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What’s Inside: 2014 Toy Preview $%&.LGV([SRȏΖQIDQW 3UHVFKRRO7UHQGV





Vol. 8, No. 4, October 2013

October 2013 Volume 8, No. 4

departments 6

Observations & Opinions Sizzlers



26 Millennial Parents: Mom Researches Everything


Entertainment Marketplace:


Industry Forum: TIA

by Christine Sullivan

28 ABC Kids Expo Preview by Nancy Lombardi



The Ticker

Mike the Knight

Industry Forum: ASTRA


Industry Forum:

by Nancy Lombardi


Industry Forum:

by Nancy Lombardi


Merchandise Makers:


You’re Hired

34 Industry Predictions: Assessing 2013, Looking Ahead to 2014 42 2014 Toy Preview 76 Specialty Emporium: Educational Insights by Jennifer Lynch


Design Edge Spin Master

Wonder Forge

Calendar of Events

on this page

From the left: HIT Entertainment’s Mike the Knight; Wonder Forge’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game; The Bridge’s WWE Undertaker Playset; Family Guy Peter & Chris from K’NEX; Fisher-Price See ’N See from Basic Fun

on the cover

From the left: Toy State’s Hot Wheels Energy Can R/C; Silverlit’s Nano Falcon; Alex Toys’ Color a Rocket; Nickelodeon’s The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles presented by various licensees; TOMY’s Lamaze Cuddle and Squeak Koalas; Pop Star Club’s The Beatrix Girls; Infantino’s Peter Rabbit cover created by Jennifer Lynch



Shop with— There’s an App for That BY BOB GLASER

e are continually evolving and growing at aNb Media. We have the trade magazine that you are now reading, industry news on, and, of course our consumer website, Our biggest news this holiday season is the launch of the Shop for Kids by app for Android and iOS. By using this free app, a consumer can go into a store, scan the UPC code on any toy, and’s review will appear along with our price-comparison tool. Through this app, the consumer will get the most up-to-date online pricing simultaneously from, Toy “R” Us, Walmart, Target, and Kmart. This tool then allows consumers to always be aware of the lowest price and click through to buy while in-store if they choose. We are confident that consumers will be in stores using the app to search for items from our Most Wanted List for 2013. This list, shown in alphabetical order below, was announced during’s Holiday Showcase, the oneday media event that took place in New York City on September 26.


TIMETOPLAYMAG.COM’S MOST WANTED 2013 Barbie Digital Makeover—Mattel Battroborg—TOMY

Big Hugs Elmo—Hasbro

Boom Boom Balloon—Spin Master Despicable Me 2 Minion Dave—Thinkway Toys

Disney Infinity—Disney Interactive Disney Princess Palace Pets—Blip Toys

Doc McStuffins Get Better Check Up Center—Just Play

Flutterbye Fairy—Spin Master Go! Go! Smart Wheels Airport Playset—VTech

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole—Innovation First


LeapPad Ultra—LeapFrog

LEGO Star Wars Jabba’s Sail Barge—LEGO Monster High 13 Wishes Dolls—Mattel


Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega Series Centurion—Hasbro


Shimmer ’N Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom Bracelet Maker—Cra-Z-Art


Playskool Showcam 2-in-1 Digital Camera and Projector—Hasbro Skylanders SWAP Force—Activision Sofia the First Talking Sofia and Animal Friends—Mattel

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Figures—Playmates Toys


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 is published four times per year by aNb Media. Copyright 2013 aNb Media. 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 trademarks of aNb Media. Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of management.

Ben 10 Omniverse


TM & © 2013 Cartoon Network.



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.

Despicable Me 2 Minion Dave





Doc McStuffins Make Me Better Stuffy Playset

Despicable Me 2 Fart Blaster







A Recap of Industry Headlines • For More News, Visit • Sign up to Receive FREE Weekly News Alerts

TIMETOPLAYMAG.COM L AUNCHES SHOP FOR KIDS APP (that’s us!) released Shop for Kids by, a free mobile app for iOS and Android designed to simplify the experience of searching for and buying children’s products. The app provides all the information shoppers need to make educated purchasing decisions on the go. Users can browse the extensive database of reviews on the latest toys, video games, baby products, sporting goods, children’s books, movies, apps, and more. “The Shop for Kids app is a game changer. It’s an all-in-one mobile shopping tool that takes the guesswork out of finding the best products for the kids in your life at the best prices,” said Jim Silver, CEO and editor-in-chief of “The app leverages our unparalleled database to provide search results alongside live pricing at major retailers in real time. There is nothing like it out there, and we are confident it will change the way people shop for kids.” Simply scan the product’s UPC code or type into the search bar to access’s database of thousands of products. Access the complete profile of the toy, which includes a video review and editor’s ranking. View real-time, online price and availability of a product at major retailers: Walmart, Toys “R” Us, Target, Amazon, Kmart and click through to purchase immediately from any of those retailer’s sites. The Shop for Kids App by is now available for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play store. To watch the informational video or to download the app, visit WWW.TIMETOPLAYMAG.COM/APP/.


DreamWorks Animation (DWA) has acquired the library of Chapman Entertainment, Ltd., the children’s television production and licensing company. With Chapman, DWA adds to its growing library Fifi and the Flowertots, Roary the Racing Car, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, and Little Charley Bear. The Chapman UK-produced titles add to the family entertainment brands that the company gained through its acquisition of Classic Media last August. The Chapman TV series will be distributed through DWA’s UKbased TV distribution operation. Chapman Entertainment was formed in 2002 by Keith Chapman, the originator of Bob the Builder.


Dolphin Entertainment and Mattel have partnered to develop the live-action, feature-length film Max Steel based on Mattel’s property. The film will be produced by Dolphin Films, which is a newly formed subsidiary of Dolphin Entertainment. Open Road Films will distribute Max Steel in the U.S. as the first of a multi-picture agreement with Dolphin Films. The film will have a wide release in theaters in the fourth quarter of 2014. Created internally by Mattel, the Max Steel franchise spans multi-platform entertainment, toys, and consumer products.


Supporting its adaptation to the digital kids space, Random House Children’s Books offers its Dr. Seuss print titles available in eBook format for the first time. On September 24, Random House released 15 classic titles including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Horton Hears a Who! Titles such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas! will be released on October 22, and additional titles will follow on November 5.

10 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013 ©1996 Kazuki Takahashi ©2011 NAS • TV TOKYO

Untitled-1 1

North America: Jennifer Coleman at • 00 1 212-590-2100 Europe: Sandra Arcan at • +44 1753 271 721

VISIT US AT BLE BOOTH E090 9/16/2013 10:10:14 AM


A Recap of Industry Headlines • For More News, Visit • Sign up to Receive FREE Weekly News Alerts


Rovio Entertainment launched a new learning concept called Angry Birds Playground based on its app franchise and the Finnish National Curriculum for Kindergarten. Working in cooperation with the University of Helsinki’s Cicero Learning Network, Angry Birds Playground is intended to teach life skills, in areas such as language, math, and the arts, in a fun and engaging way. Rovio has also entered into a preliminary agreement with 123 Education Development Ltd. in China to open learning facilities. The first Angry Birds Playground will debut in a 123 Early Childhood Learning Centre in Shanghai where the children will have the possibility to play and learn through a designated classroom and play area. The Angry Birds Playground Club will enable kids to learn in a creative, multifaceted way with access to Angry Birds learning materials such as activity books, toys, physical games, educational posters, mobile math, reference books, a five string instrument, game cards, and physical activity games on an interactive whiteboard.


Propel Equity Partners, a private equity firm, has acquired the Zoob construction toy line from Infinitoy, Inc. Zoob joins the Poof-Alex Holdings, LLC family of brands, which includes Slinky, Poof, Ideal, Scientific Explorer, Fundex Games, and Alex on the Propel Equity Partners roster. Poof-Slinky was acquired by Propel Equity Partners in July 2012. Fundex Games was acquired in December 2012 and Alex Toys in May 2013. Introduced in 1997, Zoob is a building set that features pieces that move after you put them together, allowing for truly interactive creations. Zoob pieces are based on a natural and living system and features five basic pieces that snap together 20 different ways, making building easy and versatile. With more than 30 different themed sets, Zoob products are sold throughout the U.S. and in more than 100 countries through a variety of distribution channels.


HIP (Henson Independent Properties), The Jim Henson Company’s third-party media distribution and licensing banner, acquired the property, Elias from Animando in Norway. HIP now holds media distribution rights for the all-new series Elias: Rescue Team Adventures and global consumer products rights to the Elias property. Elias, the little rescue boat, first gained popularity as a children’s picture book in Norway in 1999 and a TV series debuted in 2005.








ike the Knight is a medieval-themed preschool series that began airing in 2012 on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in the U.S. The series is a mix of comedy and adventure as Mike transports kids to a world of castles, dragons, and trolls. Along the way, kids learn problem-solving, self-confidence, and how to do the right thing. New content began airing this fall and fans will once again see Mike, Evie, Galahad, and the dragons on thrilling new missions, meeting new friends including the mischievous Gargoyle and The Great Waldorfini, and visiting exciting new locations in the kingdom of Glendragon. HIT Entertainment, a division of Mattel, kicked off an extensive licensing program this year for Mike the Knight starting with the key categories of toys, publishing, and home entertainment. Master toy licensee Fisher-Price rolled out Mike the Knight toys globally this past spring. The first Mike the Knight home entertainment title, Knight in Training, hit U.S. retailers in June from NCircle Entertainment. A new Mike the Knight game app was also released in June from HIT timed to the U.S. home entertainment debut. Global publishing partner Simon & Schuster is off to a strong start introducing Mike the Knight books at nearly all major retailers in the U.S. and UK, with eight additional titles to be added this year. Mike the Knight charges ahead in new consumer product categories around the world with more than 98 licensees in 16 countries signed to date. In the U.S., Mike the Knight continues its consumer products charge with new categories including party goods, puzzles, costumes, and a full apparel and accessories line, some of which are featured on the opposite page. To support this extensive product launch, Mike the Knight embarked on a mall tour across the U.S., which began in May. Through July, Mike made stops in 15 cities for appearances that included a 20-minute interactive live musical performance, meet-andgreet opportunities, a knighting ceremony for kid attendees, and a preview of Mike the Knight toys and books as well as giveaways.





Mike the Knight airs on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in the U.S. and on Treehouse in Canada. The son of the King and Queen of Glendragon, Mike is determined to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a brave and noble knight.

Mike’s rallying cry is “Be a Knight, Do it Right.”

Mike’s trusted crew include his steed Galahad, two friendly dragons Squirt and Sparkie, and his sister Evie, a trainee wizard. The series teaches problemsolving, self-confidence, and how to do the right thing.


This Halloween, boys and girls can dress as their favorite sibling duo with Mike the Knight and Evie costumes and accessories from Disguise.


Amscan introduces a new line of Mike the Knight party goods and costumes. The line will include everything needed for a party including goods, favors, and paperware. It’s available exclusively on


Fisher-Price, the global master toy partner for Mike the Knight (excluding the UK and Japan), launched Mike the Knight toys globally this past spring. The toy line transports kids to a world of castles, dragons, and trolls through roleplay, playsets, plush, figures, and preschool toys for preschoolers ages 2 and up. Highlights of the new line include the Glendragon Playset and the Transforming Sword. The Glendragon Castle Playset (shown) features three levels of two-sided play, 10 play pieces as well as sounds and phrases. Mike’s Transforming Sword is equipped with lights, sounds, and quick-change action.

Ravensburger introduces Mike the Knight puzzles for preschoolers. Featuring Mike, Evie, the dragons, trolls, and more friends from Glendragon.



NCircle Entertainment brings Mike the Knight to home entertainment in the U.S. The first Mike the Knight home entertainment title, Knight in Training, hit major U.S. retailers in June. The next episodic title, Magical Mishaps, features Mike’s sister Evie, a wizard in training, which launched on September 3. Mike’s Christmas Surprise!, which will be released this month, includes an all-new Christmas special, three holiday episodes, and bonus features.


Global publishing partner Simon & Schuster introduced books in multiple formats at nearly all major retailers in the U.S., with eight additional titles to be added this year. Simon & Schuster’s imprint, Simon Spotlight, acquired the rights to produce a variety of story, picture, novelty, activity, and coloring books as well as non-interactive e-books. Simon & Schuster is also the UK and international publishing partner for Mike the Knight.






nowing what’s hot in the world of toys and in parallel industries–such as books, fashion, and food—helps toy companies as they develop new product lines and assists retailers looking to enhance the shopping experience for their customers. “Having solid knowledge of new and emerging trends is one of the most crucial aspects to being successful in the toy business,” says Adrienne Appell, the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) leading trend expert. “As TIA continues to expand on its


portfolio of research available to members, we have recently introduced informational reports based on overarching societal and parallel industry trends.” The following is a selection from TIA’s most recent trend observations—many of which are expected to influence the development of future toys and games.

• SHAG CARPET, ANYONE? While visiting Texworld USA, an event for apparel fabric buyers, TIA’s trend team took in aisle after aisle of vintage and retro fabric swatches reminiscent of every era from the 1920s to today. “The retro trend reigned supreme for fashion, home, and toys in 2013, and this trend will continue in 2014,” says Appell. “Thanks to the popularity of The Great Gatsby movie and TV shows such as Downton Abbey and Mad Men, this trend is


fueled by pop culture and entertainment influences leading us to believe that it will persist in toy aisles throughout next year.”

• A ROYAL OPPORTUNITY Though just a few months old, Prince George is already a trend-setter when it comes to global baby style. The most notable example is the aden + anais jungle jam blanket that he was seen swaddled in when leaving the hospital. It sold out in the UK and the U.S. “Prince William told the media that his son’s bedroom will be furnished with an African theme, featuring toy elephants and rhinos prominently around the room, so we can expect stylish parents around the globe to follow suit with their own children’s rooms and toys,” says Appell.

• 2015 MOVIE RELEASES Taking note of movie release dates is a great way to capitalize on future licensing and branding opportunities. 2015 movie release dates to consider include: The Fantastic Four, Penguins of Madagascar, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Trolls, Star Wars: Episode VII, Ant-Man, Smurfs 3, and Kung Fu Panda 3. “Talk with your team and see if there’s anything on the horizon that would work for your company, brand, or store,” says Appell.

• THINK PINK Pantone recently reported that the color pink is all the rage in Paris. “Pink is no longer relegated to the super feminine in the City of Love, where the color is now visible just about everywhere—from storefronts to taxicabs,” says Appell. Pops of fluorescent

pink are being used by French designers to attract both female and male customers; the hue was also chosen by Comité Français de la Couleur to represent France’s chromatic identity. The bold color’s popularity might soon see a surge in the U.S., and could very well influence future marketing and packaging strategies within the toy industry.

• TRANSMEDIA. . . WITH A TWIST At the BookExpo in New York City it was apparent that transmedia storytelling is alive and well. “What I found interesting to learn was that many of the licensed books at the show were based on entertainment properties and not the other way around,” says Appell. “This is similar to what we’ve started to see in the toy industry, with some successful licensing programs starting with a toy or even rolling out across multiple channels at once, such as Mattel’s Monster High.” TIA continuously researches and reports on overarching societal and parallel industry trends that might influence the toy industry, in addition to trends in the toy marketplace. For full reports and updates, visit

Requests for additional information may be directed to Toy companies that would like to showcase their latest product lines to the Toy Industry Association (TIA) trend-tracking team for media and other consumer-facing promotional opportunities, contact Adrienne Appell, The Toy Industry Association’s senior manager of public relations (646) 520–4853 or Preference is given to TIA members.








s a specialty toy retailer, you are an expert on quality toys that help promote healthy play. Is there anyone in your community who knows more about play than you do? There was a time when we would have said kids know more about play than anyone—that kids have a natural instinct to play if we just stay out of their way and let them. However, those were the days before one-third of our 8–10-year-old children had cell phones and before nearly two-thirds carried handheld video game devices, iPods, and MP3 players. That was before nearly a quarter of elementary schools eliminated time for daily recess in favor of “academic” pursuits and before play time in many kindergarten classrooms shrunk to less than 30 minutes per school day. As time for play continues to give way to structured preschool play dates, organized lessons and sports, and overworked parents who (understandably) find it easier to plop kids in front of a screen rather than take them to the playground, the specialty toy store owner can have an important role in helping the community appreciate the joys and developmental advantages of unstructured play time. Taking an active role in delivering this message will help support healthy development for children in your community. Children need play to build the self-regula-



tion, mental acuity, and social skills to succeed in school and will support parents (your customers) who may welcome the “permission” to cut back on structured activities. In addition, you can position yourself and your store as the best resource in your area for reliable information about quality toys and play. Here are some ways you can let your community know about the importance of play, with help from the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA):

• Make yourself the local “play ambas-

sador.” In all your in-store, digital, and community outreach, position yourself as the neighborhood play expert. Many ASTRA stores have information about play on their websites—check out ASTRA’s site for more—and this content can be used in tweets, Facebook posts, and in-store signage. You can also post articles on ASTRA’s to help establish your play and toy expertise. Reach out to parent groups, preschools, child care centers, churches, and other community organizations and offer your services as a speaker on healthy, play-fueled child development.

• Get to know reporters who write about family and education issues. Journalists are always looking for story ideas—especially those with a point/counterpoint angle. They are frequently on tight deadlines and need dependable experts who can quickly get them the information they need. Some quick research will identify reporters or bloggers who cover family or education

topics. Call a few prominent ones to let them know you are available and would be pleased to share your expertise about toys and play whenever they need it.

• Celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day. This nationwide “celebration” of independent toy stores, held on the second Saturday in November each year, is supported by ASTRA with national media, outreach to leading parent bloggers, and resources for local toy store owners to use in creating a special event to launch the holiday shopping season. The event offers an opportunity to promote the specialty toy difference—i.e. the generally higher play value and higher quality of specialty toys. •

Use Best Toys for Kids to promote health play. ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids award program is a great way to show the public how and why specialty toys are special. The award-winning toys span several age groups and toy categories, which makes the message tangible and understandable. Many media outlets feature stories about toys at this time of year, and “top toy” lists are popular hooks for those stories. The bottom line? Play is good business, and you need to make your unique expertise valuable to parents, educators, and others who care about good outcomes for kids. The role of “local play expert” is yours to own.

Kathleen McHugh is president of The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Visit




n the fall of 2002, I received a cloak-and-dagger type phone call from a high level executive at Kodak. He requested that I meet with him in a week’s time in New York City. When I asked about the purpose of the meeting he dodged the question and alluded to me that it would be revealed when we met. A few days later I received an email with the address of a small diner in Manhattan’s Garment District. The meeting was set for 3 P.M. The day we met, I had difficulty finding the coffee shop. It was raining and the hand-painted pre-war sign was small and worn out. The diner was empty, except for him and the waitress. He was tall and thin and wearing a turtleneck sweater. Before I could speak he said, “Hello, Mr. Nuccio,” waving me over. He had a deep stack of papers on the table. Holding up a magazine clipping he said, “I recognize you from your photo.” I ordered a coffee, and for the next hour we sat and had a onesided discussion about my background, my influences, and my thoughts on contemporary design. The meeting was very much like a job interview. He replied to any questions I had with short, vague answers. When it was over I didn’t know what was going on. He asked me for a list of references and then settled the tab. Over the next few weeks, I received phone calls from everyone that I put on my reference list. Oddly no one spoke with the same person I met with. I was getting descriptions such as, “The person I spoke to had a Spanish accent.” Or, “I spoke with a



woman.” And “I’m pretty sure this person was fat.” That aside, the references were all asked the same questions: “Was Design Edge professional?” and “How is Design Edge’s reputation in the toy industry?” and “How fast can Design Edge work?” Weeks went by and then one day the phone rang.

Steven Sasson of Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975. Yet Kodak didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

The person on the other end sounded younger than the man I met in the diner. He explained to me that Kodak was in trouble. They missed the boat on digital cameras and were now scrambling to pull a line together. He requested that I fly to Kodak’s Rochester, N.Y., headquarters and meet the team. Rochester was cold. It was late fall and there was already a foot of snow on the ground. I was greeted at the airport by the young man who called me a few days before. After a short drive we arrived at

“Kodak City.” Now, I’ve been to some big corporate campuses before, but this one certainly took the cake. It was, as the name suggested, a city. When we entered the large main lobby, there was a small glass case sitting alone in the center of the room. It was out of place standing like the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. We shot right past it and headed into a large conference room, which had the air of a war room. People were scrambling about with charts and graphs. I sat down and waited a few minutes. The person at the head of the table paged several people to come to the conference room. When they entered the conference room moments later, the person at the end of the table signaled everyone else to leave. I was given a short introduction to the team and then given the reason why I was brought there. Kodak, once the preeminent company of the photo industry, had lost its way in the digital age. They knew they needed to enter the digital camera business and had no time to waste. Their research found that the toy industry knew how to move fast and how to design a product to a specific price point. The Kodak team had read about me in an article in Advertising Age. They had apparently also contacted several other studios. After four hours of briefing, I walked away with a massive project of designing a new packaging look for the Easy Share camera line. Over the course of the next year Design Edge would design dozens and dozens of different packaging styles. During that year, I traveled to Rochester multiple times, worked with countless

people and departments, and was subjected to internal review after review as Design Edge’s packaging was ultimately used by Kodak. One day while exiting the building, I stopped and looked inside the glass case in the lobby. Inside it was a large blue box with a lens and cassette tape attached to it. Below it was a small plaque that read, “Digital Camera, 1975.” I turned to the guy accompanying me and asked, “What’s this?” He explained that a Kodak engineer named Steven Sasson invented the digital camera and then he said laughing. . . “And we did nothing with it.” To this day the sight of that camera haunts me. How is it possible to miss such a golden opportunity? Is it possible for a company, an industry, or even a nation to get so caught up in the moment that we miss the opportunity for a greater future? Is today’s smartphone or digital printer the digital camera of

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1975? Are we so concerned with getting inexpensive goods from China to overlook what’s going on? Is it possible that in a short time some manufacturing will become an at-home experience through 3-D printers? Will import/export go the way of film developing? What other new technologies are just over the horizon? How can the toy industry cut through the clutter to embrace the right opportunities? It’s important to take a moment to reflect on the bigger picture no matter how busy we get. If not, opportunity may be staring you in the face and you may not see it. And, as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Design Edge is a New York-based graphic design and research development studio. Matt Nuccio can be reached at (516) 377–0500 or at

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I would like to introduce myself. My name is Ben Gadbois and I joined Spin Master, and the toy industry, in August 2012 as the global president and COO. Prior to joining Spin Master, I spent several years as the global president of Sharpie, Paper Mate, Expo & Prismacolor. Before that, I was global president for Rubbermaid Home Products. For several years of my career, I lived in Europe and Mexico and, like many of you, have spent a lot of time in Asia, both for Spin Master and Newell Rubbermaid. In the last year, I have had the pleasure of meeting many people in our industry. And I want to thank those of you who have helped educate me about the toy industry, making sure I understand the challenges and opportunities that exist. As many of you already know, over the past few years, Spin Master has had its ups and downs. We had to initiate a few rounds of layoffs and we lost some great people. Restructuring is never an easy process but for us it was necessary to strategically align our resources and reposition our company for growth. We have begun a massive transformation from a traditional toy company to a fully immersed toy and entertainment company. Our founders and current partners, Anton Rabie, Ronnen Harary, and Ben Varadi, knew it was necessary to take action to reignite Spin Master’s innovation engine and entrepreneurial spirit. Together we are now setting a strong global vision to ensure a bright future for our employees, retail partners, and most


importantly our consumers. I am thrilled to lead Spin Master and be part of this amazing company where innovation has been and will continue to be our primary focus. This is such an exciting time. Our long-term goals are ambitious, but as one of the major players in the industry it is our duty to drive growth and keep our industry relevant. Growing nearly 20 percent just this year, Spin Master is strategically focused on driving immersive extensions to many of its toy lines through the creation of entertainment properties, companion applications, games, and digital experiences that are suited for changing consumer play patterns. This has led to several key acquisitions over the past year and aggressive plans for more in the next few years. As you have begun to see already, the Spin Master innovation engine is hard at work to increase the value of these additions to our portfolio. In addition, the organization added Krista DiBerardino as CMO and Bill Hess as executive vice-president of operations and CIO in the second quarter of this year to complement the already great executive team in place. With strong experience in marketing and operations for global consumer goods companies, these additions were essential to support Spin Master’s aggressive global growth plans. We are on the right track this year, with more innovation than ever. As I am sure you have begun to see in stores already, our innovation crosses many categories. There is our new Kawaii Crush small doll


line, Flutterbye Fairy, and Zoomer, a dog with artificial intelligence. However, we have not forgotten our tried and true brands, such as Air Hogs. This year we launched Air Hogs Helix X4, our quadcopter that brings a new experience to the air. Our acquisition of Spy Gear has been really exciting. We are taking this classic spy play pattern, launching new and innovative products, and turning roleplay into real play. And we have seen remarkable growth within our games business and are continuing to bring new ways to play games to consumers and retailers globally. We are now a contender in the global construction aisle with the acquisition of Meccano/Erector and the launch of our Ionix Tenkai Knights line just this month. It has been extremely rewarding to launch two new entertainment series this year. We premiered Paw Patrol in conjunction with Nickelodeon and Tenkai Knights on Cartoon Network. This is just the beginning as we continue to transform into a true entertainment company. We are so excited for what is ahead. Whether you are our competition at retail or our business partners, we wish you all the best. We have the utmost respect for all the players in our industry. We are all facing the same challenges and opportunities but together we have all accepted the mission of delighting and entertaining kids everywhere around the world and this is a great mission. —Ben Gadbois, global president and COO


Forging Innovative Play BY JENNIFER LYNCH

efore there was Wonder Forge, for president and CEO Jacobe Chrisman, there was surfing. After working in product development fourand-a-half years at Cranium, Chrisman took a global surfing sabbatical, clearing his head and using the time to figure out his next move. “It was a chance to recalibrate,” says Chrisman. And it was during this trip that Chrisman looked at what he loved most about Cranium–the games. And as he traveled through Asia, Chrisman recognized licensing was a powerful piece of the puzzle, and one that he hadn’t tapped into much at Cranium. “I saw a lot of licenses marketing co-branded games,” he says. “But I wanted to bring life to the licenses in a way that hadn’t been done yet for preschool.” Seizing the idea as both a business opportunity and a personal interest, it would become the foundation for Wonder Forge’s approach to licensing and product development, starting with the multi-generational brand of Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat I Can Do That game was Wonder Forge’s first breakout product and at the core of what the company aimed to do. “When the Cat is juggling all the different play things, it’s a moment of ‘Look at Me. Look what I can do,’” says Chrisman. “That was powerful in the book but also for our own growing brand centered around our ‘I Can Do That’ concept for games.” The brand is ultimately about instilling self confidence and self esteem in preschoolers, but through these characters and stories in a way that’s engaging



and jumpstarts play, says Chrisman. Since Dr. Seuss, Wonder Forge has added a number of other licenses, such as Curious George, DC Comics, Richard Scarry’s Busytown as well as Disney properties, including Disney Junior brands and Disney Princess. And using their toyetic assets, Wonder Forge has carved out a formula that not only brings the stories to life in a game format but does so in a way that allows kids to roleplay. Some of its latest games highlight this idea through their game components. In the Jake and the Never Land Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game, kids use Jake’s spy glass to decode clues and match secret Dubloons to the treasure Dubloons hidden around the house then pick them up with the sword, which doubles as a roleplay toy. Adding this roleplay component has also blurred the lines between toys and games, creating a strong selling proposition and adding value to its products for both retailers and consumers. While games have typically been more difficult to convey in packaging, this year Wonder Forge is modifying its packaging to better highlight the toyetic value and repeat play in its games right off the shelf. “When you have a license, you obviously want to show the license first because that’s what everyone is most interested in,” says Chrisman. “But you frequently don’t have enough real estate to show everything that’s in the box.” Now retailers are also recognizing the value in showing off Wonder Forge’s roleplay-oriented games. The company partnered exclusively with Walmart to expose everything that’s inside. “We want parents to

Jake and the Never Land Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game

immediately see the toyetic value,” Chrisman says. “Then when they flip it over, they get a sense of the facilitated play, that there are rules, and there’s more to it than just playing with a sword or spy glass.” Wonder Forge also tries to incorporate game components that aid different aspects of a child’s development as they play. “We try to layer in a complex play experience because we think that’s what makes it rich, rewarding, and leads to a lot of repeat play,” says Chrisman. And perhaps, it’s this approach that’s led to the company’s overall growth in the past two years—while the overall games category has been declining in sales. “We’re increasing our space at retail and growing our retail partners nationally and internationally,” says Kimberley Pierce, vice-president, marketing at Wonder Forge. “What we bake into our games—the quality and uniqueness to which we approach licensing—is ultimately how we’ve been successful. We started with a solid foundation in preschool games and moved into puzzles and games for older kids and families. Our name gives us a lot of room to grow and continue to apply our approach to other areas.” And for Wonder Forge, it’s not about name but what’s forged behind it.

Millennial Parents:

Mom Researches Everything



oday’s new moms and dads may have met on, to find out everything about the pregnancy, the baby’s development, Yelp-ed the locale of their first date, consulted blogs when and what is needed for the nursery.” Wherever new parents seek information, infant goods planning their wedding, and scrutinized online reviews manufacturers try to be there as well, via social media sites, when selecting an OB-GYN. Now these digital natives specifically targeted digital ads, blogs, and the like. Online are shopping for gear for their precious new arrival purchasing has never been simpler. If parents prefer to shop in a way that wasn’t possible for previous generain a brick-and-mortar location, price and product informations. This generation of new parents is quite possition is readily available on their smartphone apps. More bly the most well informed ever—all they need to than 58 percent of new moms have smartphones and for know about potential purchases is a mere click away. many Latino and African-American moms, smartphones “First-time moms today are more connected to other are their only link to the internet, according to Debra first-time moms—and experienced moms—than ever Joester, president of The Joester Loria Group, which before,” says Lisa Wuennemann, marketing director at manages The World of Eric Carle brand. Patch Products. “Instead of just receiving recommendaIndeed, Fisher-Price’s Mancuso reports that 30 pertions about the best products and practices from a close cent of its global internet traffic comes from mobile friend or family member, the net has widened. They can devices. That number is expected to rise. Smart phones even peruse product websites. They can find other moms who enable manufacturers to make last minute sales pitches in the blog about their experiences. Or they can connect with moms form of QR codes right on the hang tag, providing a quick around the world on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.” review of the features and benefits of a product. Fisher-Price sees the same patterns with its customers. A strong online presence also facilitates two-way commu“More than two-thirds of new parents consider blogs to be a relinication with customers—an excellent source of market able resource for parenting information,” says Lisa Mancuso, research and a great way to build good will. “As much as we senior vice-president of global marketing at Fisher-Price. want to educate consumers about our products, we want their So it’s not surprising that companies now have full-time feedback, too,” says Ann Schwartz, general manager of social media teams to interact with mommy bloggers— and to a lesser extent, daddy bloggers—along with the Playskool introduces Big Hugs Tiny Love. “Obviously, we love hearing if they had a Elmo this holiday season. good experience, but suggestions about things that can many other aspects of social media. be done differently or a way that can give a consumer a Jerry McDermott, CMO at Step2 says, “The challenge is to get aligned with the right ones [mommy bloggers] with the better experience is so valuable to us. It isn’t just about us reaching the right following and maintain a good relationship with them.” Disney parents, it’s about the parents reaching us.” Fisher-Price’s Mancuso agrees. “Our Gen Y parents are feeling meanwhile has partnered with select bloggers featured in the company-owned blog aggregate Babble. Writers are specifically chosen to pressure from everywhere and everyone,” she says. “Our website represent today’s parents according to age, demographics, and attitude. tries to support them, by letting them know: ‘You know best and Though many of their communication methods are strictly 21st we’re here to support you with products and solutions so you can century, one thing that hasn’t changed is mom’s desire for reliable enjoy every moment of parenthood.’” While the virtual marketing landscape is rife with opportunity to advice. “New parents are embarking on this incredible journey,” says Reid Leslie, director of Disney Baby. “It’s a totally new expe- reach consumers, the scope and rapidly changing nature of today’s rience and they may feel unprepared or apprehensive. So they want technology can prove challenging. “These days it’s much more fluid,”



buck. “Consumers are going to choose items that have more says Step2’s McDermott. “There are a lot of tools that show longevity and more perceived value,” Tiny Love’s Schwartz up, and figuring out which of these tools work best is probsays. “For instance, our Starry Night Mobile Soother ably the hardest thing. A tool may only be effective for Night Light starts as a musical crib mobile that six months before it is replaced by something else.” converts to a musical ceiling projector when Successful marketing campaigns aren’t strictly the infant’s older, and then converts to a digital. “Events are another good way to reach musical night light when the baby has graduparents with ideas, products, and services,” says ated to a toddler bed.” Joester. “In-store communication including sigToys that promote an infant’s development also nage, demonstrations, and sampling remains an add value, such as the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Crawl important option, keeping in mind that parents often Around Car, which is an interactive vehicle that helps babies search online before shopping. So retail outreach should learn the basics such as the alphabet, numbers, and colors. include both online and in-store engagement.” Despite the explosion of technology, the one thing that The biggest challenge in the infant and preschool cateremains the same are the babies themselves. gories, however, is not managing technology, it’s Infantino’s Peter Rabbit (above) “Babies still develop the same [as they always fewer babies—the birthrate has been declining is part of a broader line for the have],” says Step2’s McDermott. “Babies still since 2008, according to numerous reports. As property, which now has its own show, Peter Rabbit, on Nick Jr. need things that are going to stimulate them at the families shrink, manufacturers can’t rely on customers returning as they once did. Tiny Love’s Patch Products created the Mirari product right time. That’s why we have products that line this year. Shown below is the Busy develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, social Schwartz observes though that there are still Buddy. The line is centered around new skills, and their imagination, such as our Busy opportunities for repeat sales. “If a consumer has twists on classic play patterns. Bake Kitchen. Not only can kids pretend to cook, a great experience with our product, they’ll want they can make things with dough, draw on the dry erase to come back to the brand, when purchasing a new board, or play with letters.” product or purchasing gifts,” she says. Patch’s Wuennemann agrees, “Play patterns of babies Some attribute the drop in births to the recession, haven’t changed,” she says. “When babies see their parents especially since the first down year was 2008. using tablet computers, they want to mimic those actions. Certainly, the adverse economic impact continues The Mirari myPad is a safe, durable, and fun toy that helps to be felt, and sadly the number of children living in them achieve that play pattern.” Mirari is Patch’s poverty has increased. “The recession has forced newest product line for infants and preschoolers that families to make hard decisions about the essenoffers a new twist on classic play patterns. tial must-haves and the quality of products,” says While all of this instant communication and inforMaura Regan, senior vice-president and general mation makes life easier, it does make certain aspects manager of global consumer products, Sesame of life harder. It’s especially important for companies Workshop. “Still parents want to keep their kids to strictly manage their online messaging seriously and happy and healthy. And they want products that always—most importantly—maintain the quality of will deliver in value.” their products. Nothing travels faster than a negative Value is key when marketing infant goods. review. “The best way to reach parents is to have a great Especially since consumers now have the ability to scan all available prices on smartphones and other devices. A new product on the retail shelves,” says Wuennemann. “Great products will parent may not always opt for the cheapest item but is apt to go for receive awards and good reviews, and parents will see that the prodthe product that promises quality and provides the most bang for the ucts are endorsed by people who matter to them.” OCTOBER 2013 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 27

ABC Kids Expo Preview COMPILED BY


The baby category is always filled with innovative new products as new companies enter the fray each year. The category is especially hot now,

given the birth of the UK’s Prince George. Each time The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—Will and Kate—step out with Prince George, parents everywhere want to see what brands the royal parents are favoring. Perhaps those brands and many others will be on display at this year’s ABC Kids Expo. This year’s show takes place in Las Vegas October 15–18. Here is just a sampling of what attendees can expect to see.


ParentLab’s miniBee is a travel bassinet engineered with the same “pop” open-andclose mechanism as the original, larger version, journeyBee. Weighing only 5 pounds and smaller than most purses, the miniBee is a solution for traveling with a new baby. The miniBee comes complete with a durable outer case, handles, and shoulder straps. It is easy to set up and requires no tools. The front and back panels of the miniBee are made of mesh material, providing clear visibility in and out of the crib. It is recommended for ages 0–6 months.


Tidy Table Tray Dock-n-Lock Diner from Bambinos is the second generation of its Tidy Table Tray. The new design features a Dock-n-Lock station that compactly locks to the table and makes the tray completely stationary. The secure no-spill, no-throw bowls that are built into the tray make meal time mess- and throw-free. The grow-with-me design accommodates baby in different stages, from infancy in a high chair, to toddlerhood at the table. The spill-catch lip catches spills, while the three sections of different sizes encourage a variety of food groups and both solid- and soft-food choices. The tray comes in Pink Cupcake, Berry Blue (shown), and Toasted Sesame. It’s for 6 months and up and it’s BPA free, phthalate free, and dishwasher safe.

Über Mom

Über Mom’s Wipebox (assortment shown here) is an attractive and functional wipe case that shows wipes are not just for babies anymore. Grab a Wipebox and keep it in a handbag, diaper bag, glove box, sports bag, backpack, or desk. Refill it with any brand of wipes. The box is reusable and eco-friendly (made from recycled polypropylene) and now it comes in eight new whimsical designs. The latest introduction to the line is Wipebox Mini, designed for tissue packs. It’s durable, stylish, eco-friendly (made of recycled polypropylene), and keeps tissue packs clean while you are on the go. 28 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

Mamas & Papas

Great Britain’s Mamas & Papas line ranges from strollers and high chairs to developmental toys, babywear, and more. The Baby Snug, for ages 3–12 months, gives baby a comfortable and supportive place to rest, eat, and play. This unique, two-stage floor support seat helps baby to sit up unaided, grows with baby, and is the perfect first seat. The Baby Snug is ergonomically designed with an extra wide, durable plastic base and crotch post to provide stability and can be used on the floor by babies as soon as they can support their heads. As baby grows, parents simply remove the seat insert to make more room for baby. The portable Baby Snug is lightweight and can be used indoors and outdoors. Baby Snug also features a removable tray for meal and play times and is easy to wipe clean. It’s currently available in teal, raspberry, and apple. New colors for this year are plum and putty. The Baby Bud, shown here for ages 6 months–3 years, is a longterm baby seat. With a lifespan of more than three years, according to the company, this threestage booster seat easily and securely fits most chairs with four independently adjustable non-slip feet and attached straps. A three-point harness keeps baby comfortable and secure and the adjustable, removable, and lockable tray can be used for eating or play. It features three distinct stages. In stage one, it is a seat with a comfortable, molded insert and tray. In stage two, the insert is removed with tray. In stage three, the insert and tray can be removed to bring baby to the table. The Baby Bud also features a carry handle for portability. It’s available in raspberry and teal.

Plan Toys

The Dancing Alligator Rainbow Edition, designed for ages 12 months and up, is an update on the classic PlanToys alligator. This version features whimsical rainbow colors. When pulled along, the alligator moves its head and tail up and down making a click-clack sound. Electro Bus, shown here, also for ages 12 months and up, features a stable base, handle grip, and storage compartment.

Chicco Baby Bud

Chicco’s LullaGo is a portable bassinet where a newborn can sleep at any time. It can be disassembled and folded in under a minute, according to the company, and can be conveniently carried in its matching carry bag. This sleek bassinet features an aluminum structure, which is lightweight and stable, and anti-slip feet. It has soft fabrics and a comfortable mattress that creates a perfect environment for baby, and the mesh inserts provide aeration for comfortable sleep.


ABC Kids Expo Preview H.I.S. Juveniles

H.I.S. Juveniles introduces a complete line of The World of Eric Carle infant travel and safety products. Shown here is the Eric Carle Shopping Cart Cover, which provides a clean and secure environment for baby from cart to highchair. Convenient straps help to easily attach it to any cart and the versatile cover folds up for easy transport. It provides 360 degrees of germ protection.

Cloud b

For the first time ever, Cloud b’s Twilight Turtle now has a sound option. Cloud b enhances the soothing starlight projection of the original with its newest innovation, Twilight Turtle Tunes. It’s the first Cloud b character to feature Bluetooth technology. Utilizing a new free Twilight Turtle Tunes app provided by Cloud b, parents and caregivers can choose from a preset library of melodies and sounds that can be mixed and matched to create their own customized mixes to play via Twilight Turtle Tunes’ speaker box. A premium app will also be available for $0.99, which offers the option to access personal music libraries to create unique mixes. Via Bluetooth, the melody and twilight effect can be programmed for up to 24 hours. Just like the original, the new Twilight Turtle Tunes glows in blue, amber, and green and projects the constellations. In the Bluetooth version, the colors morph from one to another every five seconds. For the traditionalists or those who do not have access to Bluetooth, Twilight Turtle Tunes comes with one default soothing sound of ocean waves.

Blue Box’s B kids

The Starry Night Dream Station, from Blue Box’s B kids division, is the first night light designed to gently soothe baby to sleep starting at age 3 months. Smart light sensor technology detects day or night and automatically turns on or off depending on the brightness of the room. The soft light provides baby with a soothing sense of security while also allowing enough light for parents to make a quick diaper change or midnight feeding. When the “asleep function” is activated, additional calming lights are projected along with classical melodies and natural sounds. The Tap ’n Tilt Roller Rack, shown here for ages 18 months and up, helps foster early shape, color, and size differentiation skills. Toddlers can tap the ball through the holes and watch and listen as they roll back down the track. It also includes a rattle ball that makes rattle noises. 30 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

SmartNoggin Toys

SmartNoggin Toys’ NogginStik is a developmental light-up rattle. The NogginStik was designed to help parents, caregivers, and early intervention therapists encourage early milestones in infants. The NogginStik head lights up red, blue, and green to stimulate a baby’s eyes and to encourage visual tracking. The base of the NogginStik makes a soft rattle sound. It has an easyto-hold handle for grasping and fun textures to delight the sense of touch. The NogginStik is BPA free, PVC free, phthalate free, and latex free.


Safe Step Gate with TripGuard, from Munchkin, offers a fresh technological advance for safeguarding and securing household areas. The gate employs patent-pending TripGuard technology with a 50 percent lower threshold bar compared to standard pressure-mount gates, minimizing the threshold’s trip hazard. A push-to-lock mechanism and updated dual-depressor handle makes it simple to operate. The Safe Step Gate provides a contemporary design, while the TripGuard technology enhances safety.

Safe to Sleep

Safe to Sleep’s Sleep and Breathing Monitor is the first of its kind to use state-of-the-art fiber optic technology to measure and record each baby breath and stream it to a smartphone as it occurs, so parents know at a glance that their baby is breathing safely. The Sleep and Breathing Monitor brings together patented technology to create a comprehensive sleep and breath monitoring system that has been hospital-tested and clinically validated for accuracy. The unit features the Sleep Mat, which is a wireless, portable soft sleep surface that monitors a sleeping baby’s breathing pattern and breath rate. The BreathScope detects every baby breath and displays the breath wave and breath rate on a smartphone in real time. The BreathTrend analyzes baby’s breathing data and generates real-time alerts for abnormal breathing events. The SleepLog tracks sleep time and generates sleep quality reports to give parents and doctors a new window into baby wellness. It also includes the Parent Unit, which is a handheld device used to monitor baby when not using a smartphone


ABC Kids Expo Preview BabyBjorn

Baby Carrier One is BabyBjorn’s latest baby carrier. It is multi-functional so baby can be carried in the front as an infant and on one’s back as baby gets older. It is designed for newborns (at least 8 pounds) up to age 3 (up to 26 pounds) and it is machine washable. The company says it is easy to use on your own and features an adjustable design with generously padded shoulder straps and waist belt to relieve pressure.

Tiny Love

Tiny Love introduces the Take Along Bouncer, providing baby with a comfortable seat at home or while visiting someone’s house. The Take Along Bouncer’s innovative lightweight design allows parents to easily fold the seat and pack it in the included carry case. The bouncer also features stylish colors and comfortable fabric.


Angelcare introduces three styles of baby monitors. The Angelcare Video, Movement, and Sound Monitor for Smartphone (shown) has a breakthrough feature from previous Angelcare monitors. Parents can now watch the baby monitor from anywhere in the world using a smartphone (iPhone or Android), tablet, or computer. The new Angelcare monitor for Smartphone also has internal communication via Wireless Angelcare Access Point, which turns the Nursery Unit into a router, so you don’t need an internet connection. Video, Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor is a fully equipped, touchscreen movement, and sound moniMovement, and Sound tor system. Along with the under-the-mattress sensor pad that tells you if no baby movement is detected, this Monitor movement and sound monitor has some innovative features to reassure parents. For example, control the adjustable nightlight from your portable parent unit and the low-emission “eco mode.” The parent unit also comes with a two-way walkie-talkie feature that lets you soothe baby from another room. The under-the-mattress sensor pad lets you know within 20 seconds if no movement is detected in the crib and the nursery unit sends all the sounds baby makes to your portable parent unit, which even comes with an audio “tic” option so you know it’s on and a “vibration” mode, so the alarm won’t disrupt the quiet time. 32 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013


Fisher-Price’s latest line of items for baby will be introduced starting in January 2014. The items described here have a maximum weight of 25 pounds. Step ’n Play Jumperoo is a free-standing jumper that allows children to jump and take their first steps in a safe environment with an expanding frame that provides room to walk. Suspended by four springs, the seat allows children to hop up and down and provides limited travel from left to right. It is height adjustable to grow with baby and rotates 360 degrees for spinning fun and access to a variety of fun toys located around the perimeter. The seat pad is removable and machine washable. The 4-in-1 Grow with Me Tub (shown here) features four unique grow-with-me stages including the new Sit ’n Scrub Support, which helps aid unsteady sitters. The tub comes with one toy as well as a rinse bottle to help bathe baby. Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat offers comfort and play for baby, with the ability to fold flat for mom. It supports baby in an upright position and features two linkable toys (teether and butterfly). The seat is removable and machine washable and the frame folds flat for portability and storage. Space Saver Cradle Swing offers the benefits of a full-size cradle swing in nearly half the space. It features two swinging motions and six swing speeds using SmartSwing technology that can be accompanied by multiple songs or soothing nature sounds. It folds for easy storage and features a handle for portability.


TOMY will showcase products across its various divisions including JJ Cole, The First Years, Boon, and Lamaze. The JJ Cole Collections Backpack offers three carrying options and multiple pockets, providing plenty of storage. Wear the backpack as a standard backpack or messenger bag, or attach it to the stroller with the included no-slip grips. Its spacious interior holds everything needed for the day, while the front pockets keep keys, cell phone, and pacifiers within easy reach. A wipeable changing pad is also included. Boon offers a Fleet of Stacking Boats, which is a set of five stack-and-pour boats. Each features wide decks for scooping and pouring water and drain holes for rain effect. It is BPA free, phthalate free, and PVC free for ages 9 months and up. Boon Pieces Foam Bath Puzzle are foam pieces that attach to solve the puzzle. The appliqués do not absorb water, reducing mold and mildew. The shapes float in water and stick to bathroom walls when wet. Designed for ages 1 and up it’s BPA free, phthalate free, and PVC free. The Lamaze Sit Up and See Gym is an innovative activity gym that allows baby to play and explore in four different ways. First, the gym can be positioned flat with the arch above baby for lay-and-play fun. Second, use the rainbow headrest as a tummy-time pillow with the arch and toys positioned flat and in front of baby’s reach. Third, as baby is learning to sit up on his own, prop the gym up with the easy pivoting handles and strap baby in the safety harness. Then position the arm in front of baby to play and see around the room at the same time. Fourth, once baby can sit up on his own, position the mat flat again and the arm up so baby can sit and play without the support, or take the arm off all together and let baby play with the removable plush activity toys on the mat. The Lamaze Cuddle and Squeak Koalas (shown) make an adorable soft toy pair. When the baby koala is lifted out from the mother koala’s arms, baby can play with the bend-and-squeak toy. The adorable baby koala even has a leaf teether for baby to chew on. Baby can work on developing gross motor skills, learning to put the baby squeaker stick back into the mom koala’s arms. Plus baby can discover the big crinkle ears, crinkly feet, and different textures on mom koala. OCTOBER 2013 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 33

Industry Predictions: Assessing 2013, Looking Ahead to 2014 he toy industry will once again converge in Dallas for the Toy Industry Association’s Fall Toy Preview. The following week retailers will head to Los Angeles for what has become an unofficial “Toy Fair.” The buying season for 2014 is underway and many are working on 2015 as well. Yet, as we move into holiday 2013, the industry remains challenging as families continue to recover from the recession, kids spend more of their playtime on tablets and other mobile devices, and brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to bring consumers into stores. TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT spoke to some of the industry’s key toymakers for their insights into the state of the industry. Listed below, in alphabetical order, are their responses.




Blip Toys seems to be entering new territory this fall with Hello Kitty and Disney Princess Palace Pets. What niche is Blip fulfilling? Does this open the company up to a new audience of kids? Does it open up Blip to new aisles at retail? Blip has always had a strong product presence with girls. As such, we’re always looking for accretive opportunities to expand our girls’ portfolio—both Disney Princess Palace Pets and our Hello Kitty Doll program represent unique opportunities to leverage two of today’s most popular and iconic girls’ franchises with a product strategy that had never been done by either brand before. Our objective was to focus

on proven play patterns and bring true innovation and real value to these cross-generational brands. We have been incredibly fortunate as both of these new product lines are performing so strongly right out of the gate and offer Blip enormous growth potential as sustainable programs for the future.

How would Blip assess the current state of the various segments of girls’ categories? While the overall health of the toy industry continues to be challenging, we still see opportunity for innovation in many areas of the girls’ toy retail footprint. There is always room for fresh ideas offered at a value. Good product always finds a way.

How closely do you work with retailers in developing product lines? Collaboration throughout the entire process is in our DNA and highly valued at our company—both internally and with our retail partners. We position ourselves as solution-providers to our retail partners. As much as Blip is a toy marketer, we also view ourselves as a retail real estate developer. We work closely with our merchant partners to strive to make their retail footprint as productive as possible.



Pinkie Cooper is now making its way to retail. What are you expectations for this IP? We are hoping for big things from Pinkie,




but expect the momentum to build in a more measured way than other recent breakout trends. The unique look and basic nature of Pinkie takes some getting used to. We noticed that right from the start at last year’s Fall Toy Preview; it took at least 50 percent of the people that saw the line a little bit of time to warm up to it. But after a short period of time, almost everyone does, and once they do, they fall in love with the line very quickly. You can see that by going online to watch the videos on YouTube and read blogs about Pinkie. Most of them say something to the effect of, “I wasn’t sure I liked this doll when I first saw it, but once I got one, I loved it!” How will the line be developed over the next few years for longevity? The great thing about the doll category is that a well-established platform has been set by lines such as Barbie, Bratz, and now Monster High, so when a line starts to take hold, the line plan basically writes itself. The trick from there is making sure the doll’s unique style shows through for each item. Girls love more fashion looks, playset accessories, vehicles and, if things really go well, large playsets. We’ll be ready but we’ll take it all step by step.

What are the key properties that The Bridge is working on for 2014? We have two new major introductions for 2014. One is a master toy program reintroducing Strawberry Shortcake to the broader market—it’s exclusive at Toys “R” Us now. There will be a new line plan and doll design as well as a full 360-degree marketing campaign featuring TV commercials, the TV show, a high-

State of the Industry ly developed web presence, and more. The second new range is our WWE construction toy line that brings the most successful sports entertainment brand to the fastest growing category in the toy industry. The line will take the concept of “build and rebuild” to a new level, especially with the attention to detail we placed on the figures. It’s a level of interactive play that has never been seen in this category outside of specialty collectibles. We have not signed any other key deals at this point but might have a couple of new things to announce at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas.

How do you think the toy industry will fare this 2013 holiday season? I think business will be soft, as I don’t see many breakout items hitting so far to really drive traffic. And I sense the trade is being very cautious this year with inventory, which means they will probably be short, which will affect overall sales.



How does Fisher-Price engage with today’s parents, especially first-time moms? We know that pregnancy is the biggest motivator for online engagement. It’s even bigger than dating, finding a new job, or getting married. We recently revamped our Fisher-Price baby site to evolve Fisher-Price from a brand that has been a trusted resource for parents into what we hope will become a

parenting forum for sharing stories and advice. In addition to creating a one-stop shop for both baby toys and gear, we’ve partnered with real parents and accredited writers to create a dialog around the roller coaster of emotions that new parents experience. The dialog that we’ve started helps us better understand parents’ real needs, allowing us to deliver innovative products that offer real solutions.

What are the best ways to reach today’s grandparents? Because of the Fisher-Price brand’s strong cross-generational appeal, we over index with grandparents, many of whom have fond memories of the role Fisher-Price played in helping them raise their own children. But as with all of our consumers, we rely heavily on consumer insights to understand how this group shops. For example, we know that grandmothers look to parents to help them make product decisions. It’s often via a registry or a wish list, to tell them exactly which products they want. As a result, we partner with our retailers who offer wish list and registry programs and connect with grandparents at retail as well as digitally, through our dedicated grandparents section on We also reach grandparents through a number of targeted initiatives such as monthly newsletters, special occasion, new product emails, and customized content. What challenges is Fisher-Price facing with its traditional toys as kids use mobile devices and tablets at younger ages? We develop age-appropriate products for the many ways today’s children play, discover, and grow, which includes both tech and


traditional toys. In the Fisher-Price Play Lab, we’ve observed that children don’t make a strong distinction between tech and non-tech toys. Our Laugh & Learn apps are a great extension of our Laugh & Learn characters and product line, which includes the popular Laugh & Learn Puppy, giving parents another option for engaging their children. While smartphones and age-appropriate apps have become seamless technology for today’s children, we encourage parents to keep a well-rounded toy box for the many ways children play and develop.

How does Fisher-Price strike a balance in creating “traditional toys” while incorporating “tech” features? Some of the best tech-play experiences for children build off of traditional play patterns, helping children to understand cause and effect, encourage them to develop physically, cognitively, and emotionally, and take early imagination to a new level. At Fisher-Price, we really use technology to help bring the magic of a toy to life, not to replace traditional toys or play patterns but rather to enhance them.



What challenges is Hasbro facing with its traditional toys as kids use mobile devices and tablets at younger ages? Over the past several years, we’ve focused on delivering immersive brand experiences to consumers not only in traditional toys and games but also through combined physical

and digital experiences that can be enjoyed with mobile devices and tablets. With Furby, for example, the digital experience provides consumers with many fun ways to interact with Furby. Consumers can download a free Furby app that enables them to “feed” their Furby and learn Furbish on their mobile device or tablet. We’ve had more than four million Furby app downloads to date. And this fall, Furby will once again revolutionize digitally-integrated play with the introduction of Furby Boom, taking kids on an all-new digital adventure via their mobile device as they raise, care for, and play games with their Furby playmate, including the ability to hatch digital Furbling friends. Another great example of an ecosystem that includes both digital and analog play is Magic: The Gathering. It has more than 12 million players and fans worldwide, Magic offers an unrivaled depth of gameplay with many levels of choice and customization for its players. Beyond the trading card game, the franchise has extended onto digital platforms including Magic: The Gathering Online for PC and Magic: The Gathering— Duels of the Planeswalkers for Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, PlayStation Network, iPad, and Android tablet. In July we unveiled Telepods, an all-new mobile gaming platform. Telepods uses innovative new technology to allow kids to play in two ways: in the physical space and through full and unprecedented integration into toptier mobile apps. The Telepods play experience will first be available in a line releasing this month based on, and fully integrated into, the new game app Angry Birds Star Wars II from Rovio Entertainment and Lucasfilm.

We’ll deliver the Telepods gaming platform across Hasbro brands and licensed lines. We also recently expanded our digital gaming capabilities through a majority investment in Backflip Studios. The addition of in-house digital gaming capabilities allows us to more fully participate in the value being created by our brands digitally. We continue to have tremendous partnerships in the broader digital gaming space with EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Gameloft, DeNA, and others. Through the combination of in-house and partner resources, Hasbro brands are being developed across all gaming platforms for markets around the world so that consumers can play with our brands anytime and anywhere.

What challenges is Hasbro finding in the games category? What things are working in that category? At Hasbro, our games business is growing. During our earnings announcement last month, we noted that our gaming category posted its third consecutive quarter of growth, increasing revenues 19 percent in the second quarter 2013 versus last year. Hasbro’s games franchise brands, Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly, both were up in the quarter, and many other games brands also grew, including Twister, Jenga, and the Elefun & Friends collection. Our focus for gaming is to offer kids and families new and innovative gaming experiences to enjoy anytime, anywhere. We hear from kids and families that they have less time for play and want more “snackable” gaming experiences. So our focus is on extending our brands in new ways—both digital and physical—with these needs in mind. Games such as Angry Birds Star Wars

and Twister Dance Rave give kids the opportunity to be creative and own both how they play as well as how long they play. We know that consumers want new experiences with our classic brands. The new Monopoly Empire game offers this through all-new gameplay in which players collect, buy, and trade top brands such as Coca-Cola, Samsung, McDonald’s, and Xbox rather than real estate in a quest to “own it all.” We also know consumers are looking for fun and social party experiences at home and Hasbro is launching a line of party games this year, including the Funny or Die and Draw Something party games to help bring friends and family together for great times and memorable moments.

What challenges is Hasbro facing in the girls’ category? We are very pleased with the state of our girls’ business. In fact, as we said during our July earnings announcement, Hasbro’s girls category posted its fourth straight quarter of growth, increasing 43 percent in the quarter. My Little Pony and Furby were the primary contributors to the strong year-over-year growth. The My Little Pony franchise continues to be a worldwide favorite with fans of all ages, largely fueled by the global popularity of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic animated series, created by Hasbro Studios and currently airing in more than 180 countries and available across multiple platforms including iTunes and Netflix. The brand has undergone significant growth over the past several years. We’re continuing to build the brand momentum with My Little Pony Equestria Girls, a new brand initiative that was sup-


State of the Industry ported with a full-length animated feature film that introduced a whole new dimension into the world of My Little Pony. The film debuted this past June at the Los Angeles Film Festival and then rolled out to more than 250 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The My Little Pony app from Gameloft has more than 15 million installs since launch (November 2012–August 2013). This summer, mall-based Build-A-Bear Workshop launched several My Little Pony characters into a plush line. Following its launch in 2012, Furby is rolling out in 12 languages and across all regions globally in 2013. Furby Boom is also launching this fall. Another highly anticipated launch for us is the all-new Nerf Rebelle brand. It is designed to empower girls with confidence, high-performance action, and a stylish edge. From sleek and powerful crossbows to trendsetting accessories and a digitally enhanced world of app play, the Nerf Rebelle lineup delivers the ultimate in social, active play and gaming adventure. The line encourages players to work together, complete missions, and share the fun with friends. We are very excited to continue the momentum we’ve seen in our girls’ business with these exciting new launches and more.

Pirates and Doc McStuffins in particular are currently so popular? Both Doc McStuffins and Jake resonate well with moms and children because of the core messages and ideas communicated in the content. Doc McStuffins is aspirational to young children, while being very nurturing at the same time. Viewers who watch the show want to be like Doc and help fix their own toys. We have developed a full range of products that will help a child with this experience, such as our Doc McStuffins Get Better Check Up Center that truly lets kids be like Doc and diagnose their toys. Jake appeals to viewers because of his sense of adventure and the exciting pirate themes. Both of these properties tie back to core and timeless play patterns for kids.


What trends is Just Play seeing at retail as we move into holiday 2013 and early 2014? Are American consumers feeling more confident and spending more on toys? Building lots of features intrinsic to items is a theme we’ve noticed heading into holi-


Just Play has worked with a number of hot Disney properties these past two years. Why do you think Jake and the Never Land

How has Just Play been able to innovate on classic play patterns to appeal to today’s kids? The first thing we consider when developing a product is to be sure that it is true to the character’s personality. Next, we look at the age appropriateness and add an element that makes the toy appealing for today’s children. It is important that a child has ownership of a play pattern. We strive to appeal, and we’re always looking at ways to keep each item fresh for kids to be interested in and engaged with while keeping the basic inherent play patterns still relevant.


day and next year. Though consumers are gradually spending more on toys, they are still being discretionary. If consumers are spending money of any amount on a purchase, they want the toy to provide them with extra value and enjoyment. Thus, we have incorporated this into many of our new and top items, including the Doc McStuffins Get Better Check Up Center that has 10 different features.



How are the LeapPad learning tablets performing against other tablets on the market? Our LeapPad learning tablets are always extremely popular among parents and kids. For the past two years, our LeapPad tablets have been the best-selling learning tablets for children. Additionally, three of our LeapPads —LeapPad, LeapPad2, and LeapPad bundles —were three of the Top 10 selling toys of 2012, according to The NPD Group. Our learning tablets offer children the most engaging, high-quality educational experiences available. This year, we have expanded our family of tablets to include LeapPad Ultra, LeapPad2 Power, and a number of LeapPad2 bundles. All of these tablets work with LeapFrog’s library of more than 800 content experiences, all developed and reviewed by LeapFrog’s in-house team of learning experts. This year, we expect a high demand for our entire line of tablets. In addition to the introduction of LeapPad Ultra, we also introduced LeapPad2 Power, which features a new body style and includes a nine-hour rechargeable

battery. Our holiday 2013 line of LeapPad Ultra, together with LeapPad2 Power, LeapPad2, and licensed bundles, offer parents a selection of kids’ learning tablets at a variety of prices to fit every family’s budget.

What trends is LeapFrog seeing at retail and with parents as we move into 2014? Are consumers spending money on toys compared with the past few years? Every year is different and nobody has a crystal ball, but early results from the retail sector indicate this will not be an easy year by any stretch. However, our category has historically been less affected by the macroeconomic environment. At LeapFrog, we have always seen parents put their children first. Parents are always willing to make the investment in their children’s education and learning and will look to purchase items that are both fun and educational.

What changes have you seen in the learning toy category over the past five or 10 years? What are today’s parents most concerned with? What are they looking for when it comes to learning toys? Parents are more concerned than ever with identifying learning solutions that will help their children build school skills both inside and outside of the classroom and are further embracing technology. The learning toy category continues to grow, and toys have become more purposeful—more companies have seen this demand and are specifically designing toys that include both play and learning. At LeapFrog, we appreciate that every child is unique and every child learns different subjects at a different pace. A lot of our

content provides personalized instruction with profile-based curriculum starting points, auto-leveling, innovative hints and prompts, and milestones that provide children with the most appropriate experiences while keeping them engaged and having fun. We also take what children today want to play with, put it into a form factor designed to be kid-tough, and fill it with age-appropriate, entertaining learning. Tablets are a great example of a technology that has grown in popularity among kids and that LeapFrog has embraced. If you pick up one of our LeapPad tablets, you will find it offers children the adult-like tablet experience they crave, however it is built for their small hands and filled with fun and learning designed just for them.



How important has licensing been to LEGO over the past few years? What opportunities have opened up due to licensing? There is no doubt that licensing has played an important role in helping us to drive relevance while also recruiting new users to the LEGO brand. Evergreen properties such as Star Wars and Super Heroes, combined with opportunistic franchises, help us to create a broad and deep complement to the original themes and open-ended building sets that we offer. Not every property works in construction, and some unlikely franchises can actually be very successful for us, such as Disney’s The

Lone Ranger because it’s effectively an opportunity for Wild West-themed building and roleplay. Building sets is an incredibly tough toy category to enter and sustain, and our experience shows it’s not only a licensing game.

What are the biggest challenges happening at retail for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014? There are several factors at play in toys these days, including a lack of true innovation and macroeconomic factors continuing to put pressure on consumers, which make them more cautious with their consumption of goods. We deliver value for money, but this doesn’t replace our need for relentless consumer focus on the long-term value of a LEGO purchase. Our biggest challenge is in continuing to nurture the equity of our single brand status, while staying relevant and fresh for children of all ages to win at the shelf. How have girls taken to the LEGO Friends line? What is next in this line for 2014 and beyond? We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from people who have tried LEGO Friends and seen the way that it sparks their girls’ desire to build. Friends continues to be one of our top selling themes in the U.S., recruiting a lot of new users to the brand and driving steady and strong growth year-onyear. One of the best things we’ve heard is that parents are noticing that their girls are starting with LEGO Friends and then showing interest in building other LEGO themes, so Friends is driving breadth and depth among our consumer base, which is the sign of a really strong core line for us. Next year we are launching more than two dozen new products


State of the Industry in the collection, and we will introduce our first licensed property to our girls’ business.

What products and plans are in the works for the LEGO movie in 2014? We’re really excited about our first-ever major feature film, which is designed to appeal to kids and their parents at the same time. The original story involves new characters who become heroes as they traverse several LEGO-themed worlds such as Wild West and City. We have a collection of 17 building sets that correspond to the film and feature all of the creative building, cool features and functions and, of course, minifigures for which fans love the LEGO brand. Additionally, there will be great merchandise from apparel and watches to books and school supplies. We’re working with our partners at Warner Bros. on a lot of promotional activities and fun programs leading up to our February premiere, but we’re not sharing the details just yet.

Explain the Mixels. What products are planned for this new property? Mixels is an unprecedented new global entertainment franchise that we have collaborated with Cartoon Network to create. Mixels will debut as animated content (primarily shorts) on Cartoon Network and, featuring colorful and humorous creatures that can mix and combine with one another in creative and unpredictable storylines. We’ll launch a portfolio of collectible, low-priced mini building sets in three waves that can be built and rebuilt to reflect the characters “mixing” in the series, while an app-powered game

will engage fans in a deep mobile gaming experience in the sprawling world of Mixels. Additionally, Cartoon Network Enterprises will handle non-toy licensed merchandise, while we will also manage licensed publishing to support the property.


How important has licensing been to MEGA Brands over the past three years? What opportunities have opened up due to licensing? MEGA Brands already has an extensive portfolio of licensed products that complement our own innovations. Our current licensed portfolio features some of the most iconic brands in the world such as Halo, Skylanders, Barbie, Hot Wheels, and more. We have a proven track record in translating popular video game franchises into fun, creative, and collectible products included in our MEGA Bloks, Rose Art, and MEGA Puzzles lines. In addition, our partnership with Mattel for MEGA Bloks Barbie and MEGA Bloks Hot Wheels continues to be a wonderful opportunity for us to offer children new ways to play with some of the top brands in the world. We take pride in our strong reputation as an attractive licensing partner and we are constantly on the lookout for evergreen brands with enduring popularity that have the potential to expand our product lines and drive incremental sales growth.


What are the biggest challenges happening at retail for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014? The challenges that we face at retail include the fact that consumers are now shopping later in the season for the holidays and on top of that, they are going online for their shopping needs. On the other hand, these challenges present us with the opportunity to speak to our consumers online with engaging video content through our website and social media, allowing us to grow our MEGA Bloks fan base and community.

How do you keep innovating in categories as basic as puzzles and Rose Art’s activities? How have these categories been performing? Our Rose Art and MEGA Puzzles lines continue to grow with new licensing partnerships such as Skylanders with our puzzles divisions and LeapFrog with our Rose Art products. Licensing has always been an important part of our product mix, enabling us to continuously develop new and exciting content. Being at the forefront of licensing and working with the very best companies in children’s entertainment, education, and video games allows us to better work with our retail partners to develop the most competitive programs in the marketplace and a best-in-class shopping experience.



The industry is aware that Spin Master is in the midst of much transition. What is the forecast for Spin Master in 2014? What do you

expect the company’s key properties and products to be for 2014? Our forecast is very exciting. We are growing almost 20 percent this year and expect the same for next year. We are aggressively pursuing key acquisitions that align with our growth strategy, having just finalized the acquisition of Meccano/Erector, giving us a foothold in the fast-growing construction category. Our key initiatives for 2014 will be to continue to grow our Air Hogs position, expand our newly acquired Spy Gear portfolio, extend our footprint in the girls’ and construction categories, and continue to bring new innovation and fun to games. In addition we will continue to expand our entertainment and digital gaming properties.

Spin Master has a strong games line this year. Why has Spin Master invested so heavily in this category? How is this category performing when families seem to have less time for this “traditional” activity? We see games as a way to bring family and friends together. Our games are for all ages, from kids and families to adults, and we’ve made them relevant, quick to play, and fun. Although, the overall games category in the U.S. has been in decline, we have been able to create games that resonate with today’s audience, so for us, we’ve seen our business increase, making us now the No. 3 games manufacturer in the U.S., according to The NPD Group.

Will Spin Master continue with its offerings in the doll category in 2014? What Spin Master doll lines can consumers expect to see at retail?

Yes, we will continue with our doll lines. We have an exciting new small doll brand called Kawaii Crush that is just hitting retail shelves now. This super cute line—kawaii means “cute” in Japanese—includes a collection of dolls that leverages the global trend of the kawaii look and styling in a new and exciting way for girls to play. Each doll has a totally adorable and over the top crush on their most favorite things. It’s all about the things little girls love.




How is Kurio performing? What is the latest iteration for 2013 and what is in development for 2014? How does it compare with other tablets on the market? Kurio has been a tremendous performer for our retail partners and has been a real phenomenon with consumers. It’s a niche product, but the market for tablets is so large—118 million are forecasted to be sold in the U.S. alone this year—that even a niche is quite a large business. We sold every unit we could make in 2012, and in 2013 our support at retail is very strong. Fortunately, the tablet market seems to have a few years left before it even begins to peak in terms of annual unit volume. Our 2013 line upgrades our seven-inch tablet, introduces a 10-inch version, and even offers the first serious Android competitor to the iPod Touch that is specifically designed for kids.

Aside from Kurio, it seems that Techno Source has been introducing “traditional” toys compared with the past few years where there were many “tech-focused” items. Why has Techno Source shifted gears? Our feeling is that there is little room between traditional toys and truly high-tech items today. Kids are too sophisticated. They want real electronic items. They don’t want a fake tablet shaped like their favorite cartoon character’s face. On the other hand, the basics never go away: board games, roleplay, plush, figures, or construction. That isn’t to say we don’t believe in innovation. Our World’s Softest Brand line is very innovative but also very traditional in styling and in play pattern. What is the consumer perception at retail when it comes to spending? Are consumers globally beginning to shop for toys again? How do you expect the toy industry to fare this holiday season? Unfortunately, I think it will be another tough year for toys as the market is traditionally defined. Tablets and phones will remain the No. 1-requested holiday gifts for all kids over age 8 and that will have an impact on the traditional toy categories. However, as always, there will be lots of big winners in traditional toys and while it may be down in percentage terms, the market will still be very large in absolute dollars.

Despite the challenges addressed here by the participants, many companies are seeing success as the industry continues to innovate mixing the traditional and the tech worlds for the next generation of digitally native kids.


2014 Toy Preview COMPILED BY


The toy industry will once again converge in Dallas for the Toy Industry Association’s Fall Toy Preview. The industry remains challenging

as families continue to recover from the recession, kids spend more of their playtime on tablets and other mobile devices, and brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to bring consumers into stores. Yet numerous products will be introduced for 2014 and 2015 that will defy the odds and break through to capture kids’ attention. Here is just a sample of some of those items that will be on display in Dallas as well as in Los Angeles during the West Coast’s unofficial “October Toy Fair.”

Hog Wild Toys

Hog Wild Toys, known for its Popper collection of toys and novelties, introduces the newest addition to its line. ZipStix, which will be available in spring 2014, are high-flying launchers that come in various collectible designs and are ready to crash, jump, and race in seconds. Using a patented launching system, ZipStix fly across the table and launch off the ramps. Flatten out the ZipStix, load it into the launcher, then press the back to curl up the ZipStix and take aim. Let go and watch the ZipStix go. It is available in a single pack, two pack, stunt pack, and mega-stunt pack with various accessories, such as ramps and cones, to create the ZipStix stunt experience.

TecHno source

Techno Source, a division of LF Products (a Li & Fung company), will be expanding its product offerings under two of its Toy Island feature brands, The Original World’s Softest Brand and NFL Rush Zone. In 2014, Toy Island will add new characters to its The Original World’s Softest Brand assortment of cute and cuddly friends, including a panda, kitty, cow, pig, elephant, and dragon. Seasonal styles will also be available, including bears for Valentine’s Day and bunnies for Easter. The Original World’s Softest Brand series two plush will be available in 12-inch and 20-inch sizes. Techno Source introduced NFL Rush Zone this year and is introducing two new games officially licensed by the NFL for 2014. NFL Rush Zone Blitz brings frenetic no-huddle football right into your home. This fast-paced family board game puts two teams head-to-head as they move the football down the field and into their opponent’s end zone. Players roll the dice at the same time, advancing the football token toward their goal only when doubles are rolled. When the football reaches an end zone, a touchdown is scored. The first team to score five touchdowns wins the game. The game includes a football field game board, six dice, and 32 NFL team football tokens. It is designed for ages 6 and up. The NFL Rush Zone Flick ’n Kick Board Game challenges players to test their skills at kicking through the uprights in two different games. In game one, players take turns kicking field goals, starting at the 20-yard line. If a kick is good, the player kicks the next field goal from the 30-yard line, adding 10 yards after each successful kick. Players who miss three kicks are eliminated and the player to kick his football from the furthest distance is the winner. Game two is similar to the game of “H-O-R-S-E,” but in this version players want to avoid spelling “R-U-S-H.” Players take turns kicking field goals from any position on the game board. If a player kicks a goal, the other players have to make the same kick or earn a letter. Players who spell out “R-U-S-H” are eliminated until one player remains and wins the game. It includes a football field game board, field goal post, and 32 NFL team football tokens. The game is designed for ages 5 and up. 42 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

2014 Toy Preview WoWopolis

Wowopolis introduces Puzzle Match Alphabet Train, which combines a puzzle with a classic memory game. In this classic update on a memory game play pattern, children ages 3 –6 must find and match the alphabet letters to the accompanying animal piece starting with that letter. If you find a letter “C” then the matching animal card would be “Cat,” which starts with a “C.” Once all the pieces are found and matched together in the memory game, all 52 pieces then slide together to form a giant animal train picture.

4Kidz, inc.

Spiro-Light from 4Kidz, Inc., creates a striking, rhythmic symphony of multi-colored light patterns. It features dual rotors, each embedded with LEDs, which spin to create mesmerizing and varied effects. It is powered by three included AA batteries.


Alligator Escalator is a new skill-andaction game from TCG debuting in fall 2014. Players have to safely move their frogs across the pond to the lily pads, but they’ll have to ride the alligator escalator. Roll the dice and be the first player to move both of your frogs over the alligator to win the game. But be careful—the alligator’s jaw pops open and may knock the frog off. The game is for 2–4 players, ages 4 and up.


GReen Toys

The Green Toys Train is an eco-friendly locomotive made in the U.S. from 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs. The steam engine pulls two additional cars that link together to form a long train, or easily unhooks for stand-alone play. The open wagon can haul all kinds of cargo, while the caboose features a spacious interior and removable roof. Two conductor bear figures are included with the set, encouraging open-ended play. With no metal axles or external coatings, the Green Toys Train is safe and versatile for both indoor and outdoor play, and is dishwasher safe. It is designed for ages 3 and up and contains no BPA, phthalates, or PVC. It is packaged using recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks.

Tosy RoboTics

DiscoRobo, from Tosy Robotics, gets kids dancing along with this robot that uses beat-detection technology to match the music with 56 dance moves offered in the robot. The robot displays eight facial expressions that light up and change as it dances. It is available in four colors (blue, red, pink, and purple). It requires eight AA batteries, which are not included. A new smartphone app allows users to guide and customize the dancing steps. With just a shake of the phone or a swipe across the virtual DiscoRobo on the screen, the robot will mimic the movements. The app is available for iOS and Android devices.

See us at

Fall Toy Preview October 1-3, 2013 Booth #3309

ABC Kids Expo October 15-18, 2013 Booth #4539 follow us on

Twilight Turtle Tunes

with Bluetooth Technology. Mix custom sounds & light to create a magical sleeptime environment.

2014 Toy Preview neat-oh!

Neat-Oh! expands its line of storage and carry cases featuring the Barbie, LEGO, Hot Wheels, and Star Wars licenses with the following products. All products are designed for ages 3 and up. Neat-Oh! International Barbie Keepsake Clutch features Barbie designs on the front and can hold two dolls inside. Neat-Oh! Barbie ZipBin 40 Doll Beach House is a mansion that doubles as a storage bin for 40 Barbie dolls and accessories. Shown here, it unzips to unveil the home interior. Neat-Oh! Hot Wheels Nine Car Tote holds up to nine Hot Wheels vehicles and features dividers for easy storage. Neat-Oh! Hot Wheels ZipBin 300 Car Storage Cube unzips quickly and makes it easy to find a car among an entire collection without having to dump everything out on the floor. The Color Block LEGO ZipBin is the newest part of the line. The same ZipBin Smart Storage that lets children find even the smallest brick at the bottom of the bin without dumping out all of the contents are now available in a variety of colors. The new line is set to include baskets, storage bins, and storage cubes. Neat-Oh! Star Wars ZipBin Yoda Toy Storage and Carry Case fits kids Star Wars toys and easily wipes clean.

Peaceable Kingdom

Kids can create their own animated story with Peaceable Kingdom’s Flip Books. Kids decorate the pages with stickers and then bring the silly escapades to life. Watch a goofy monster deal with a bad hair day. See two octopuses in a dance contest. Laugh as a kayaking otter tries to paddle upstream. Watch how a seagull has some fun with a beach-going weightlifter. Each Flip Book Sticker Prepack comes with five each of the four Flip Book styles: Bad Hair Day, Dance Contest, Up River, and Pumped.

madame alexander

The Isaac Loves Madame Alexander doll line is a collaboration with designer Isaac Mizrahi inspired by his children’s clothing collection. The 18-inch play dolls have sculpted faces with sleep eyes, rooted hair, poseable limbs, and a soft life-like torso. The doll’s clothes are removable and fit most 18-inch dolls. The African-American doll is wearing a matching leopard knit print shirt and skirt trimmed in gold netting. Her black stretch velvet hoodie is lined in metallic-flecked gold satin. The doll wears gold Mary Jane shoes and a gold net ribbon in her hair. Black sunglasses top off the outfit. The blonde doll is wearing a dress with a bodice of gold metallic flecked satin and skirt of gold and white metallic lace over satin. It is accessorized with a reversible leopard print and gold satin belt. The jacket is gold and black stretch metallic velvet. The doll’s black ballet flats are trimmed with a bow and the hair is adorned with a black satin headband. This doll also has black sunglasses. 46 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

2014 Toy Preview the Bridge direct

The Bridge Direct recently signed a license with the WWE for a line of construction toys, which is expected in stores in spring 2014. Targeted to WWE fans ages 6 and up, these WWE construction toys mark the first time the sports entertainment franchise will be represented in the construction toy category. The comprehensive toy line brings WWE’s events and superstars to life. The Starter Sets come with one Superstar figure and a small build. The Vehicle Sets include one superstar figure WWE’s The Undertaker with his unique customized vehicle, along with accessory builds that can be played with solo or as an accessory to the ring playset described below. The Train ’n Rumble Playset comes with Sheamus and Rey Mysterio figures and features real working punching bags, wrestling dummies, a weight bench, and more. The key item in the line is the StackDown Ring Playset where kids can recreate all the action and build a new experience every time. The Ring playset comes packed with accessories including real working ring ropes, a Jumbotron screen, TV cameras, a referee figure, and two superstar figures—John Cena and The Miz.

McFarlane toyS

McFarlane Toys is creating a line of Rabbids figures, playsets, and novelty toys based on Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids video game franchise and the new 26-episode CG-animated television series Raving Rabbids, which debuted on Nickelodeon in August. The extensive toy line is expected to be on shelf in May 2014. The Rabbids four-inch figures will feature sounds and/or actions from chicken egg launching to faceplunging action. Each highly detailed figure will feature four different iconic Rabbids in each series line. The image shown here is Plunger Face. The collectible Rabbids two-inch figure six-pack sets feature Rabbids doing their wackiest antics. Each set includes a “high-value” figure. The Rabbids six-inch Customizable Figure with assorted interchangeable accessories shows the crazy antics of Rabbids.


Silverlit’s Nano Falcon weighs just .3 ounces (11 grams). This three-channel indoor heli flies up and down; forward and backward; as well as left and right. The built-in gyro stabilizer makes flying easier. The precise variable speed rotor delivers flying control and it features a pre-selected tri-band system. Also new from Silverlit is i-Fido, the interactive pet for an i-device. It is equipped with a high-end Bluetooth speaker and interactive features. Users can stream their favorite music as the multi-color LED lights flash to the beat. Download the free app for more interactive fun. Pet him, tap his paws and nose, and he will respond. Put on his headphones and he dances to the music. Give him the microphone and he becomes a voice changer. 48 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

Nano Falcon

2014 Toy Preview aLex Toys

Alex’s extensive new line of craft products features items for both boys and girls. Here is a sampling of what is expected. With Color a Rocket, shown here, kids can start coloring right away on the pre-printed rocket with the six giant twin tip markers, which Alex says are perfect for use on the cardboard. Use the broad brush tip for coloring large areas and the finer tip for coloring details. Then kids, ages 4 and up, can get inside the rocket, which measures 25 inches by 32 inches by 38 inches. Instructions are included. The Giant Knot & Stitch Pillow is easy for kids, ages 8 and up, to stitch the pre-punched pieces, stuff it, and then knot it. Kids can decorate it by adding zebra fringe and metallic beads. The giant double-sided pillow measures 16 inches by 16 inches. The kit contains two fleece pillow shapes, 20 fleece strips, four embroidery threads, 18 felt shapes, eight felt strips, stuffing, 60 metallic beads, two embroidery needles, and instructions. With Boho Bands, kids ages 8 and up can create 10 boho-style bracelets with an easy weaving loom. Add sparkling beads and metal charms to complete the look. The kit contains a weaving loom, seven colors of beads, silver-colored beads, three colors of twine, three colors of thread, a sewing needle, and instructions. I Heart Bracelets, for ages 7 and up, allows kids to make two bracelets loaded with beads and charms. Kids create 24 of their own unique styles of beads with five colors of air-dry clay. Then add sparkle with gems and glitter. The included molding tool makes it easy to shape perfect beads every time, says Alex. The kit includes an easy molding tool, two chain bracelets, eight charms, eight metallic beads, glitter glue, five colors of magic clay, 24 eyelets, 30 stick stones, 10 jump rings, dowel, and instructions. 50 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

Learning resources

Primary Science Magna Scope safely puts a classic science tool in kids hands. A soft eyepiece, simple magnification, and a clear case for viewing specimens make for a kidfriendly microscope. Designed for ages 3 and up, it features 20x magnification and a focusing knob. Primary Science Metal Detector features an adjustable handle and colorful design. It’s great for detecting metal in a sand table, at the beach, or underground. It measures approximately 12 inches by four inches. Designed for ages 3 and up, it requires two AA batteries, which are not included. Build number and fine motor skills with the Smart Snacks Number Pops (shown). Pop the numbered shell over the ice cream pop with the matching number of dots. Practice oneto-one correspondence with numbers 1–10. It is also great for color matching. Designed for ages 2 and up, it includes 20 pieces total—10 pops and 10 matching shells. Smart Snacks Stack ‘em Up Doughnuts teaches kids size comparison and color recognition skills. Stack the five doughnuts from biggest to smallest and fit the doughnut hole on top. Designed for ages 2 and up, it is great for fine-motor (stacking) skills. It includes five colorful doughnuts, the largest measuring approximately five inches in diameter. The New Sprouts Shop It includes everything kids need to stock and run a pretend store, such as plastic cans and boxes of food (two of each), a shopping basket, and several pieces of play food. There is also a price/barcode scanner with sound. It coordinates with New Sprouts Ring It Up and all New Sprouts play food. It is designed for ages 2 and up.

2014 Toy Preview PoP StAr Club

The Beatrix Girls, a new line of collectible pop star dolls driven by original music, debuted in major national retailers in 2013. With fully developed personalities, band members Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal live and interact in the human world— producing real music, real hits, and real fans. Kids can collect the music, join the fan club, and vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop star through play.

MAnhAttAn toy


Aurora’s Pink Promise, shown here, is an elephant fashioned with soft-tipped, two-tone fabric and has playful heart prints in its oversized ears. It is available in four sizes—10.5 inches, 12 inches, 14 inches, and 22 inches. Butterball Bear gives a red rose to his sweetheart. The bear is available in three sizes—10 inches, 14 inches, and 20 inches. YooHoo & Friends: Luvee is a chimpanzee, which joins Aurora’s plush line as a three-color assortment. Luvee hugs a slightly askew heart, each with a different message including “Love U,” “Be Mine,” and “XOXO.”

Manhattan Toy is highlighting a few key items at this year’s Fall Toy Preview. Wooden Pull Train, for 12 months and up, features three train cars with chunky wooden shapes, brightly colored patterns, and happy character faces. The rolling train features a pull cord so little ones can pull it along as they go. Shown here is My First Microscope, for ages 2 and up. It allows kids to magnify the fun with this silly, yet scientific microscope. The microscope comes with three different magnifying lenses and three wooden slides containing playful bugs and organisms. The side dial rotates with every twist and turn. Whoozit Flash Card Activity Toy, for ages 3 months and up, is a teether toy that includes four fabric flash card-like pieces that feature crinkle paper and colorful designs. Baby will enjoy the colorful rattling beads, discovery mirror, and the mini Whoozit character that clicks with every twist. Baby Stella Armoire, for ages 3 and up, invites kids to store all of Baby Stella’s outfits. The wooden armoire includes a hanger rack for hanging clothes, along with a storage drawer. Doors to armoire feature pastel flower designs and are magnetized for easy closure. 52 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

2014 Toy Preview AsA ProducTs

Asa Products introduces three new items in its sports line. The Mobo Rocker is a high-performance three-wheel cruiser that features an ergonomic design for children ages 6–10 with a weight capacity of 180 pounds. Mobo Lady Rocker is the newest three-wheeled cruiser for kids ages 6–10 with a weight capacity of 180 pounds. With the Mobo Lady Rocker, girls can now have a cruiser they can call their own. Mobo Triker Pro, shown here, is for ages 9 and up with a weight capacity of up to 200 pounds. The Mobo Triker Pro is a larger comparable item to the Mobo Rocker. To steer each of these ride-ons, riders simply need to shift their weight right or left. Lean your body for swift twists and sharp turns.

Mobo Trike Pro


ThinkFun is highlighting two introductions at this year’s show. Last Letter is a fast-paced twist on a classic word game. Players must race to come up with a word that is pictured on one of the cards in their hand. The word must begin with the last letter of the word previously called. Call your word first to discard a card. Be the first player to get rid of your cards and win. Unique illustrations encourage creativity and allow for countless interpretations and a new experience each time you play. Zingo is an interactive game that brings fast-paced excitement and learning to the classic game of Bingo. In this time-telling version, players will learn to read the hour and minute hands on an analog clock and make the translation to a digital clock. With two levels of play, this is a great way to begin teaching children to tell time and a game for them to grow with.


Haba is introducing an extensive line of products focusing on classic play. The Water Friends Angler Set, shown here, for ages 2 and up, features a shark and fish friends so kids can try their hand at catching the fish. The My First Play World Fire Brigade Large Playset is for ages 18 months and up. The set, designed for openended play, contains two firefighters, one fire engine, one cord as water hose, one cat, one tree, one ladder, one fire hydrant, three fire game counters, and three fire brigade game counters. The playset folds up into a carrying case. The Sun Bistro Pizza Bakery, for ages 3 and up, is part of the sandy collection for the beach or the sandbox. Pack sand onto the pizza plate for the pizza’s base and use the three texture stamps for toppings. The set includes a pepperoni stamp, a chili pepper stamp, and a mushroom stamp. Haba’s Julia Götz Doll is 18 inches tall for ages 3 and up. This 2013 standing doll has red hair, blue eyes, and a green and white floral outfit. All the garments have realistic finishes with buttonholes, pockets, and embroidery, which are not sewn on as applications. The doll’s hair, made in Germany, is rooted into the scalp and easy to care for. Children can easily wash, style, and brush it. The Götz Table Seat (doll not included) is for ages 3 and up. It is designed for all sizes of Götz dolls. It has a pink floral and striped design. 54 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

Water Friends Angler Set

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2014 Toy Preview Basic Fun

Basic Fun is expanding with more novelty keychains and classic toys reimagined for a new generation for 2014. The company is adding more items to the Fisher-Price Classics and ViewMaster lines. The Fisher-Price Classic Toys See ’N Say The Farmer Says, which was originally introduced in 1965, will be reintroduced featuring the 12 different animals and their sounds. New Fisher-Price View-Master Viewers and reels packs will be added to the View-Master line. The newest character is Elmo. This Sesame Street Viewer features Elmo and his Sesame Street friends spending a day at the zoo. The Star Wars View-Master line will also get a new character viewer, featuring a Stormtrooper. The Stormtrooper Viewer comes packed with a set of three reels featuring the best scenes from Star Wars Episode IV. Basic Fun, in partnership with Hasbro, announces the introduction of LiteBrite. Beginning fall 2014, Basic Fun will be reintroducing Lite-Brite with fresh new features including fun shaped pegs. Together the new enhancements and peg shapes will take the creative play to a whole new level.

uncle MilTon

Uncle Milton continues to grow its In My Room brand with new light-and-sound experiences. Wild Walls, the line in which kids can activate a light-and-sound wallscape in their room, is expanding to new characters and all-new themes. Wall Friends, the line of light-up talking characters, will also expand to include more of the most popular preschool characters. In addition, new in-room experiences for girls are in development. A new line of toddler room lights is also in development. Uncle Milton will also be expanding its Marvel Science line, Star Wars Science brand, and Fireworks Lightshow brand with a Disney version of the Fireworks Lightshow Launcher.

Zing Toys

Zing Toys is highlighting two new spring introductions at this year’s show. The X6 Zoom Rocket is a multi-rocket launch tower that features six soft-foam rockets loaded in a rapid fire, air-powered auto-rotation system. Zing says the rockets zoom in succession more than 150 feet in the air. Each rocket features builtin whistle-screaming action. The harder kids stomp, the higher it flies. Designed for ages 8 and up, it comes packaged with six whistle-screaming rockets and tower. The Zano Bow is a bow-and-arrow combo that is about 40 percent smaller than the company’s bestselling Z-Curve Bow. However, it still uses the patented Zing launch-system technology. Combined with new X-Wing Zarts that fly super straight along with a wall target, kids will have a complete indoor archery set that is safe and “parent-approved” for use around the house. The Zano Bow, designed for ages 5 and up, can launch arrows up to 45 feet and will stick to most flat-surface targets with the X-Wing Zarts soft-foam suction cup tips. 56 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

Zano Bow

2014 Toy Preview DuneCraft

DuneCraft is introducing an extensive new line in 2014. New products include Notchsters, a line of Mountain Gardens, additions to the Sprout ’n Grow Greenhouse line, additional Seed Bombs, and Message Beans. There are also new additions to the science line. Build your own 3-D princess, dinosaur, alien, and more with Notchsters. There are six sets of Notchsters with three in a pack. These 3-D puzzles will create three free-standing themed Notchsters in minutes. Mountain Gardens are a new line for DuneCraft and include Princess Mountain and Wizard Mountain. Each kit comes with an exclusive Notchster, accessories, and a mountain planter with five planting chambers. In 2014, seven new styles of Message Beans will be introduced. They include the Be Mine Bean, the BFF Bean, the Break Up Bean, the I’m Sorry Bean, the Kissing Bean, the Moustache Bean, and Forever Yours Bean. Messages are inscribed on the bean and on the first set of leaves that emerge. Just add water for hours of mesmerizing fun with DuneCraft’s exciting and educational science impulse products. New introductions include Ooey Gooey Snotty Slime, Super Slippery Bouncy Balls, Dynamite Dinos, and Silly Sea Horses.



Goliath is launching Juggle U, an electronic juggling game, in spring 2014. Juggle U continually shoots balls into the air and you have to move fast to catch them in Juggle U’s funnel. Turn up the challenge by increasing the speed or adding tricks such as bouncing the balls off of walls or catching balls shot from a friend’s Juggle U. Phlat Ball and Phlat Ball Football both have an innovative design that allows the Phlat Ball to easily transform from a ball into a disc by simply squeezing the top and bottom together. Then throw the disc and watch it pop into a ball. The Zoingo Boingo Pogo is a flexible freestyle pogo that can be used on pavement or grass. The pogo features a tethered cord and ball that work together for better control and higher bounces. Quizamajig is the newest addition to Goliath’s party game category. This quiz contraption dials up questions with the push of a lever. Think you know the answer? Cast your marble into the unique funnel-and-tube system. The two players with the most marbles in the tube at the end of the game have a playoff with one final question to determine the winner. In Jumping Jackrabbit, the newest addition to Goliath’s skilland-action game line, kids flick the spinner to see how many carrots to pull from the rabbit hole. But if you pull the wrong one Jack will jump up into the air. Will you catch the rabbit? HolograFX is a product launched by Goliath last year that enables kids to perform magic shows using holograms created with their smartphone. In 2014, Goliath will release a HolograFX Expansion Pack with all-new storylines, characters, and tricks. Goliath is also expanding its Stick Storm line with Stick Storm Mega Stunt. This new set includes a helicopter balloon, exclusive building materials, more sticks, tricks, and stunts for hours of creative kinetic play.

2014 Toy Preview EB Brands

EB Brands introduced the R/C Extreme Hero this fall. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, the scale-sized, 19-inch fully detailed Iron Man R/C Extreme Hero set flies more than 200 feet in the air. The easy-to-use 2.4 GHz controller puts fans in the pilot’s seat to perform dives, climbs, and smooth banking turns. The R/C is sculpted in durable reinforced foam and features a patented steering mechanism. The Extreme Hero charges through a connecting adaptor and comes with a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, which takes the industry standard of approximately 45 minutes to charge for seven minutes of flight time. The remote requires six AA batteries, which are not included. This is designed for ages 8 and up and for outdoor use only.

Wooky EntErtainmEnt

Wooky Entertaintment’s newest assortment includes the following. Sequin Stackers is an assortment that contains three SKUs. Each kit, for ages 8 and up, features a different shaped sequin available in five different colors in five different containers as well as a sequinmaker tool. Girls can create bracelets, necklaces, and more. Each set include one sequin jewelry maker, five containers of sequins, a variety of beads, six crimp beads, clear elastic thread, a needle, and color instructions. The Rainbow Nail Art kit, for ages 8 and up, comes with three bottles of nail polish, a variety of rhinestones, 30 plastic nails, 30 double-sided stickers, gem pen with a refill tip, plastic bowl and tool as well as color instructions. The Design Masters is a line of automotive technical drawing sketchbooks that expands in 2014 to include the new Lamborghini Urus, the car brand’s first SUV. The 30-page sketchbook, for ages 7 and up, includes 50-plus stencils and 250-plus stickers.


Elektrokidz and MiP are just two of the newest introductions from WowWee in 2014. Elektrokidz are a collection of six characters with maxed-out hair that dance by detecting the beat of whatever music you’re playing. Each Elektrokidz comes in a different body color, with wild hair colors and unique dance attributes. MiP is a Mini Inverted Pendula robot that can balance on two wheels while it zips around effortlessly, quickly, and smoothly. MiP has gesture sensors so it reacts to its environment, looking for obstacles and responding to sounds. It also reacts and communicates through motion, sound, and light. Kids can play games and “MiPify” songs from their music collection. It can be controlled through hand gestures or Bluetooth with an iOS or Android smart device. 60 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

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2014 Toy Preview thE Wish Factory

The Wish Factory is introducing a mix of licensed and proprietary products for late 2013 and early 2014. Earlier this year, The Wish Factory signed a license for A&E’s TV series Duck Dynasty. The Wish Factory will debut an assortment of items starting with The Duck Dynasty Deluxe Animatronic Talking Duck. It is button-activated, featuring 12 phrases from the TV show. Additionally, the duck’s head, mouth, and tail all move in sequence to ZZ Top’s hit songs “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man.” The latest teen star Austin Mahone will be available as a Life Size Standee. The 17-year-old’s latest single “What About Love?” surpassed 1 million YouTube views in 48 hours. This year, he was named an MTV Artist to Watch. Following his appearance on Taylor Swift’s Red Tour, and in anticipation of his debut full-length album and headlining U.S. tour, he continues to dominate social media. The Wish Factory has created a broad line of products for Austin Mahone. The Wish Factory and Wham-O have teamed up to create new lines of products. This year’s spring line will incorporate the classics that parents know with the fun that kids want. With the Wham-O Gauntlet Sprinklers, kids can stay cool while running through a great wall of water in their own backyard. With iLumin-8 Light Up Cell Phone Case, getting a call or text never looked so bright. Designed to fit the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, these phone cases light up and change colors with LED lights when you receive calls and texts. Choose from a variety of artwork to truly electrify your phone. The designs have been selected to showcase color, light, and movement. Also, the Urban Animal Plush Headphones are available as Fierce Feline, Posh Panda, Tigrr, Zebra, and Pink Cheetah.

Educational insights

Educational Insights kicks off 2014 with the following items in games and roleplay. Magic Moves Jammin’ Gym, for ages 5 and up, motivates kids to get moving with fun commands, flashing lights and groovin’ music. Shaped like a standard free weight, Jammin’ Gym includes traditional exercises such as jumping jacks and arm curls as well as active breaks. It includes 65 randomly generated exercises with corresponding tunes. It requires three AAA batteries, which are included. Chet the Cat Yummy Adventures Playsets are for ages 3 and up. Each melamine set is food-grade, dishwasher safe, and long-lasting. Chet invites boys and girls to step into the world of make believe as they cook and eat with Parfait Poodle, Ready Rabbit, and Marv the Parrot. The Dish Set contains four plates, bowls, forks, spoons, and knives. The Baking Set has a rolling pin, mixing bowl, pie pan, three measuring cups, mixing spoon, spatula, and cookie sheet. The Cooking Set has one stock pot with lid, a large frying pan, small frying pan, solid spoon, slotted spoon, and spatula. GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope (shown here) is a fully functional microscope designed for ages 3 and up. Children learn what a microscope is used for and how to use one while they explore magnified “hidden” worlds. This is not just a toy; it’s a real tool with a one-sizefits-all eyepiece that kids can use to view leaves, rocks, grass blades, and more. The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Card Game, for ages 4 and up, is a fast-action, take-along card game. Race your opponents to squirrel away the most acorn cards and win this color-matching preschool game. 62 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

2014 Toy Preview Worx Toys

Worx Toys focuses on classic roleplay with its new introductions for 2014. Worx Toys is bringing back the 1980s Bo-Po (brush on, peel off) nail polish. This novelty nail polish brushes on easily and peels away in seconds (no nail polish remover required). There are 10 vibrant new colors, each in a non-spill container. Worx Toys is reinventing the way kids learn and play with its line of toy vehicles called Edutech. The vehicles are designed to teach kids the ins and outs of cars, trucks, and helicopters. When the coded buttons are pressed, the vehicles comes to life. Each vehicle includes an interactive storybook that allows parents and children to read and play together.

Moose Toys

Moose Toys is launching two new brands this fall: The Zelfs, a line of quirky, collectible mini dolls with a focus on hair play, and Glitzi Globes, an activity toy that lets girls create their own miniature snow globes. Both brands are poised for continued growth in 2014 and Moose will be focusing on each line’s extension. These lines join Trash Pack and Micro Chargers in the company’s growing portfolio. Following the global success of The Trash Pack in 2011 and 2012, Moose put a new spin on the brand and introduced two new ways for children to play with their Trashies in 2013, including Trash Wheels, which is a collection of Trashies on wheels, and UFT, which are spinning Trashies that battle. These brands, as well as the core Trash Pack product line, will expand in 2014 along with Moose’s already extensive Trash Pack licensing program, which includes console gaming, books, games, apparel, candy, and more.

xQ Toys

Hong Kong-based XQ Toys, a developer and manufacturer of R/C cars, introduces a new line for 2014 including one special feature vehicle, six new licensed vehicles such as the Dodge Charger, Ferrari’s latest vehicle LaFerrari, Alfa Romeo 4C, and the Lamborghini Veneno, along with the addition of two new categories. In addition, the entire XQ line of vehicles has been repackaged for 2014. R/C Jackknife Stunt Rig One highlight for the Fall Toy Preview includes the return of the R/C Jackknife Stunt Rig with new electronics and more power, shown here. With just the push of a button, kids can make the fully functioning R/C Jackknife Stunt Rig perform off-spins, flips, and rolls for an exciting stunt experience. The vehicle features a back trailer that, once removed, allows the truck to really take off and perform tricks. LED-packed wheels illuminate for a light show. It requires a 9.6v battery and charger, which are not included. 64 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

Chicago Toy & Game Fair November 23-24, 2013 The largest public toy and game fair in the U.S. Exhibitors promote, sell and focus test new products to over 25,000 attendees. Positioned just before Black Friday, the Fair attracts hundreds of media guests and influential mom/dad bloggers, who seek out and report on what’s hot for the holidays.

playCHIC November 21, 2013 The runway becomes the funway at the 2nd annual playCHIC Fashion Show. A smash hit and international media sensation in 2012, this one-of-a-kind fashion event pairs toy and game companies with renowned fashion designers, who bring play brands to life with unique haute couture looks.

Toy & Game Inventor Awards November 22, 2013 The TAGIE Awards is an elegant, celebratory dinner gala event honoring the people behind the innovative and hot products of the year. 2012’s TAGIE Awards event welcomed industry leaders from 18 countries, and was the inspiration behind Cupcakes “R” Us, a TAGIE-themed baking competition which aired on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in June, 2013.

International Summit for Professional Inventors November 21-24, 2013

An invitation-only event where presenting toy/game company inventor relations executives share their company’s product wish-lists, objectives and goals with the professional inventing community. New for 2013 – Roundtable discussions led by presenting companies, who will share insights on navigating the toy industry’s changing landscape.

International Toy & Game Inventor and Industry Conference November 21-22, 2013 A high-impact networking and educational conference where industry leaders share insights. Highlights include panel discussions and unrivaled networking opportunities for tveterans and industry newcomers as well as highly sought after confidential inventor meetings with top toy and game companies.

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2014 Toy Preview Hedstrom

Hedstrom’s theme of Unplugged Fun continues with the Hedstrom Hopper for ages 3 and up. Made of durable vinyl, Hedstrom Hoppers will provide hours of fun along with the added benefit of exercise. Each is easy to inflate and can be deflated to a smaller size for convenient storage. It is available in licensed and non-licensed varieties. Training Camp, for ages 3 and up, allows kids and tweens to practice anytime or anywhere with these versatile training accessories. Indoors or outside, these inflatable practice tools will give kids hours of enjoyment and exercise. Sensory Stepperz are durable, vinyl stepping stones for ages 3 and up. This brand new product helps children with balance, coordination, and gross motor skills development. Each stone has a different tactile feature that will keep kids engaged and entertained.


InnovatIon FIRst

Innovation First, makers of the Hexbug line of products, also works on producing larger scale Vex robots for the competitive robotics industry. Vex Robotics has transformed science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for more than 650,000 students in classrooms spanning 20-plus countries around the world, according to the company. These high-tech robotics kits are used to enhance classroom education through partnerships with leading curricular providers such as Project Lead the Way, and also fuels the exponential growth of the largest middle and high school robotics competition in the world—the Vex Robotics Competition. For the 2013–2014 school year, the creators of Vex have expanded the educational robotics platform into the elementary school sector with the launch of Vex IQ, which they debuted to 15,000 student participants at the annual Vex Robotics Competition World Championship. Vex IQ is a simple, powerful, and flexible robotics system for kids as young as 8 years old. Vex IQ provides kids with a hands-on building experience that challenges their creative thinking and problem-solving capabilities through the fun activity of building a robot. The product line includes a Robot Brain, Smart Motors, sensors, wheels, gears, and snap-together pieces that enable users to build whatever they can imagine. In 2014, the competitive robotics line will be positioned to roll-out with a consumer-tailored version for the retail market.


Sun-Mate Corporation will present its line of The Jungle Book toys at Fall Toy Preview. The first-ever The Jungle Book toys, based on the 3-D CGI-animated TV series The Jungle Book, are launching with online retailers this fall. Sun-Mate Corporation, the global toy manufacturer and appointed master global toy partner for The Jungle Book, is launching a full line including action figures, playsets, plush, walkie talkies, outdoor adventure sets, electronic toys, summer toys, and watches. The Jungle Book originally launched on Disney XD. An all-new The Jungle Book-branded VOD channel launched on September 5, as well as on-demand with the kids’ network Kabillion. Kids can also enjoy The Jungle Book at Redbox locations nationwide and on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, VUDU, and Hulu. A second DVD, The Jungle Book: Return 2 The Jungle was released on September 3, with a follow-up DVD set for November. The Jungle Book also now has free mobile gaming apps.


Ravensburger will be at the Fall Toy Preview with these new games and puzzles. Mike the Knight’s debut line from Ravensburger features three SKUs for ages 3 and up. The Mike the Knight 24-piece puzzle is vibrantly colored in a free-form shape. It features a smiling Mike atop his horse, Galahad, accompanied by his friends. Mike the Knight four-in-a-box puzzles feature four different puzzles with Mike and his friends in assorted scenarios. The puzzles are 12-, 16-, 20-, and 24pieces. Mike’s Adventures is a brightly colored 35-piece puzzle of Mike atop his trusty stead, Galahad, with his smiling friends gathered around them. Doodle Jump is a 3-D board game based on the app that is gaming fun for up to four “Doodlers.” The game, for ages 8 and up, is played in the box with a tilted board and the first player to reach the top is the winner. Doodlers have to jump their way to the top via platforms, which can be moved around the board; to jump from a platform, players have to throw the corresponding number with the die. OCTOBER 2013 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 67

2014 Toy Preview North AmericAN BeAr compANy

North American Bear Company’s 14-inch Dolly Pockets Cinderella and Dolly Pockets The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with coordinating finger puppet friends tucked inside dress pockets, bring storybook classics to life in a whimsical style for kids ages 3 and up. Little Princess Happy Birthday is the latest addition to North American Bear Company’s family of first dolls for baby. The doll features deep fuchsia velour and satin with embroidered facial features. It is trimmed with ribbon head bows and embroidered cupcakes on its dress and sewn-on shoes. The 14-inch soft doll is machine washable. It is available as a baby-safe brunette or blonde. Inspire healthy habits with dolls that have a passion for exercise. The Girls on the Move Finger Puppets encourage fitness fun through imaginative play. Dressed-for-success gymnast and ballerina tricot dolls dance, jump, run, and kick with finger puppet power inside the hidden leg pocket feature. Designed for ages 3 and up, Girls on the Move Finger Puppets include blonde, brunette, and tan styles. Dolly Pockets Cinderella


WicKEd cool Toys

In 2013, Wicked Cool Toys launched with products featuring World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), The Wiggles, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licenses. In 2014, the company adds a slew of new initiatives, which are both licensed and proprietary. Wicked Cool Toys introduces Crashlings, a proprietary boys’ collectible product line of Mutant Meteors from Outer Space. Crashlings are one-inch collectible figures that are packed and travel inside a rubber-flex meteor. Each meteor has the power to blast more than five feet into the air, according to Wicked Cool. Series one includes more than 150 Crashlings to collect with special rares, ultra rares, and retired editions. The Crashlings comprehensive product line is expected to launch in spring 2014 with a variety of figure packs, playsets, and a space ship. In addition, Crashlings is currently being developed into a web series which will run throughout 2014. Wicked Cool Toys has been named as the master toy licensee for Wild Kratts. The company will create a comprehensive line of figures, plush, playsets, and roleplay products based on Wild Kratts. The PBS series, airing more than 10 times per week in key time slots, teaches viewers about animals. The Wild Kratts are real-life brothers Chris and Martin Kratt, who enter into an animated world where they take on the super heroic attributes of the creatures they meet. Wicked Cool Toys is expanding its WWE collectible novelty, roleplay, and electronic product line for fall 2014. The WWE Superstar toy line for spring 2014 is expected to include Superstar Bands, ThumbPERS, Unchained Key Chains, Microphone Key Chains, Superstar Banks, Echo Microphone, and a Big Talker Microphone. Wicked Cool Toys will announce new categories and licensing agreements during this month’s Fall Toy Preview.


The K’NEX 35 Model Ultimate Building Set, for ages 7 and up, is loaded with 475 parts for the ultimate K’NEX building experience. The kit comes with 35 building ideas including planes, trucks, animals, and amusement park rides as well as a convenient storage case. The K’NEX 70 Model Building Set comes complete with 702 classic K’NEX pieces, for ages 7 and up. The set comes with 70 building ideas including a hot air balloon, boats, trucks, a sand castle, and a convenient storage case. Lincoln Logs Collector’s Edition Homestead, for ages 3 and up, is the largest Lincoln Logs set ever created. It features more than 330 parts, including classic real wood logs, a frontiersman figure, buildable wagon, and two horses. K’NEX is offering an extensive line of products in its Super Mario line. K’NEX Super Mario: Mouse Attack Building Set, for ages 8 and up, includes a Cat Mario figure, Mouse enemy, clear warp pipe, coins, jump panel, and a pop-up flag. Kids can build Cat Mario and battle mice. K’NEX Super Mario: Layer Cake Desert Building Set has kids, ages 8 and up, building Fire Mario and traveling through a desert course. The set includes Fire Mario figure, Waddlewing figure, Pokey, stone eye statue, sand geyser, warp pipe, coins, jump panels, and a pop-up flag. K’NEX Super Mario: Freezing Rain Tower Building Set, for ages 8 and up, includes the Ice Mario figure, Dry Bones figure, ice bombs, huge icicles, jump panels, coins, and pop-up flag. K’NEX introduces its Family Guy Line of figures, which includes the following. K’NEX Family Guy Figure Two Packs feature three different collectible combinations. There is Peter & Chris; Brian & Megan; Stewie & Lois, for ages 8 and up. In the K’NEX Family Guy: Stewie & Time Machine Building Set, kids ages 8 and up, can build Stewie and his time machine with the included 146 parts. K’NEX Family Guy: Peter & Station Wagon Building Set has 110 pieces and is designed for ages 8 and up. OCTOBER 2013 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 69

2014 Toy Preview Toy STaTe

Mattel announced a licensing agreement with Toy State earlier this year for its Hot Wheels Hot Wheels brand. Toy State will develop high-octane custom versions of Hot Wheels R/C and lights-and-sound Energy Can R/C toys under the agreement, which runs through 2016. Here is what is expected in stores beginning next year. The Hot Wheels Extreme Action is a motorized lights-and-sounds vehicle with extreme action and themed music. Watch the glowing eyes and moving spider legs on the Street Creeper, the chomping and glowing jaw on the Sharkruiser, and the stinging front pinchers and tail movement on the Scorpedo. Press the button on the Hot Wheels Hyper Racer to activate the drive sequence and watch as it changes color in hyper mode. Yur So Fast and Spin King are the vehicles that make up this assortment. Hot Wheels Energy Can R/C (shown) is a five-inch full-function IR R/C with collectible energy can packaging. The bottom of the can comes off and becomes the controller. The vehicles in this assortment include 24 Ours, Baja Truck, Bad-to-the-Blade, Bone Shaker, and Road Rippers.


tArA toy

Tara Toy expands its arts and crafts product line featuring Disney and Mattel licenses. The Monster High line will see the addition of the following items. The 3-D Wall Decal Activity kit allows kids to decorate the two 36-inch character clings with dimensional stickers and fabrics, which are included with the set. Ghoul & Glamour Fashion Designer allows kids to create fabric fashions for four Monster High characters. The set includes four ghoulish Monster High paper dolls with stands, three sheets of pre-cut fabric fashions, fabric embellishments, markers, glitter glue, and gem stickers. The Color ’N Style Light Up Activity Journal is a 60page Monster High-themed journal with activity pages and a light-up cover. Kids can customize the cover by using the included glittery stickers, gel pen, and markers. The Color ’N Style Fashion Purse Activity allows kids to design their own purse using the included markers and gem stickers. Tara Toy’s new line of Disney’s Sofia the First activities will include Magical Light Up Jewelry that allows kids to design jewelry without any hard-to-use strings or cording. A special feature includes a light-up charm with six mixand-match character charms. Simply press down on the charm and watch it illuminate. The Create ’N Display Name Banner allows kids to make their own name banner for their room. Display the banner on the ribbon provided with clothes pins that adhere to the wall. The Color ’N Play Dress Up Paper Doll is one large 38-inch character that can be dressed up with fashions that simply tab into slots on this giant paper doll. It can be decorated using the assorted sticker embellishments.

Diggin Active

Diggin Active is launching its new MaxSport line of products featuring technology to maximize users’ athletic potential. MaxSport products are designed to help kids throw spirals, fly a disk further, fling for distance and accuracy, see how fast they can throw a baseball, and refine their punching power. Orbito features new throwing orbs that create spin and increase distance. It’s easy to catch and throw for young kids learning this skill. See who can throw farther and how many you can catch in a row. RocketBall is a new throwing toy from Diggin. It throws like a baseball with great distance and accuracy and is easy to catch. Teach kids how to throw and catch in a new form. PunchPaddes is a game where paddle ball meets punching. Find a friend and punch the ball to keep it going in the air. Keep going for as long as you can. Soccer Challenge (shown here) is an electronic soccer game. Soccer Challenge hangs on the wall inside or out. Kick like a pro with the included soft soccer ball. The game keeps track of whose turn it is and their score. The player with the most points wins. It is for 1–2 players. The four AA batteries and mounting screws are not included. Baseball Challenge lets kids test their pitching accuracy. Baseball Challenge mounts on the wall inside or out. Throw likes the pros with the included soft baseball. The game keeps track of whose turn it is and their score. The player with the most points wins. It is for 1-2 players. The four AA batteries and mounting screws are not included. OCTOBER 2013 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 71

2014 Toy Preview University Games

University Games introduced a line of products featuring The World of Eric Carle. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Twirl & Toss Game is a skill-and-action game where children toss their fruit and try to be the first to land all of their three pieces on the twirling, electronic caterpillar to win. The gameplay gets kids up and moving as every miss has players scrambling to gather their fruit and try again. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Counting Floor Puzzle helps children learn the numbers one through 10 and encourages them to practice counting. See if you can spot The Very Hungry Caterpillar hidden on each piece. The floor puzzle features giant pieces and is 10 feet long. Discover the ABCs of the animal world with Eric Carle’s artwork in The World of Eric Carle Alphabet Floor Puzzle. This alphabet floor puzzle helps children recognize letters and creates an association between words and related images. This floor puzzle features giant pieces and is 10 feet long.

LittLe Kids

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Frozen Treat Maker from Little Kids allows kids to create their own tasty, healthy, snack-alternatives using items parents already have at home. It works with frozen fruit, yogurt, juice, frozen vegetables, and more. Kids drop frozen cube-sized items into the sewer pipeshaped plunger and crank the handle. As they turn the mechanism, a frozen concoction extrudes out of the front opening. It is recommended for ages 4 and up.

OhiO art

Ohio Art is expanded its nanoblock line most notably with Hello Kitty. The nanoblock Hello Kitty and Mimmy in the Park, shown here, features more than 200 assorted pieces. With a finished size of 3.25 inches wide by 3.25 inches deep by two inches high, this Hello Kitty fits in the palm of your hand. The set includes detailed color instructions and is designed for children ages 8 and up. Also available in the Hello Kitty nanoblock line is Hello Kitty in the Park and Hello Kitty Sea Cruise. The nanoblock Deluxe Space Shuttle features more than 1,600 assorted pieces to create a detailed replica of a space shuttle. The set includes two ways to build and display: Flight State and Standby State. When finished it is 6.25 inches wide by five inches deep by eight inches high. This is designed for children ages 12 and up. Separately, Ohio Art introduces the Travel Doodle Sketch featuring Hello Kitty. It features a go-anywhere handle and eraser. Kids can draw, erase, and draw all over again. This is for ages 3 and up. 72 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 2013

The New Show for Gifts and Gadgets

IN DALLAS THIS SPRING! Play. Baby. Juvenile.


March 27-28, 2014


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Taking place during Dallas KidsWorld Market and attracting buyers from across the country.

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2014 Toy Preview Dracco

Dracco is introducing an assortment of proprietary and licensed items at this year’s Fall Toy Preview. Filly—the fantasy world of royal horses—has been a popular collectible figure program in Germany since 2007. It has sold more than 66 million figurines to date and has 40-plus licensing partners, according to the company. Now Dracco announces the creation of Filly Funtasia, an animated series set to debut in 2014. The 26 x 30 minute CGI-animated series represents the next evolution of the Filly brand. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) trading cards are launching in November. Dracco has signed a licensing deal to manufacture and distribute TMNT trading cards, stickers, and sticker albums in the U.S. The trading card program will launch with more than 300 different card designs and will include rare silver and gold cards. There are 75 standard cards in the line with special foil cards, stickers, and Turtle Power cards to encourage collectability. TMNT stickers and sticker albums will launch in March 2014.

Party animal


Squashed, for ages 6 and up, is the multiple-level activity game in which two to four players place their pawns on four sides of a large cube and strategically try to eliminate each other’s pawns one by one or by flipping the cube for a total wipeout. The last pawn standing on the Squashed cube, aside from the ‘King’, wins. Threadz are kid-friendly weaving and hooking kits that come with all the tools needed to create a scarf, a beanie, or a purse. Designed with the fashion-conscious girl in mind, Threadz kits feature the latest yarns in the hottest colors. There are three kits to choose from. There is the Make a Scarf kit, which includes yarn, two weaving looms, and one shuttle. There is the Make a Beanie kit, which includes yarn, one beanie loom, one hook, and one needle. And, the Make a Purse kit includes yarn, one weaving loom, one needle and silver-color cord. The kits are designed for ages 6 and up.

Party Animal, the company that created the sports action figures known as Lil’ Teammates and the mini-collectible toy series TeenyMates, has expanded its TeenyMates offerings with a second series of NFL TeenyMates, an NHL Series, and NFL TeenyMates Tagalongs. TeenyMates are sold in blind foil bag packs, adding mystery and excitement to every purchase. Each four-piece set contains two random one-inch collectible figures and two puzzle pieces. Collect all 35 double-sided puzzle pieces and build your choice of a display set or collectible mini poster. The puzzle for the NFL TeenyMates creates a football field, while the NHL series creates a hockey rink. All 32 NFL teams and all 30 NHL teams are represented. Each series has its own coveted rare figures. The rare figures for the NFL TeenyMates Series 2 include a Pittsburgh Steelers throwback figure, a Tampa Bay Buccanneers throwback figure, a blue-ice figure, a metallic gold figure, a glow-in-the-dark figure, and a referee. NHL TeenyMates boast a metallic gold figure, a glow-in-the-dark figure, a throwback Québec Nordiqués figure, and a throwback Hartford Whalers figure. TeenyMates Tagalongs take the classic NFL TeenyMates figure and turns it into a versatile clip-on accessory. It can be attached to a backpack, belt, keys, and more. All 32 NFL teams are currently available.


Fall Toy Preview Booth #2000

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Educating Through Play or Educational Insights (EI), the company’s philosophy is embedded in its name. Founded by a husband-andwife team who simply wanted to create a fun solution for their own son’s struggles with reading, “you could say the company was formed on solving a need,” says Lisa Guili, general manager, Educational Insights. “And it was one they thought other kids could benefit from.” The company’s first product was a phonics tool spun on a record player. More than 50 years later, and under new ownership, EI still operates on the idea that learning, at its core, should be fun. “It’s something we focus on a lot,” says Guili. “Kids these days are entertained so often, in so many different ways. So we try to figure out a way to make our educational content engaging and entertaining so they want to gravitate toward it.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean the product has to have a lot of bells and whistles. The engagement can be found in a simple innovation to a timeless educational tool. One of EI’s top-selling items is Math Slam, which is a lot like digital flash cards with an added game component with lights and sound effects. Kids practice their addition and subtraction by reading the questions on the screen, scanning the possible answers, and slamming on the one that’s correct. “It’s something they are used to doing in terms of interacting with electronic games but reinforcing their math skills in the process,” says Guili. But while certain subjects don’t always warrant a lot of excitement from kids, EI often looks to build on educational topics that are inherently interesting. “It’s a matter of taking stuff that kids


are already interested in and putting a contemporary spin on it,” says Nancy Balter, product manager of Educational Insights and inventor of its Nancy B’s Science Club. This new line has done exactly that by looking at subjects girls, in particular, find interesting, such as marine biology, then packaging it in a way to that’s most engaging for girls. “We felt there was already so much out there for boys, especially on the science front,” says Guili. “So we wanted to make sure we offered an experience that fit what girls like to do.” EI approached the line from two angles. The first was how best to create science kits that were fun and not intimidating. EI achieved this with a fun color scheme and by honing in each kit’s use. For example, using a telescope for the first time and trying to distinguish one constellation from another is a bit overwhelming, especially for kids. So EI created the Moonscope with moon filter, which has kids focus specifically on learning about the moon. The line also taps into a main play pattern for girls. “All girls are different but many enjoy the process of communicating, whether it’s electronically or by writing things down,” says Balter. “So once we had these attractively designed science tools that kids would actually want to play with, we thought journaling could be really exciting for girls, both in terms of doing experiments and recording the data.” And the journals also offered ways to expand the learning and play experience. While Nancy B has been a main focus for EI this year, the company is also looking at ways to ensure its products are accessible to all children. Over the past 18 months, the company has worked with the National Lekotek Center in Chicago and the Pediatric Therapy Network,



based out of Torrance, Calif., to gain input on how its products can also aid children with special needs. “They’ve expressed to us that we shouldn’t focus on coming out with products specifically for special needs, but find ways to offer parents advice on how to adapt our products to work with their child’s disability,” says Guilli. Three of EI’s products were included in the 2013 Toy “R” Us Differently-Abled Toy Guide, which features qualified toy recommendations based on research from the National Lekotek Center. Included in the guide were two of EI’s Hot Dots Jr. product, which aid development of auditory, thinking, visual, fine motor, and language skills as well as self esteem by interacting with different activities featured on each page as they read. In the past few years, EI has extended its Hot Dots line (one of its most successful lines in educational markets) into the consumer market and plans to come out with a Hot Dots line specialized by grade and subject matter. “The new SKUs will reinforce what children are already learning in their current grade, ready them for next grade level, or help them if they are struggling with certain topics,” says Guili. And looking ahead to 2014, EI will continue to grow these lines. For more information on the company’s 2014 offerings, see page 62.

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DuneCraft has appointed Sam Taylor as COO. In this newly created role, Taylor will be responsible for coordinating the overall operations of DuneCraft and implementing broad-based innovative strategies to continue the company’s growth. Prior to joining DuneCraft, Taylor completed his undergraduate work in linguistics and computer science and attended law school, where he focused on general law and business operations. Taylor has worked in developing and servicing client needs, executing projects and transactions, and creating and maintaining overall operations for a variety of local and national clients.



HIT Entertainment (a subsidiary of Mattel) announced the appointment of three executives to spearhead global brand and marketing efforts for several brands. Robin Gay has been tapped as global brand director for Thomas & Friends. Will Speer has been appointed as global brand director for Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam. Gina Briggs will lead brand and marketing efforts for Mike the Knight as senior global brand manager. In their newly created positions, the global brand team will be responsible for developing the worldwide strategies, growth plans, and positioning for their respective brands, and working with HIT and Fisher-Price regional teams and lines of business to execute the brand strategies. Gay and Speer will be based in the UK, while Briggs will work out of the New York City office, with all three reporting to Shari Donnenfeld, vice-president global brands, HIT Entertainment. Robin Gay and Will Speer both join HIT Entertainment from The Walt Disney Company. Gina Briggs joins the company from Nickelodeon.




FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) has promoted David Luner to the newly created position of executive vice-president, brand partnerships and franchise management. The appointment was announced by Thom Beers, CEO, FremantleMedia North America to whom Luner now reports. In his role, Luner will oversee all of FMNA’s ancillary businesses including digital, integrated marketing and brand partnerships, licensing, live events, and various elements of business development. Over the past decade, Luner has held a number of positions within FremantleMedia, including his most recent role as executive vice-president, digital and licensing for the former FremantleMedia Enterprises Group.



Jennifer Giddens has been named vice-president of marketing for Sprout, the 24-hour preschool network. Giddens will drive and implement the network’s consumer and trade marketing strategy and will create customized marketing campaigns to support both current and new series. Giddens will have oversight for Sprout’s growing social media presence across platforms and will also develop the marketing strategy for Sprout’s brand efforts including the network’s pro-social campaign Kindness Counts. Additionally, she will lead partnership and affiliate marketing for Sprout along with marketing efforts to increase advertising revenues across all network platforms for Sprout and NBC Kids. She will work in collaboration across NBCU networks and properties. Giddens joins Sprout after spending the last 10 years with Turner Networks in Atlanta.




DreamWorks Animation has named Marjorie Cohn as its firstever head of television, overseeing the production and development for DreamWorks Animation’s television efforts. A 26year veteran of Nickelodeon, Cohn most recently held the role of president, content development. Cohn and her team will be responsible for the development and production of 1,200 new original episodes over the next five years. This production slate will feature TV series that are based on DreamWorks’ current franchises, future films, and the most popular heritage properties from Classic Media. DreamWorks previously announced production and distribution agreements with Netflix and Germany’s Super RTL earlier this year. Joining Cohn as head of television production is Mark Taylor, who was most recently at the helm of Nickelodeon Animation Studio. Peter Gal, the DreamWorks Animation executive who oversees creative on DreamWorks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk and Turbo F.A.S.T., rounds out the new leadership group as head of television development. Prior to his three years as vice-president of production at 20th Century Fox, Gal spent five years at Nickelodeon, developing animated programming including the DreamWorks Animation-inspired Penguins of Madagascar. Dawn Taubin joins DreamWorks Animation as chief marketing officer. Taubin, who most recently held the role of president of marketing for Warner Bros., will head all marketing for the studio including theatrical, television, and global brand initiatives. DreamWorks Animation has named Paul Kurzawa to the newly created position of head of retail development and entertainment. Kurzawa previously served as COO for Caruso Affiliated, overseeing all aspects of the company’s diverse portfolio of real estate assets, including The Grove in Los Angeles. In his new role, Kurzawa will be responsible for the company’s worldwide retail brand development and integration initiatives. Separately, Anne Globe, CMO and 17-year veteran of DreamWorks, resigned from her position to reportedly start her own consulting business.




WWE announced the appointment of Michele Martell as vice-president of Kids Entertainment. Martell will be responsible for overseeing the strategic development, execution, and promotion of WWE’s kids entertainment strategy. Martell will focus on production, digital media, consumer products, marketing, and fan engagement as well as identifying opportunities for external partnerships, acquisitions, and community events, all on a global basis. Prior to joining WWE, Martell held the position of COO and general counsel for SD Entertainment.


Pamela Kaufman has been promoted to the expanded role of CMO and president of consumer products for Nickelodeon. In her new role, Kaufman will have oversight of Nickelodeon’s domestic consumer products business, encompassing merchandising and licensing for intellectual properties, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Dora the Explorer. As Nickelodeon’s CMO, she currently oversees all of the company’s marketing efforts, including trade, consumer, and retail executions across all businesses. She has built and oversees an integrated marketing organization that brings Nickelodeon and its partners together in 360-degree executions including major events such as the Kids’ Choice Awards; digital initiatives such as the recently launched Nick app; and recreational experiences including Nick Universe at Mall of America and the Nickelodeon Experience on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Before joining the network in 1997, she worked at Turner Broadcasting System as vice-president, promotions. She began her career at Grey Advertising’s Beaumont-Bennet division.



Industry-Related Trade Shows NOVEMBER 21–22


Toy and Games Conference

Chicago Toy and Game Fair








International Halloween Show

Grand Strand Gift Show

Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair

International CES

The Toy Fair

Halloween & Party Expo

Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair






NY Now (formally NYIGF)

Kidscreen Summit


Navy Pier


Halloween Tower

New York City

American International Toy Fair

Playworld Middle East

Ed Expo

Navy Pier

Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre

Las Vegas Convention Center

Olympia Grand Hall

George R. Brown Convention Center Nuremberg Exhibition Center

Jacob Javits Convention Center

Hilton New York

Jacob Javits Convention Center

Dubai Int’l Convention & Exhibition Centre

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

Hong Kong

Las Vegas




New York City

New York City

New York City



ToyFest West


Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Bologna Fair Centre



Palais des Festivals



APRIL 7–10


Australian Toy, Hobby, & Nursery Fair

Halloween & Attractions Show

London Book Fair


South Point Hotel

Myrtle Beach



Myrtle Beach Convention Center

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

America’s Center

Earls Court

Las Vegas


St. Louis


Toys & Family Entertainment, October 2013  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.