people are invited to submit creative videos that highlight a charitable cause on YouTube and Instagram with...

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COMMENTARY: Licensed Figures? Not the Easiest Business to Figure Out

A few months ago, I wrote a commentary about trends occurring in the world of licensed action figures. Since then, I worked on a longer piece for The Licensing Book, the sister publication of The Toy Book, looking at the process in between attaining a license for a movie, TV show, etc., and the production of the final toy. Licensed collectible figures was a fascinating subject to write about, and I am eternally grateful to all of the toy company officials who took time out of their busy lives to answer my unending barrage of (mostly) annoying questions. Below are highlights from my look at the licensed collectible figure business, both where it is now and where it might be going. They’re mostly lifted from the longer article, which is available to read at The Licensing Book home page (Just click on the link to the Spring 2015 issue): When It Comes to Acquiring a License, History Matters From what company officials told me, acquiring a license largely depends on a toymaker’s track record—or the products and licenses it already has—and its pre-existing relationships within the licensed figure industry. In many cases, the company that wants a license initiates the conversation with the license-holder, though it can happen the other way around, too. For example, a toymaker such as NECA, which has an established reputation for action figures based...

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The Chicago Toy & Game Group Reveals 2014 TAGIE Winners

The Chicago Toy & Game Group has crowned this year’s recipients of the 2014 Toy and Game Inventor of the Year (TAGIE) Awards. More than 400 guests representing 23 countries gathered at Chicago’s historic Navy Pier Grand Ballroom last Friday to toast today’s top playthings. The Chicago Toy & Game Group acknowledged the following winners from nominated categories: Excellence in Game Design: Oliver Morris, designer of Gravity Maze Excellence in Toy Design: Ian Bernstein, Adam Wilson, and Sphero team, inventors of Ollie Rising Star Designer: Alice Taylor, designer of Makies Young Inventor of the Year: Lyla Black, inventor of Lyla Tov Monsters Honorees of the following closed categories were also awarded: Excellence in Character Creation: Hasbro for Transformers In Memoriam: Bill Goodman Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Kohner, on behalf of The Kohner Bros. Hassenfeld Family Humanitarian Award: Diane and Quintin...

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VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch Available in Exclusive New Colors

The Kidizoom Smartwatch from VTech is now available in vivid violet and sky blue in limited quantities exclusively on vtechkids.com. The smartwatch also comes in its original colors: blue, pink, green, and white. The Kidizoom Smartwatch lets kids tell time, take photos, add photo effects, record videos, and play built-in games. The 1.4-inch color touch screen device also has a rechargeable battery, alarm clock, timer, stopwatch, voice recorder, and parental game controls. It also features a durable design to withstand drops and is splash and sweat...

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The Prettie Girls! from One World Doll Project Embraces a Multicultural World

Kids are easily influenced at a young age from the world around them, the people they interact with, and even the toys they play with. For young girls especially, something as simple as a doll can change the way they perceive themselves. One company’s solution is to make a positive impact through the doll category. Trent. T. Daniel founded the One World Doll Project in 2010 with Stacey McBride-Irby, who began working for the company in February 2011. The company was established to bring multicultural dolls, products, and toys into the marketplace through the creation of The Prettie Girls!...

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COMMENTARY: Everyone Has One, But I Want Mine to be Unique

Last Friday marked my niece Courtney’s eighth birthday, and what was she hoping for most? An iPod. Now, in my opinion, an 8-year-old doesn’t have much business with an iPod, but kids today are getting into electronics at a much younger age. Though part of Courtney’s argument for “needing” an iPod was, “everyone has one except for me,” the first thing she did when she got it was personalize it. Before even putting a song on it, she slapped a peace-sign sticker right on the back of it—10 minutes out of the box (hence why 8-year-olds probably shouldn’t have iPods). But, this was her way of making it her own. For parents buying their children expensive devices such as smartphones, iPods, or even portable gaming devices like the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita, there are some awesome products on the market that will allow kids to dazzle and personalize their devices without placing a never-gonna-come-off, gooey-backed sticker on said device. Plugy, from Hashy, is a universal 3.5mm plug that fits snuggly into all standard headphone jacks. Plugys come in more than 40 different styles, including zoo animals, robots, and glow-in-the-dark options. Plugy has something for everyone, including a rainbow, Eiffel Tower, and an apple stem, and allows kids to  take their smart device to a more personal level in a not-so-permanent way. Plugys are made of rubber and...

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Recall: Beado Handheld Bead Play Toys

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Agency, in collaboration with Rhino Toys, Inc., has issued a recall notice for Beado handheld bead play toys. The toy, which poses a potential choking hazard, can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund. Affecting approximately 5,500 units, the Beado toy’s adhesive may not be sufficient enough to maintain a connection between various plastic wires, which may cause the toy’s beads to fall off. The recall affects Beado handheld beaded play toys with the model number 1501 and the date code 02910 04323A. The product measures six inches in diameter, and contains four blue plastic “hubs,” six white plastic “wires,” and 12 multi-colored beads. Products whose date codes differ from 02910, or have a black mark next to the 02910 date code with an inspection sticker, are exempt. For detailed examples, click here. For more information, or to report a claim, call Rhino at 877-887-4433 Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. Pacific Time. Photo Credit: Rhino Toys,...

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