Voice Command Pitching Machine
Voice Command Quarterback
EXPERIENCE THE NEW LEVEL OF SPORTS PLAY! EA, EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS logo and “It’s in the Game” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S and/or other countries. Toy Island is an authorized Electronic Arts licensee. Toys shown may vary from actual product
Toy Island 70 Hudson Street Hoboken, NJ 07030 tel: 201.683.9873
Volume 5, No. 1
Features 24 ECRM’s MarketGate
Software to Be Used at Fall Toy Preview 2010 by Nancy Lombardi
26 With Halloween 2009 Labeled a Relative Success, Manufacturers Look to 2010
by Chris Adams
by Chris Adams
30 Technology at Play by Paul Narula
32 Children’s Electronics: Product Presentation
by Paul Narula
34 Be Amazing Toys
by Laurie Leahey
: Product Presentation
by Laurie Leahey
Observations & Opinions
Entertainment Marketplace: Crayola
Merchandise Makers: Little Kids
Industry Forum: TIA
Industry Forum: ASTRA
Industry Forum: Design Edge
Calendar of Events
ON THIS PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM THE TOP): Paper Magic’s Zombie Rockers, the Dell Inspiron Nickelodeon Mini Edition, and Sakar’s Crayola Digital Video Camera
ON THE COVER: Disguise, a division of Jakks Pacific, will offer a range of costumes pegged around next year’s release of Toy Story 3. The line will include an array of options to dress as characters such as Green Army Man, Buzz Lightyear, and Alien. COVER BY DESIGN EDGE
OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS
Full Steam Ahead as We Begin Our Fifth Year BOB GLASER
eaders should take note that this December issue of TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT kicks off volume five. aNb Media is pleased to have been serving the toy industry for the past four years. We thought it would be a good time to look back at the industry because so much has changed in four years. In fact, it seems so much has changed in the industry (and in the world) in the past 18 months. Some of the most significant changes have taken place in toy retailing. Walmart announced earlier this year that it’s cutting back on the number of total SKUs available in its stores and will only focus on the 3–5-year-old demographic. Toys “R” Us has taken advantage of the demise of other toy retailers and expanded its reach to now include FAO Schwarz and KB Toys. Sears announced over the summer that it is re-entering the toy industry. It opened toy departments in 20 locations for this year with more toy departments planned for 2010. In addition, online retailing continues to grow at a rapid pace. One retailer in particular, www.TysToyBox.com, has grown into a significant player without having any brick-and-mortar stores. aNb Media also recognized the migration of consumers onto the web— particularly mothers with young children. As a result, we launched the internet’s first online information source targeting consumers encompassing all things play at www.TimeToPlayMag.com. This is the one resource for parents to find all they need to know about toys, play, and family entertainment. Along with the continued growth of the internet, within the past 18 months or so, there has been tremendous growth in the influence of mommy bloggers. These moms are connecting on a global and local basis with other moms and influencing everything from product purchases, corporate ad campaigns, and charitable giving to safety and environmental issues and certainly so many more issues that affect today’s families. Safety remains a hot-button issue. While we all want children to be safe, this is an issue that seems to have gone a bit too far and yet has a lot further to go. In some cases, there are toys that were deemed perfectly safe to play with just last year (assuming they were used in the manner intended) that are no longer considered safe. So what has changed? In many cases nothing has changed. There is now so much testing, labeling, and retesting yet the items are not any more safe or even any different then they were last year, or two or three years ago, simply because the item was never unsafe to begin with. In many cases, the items have only become harder to manufacture, more expensive to manufacture due to increased testing costs, or, in some cases, are no longer manufactured due to the stringent testing requirements. Yet through all the changes over the past four years, the one constant that remains is that toy manufacturers still produce fun, engaging, and educational toys that today’s children enjoy. And, as long as that continues, aNb Media will be here to cover those happenings whether it is on the trade side through TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT or by reaching consumers on www.TimeToPlayMag.com BY
aNb Media wishes everyone a healthy, happy, and profitable holiday season.
4 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
MEDIA • Volume 5, Number 1
PUBLISHER BOB GLASER BOB@ANBMEDIA.COM ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER ANDY KRINNER ANDY@ANBMEDIA.COM ADVERTISING MANAGER AMY LAND AMY@ANBMEDIA.COM CONTROLLER MARY GROGAN MARY@ANBMEDIA.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF JIM SILVER JIM@ANBMEDIA.COM EDITORIAL DIRECTOR NANCY LOMBARDI NANCY@ANBMEDIA.COM MANAGING EDITOR CHRIS ADAMS CHRISA@ANBMEDIA.COM EDITOR AT LARGE CHRISTOPHER BYRNE CHRISB@ANBMEDIA.COM ASSISTANT EDITORS LAURIE LEAHEY; LAURIE@ANBMEDIA.COM PAUL NARULA; PAUL@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB MASTER ERIK KIECKHAFER ERIK@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB CONTENT MANAGER BRENDAN SANABRIA BRENDAN@ANBMEDIA.COM CONTRIBUTOR STACY LEISTNER; KATHLEEN MCHUGH; MATT NUCCIO, MATT@DESIGNEDGE.NET HONG KONG REPRESENTATIVE TONY LEE SMART REGENT PRODUCTIONS LTD., 66–72 STANLEY STREET, ROOM 603, KAI TAK COMMERCIAL BUILDING, CENTRAL HONG KONG PHONE: 2815 0166 • FAX: 2815 6911 • SREGENT@NETVIGATOR.COM PUBLIC RELATIONS REPRESENTATIVE JOSSLYNNE WELCH LITZKY PUBLIC RELATIONS, 320 SINATRA DRIVE, HOBOKEN, N.J. 07030 (201) 222–9118 EXT. 13 • JWELCH@LITZKYPR.COM INTERESTED IN A SUBSCRIPTION? CONTACT SUBSCRIPTIONS@ANBMEDIA.COM ANB MEDIA, INC. 229 WEST 28TH STREET, SUITE 401, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10001 PHONE: (646) 763–8710 • FAX: (646) 763–8727 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT and SPECIALTY EMPORIUM are published monthly by aNb Media, Inc. Copyright 2009 aNb Media, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording,
or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in the U.S.A. TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT and SPECIALTY EMPORIUM are registered trade-
marks of aNb Media, Inc. Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of management.
10 YEARS OF HAPPY AND COUNTING! A FLOOD OF FANS • #1 animated program on all of TV 8 years in a row among K2-11 and 6-11* • 71 million monthly viewers – twice as many viewers as top broadcast hits like “Desperate Housewives”, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Two and a Half Men” • Attracting more adults than ever – 32% of viewers are Adults in 2008 vs. 20% in 1999* *Nielsen: 7/17/99-12/31/08
2009 WAS NICK’S BIGGEST CELEBRATION YET • $100 million in marketing and promotions • Over 90 million impressions year-to-date • National sweepstakes promotion on over 15 million products
AND THE CELEBRATION CONTINUES IN 2010 • • • • •
New episodes premiere throughout the year Three on-air TV events One-hour DTV movie “Legends of Bikini Bottom” (Nov) 3D TV event airs Thanksgiving weekend (Nov) All new consumer products with new partnerships and unexpected pairings
For International licensing information contact:
For US licensing and retail information contact:
Pam Davis Retail Development Pam.Davis@nick.com
Kristi Wasmer Retail Development Kristi.Wasmer@nick.com
©2009 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. SpongeBob SquarePants created by Stephen Hillenburg.
10/26/09 5:59:20 PM
SIZZLERS: WHAT ’S MOVING OFF STORE SHELVES? WHAT ARE THE HOTTEST WEB ORDERS? Here is an alphabetical listing of the hottest-selling items in the toy industry, based on
a combined survey of both offline and online retailers, reflecting the previous month’s sales. Uno Moo
LEGO STAR WARS ASSORTMENT LEGO
AIR HOGS L ASER ZERO GRAVITY Spin Master BAKUGAN 7 IN 1 FIGURE ASSORTMENT Spin Master
MATCHBOX ROCKY ROBOT TRUCK Mattel
BARBIE FASHIONISTA DOLL ASSORTMENT Mattel
NERF N-STRIKE RAIDER Hasbro
BARBIE TWILIGHT DOLL ASSORTMENT Mattel
Matchbox Rocky the Robot Truck
NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. FOR WII Nintendo
CONNECT 4X4 Hasbro CRAYOLA COLOR WONDER MAGIC LIGHT BRUSH Crayola
PLAYSKOOL CHUCK MY TALKING TRUCK Hasbro SCRIBBLE & WRITE LeapFrog
LuLu My Cuddlin’ Kitty
EYECLOPS NIGHT VISION INFRARED STEALTH BINOCULARS Jakks Pacific FURREAL FRIENDS LULU MY CUDDLIN’ KITTY Hasbro
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN FIGURE ASSORTMENT Hasbro UNO MOO Mattel
Nerf N-Strike Raider
LEGO CHRISTMASTHEMED SETS LEGO
WII SPORTS RESORT Nintendo ZHU ZHU PETS Cepia Mindflex
6 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
SPECIALTY SIZZLERS: WHAT ’S MOVING OFF STORE SHELVES IN THE SPECIALTY MARKET? This is an alphabetical listing of the hottest-selling items in the specialty segment of the toy industry, based on a survey of independent toy and gift retailers, reflecting the previous month’s sales.
AFRICAN DWARF FROGS ECOAQUARIUMS Wild Creations
ELF ON THE SHELF: A CHRISTMAS TRADITION Elf on the Shelf
BLOCK ’N LEARN K’s Kids CALICO CRITTERS ASSORTMENT International Playthings
GROCERY CART Melissa & Doug
KNOT-A-LOT Alex Toys
DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS SCIENCE SETS Thames & Kosmos
Block ’N Learn
DIGGIN’ DODGE TAG Diggin’ Active 8 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
PINKALICIOUS DOLL Madame Alexander
A RECAP OF INDUSTRY HEADLINES MEGA BRANDS, ROSENS SETTLE L AWSUIT
MEGA Brands, Inc., announced the settlement in a statement of all outstanding litigation with Lawrence Rosen, Jeffrey Rosen, and Sydney Rosen (known collectively as the “Rosens”). The Rosens filed suit in 2006 claiming earnout payments and damages relating to the Rose Art acquisition. MEGA Brands countersued claiming the Rosens withheld and misrepresented information about serious defects in the Magnetix product line purchased as part of the transaction. Under the terms of the settlement, MEGA Brands will receive cash of approximately $17.2 million. In addition, the Rosens forego all claims for additional consideration which totaled $54.8 million. As a result, the corporation will record a recovery of $72 million in its results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2009. The Rosens said the settlement allows them to recover approximately $20 million in taxes, which they prepaid in expectation of MEGA Brands’ ability to satisfy its $50 million earnout payment obligation, which had been achieved by the Rosens as stipulated in MEGA Brands’ Q4 2005 report.
ASTRA SHOW CHANGES DATES
The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that the dates of its 2010 Marketplace & Academy have changed to June 13–16, 2010. The Providence, R.I. location remains the same. Visit www.astratoy.org for more information.
LIMA PARTNERS WITH NEW YORK GIFT FAIR
The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) will present an educational seminar designed to facilitate relationships between the buyers and sellers of art and design licensing at the winter 2010 New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF). Marty Brochstein, senior vice-president of industry relations and information for LIMA; Christopher Ahlgrim of the art licensing agency Bergen-Wild; and David Niggli, retail, branding, licensing, and merchandising consultant, will lead the seminar of how best to evaluate a potential licensing partner. Matchmaking: Keys to Finding the Right Licensing Partner, will be presented on Tuesday, February 2, from 8–9:30 A.M. at the Jacob Javits Center in room 1E04. Tickets are $30 in advance at www.nyigf.com/programs or $40 at the door.
TSCP ANNOUNCES FIRST CERTIFICATIONS
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the first products to be certified under the newly launched Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP), a comprehensive initiative to help assure compliance with the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and enhance the safety of toys sold in the United States. The TSCP was launched on October 1, 2009. Push, Pull and Ride, a combination push walker and stroller, ride-on, and pull wagon produced by Radio Flyer, Inc., was the first product to receive TSCP certification. Five products from Sassy, Inc.—Flip & Grip 2 Pack, Sensation Station, Hello Baby! Phone, Carrier Mirror, and Fascination Station—have been certified. The Magic Card Game Assortment and Tripoley Diamond Edition, both produced by Cadaco, Inc., round out the first set of certified products.
10 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
TSCP certification signifies that manufacturers have performed an analysis of their toy designs to identify and correct safety issues, assessed factory process controls, and performed the prescribed safety tests on product samples using accredited laboratories.
PATCH PRODUCTS REACHES MILLION SELLER MARK WITH BUZZWORD
Patch Products announced that it has sold more than 1 million Buzzword games in the U.S. since 2003. Buzzword, which was invented by Michael Steer and Gary Donner, is Patch Products bestselling board game. In the game, players receive a Buzzword and have 45 seconds to solve 10 clues with all the answers containing the Buzzword. For example, let’s say the Buzzword is ball, some of the clues could be: They plump when you cook them (Ballpark Franks); prisoner’s ankle garb (ball and chain) or soccer in Europe (football).
NOVEMBER 10 PROCLAIMED SESAME STREET DAY
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the landmark children’s series, New York City proclaimed November 10 Sesame Street Day and unveiled a temporary street sign at 64th Street and Broadway across from Sesame Workshop’s corporate headquarters in honor of the program’s permanence and lasting impact on New York City’s history and four generations of children across the country.
the press conference during which November 10 was proclaimed Sesame Street Day by New York City
THE BERENSTAIN BEARS HEADED TO THE BIG SCREEN
Walden Media is acquiring the film rights to the book series The Berenstain Bears. Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps, Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, and Walden Media will produce the family comedy, which will be a live-action film mixed with computer-generated characters. Levy’s 21 Laps has produced Night at the Museum, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Nelvana, known for its work in children’s animation (Babar, The Backyardigans, Max & Ruby), produces the animated The Berenstain Bears television series, airing on PBS.
BREYER TO SPONSOR WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES
Breyer Animal Creation and the World Games 2010 Foundation announced Breyer’s sponsorship of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The games The Berenstain Bears will be held September 25–October 10 in Lexington, Ky. and will feature the world championships in eight equestrian sports. As part of the partnership, Breyer has commissioned sculptor Kathleen Moody to create a sculpture to symbolize the spirit of the horses competing in eight different disciplines. Known as “Esprit,” the sculpture will be available in several mediums to commemorate the games. Breyer will also create a number of Traditional Series portrait models of key competitors from various disciplines, playsets for children incorporating the WEG disciplines, and other commemorative products. In addition, Breyer will create an interactive play area for children, incorporating equine-themed activities using Breyer's realistic model horses and pint-sized jumps for children.
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 11
SHELF TALKERS: CHECK
THESE NEW ITEMS BUZZING WITH E NDLESS F UN
OWI’S S OLAR-POWERED F UN
OWI, Inc., now offers an affordable and accessible way for kids to learn about solar energy and building with its Mini Solar Kits, available in 11 designs. OWI’s Mini Solar Kits help kids understand the benefits of renewable energy while easily creating their own fun, batteryfree toy. Compact and lightweight, Mini Solar Kits can be taken anywhere and are activated under direct sunlight. In addition, a 50-watt halogen bulb brings the robots to life indoors. There are 11 Mini Solar Kits available including a Valiant Viking Ship, Peppy Orangutan, Aerial Cable Car, and a Happy Hopping Frog. While OWI’s Mini Solar Kits are new additions to the line, OWI has been making its RobotiKits line since 1980.
KIDS W ILL BE F LIPPING
Endless Games is introducing the A Bee C Matching Game for ages 5 and up. This fast-paced letter matching game, with an MSRP of $14.99, is perfect for kids who don’t yet know how to spell. Simply match letter to letter and collect seven cards to win. The bee-shaped package houses the pieces.
Flipping for Phonics is a three-tiered, learn-to-read, phonics-based system hosted by Flip the Monkey. It consists of a six-column Phonics Flip Book, music CDs, and storybooks that come together to offer a simple solution to learn to read based on the proven method of incorporating phonics into the learning process. The Flipping for Phonics system works like this: Users start out with the Flipping for Phonics Flip Book. It features a series of carefully chosen real-life pictures that represent pure phonetic sounds that correspond to each letter of the alphabet. Once the user is familiar with each sound, it’s time to advance to the next section of the book, which consists of six cascading tiers of letters. This section allows users to flip through the alphabet to create up to 2,000 different words up to six letters long. Next is Flip the Monkey’s Story Books that combine simple word families with illustrations and characters that young readers can identify with. By creating stories that are made up of words from the same word family (such as hot, pot, dot, not) children easily see and comprehend what they are reading. Flipping for Phonics’ collection of musical CDs entertains children with fun songs that include words that correspond to the Flipping for Phonics storybook series. Readers can follow along with the song or simply listen, which reinforces what has already been learned. The set has been used in a variety of public and private schools. It is available for sale on the company’s website, www.flippingforphonics.com. The sets are now entering the retail market.
12 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
TALKIN ’ A BOUT O UR G ENERATION
Battat introduces Our Generation dolls, which are six new dolls that bring positive messages and inspiring stories to girls. Each doll comes with its own hardcover storybook, which reminds young readers that “today’s dreams lead to tomorrow’s accomplishments,” and is packed with accessories that enhance the everyday adventures on which the character embarks. Whether it’s learning to ice skate, starting a new school year or making new friends, the relatable experiences of the Our Generation dolls make the new offerings the perfect parent-approved play pals for the youngest generation. The dolls are available exclusively this fall in Target.
M ARY M EYER S IGNS D EAL WITH W UBBA N UB
Mary Meyer has signed a licensing agreement with WubbaNub, experts in pacifier toys. Mary Meyer will introduce six, sixinch pacifiers with a soft, cuddly character attached to each. These pacifiers won’t get lost and will soothe babies with their texture, colors, and designs. Themes available include Little MVP and Little Princess as well as Mango Monkey, Cutsie Caterpillar, Precious Puppy, and Lucky Ducky. The pacifier is made of latex-free, medical-grade silicone and there are no cords or clips to get tangled in. Each has an MSRP of $15.
T RUTH BE T OLD . . .
Shown is Cahootie’s original Fortune Teller game. An Animal Planet version, featuring challenging questions, will be available soon.
A NIMAL PLANET C AHOOTIE
Cahootie, the modern-day reincarnation of the handmade “Cootie Catcher” or “Fortune Teller” games of the past, announced a partnership with Animal Planet to develop a new line of educational, animal-themed games featuring questions and challenges about the species of the world. The agreement was brokered by Animal Planet’s licensing agent The Joester Loria Group and is North American based only. Animal Planet Cahooties are made of pre-folded, rip-resistant laminated paper with bold, colorful photographs from Animal Planet. The packaging includes interchangeable stickers that fit one of four animal themes: Dogs Rule, Cats Rule, Sea Creatures, and Endangered Creatures. This conversation-starter game allows users to learn fun facts about their favorite animals and discover species they never knew existed. Recommended for ages 7 and up, the new Animal Planet Cahootie games will be available in the U.S. in early 2010 for an MSRP of $6.99.
Truth Be Told, from Buffalo Games, is the revealing pretend-to-know-your-friends party game. In each round one of the players is the host and plays a question card such as, “Truth Be Told, my favorite snack is _________.” The host writes a truthful answer, for example, pork rinds. All other players pretend to be the host and write bluff answers. The host collects and reads all answers aloud and players try to guess the true answer to score points. Bluff answers also score points allowing for many ways to win while making for lots of laughs. The game contains 564 questions, which are on 141 cards; eight markers; eight fill-in-the-blank cards; eight paddles; one scoreboard; and instructions. The game, with an MSRP of $27.99, is designed for three to eight players ages 12 and up. Truth Be Told is now available in limited distribution at select retailers in Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and St. Louis. It will be available nationwide in January 2010. Truth Be Told is also now available at www.buffalogames.com.
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 13
CRAYOLA BY LAURIE LEAHEY
t all started in 1903 with just eight colors—red, blue, yellow, green, violet, orange, black, and brown. Now, more than 100 years later, Crayola crayons span a multitude of colors, from Robin’s Egg Blue to Caribbean Green, and are sold in more than 80 countries. Crayola crayons are a staple of childhood, whether using them in school or coloring at home at the kitchen table. Even adults still get a kick
out of using the crayons and smelling that Crayola crayon scent. Over the years, the company has continued to deliver new creative experiences through innovation. In 1885, Edwin Binney and his cousin C. Harold Smith began the partnership of Binney & Smith, producing red oxide pigments for painting red barns and carbon black for car tires. A few years later, the company began producing slate
14 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
school pencils, as well as dustless school chalk. Noticing a need in schools for safe and affordable wax crayons, Binney & Smith made the first box of eight Crayola crayons, which sold for a nickel. The eight original colors are still found in Crayola’s box of eight crayons today. The Crayola name was coined by Alice Binney, Edwin’s wife and a former school teacher. The word comes from “craie,” the French word for “chalk,” and “ola,” short for “oleaginous” or “oily” because the crayons are made from paraffin wax. It’s not just “oily chalk” that Crayola makes. The company (which officially changed its name from Binney & Smith to Crayola, LLC in 2007 and is part of Hallmark Cards, Inc.) also produces a plethora of markers, sidewalk chalk, and other art products. Through a variety of licensing deals, the Crayola name expands even further into the arts and crafts market and beyond. Licensees include Rasta Imposta, M.Z. Berger, Wild Planet, and Lafayette Puzzle Factory. Crayola’s licensed products are meant to be for kids as well as adults, and the company says growth categories for the brand include apparel and accessories, baby, consumer electronics, bath/home, personal care, food, publishing, stationery, and toys and games. Crayola has begun to tap into some of these categories through partnerships with Sakar, Sunstar Americas, Screenlife, and Makit Products. Crayola and its licensees hope to offer new products that inspire limitless creativity for children of all ages.
• In 2006, Oprah Winfrey named Crayola crayons as one of her favorite things. Crayola presented Winfrey with a crayon created just for her: The Color Purple. • Mr. Rogers, a fan of Lemon Yellow, helped mold the 100 billionth Crayola crayon.
• The average U.S. child will wear down about 730 crayons by his or her 10th birthday, enough to cover an NBA basketball court.
• In honor of Crayola’s 100th birthday in 2003, Big Blue was created from “leftolas” (leftover, worndown crayons) donated by kids across the country. • According to a Yale University study, the scent of Crayola crayons is among the top 20 most recognizable to American adults, taking the No. 18 spot. Coffee is No. 1.
Makit Products manufactures Crayola Make-a-Plate, -Tray, and -Snack Set kits. The products make unique keepsakes and gifts. Each product in the line includes Crayola markers.
Sunstar Americas manufactures a Crayola oral care line that is designed to be no-mess and help parents teach their children good dental health care and an overall healthy lifestyle at an early age.
Wild Planet manufactures a collection of Crayola coloring play environment sets under its newest brand, Crayon Town. Crayon Town activity sets let kids create an entire town, complete with 3-D structures, to color and build. Once the environments are colored and constructed, kids use the accompanying figures and vehicles to engage in their own imaginative scenarios.
Screenlifeâ€™s new DVD board game (shown), jigsaw puzzle, traditional board game, and card game blend interactive game and artistic play.
The Crayola Digital Video Camera (shown), enhanced 2.1 MP Digital Camera, and Marker Flashlight Tag Set from Sakar International are interactive and colorful, designed to combine learning with fun and value.
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 15
BUBBLES, BALLS, BY
ot every toy company starts as a toy company, but for Little Kids, the change was not hard to make. When the company launched in 1989, it started with a line of juvenile products. Its first product was a simple plastic holder for the everyday juice box, to keep kids from accidentally spilling or squirting the juice. From there, the company continued to manufacture juvenile products associated mostly with feeding and keeping kids clean. This led to the development of Little Kids’ no-spill juice cup. Shortly afterward, as the company began to enter the toy market, designers at Little Kids realized that the company’s nospill technology had an application for toys—specifically in the bubbles category. The creation of the No-Spill Bubble Tumbler in 1993 got Little Kids into the toy category and the company has been there ever since. Being one of the company’s first toy products, the No-Spill Bubble Tumbler has partially defined the way Little Kids designs its products. “Our biggest challenge is to be true to our tagline: Toys that work like magic,” says Jim Engle, president and founder of Little Kids. The No-Spill Bubble Tumbler’s patented design means that no matter what a child does, the product will never spill the contained bubble solution. This is a source of relief for most parents and a source of wonder for curious children. “They want to know how
16 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
it happened and how it worked,” says Engle. “We’ve always tried to design toys that have some element of magic in them.” However, creating that magic is not always a simple task. One of Little Kids’ recent major product lines is Junk Ball. Junk Ball features a plastic ball and a bat that kids can use to play a backyard version of baseball, as well as a number of accessories that can help enhance the gameplay. One of the key points of Junk Ball is that the ball’s design allows children to throw complex pitches such as curveballs and knuckleballs with relative ease. Of course, designing such a product wasn’t a simple process. “There’s all sorts of science and aerodynamics that go into a simple pitch,” says Engle. His office currently contains a trophy case filled with 20 different versions of the Junk Ball that were tried before the company perfected and released its current version. The red band around the center of the Junk Ball can be turned to open and close a number of holes along the band. Doing so changes the way air flows around the ball, which makes it easier to throw certain pitches. Of course, sometimes magic alone won’t sell a product, but Little Kids has those bases covered as well. The company worked with major children’s licenses even before it was manufacturing toys. The plastic juice box covers that were a part of Little Kids’ early lineup were a part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licensing program in 1991, shortly before the release of the brand’s first
live-action movie. The licensing deal was remarkably successful for Little Kids. “It proved that the right license on a good product can add a pretty good bit of business to the category,” says Engle. Since then, Little Kids has continued to take advantage of the opportunities provided by licensing, establishing a strong relationship with major licensors such as Nickelodeon. Many of Little Kids’ bubble products have Nickelodeon licenses, starting with Blue’s Clues and followed by SpongeBob SquarePants in 2001. Little Kids has continued to work with Nickelodeon and develop products for Dora the Explorer; Go, Diego, Go!; and The Backyardigans. While times have been tough throughout the industry, Little Kids continues to expand and grow. The company is still selling its original No-Spill Bubble Tumbler, now available in six different sizes, with additional products in the No-Spill line. The company has also created new bubble product lines, such as the My First Bubble line (which is geared toward toddlers), and innovative bubble blowers such as the Motorized Bubble Light, which sprays bubbles and shines a tinted light simultaneously. The Junk Ball line has also continued to expand, with a new Hall Stars line that takes Junk Ball indoors with softer balls and bats. In addition, Little Kids continues to develop its food activity lines, with products such as the Press Dough Cookie Maker. Engle sees a bright future for the company. “Despite all the challenges that are out there, we think that there are a lot of different opportunities to continue creating toys that work like magic,” he says.
TOTY TURNS 10 BY
STACY LEISTNER, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
he “Oscars” of the toy industry will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday, February 13, 2010, as the best products of the past year are named during the annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards in New York City. The event will be the official kick-off to the 107th American International Toy Fair. The TOTYs are the only toy awards where the winners are selected by members of the industry. The 2010 TOTY nominations period saw an 18 percent increase in submissions over the previous year, setting a new record for submissions. More than 120 distinct organizations representing a cross section of the industry—both in terms of company size and product lines—nominated candidate products for consideration. The nomination committee, comprised of major retailers representing both mass and specialty store segments, as well as journalists, inventors, and educators, met at TIA headquarters in early November to review the hundreds of nominations received.
from left: Mattel’s Neil Friedman, Elmo, and Muppeteer Kevin Clash at a past TOTY Awards Dinner
18 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
For the first time this year there were two separate categories for infant and preschool, bringing the total number of eligible categories to 12. A total of 83 products—representing a maximum of seven products per category—were selected for inclusion on the ballot and consideration as the overall Toy of the Year. Discussions held during the day-long meeting revealed new excitement in product design and inventiveness with an increasing number of toys drawing on pop culture icons, TV, and book characters. Jamie Gallagher, CEO of Faber-Castell USA/Creativity for Kids and chair of the TOTY Committee, affirmed the nomination committee’s discerning role. “Our goal is to ensure the integrity of the ballot selection process by choosing top-tier toys, which have had some retail success and exemplify the ingenuity and creativity of the industry,” he said. A new and more in-depth nominationsubmission process was introduced this year. The goal was to obtain key product data that would aid in promoting the selected products. As the official ballot was released in mid-November, so too was the curtain raised on a new consumer-facing TOTY website (www.toyawards.org) where kids of all ages are able to view the nominated toys, indicate their favorites in each category, download a free holiday shopping list, and register for a chance to win category-specific product packages worth up to $600. Banner advertising opportunities on the website help to generate additional exposure for toy companies during the busy holiday shopping season.
TOY INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME
As part of the TOTY Awards evening, two individuals will be inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: John Lasseter, COO of Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios, and principal creative advisor of Walt Disney Imagineering, as well as a posthumous award for Sam Walton, founder of Walmart Stores. Established in 1984, the Hall of Fame comprises an impressive roster of 55 individuals who have been previously honored for their significant contributions to the growth and success of the toy industry. Inductees are nominated by the industry at large and selected based on votes received from TIA’s membership. “Sam Walton helped to get toys into the hands of millions of children by carrying his own passion for toys and kids into the design of Walmart’s toy departments, making them a destination for young consumers,” said Alan Hassenfeld, chair of the Hall of Fame committee and 1994 inductee, in a statement. “And as the director of blockbuster movies such as Toy Story and Cars, John Lasseter brings toys to life on the big screen.” Lasseter will be present at the event to receive his award. This is The Walt Disney Company’s second induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame; Walt Disney was bestowed the honor in 1987.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.totyawards.org. Event sponsorships (including the Toy Industry Foundationsponsored TOTY Tribute Book) and/or promotional logo links on the consumerfacing TOTY website are available through TIA at (212) 675–1141.
TRADE SHOW ATTENDANCE
KATHLEEN MCHUGH, AMERICAN SPECIALTY TOY RETAILING ASSOCIATION
ype “trade show strategies” into Google, and you’ll get a mother lode of tips. . . if you are an exhibitor, that is. But what if you are an attendee? How do you make the most of your time and money at the show? This is more than an academic question for independent toy retailers operating on thin profit margins who need to get a payoff from every business dollar they spend. If sourcing products and business ideas at trade shows is part of your 2010 business plan, how will you get the biggest bang for the bucks it costs to attend? Here are a few ideas gleaned from ASTRA members: • SET CLEAR GOALS. Independent retailers may have different reasons for attending different shows. For example, February Toy Fair may be the place to replenish stock after a busy holiday season and to get a glimpse of prototype products. While at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy in June, you are more likely to see new product with packaging, which gives you a sense of how each new possibility might work on your shelves. You’ll also have a good sense of your plan for the holiday season, so it may be a good time to place those orders. This show is also the time for networking and educational programs. It’s the time to set a goal of coming home with, for example, five new ideas for cutting costs or three new ways to merchandise. • KNOW WHAT TYPES OF PRODUCTS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. Well before you leave for the show, do some analysis of your store’s sales patterns and your business
20 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
strengths and weaknesses. How much do you have to spend at the show and how should it be allocated? • ASK ABOUT DISCOUNTS. At both of the major shows (Toy Fair and ASTRA’s Marketplace), ASTRA members can expect to get robust show-only discounts. In some cases, you will get those discounts only if you ask, so make it a habit to ask. • ZERO IN ON THE “FINDS.” If there were a quick and easy way to identify the best new products unveiled at the show, would that help you target your time and energy? If you knew there was a way to make sure you didn’t miss the big finds at the show, would you invest in going? Good news: there are ways to trim down some of the searching so you get to products that wow you sooner and with greater reliability. At Toy Fair, ASTRA sponsors a Share the Fair event on Monday evening exclusively for its retail members, designed to collect information about the best new products at Toy Fair that year. The results are compiled in a list available to ASTRA retail members at the ASTRA booth on Tuesday morning. At Marketplace, all the nominees for the Best Toys for Kids awards are displayed in a special area that offers retailers an opportunity to see, in one quick and user-friendly stop, what their peers have suggested are the best toys of the year. • PARTICIPATE IN THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM. Both Toy Fair and ASTRA offer educational sessions for attendees at their shows. ASTRA’s program is especially geared to the needs of the independent retailer with the goal of sending everyone
Toy Fair 2010 February 14–17, 2010 New York City www.toyassociation.org ASTRA Marketplace & Academy June 13–16, 2010 Providence, Rhode Island www.astratoy.org
back to their stores with several new actionoriented ideas they can use right away. TIA’s educational program tends to be woven into the show schedule, where ASTRA offers its Academy seminars on designated days separate from the show days. • PACE YOURSELF. Keeping yourself going strong at a physically demanding show may not seem like a business strategy. But if you want to accomplish all of the above goals, you need to pace yourself carefully and use your energy wisely. Whatever investments your 2010 specialty toy store business plan calls for—and if you don’t yet have a plan, check out the tips in Play for Profit, available from ASTRA— few independent retailers can pass up a visit to one or both of the industry’s major shows if they want to keep current on the best new products. With a little planning and a clear idea of your goals, it’s not hard to make this investment pay off. And that’s the kind of investment that looks great in today’s challenging retail environment. Kathleen McHugh is president of The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Visit www.astratoy.org for more information.
Frightening Halloween Packaging BY
MATT NUCCIO, DESIGN EDGE
uring this past Halloween season, I walked countless retail aisles to look at Halloween product. I was horrified by all of the cloned packaging. It didn’t matter who manufactured it; it all looked the same. It was as if someone stole the plot line from the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers and applied it to packaging. Did someone put a curse on the industry condemning all packaging to look frighteningly the same? Halloween is a time to reinvent oneself. It’s time the industry follows suit. Let’s
22 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
dress up our packaging. Halloween product packages are typically rectangular cards with blister forms encasing the product and a large photo of the product—usually with its end result. As ingredients, there is nothing wrong here. But I think we need to throw “some eye of newt and toe of frog” into this witch’s brew. Let’s lift the curse. Don’t be afraid to have fun with the die lines. Have the card outline around the artwork. If you’re building a blister form, utilize it—don’t just encase the product. Raise the logo and/or tag lines. Angle the photo a bit. Don’t worry, it won’t effect
your packing cube. Just make sure you don’t exceed the height of the item itself. Packaging is your front line of sales. If you want to sell out, you need to stand out. Have fun and dress up your packaging. Halloween is the perfect holiday to try something new, which is why consumers are looking for your product. Don’t bore them to death.
Matt Nuccio is co-owner of Design Edge, inc., a graphic design and research development studio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (516) 377–0500.
ECRM’S MARKETGATE SOFTWARE TO BE USED AT FALL TOY PREVIEW 2010
he Toy Industry Association (TIA)
plistically described as a “speed-dating” for-
etc., and this will be uploaded into the system.
to bring ECRM’s MarketGate
closed, private showrooms.
what items they want to see during the meet-
and Efficient Collaborative Retail
Marketing (ECRM) are partnering Application Suite software to the
2010 Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. A meeting was held during this past October’s show to explain
mat. The show will remain in its current format of by-appointment-only meetings in
The first step in the software’s use begins
the plan. Additionally, TIA conducted one-on-
with scheduling. This is the aspect that received
ware is designed to streamline appointment
only the tip of the iceberg as to why this system
one meetings with manufacturers at the show.
The TIA explains that the MarketGate soft-
set-up, meeting preparation, and post-show follow-up. The software is a tool that both
retailers and manufacturers will be able to utilize long after the Fall Toy Preview is over.
Users will acquire the license for the software, which can then be renewed each year through ECRM so it works on a continual basis.
The software, which is expected to be cus-
tomized for the toy industry for reasons such as
how to incorporate rep groups, will be free to retailers. It is the show exhibitors that will carry
the yet-to-be-determined cost. The software is marketed and sold by ECRM for $900 per year,
which gives a company two licenses to access
the software. The software can also be upgraded and customized from the initial base offering.
However, for 2010 Fall Toy Preview, “we
haven’t yet finalized the cost,” says TIA’s
Marian Bossard, vice-president of meetings and events. “We are looking to have the cost
lowered for the introductory year. Every exhibitor that purchases space at the show will
the most “gossip” when talking with manufac-
turers at Fall Toy Preview. However, it’s really is being implemented. It’s also only a small component of the software’s capabilities.
The retailers are supposed to drive the
meeting requests but manufacturers can also
request meetings with retailers. Both sides can
assign meeting parameters relating to timeframe or product categories, for example.
The schedules (or any other information for
that matter) of both retailers and manufacturers will not be made public as some were speculat-
ing during this year’s Fall Toy Preview. As Bossard points out, “All the information in
MarketGate is private. You can’t see what other companies or retailers have scheduled.”
For example, if a manufacturer wanted to
meet with a retailer at 10:00 A.M. and that
slot is taken, the schedule simply shows the time blocked out on a color grid. No further information is given.
The next, and perhaps most important, step
have the cost of this software built into the
is on the manufacturer side and that occurs pre-
Fall Toy Preview is not turning into an
numbers, dimensions, weight, etc., in any for-
cost of the exhibit space.”
Bossard was quick to point out that the
ECRM-formatted show, which is often sim-
24 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
show. Manufacturers will submit to ECRM
product information, images, pricing, SKU
mat they choose such as an Excel file, PDF,
Retailers can then review the product line
before coming to the meeting, even choosing
ing. They can also look at vendor profiles and obtain details about a manufacturer.
On the retail side, each has to submit its
order form(s) to ECRM. Those will be loaded into the system so the auto-fill feature can be implemented when needed.
“Having the product information in the
system is key to making the event a success,”
MarketGate solutions manager. “From all of this information users can populate the retail forms,” she says. “We have more than 400
different retailers in this system, all with
their own multiple forms, so there are thousands of forms in the system.”
After the show (or even during the show)
both sides can use this system to place orders.
The auto-fill features are designed to cut down on the time it takes to “write up” the order.
The retailer can also take notes during the
meeting, compose emails, and add attachments in the software reporting back to the home office what the next steps will be post-trade show.
Scheduling and use of retail forms are
two components ideally to be used at a trade
show. However, post-show, MarketGate
offers a lot of features. One of the features for manufacturers is using the pre-loaded
product information to generate catalogs at
any time and email them as a link to retailers in the email database.
Yet the most popular tool, according to
ECRM’s Sweitzer, is the ad-comparison fea-
ture. “We track 130 different retailers across
60 different markets checking their weekly ad circular,” she says.
Each week MarketGate acquires the circu-
lars. In some cases there is a direct ad feed from the retailer and sometimes ECRM uses employees in the field across the country to send them the circular, which gets scanned into the system and uploaded.
A user can sort the ads in a number of ways.
Users can look at the top chains in a market.
Users can look at what else is advertised around a specific ad. Users can also select parameters
such as looking at private label ads or branded ads. The ads are archived back to 2007.
Users can also save search parameters so
they don’t have to reset it each time. In addition, the search can be emailed to the user so one doesn’t have to keep returning to check it.
LEARNING THE SYSTEM
The TIA, in conjunction with ECRM, will be
teaching the industry how to use the system before 2010 Fall Toy Preview gets underway. “The prep process will start three months out
from when they’ll have to use it, so they’ll be
fully prepared,” says Thom Randle, vice-president of strategic partnerships and industry affairs
for ECRM. “Once each company signs on we
assign them an account manager that helps keep them on track, especially to get things loaded into the system on the manufacturer end.”
In addition, when retailers arrive at 2010 Fall
Toy Preview, they will be given another demo at
registration. Exhibitors will have another demo in their booth, says Randle. “We’ll have staff on hand at the event to assist,” he says.
The reaction to this plan has been mixed
from the industry. The key question (in addition
to “what will it cost?”) has been “will Walmart
use it?” Speculation has been that Walmart (which didn’t offer comment) requested that a system like this be put into place.
Yet the TIA does admit that it, along with
ECRM, has a lot of work ahead over the next
few months to customize the system for the toy industry and to explain it to all the retailers that attend the show.
Both Target and Sears/Kmart were unaware
of the system details at press time. Bossard did admit that both retailers have yet to be pitched.
However, both retailers said they were open to it if there were obvious benefits. Toys “R” Us didn’t respond to an interview request.
Manufacturers interviewed, for the most
part, were open to the system. “The TIA has said that it wants to provide additional value for its members,” says Dean Bolte, senior
vice-president of sales and business develop-
ment for Smith & Tinker. “One potential avenue is through more efficient and effective
communication tools between vendors and
retailers. I believe [the system] has strong potential to help enable better and more effi-
cient communication. The key will be ensuring retailer support and participation.”
Bolte goes on to explain that there will be
some added time necessary to set up product
information in the system. “But if used properly [by retailers and manufacturers], it will decrease costs and time in the long run.”
Paradise Horses’ Steve Miller, vice-presi-
dent of sales, attended the TIA’s morning meeting during the Fall Toy Preview. He was a
bit more skeptical. He thought it would add more cost in the long run and could unintentionally exclude some of the new companies.
Yet Wild Planet’s Drew Stevenson, senior
vice-president of worldwide sales, who also
met with the TIA during the show, thought it was too early to tell if the software would be a pro or a con for Wild Planet.
Funrise’s Shirley Price, senior vice-president
and COO, had a similar reaction in meeting with
the TIA. She said they have a lot of follow-up questions for the TIA about how the system will compare with the system they already use.
Little Kids, which has recently been
looking into software of this type for its sales team, was open to the plan and offered
this reaction: “Anything that gets me to see more retailers, I’m all for,” says Jim Engle, president of Little Kids.
Goldberger Toys’ president and CEO, Jeff
Holtzman, who also met with the TIA, is
opposed to the system. As he says, “It takes the
sizzle out of sales. They are not allowing the interaction between salesman and customer.”
Holtzman, who is also opposed to the sched-
uling aspect of the software, says the system will only mean more work and added costs.
Learning Resources, however, was the one
company interviewed that currently uses the ECRM software.
“It’s cutting-edge software,” says Scott
McCabe, vice-president of business development for Learning Resources. “We can see all
the retailers’ quote forms and it has quite a database of company-specific documents.” He
thought the system would help the smaller man-
ufacturers reach out to the retailers and didn’t see working reps into the system as a concern. That was a concern raised by other companies.
McCabe also added that he didn’t see the
scheduling system as a problem. “You are there to see customers, so it doesn’t matter if people see that your time is blocked off,” he says.
The verdict is still out on how this will
come to fruition. The TIA will be getting the word out to the industry over the next few
months because, as Bossard says, “We believe the greatest amount of success will
come from maximum participation. We think this will create a level playing field to reach
retail because retailers will see all the exhibitors in this system.”
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 25
With Halloween 2009 Labeled a Relative Success, Manufacturers Look to 2010 BY
ll indications available as of press time point toward a relatively successful Halloween in 2009. Of course, relative is the operative word here. The weak economy that caused issues during the 2008 Halloween season lead manufacturers and retailers in the Halloween space to have a tempered sense of expectations entering this year’s season. The economy affected pretty much every aspect of Halloween—including what was carried on store shelves, as well as how consumers shopped. The sales of accessories were strong as some consumers chose this less-expensive avenue rather than purchasing full costumes. And even though the Saturday Halloween encouraged people to throw parties, the décor category was weak with the exception of the most innovative of products. “Consumers and retailers bought cautiously and conservatively,” says Jason McCann, president of Gemmy, a décor manufacturer that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009. “However, new and innovative products did great at retail. Consumers are still looking to Halloween as a must-celebrate season.” That is one thing that remained evident from Halloween 2009. Sure, buying on the retail and consumer sides was cautious, but in the end consumers were buying. They still celebrated Halloween. And Halloween’s falling on a Saturday certainly did attract an array of celebrants. In fact, the wide array of
26 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
participants in Halloween 2009 festivities is part of what buffered the industry from more severe effects of the economy. “All consumer demographics are increasingly participating in Halloween,” says Stephen Stanley, co-president of Disguise, a division of Jakks Pacific. “That was apparent
Disguise’s Blood Vamp from the Monster Within line
this year. The costume business tends to lose boys starting at age 8; adult men and teenage boys are the most difficult demographic for us to sell costumes to.” Stanley goes on to say that its zom-
bie/rocker hybrid line, Rotten Rockers, combined the right amounts of cool and gruesome to appeal to this difficult demographic. The strength of the specialty channel this past Halloween echoes the idea that adult sales were among the strongest in the industry. “Specialty markets said the season was good, which would indicate that the adult market drove some of the success in the season as specialty stores tend to have a greater share of the adult market than mass, food, or drug chains,” says Scott Wentworth, vice-president of marketing at Paper Magic Group. “Most specialty reported slight increases over last year where mass, food, and drug mostly reported missing sales plans.” Wentworth attributes the selection that specialty Halloween retailers can carry as being partially responsible for the channel’s success. “Everybody is into Halloween these days and the retailers having the most success are the specialty market retailers, temporary stores, and internet sites,” Wentworth adds. “Even if some retailers can’t afford to carry the selection in their store, they should consider increasing their assortment for online sales.” While offering a large selection benefited the retailers that were able to utilize the strategy, there was another factor in play that helped retailers along: price. During the 2009 Halloween season, price was as much of a criteria as any other factor, which comes as no surprise considering the economy.
“Retailers all wanted costumes at a certain price,” says Gary Schneider, general manager of marketing and licensing at Rasta Imposta. “We had to be very careful at where we came in at with the price of a costume.”
2010 & the IHS
Regardless of the results of the 2009 Halloween season, the industry is well on its way in preparing for Halloween 2010. The International Halloween Show (IHS), which will take place December 7–10 at the Halloween Tower, 1115 Broadway in New York City, is an important part of the preparations for next year’s Sunday Halloween. “We expect the International Halloween Show to be the best attended yet,” says Stanley Geller, president of FunWorld and chairman of the Halloween Industry Association (HIA), the Halloween trade organization that hosts the show. “This is the first year that all the exhibitors will be in the same building. By the end of the show, the plans for 2010 should be made by a very significant amount of Halloween retailers.” The shifting selling season has influenced the role the IHS plays in the Halloween industry. “The IHS, historically, was the show that kicked off the mass-market selling season,” says Disguise’s Stanley. “The buying season has moved forward so dramatically that this year the IHS is the wrap-up for the mass-market buying season.” The Halloween industry has some similarity to today’s toy industry. It is
“This is the dedication of Holiday Brands; our light-up products are designed to create a safer experience for kids and their families on Halloween night.”
Paper Magic’s Brobee Costume
going through a period where it is scrutinizing and formalizing manufacturing safety measures. “The Halloween industry is on its way to formalize and clarify the rules and regulations of the government with regard to safety,” says Geller. “Most items being imported into the U.S. have been tested by independent labs overseas or in the U.S. We feel confident that the products we’re offering our retailers and consumers are of good quality and are safe.” Product safety isn’t the only area where Halloween manufacturers focus on safety. On a holiday that has children walking the streets after dark, Halloween manufacturers offer an array of products that help keep kids safe in the process. “We would like everyone to take more of a responsible role in making the most dangerous night of the year for children into the most fun and safe night of the year for children,” says Paul Cayton, managing director worldwide sales at Holiday Brands LLC.
Room for Success
So, what trends can we pull out of the 2009 Halloween season and apply toward 2010? “Halloween trends are not as dramatic as the media would like them to be,” says Paper Magic’s Wentworth. “Basic themes and trends still dominate outside of a few trends driven by recent national events. Licensed characters still dominate for boys, princesses and fairies still dominate for girls, sexy costumes still dominate for young women, and skeletons still are the bestselling décor characters.” While the trends in the Halloween industry may not be dramatic, there are certainly shifts within the market that affect what consumers buy and where they buy it. The 2009 Halloween showed strength in the specialty channels for all types of costumes, as well as for accessories that offered low-cost dress-up alternatives. Looking toward Halloween 2010, with an economy that is showing some signs of improvement while still remaining uncertain, manufacturers and retailers are moving forward with an air of cautious optimism. Next year’s holiday may not offer blockbuster numbers, but, much like the 2009 holiday, there is room for success no matter how relative it may be.
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 27
Halloween CHRIS ADAMS
The International Halloween Show, held December 7–10 in New York City, offers manufacturers of Halloween products an opportunity to showcase their 2010 introductions. Below is a sampling of items that will be shown to the trade. BY
Rasta Imposta is expanding its licensing portfolio for 2010. New licenses include Peanuts (Charlie Brown is shown), Crayola, Kellogg’s, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The company will offer costumes for both children and adults, making it possible for a family to go out dressed in complementary costumes.
In addition to expanding its French Kiss sexy adult costume line, Paper Magic will focus on the core horror elements of Halloween with costumes such as Zombie Rockers (shown). Another big focus for 2010 is Yo Gabba Gabba costumes for both children and adults.
Gemmy will offer a range of new décor items for 2010. The Hot Rod Hearse Airblown Inflatable (shown) self-inflates and comes with everything needed for setup.
Pegged around the June 2010 release of Toy Story 3, Disguise offers a full line of Toy Story costumes for adults and children (the Green Army Man costume is shown). Disguise, a division of Jakks Pacific, will also offer a line of fabric headpieces that make it easy for adults to dress as a Toy Story character without donning a full costume. Other big properties for Disguise in 2010 include Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Hot Wheels Battle Force 5, and Alice in Wonderland.
Holiday Brands will offer a range of light-up and décor-related items for 2010. Jack o’ Teeth (shown) offers consumers a new way to decorate their pumpkins.
28 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
Have extra inventory?
Donate it to K.I.D.S.
Your excess product can put smiles on faces! Poverty is a disaster that happens every day, but K.I.D.S. brings hope to 4.5 million children and their families every year. Donating your excess apparel, shoes, toys, books and juvenile products can provide your company with a generous tax deduction and replace despair with dignity. Fill out the donation form online at www.KIDSdonations.org or call 1-800-266-3314.
onsumer electronics is no small category. Year after year, new digital cameras, televisions, computers, and other electronic gadgets and devices hit the marketplace. Even during times of economic difficulty, tech companies continue to innovate and release newer, faster, slimmer, and fancier models of their classic lines or perhaps put together an entirely new product. While many of these products are for adults, children’s electronics is hardly exempt from the march of progress. Consumer electronics for younger consumers have been evolving as well and closing the gap with more complex adult products as technology advances and manufacturers can add more features on to products for less.
more easily than the adults who purchase them). As such, even if children’s products aren’t as sophisticated as the “grown-up” equivalent, kids will notice absent features. “Cell phones used to be just for making phone calls. Now the sky’s the limit,” says John Barton, senior vice-president at Thinkway Toys. “The same applies to toys.” Manufacturers are aware of this and are bringing kids what they want with their new products. Digital Blue continues to add features to its Disney-licensed digital cameras, including new interactive software. Oregon Scientific continuously updates its Learning Laptop products to give them a modern look, and will be designing a children’s version of a PDA. “A kid isn’t going to expect Windows 7 to be on their product,” says Uzell, “but it should look and feel like it could.” LIKE PARENT, LIKE CHILD Some companies have taken further steps and Children’s technology has come a long way begun developing full-fledged computers specififrom handheld football games and flashing LEDs. cally for children. Disney has teamed up with Nowadays, manufacturers are taking advantage of ASUS Computers to create the Disney Netpal, the advances in technology that have taken chilpriced at $349.99, which will feature Windows, widren’s products to a level of sophistication that is fi capability, and more features standard for a netapproaching that of adult products. “It used to be book-style computer, with the addition of parental that dad would tote around an expensive PDA and controls and kid-friendly applications. Nickelodeon his son would tote around a $40 game device,” says has teamed up with Dell for a licensed Dell Mini Jordan Weisman, CEO and founder of Smith & 10v Netbook called the Dell Inspiron Mini Tinker. “Now there’s barely a difference of $50 Nickelodeon Edition, for $328, which will feature between the platforms themselves and there’s a lot the same hardware as the original version with softof incentive to combine those into one single platware that will connect kids to Nickelodeon content Products such as Oregon Scientific’s form.” Manufacturers point to Nintendo’s DS and allow parents to monitor their children’s interBarbie B-Berry are based on adult portable gaming system as an example of a product that net access. “This deal with Dell provides us with a new electronic products. transcends ages, as the product is used by many adults way to deliver our content to children,” says Manuel as well as children and there are a number of games for the system that Torres, senior vice-president of consumer electronics and video games were made specifically for adults. at Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP). As such, many children’s electronics have become aspirational in CES @ PLAY nature. Children want their products to resemble their parents’ and older The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest trade siblings’ gadgets in functionality and form. “At the very least, it has to look like the cutting edge technology that’s found on today’s adult-orient- shows for consumer electronics in the world. CES 2010 will take place ed products,” says Bill Uzell, executive vice-president of Oregon January 7–10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The show has more Scientific. “You can’t dummy it down and let it look like old technolo- than 2,000 exhibitors, with attendees from all over the world. It is an gy.” Many children are tech-savvy enough to handle the advanced fea- important show to almost every electronics manufacturer, with children’s tures of products such as digital cameras and MP3 players (in some cases, electronics being no exception. “CES is our most important show of the
30 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
year,” says Liza Abrams, vice-president of licensing at Sakar. “Even faces have become popular. The third topic that will receive a great deal more so than the [February] Toy Fair because of the variety of buyers.” of attention at Kids@Play will be what Raskin refers to as “the reinvenAs technology becomes more important in the lives of children, it tion of television.” With more web-based entertainment for kids, even makes sense that children and youth-oriented electronics become a more television has had to become an interactive experience for children. integral part of CES. “CES has become another Many other topics, such as online safety and marplace for us to share innovations and ideas,” says keting, will be covered during the day-long sumNVCP’s Torres. The show organizers understood the mit, which will also feature its own awards show importance of the children’s market to CES atten(the KaPi, or “Kids @ Play Innovation” awards) dees and exhibitors, creating the Sandbox Summit in and opportunities for smaller manufacturers to 2007 and 2008, which focused on technology as it launch their products to an interested audience. applied to children. However, for some companies, FUTURE TECH CES still proved to be a challenge. Because of the Children’s electronics has been hit as hard as large amount of non-toy or non-youth-oriented any category by the economic downturn. Unlike exhibitors, many smaller companies may have been some other toy categories, children’s electronics overshadowed. In addition, a number of companies rarely has a “low-price” option or a more affordthat manufacture products for both adults and chilable alternative. Nonetheless, most companies dren chose not to show their children’s electronic Popular licenses such as SpongeBob have done their best to give consumers options. products at CES in the past, saving them for toy-oriSquarePants attract consumers to “We have to work to keep our product high qualiented shows on the assumption that the attendees at products such as this underwater digital camera from Sakar. ty and affordably priced for our consumers,” says CES were less interested in youth electronics. However, the new Kids@Play Summit at CES intends to highlight Julie Van Matre, vice-president of marketing at Digital Blue. However, that children’s electronics are more a part of CES than ever before. not everything has gone downhill for the category—in fact, far from it. Established at last year’s CES by Robin Raskin, technology journalist Many companies with educational products in this category actually saw and president of Living in Digital Times, the Kids@Play Summit is a rise in business, as parents watching their dollars focused purchases on designed to give companies focused on children’s electronics their own items that have a high perceived value for them. Innovations have space at CES. The summit has its own schedule (concurrent with CES) allowed companies to incorporate more features for less cost, which has and series of talks covering topics important to the children’s electronics helped keep prices down across the board and helped companies cut lossbusiness, as well as its own space of about 30,000 square feet on the show es that could have been incurred by decreased consumer spending. As consumer spending continues to pick up, companies are starting to floor. “We wanted to give people a lower point of entry with shared resources to be a part of the show,” says Raskin. “If we all make a con- take risks once more. CES will see a number of manufacturers unveiling ference about kids together, we’re going to make a bigger noise than if new lines and brands for 2010, despite the slow sales of 2009. However, just one kid-friendly company shows up.” Kids@Play will take place even as they look forward to increased sales in the category, many manufacturers note that what people think of as “children’s electronics” has during the first day of CES on January 7. Raskin expects to see three major topics brought up at this year’s sum- begun to evolve. “More and more, what people traditionally called ‘kids’ mit. The impact that virtual worlds have on kids and play is one of them, electronics’ is going away,” says Smith & Tinker’s Weisman. “The power as a number of products are introducing children to this new way of play- that’s available is creating platforms that are more and more transdemoing with others. New user interfaces beyond the keyboard and mouse is graphic.” But for now, children’s electronics is still its own category that another topic that is expected to see some interest, as touch-based inter- as a whole is looking forward to a bright future in 2010.
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 31
As technology continues to advance, children’s electronics become more sophisticated. The result has brought the category to a new level. Nowhere is this more apparent than at CES, where children’s products rub elbows with adult electronics. Here is a sample of some of the upcoming products for young electronics enthusiasts.
Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products
Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products has teamed up with Dell to launch the new Dell Inspiron Mini Nickelodeon Edition. This new netbook will be based on the Dell Mini 10v Netbook, with the equivalent hardware and new Nickelodeonbased software, as well as a 15-month subscription to McAfee Family Security and additional parental controls. Kids will have easy access to online Nickelodeon content and educational content from Whyville.net.
Disney Consumer Products
Partnering with computer manufacturer ASUS, Disney Consumer Products is releasing the new Disney Netpal netbook, featuring an 8.9-inch LCD display, built-in wireless internet connectivity, and Windows XP Home. There are also stereo speakers, a webcam, and a microphone for a portable, interactive experience. The Disney Netpal will come pre-loaded with interactive Disney games and software. Kids can customize their desktop with a number of Disney and Disney/Pixar properties, including Cars, Disney Princesses, Club Penguin, and more.
32 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
The new Tinker Bell TinkBerry, from Oregon Scientific, is based on the design of the BlackBerry personal digital assistant. Kids can play along with Disney’s Tinker Bell as she teaches them about numbers, letters, and more with activities and games on the handheld device. Oregon Scientific is also producing a child’s BlackBerry featuring the Barbie license, called the B-Berry.
Sakar’s new iCarly Digital Camcorder is a fully working digital video recorder that kids can use to make their own movies. The camera features design elements from the iCarly series and can be customized with interchangeable face plates for the LCD screen.
Digital Blue will be expanding the features available in its line of Disneylicensed digital cameras with the addition of interactive software. This includes a photo activity book and a new “bobblehead” feature that allows users to put themselves into music videos to share with friends. Digital Blue will also announce the launch of many new lines at CES.
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MAKING SCIENCE AMAZING ost kids today probably wouldn’t describe science class as “amazing.” But Be Amazing Toys hopes to change that attitude by bringing the fun back to science education and science toys. Steve Spangler (of Steve Spangler Science) started Be Amazing Toys in 2003 as a way to help science teachers “be amazing” when teaching the subject. When Spangler sold the company to Reneé Whitney and Elizabeth Romney in 2004, the two women continued with that theme, only this time the focus was on letting kids be amazing through science. “We’ve basically grown it to build on the idea of making science interesting and fun,” says Romney, vice-president of specialty retail accounts and co-owner. Spangler still develops some of the company’s products and Be Amazing Toys also works with outside developers, including some who work in the classroom, to bring real science into the hands of kids, primarily in the 8–13 age range. As Romney says, kids in this age group are in late elementary school to early middle school and usually have short attention spans. “If you don’t make it interesting and fun, you’re going to lose them,” she says. “What we want to do is develop their interest in science as a concept that will motivate them to go learn the periodic table and figure out why our world works the way it does. You’ve got to build an interest in these early years that will motivate them to do the hard work later on.”
34 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
Be Amazing Toys builds that interest through a variety of products, including its Lab in a Bag line. Each kit in this line comes with equipment to perform 15 science experiments and everything stores inside a bag. Test Tube Discoveries is one such Lab in a Bag. With this kit, kids use five test tubes to grow colorful Garbled Marbles, make fake ice and watch it disappear in water, play with the company’s gravity-defying Gravity Goo, make a bubbling volcano that turns into a lava lamp, and make paper bleed in a pH experiment.
Test Tube Discoveries
This year, the company added a line of science kits that teach kids about science basics, as well as the Build-A-Fort line, which lets kids build a fort any way they choose. And, of course, there is Be Amazing Toys’ Great Geysers. The kit that gives kids the tools to make an erupting soda fountain with Mentos and soda (brand name colas and diet colas work best) is now being packaged on a blister card that features interchangeable caps for the geyser tube so kids can make different displays of exploding soda. “We’re growing this line where they are like stocking stuffers and impulse things,” Romney says. “We’ve taken compo-
nents out of a number of our kits that are bestsellers and put them on blister cards.” Adding smaller impulse science toys to its lineup is a way for Be Amazing Toys to offer lower-priced products to consumers. (The Geyser Tube blister cards are in the $5 range.) That’s not to say that the company’s regular science kits are extravagantly priced. Romney says the company prides itself on keeping its science products within the $18–$22 range, with its Build-A-Fort kits costing $30. “There are some wonderful companies out there that make very elaborate and terrific science kits,” she says. “But it’s a whole different price range. Ours are a great way to introduce kids to science and get them enthusiastic about science. Then when they get older, they like the $300 chemistry sets.” However, price might not be an issue if consumers are unable to find or are unaware of Be Amazing Toys’ kits. The company has always sold to specialty stores, but Romney admits that this year has been hard on the specialty industry, with a number of stores closing. She says that more companies are going mass market, and that may include Be Amazing Toys, in order to make up for declining sales. Even if consumers can’t find a specialty store in their area, Be Amazing Toys sells its science kits online at www.beamazing.com. The website will soon be revamped with more videos demonstrating the amazing things kids can do with Be Amazing Toys kits. “People look at whatever we’re demoing and the first thing out of their mouths is, ‘That’s amazing!’”
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Blue Orange Games
Blue Orange Games is releasing a portable version of its game Yamslam. With Pocket Yamslam, expected to hit shelves in February, players must take calculated chances and make strategic choices to place the odds in their favor. After each roll of the dice, players choose the dice that will get them the best combination. Each combination is worth a different point value and has only four chips. Race to the special bonuses and keep the suspense rolling until the end. This compact, self-contained game comes with a chip rack.
As the licensed manufacturer and distributor for FuzzyNation, Manhattan Toy introduces FuzzyNation dog-themed purses and plush in North America and Europe. FuzzyNation’s collection of cute yet chic mutts sport trendy outfits and are constructed with garment-quality furs and fabrics. Designed by Jennifer Liu, the FuzzyNation characters will appear in three different lines: Darn Cute Plush, which are 15-inch plush; TeaPup Purses, which are 15inch plush dogs purses; and Wristlets, which are eightinch plush with a strap that can be worn around a wrist or attached to a bookbag. Each line consists of nine dogs, including Dachsund “Doxanne,” and Beagle “Atticus,” (shown as Darn Cute Plush).
36 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
Lisa LeLeu Studios
Lisa LeLeu Studios’ Art Studio Gallery Door Easel is the latest addition to its line of educational children’s products. The Art Studio Gallery Door Easel is a space-saving combination easel and gallery that turns any standard-size door into a creative space. One side features an adjustable-height easel with art supply pockets, while the other serves as a gallery with eight display pockets for children to showcase their new creations. Children can personalize their workspace and gallery with the Exhibiting Artist and Artist at Work signage. The door easel folds up for easy travel, and the durable polyester fabric is surface washable. Kids can also open their own online gallery at www.artstudiogallery.com where family and friends can view their work and order prints of their art on bags, mugs, Tshirts, aprons, and more.
Granza’s Adorable Kinders are rag dolls based on a diverse group of kindergarten friends. There are 26 rag dolls—one doll for each letter of the alphabet—that represent a wide variety of physical appearances and personalities. The 18-inch dolls are made of 100 percent soft cloth and stuffed with non-allergenic, 100 percent polyester. Dolls come in a removable outfit with separate underwear, socks, and shoes. The hair is made of super-soft yarn. All Adorable Kinders Rag Dolls and their outfits are washable. The dolls also come with an internet key-code that can be used to register for the Adorable Kinders (AK) eSchool at www.adorablekinders.com. The AK eSchool is full of activities to help develop a child’s computer, reading, and problem-solving skills. School starts at the kindergarten level and children complete challenges using their knowledge of letters, numbers, patterns, and rhymes to unlock the next level, or grade. Also online, kids can choose from the 26 Adorable Kinders characters and play house with them, create a printable greeting card or sticker sheet, or color a digital coloring page. Adorable Kinders are for ages 2 and up.
New in Mudpie’s Laugh Out Loud Collection is the Butterfly Tech Accessory Case. The canvas case can hold a cell phone or digital music player. It features a butterfly appliqué and comes with a wrist strap and interior pockets.
The Woodstock Music Collection from Woodstock Chimes offers an assortment of 100 different musical instruments from around the world. Beginners can play many of the instruments with no instruction. Some of the instruments are accompanied with detailed playing instructions for familiar songs that don’t require the ability to read music, but can help children learn to read it. The Woodstock Wood Train Whistle (shown) sounds just like an old-fashioned train. It is for ages 2 and up.
Basic Concepts’ latest addition to its pop-up board games is Mystic Tower and the Book of Spells. Mystic Tower pops up for multi-level platform play as soon as the board is unfolded. No assembly is required and the game comes ready to play with movable paths and stairways that can be manipulated by players throughout the game. Mystic Tower comes with a comic book featuring the game’s characters, The Relic Raiders. More information about The Relic Raiders can be found at http://www.relic-raiders.com/home.html. Mystic Tower is for two to four players ages 6 and up.
DECEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 37
INDUSTRY-RELATED TRADE SHOWS JANUARY 7–10
Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair
Hong Kong Intl. Licensing Show The Toy Fair
New York International Gift Fair
Spielwarenmesse Intl. Toy Fair
American International Toy Fair
Australian Toy Hobby & Nursery Fair
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Wanchai, Hong Kong
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Wanchai, Hong Kong London
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Orange County Convention Center
New York City
Long Beach Convention Center
LICENSING SHOW 2010 TUESDAY–THURSDAY, JUNE 8–10 MANDALAY BAY CONVENTION CENTER, LAS VEGAS
38 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT DECEMBER 2009
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Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.